Saturday, October 24, 2020

Local News

Celebrating Women: A Project of Local Historical Societies

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Rita Samuels of Deep River served 30 years on the town’s Board of Finance and 20 years as justice of the peace and was the first woman president of the local synagogue. 

Photo courtesy of the Deep River Historical Society

Rita Samuels of Deep River served 30 years on the town’s Board of Finance and 20 years as justice of the peace and was the first woman president of the local synagogue. (Photo courtesy of the Deep River Historical Society )

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Shirley Bennett Miceli was the owner of the Chester Pharmacy for 39 years and president of the Chester Historical Society and the Chester Visiting Nurses. 

Photo courtesy of the Chester Historical Society

Shirley Bennett Miceli was the owner of the Chester Pharmacy for 39 years and president of the Chester Historical Society and the Chester Visiting Nurses. (Photo courtesy of the Chester Historical Society )

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Diz Callender’s lifelong interest in nature and the outdoors prompted her to leave land to the Essex Land Trust for the Osage Trails Preserve. 

Photo courtesy of the Essex Historical Society

Diz Callender’s lifelong interest in nature and the outdoors prompted her to leave land to the Essex Land Trust for the Osage Trails Preserve. (Photo courtesy of the Essex Historical Society )

Here’s something you can do for mom, or for any other woman you know. Send her photograph to be included in the exhibit titled Women of Achievement sponsored by the historical societies in Essex, Deep River, and Chester.

The exhibit takes its inspiration from programs and displays throughout the country celebrating the centennial of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote in 1920.

The exhibit will be somewhat different. It aims to present women’s history in a wider context. The three historical societies are looking at how gaining the vote opened up many other areas of involvement for women.

But here is the important thing: The exhibit they plan to mount needs the input of local residents to be successful. The societies need people to send them photographs with brief descriptions of the accomplishments of women in their own families for an online slide presentation also titled Women of Achievement. The groups cooperated two years ago on a similar electronic exhibit, Salute to Veterans.

A recent press release by the three societies highlighted three local women to illustrate their concept. The three, all now deceased, include Diz Callender of Essex, whose lifelong interest in nature and the outdoors prompted her to leave land to the Essex Land Trust for the Osage Trails Preserve; Rita Samuels of Deep River, who served 30 years on the town’s Board of Finance and 20 years as justice of the peace and was the first woman president of the local synagogue; and Shirley Bennett Miceli, owner of the Chester Pharmacy for 39 years and president of the Chester Historical Society and the Chester Visiting Nurses.

Still, Melissa Josefiak, director of the Essex Historical Society, emphasized that there’s no requirement that the women be well known, only they participated in the life of the community in some way.

“We are casting a wide net. We do not want to be overly limiting; we’d rather be overly inclusive,” she said. “We want to hear what families think is important. We are not here to judge whose contributions are important.”

Cary Hull, president of the Chester Historical Society, added that the societies are interested not only in people who have already passed away, but also in present day women.

“We’re not looking just at the past, but we want to capture what is happening now. Someday that will be history, too,” she said.

Rhonda Forristall, curator of the Deep River Historical Society, said the original plan had been to inaugurate the slide show with a presentation at the Deep River Town Hall, but COVID-19 had made that impossible. Instead the slide show will be available through all three societies’ websites.

The target date for completing the project is Sunday, Nov. 15, so all three societies would like photos and brief descriptions of the women pictured by the end of October. Contact the historical societies for information on scanning pictures and sending them.

“This all depends on the public. We need people to participate; we want to reach out and let them know about this,” Hull said.

For more information about sending pictures, contact:

The Chester Historical Society at chesterhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or 860-526-2443,

The Deep River Historical Society at info@deepriverhistoricalsociety.org or 860-526-1449, or

The Essex Historical Society at ehs@essexhistoricalsociety.org or 860-767-0681.



Rita Christopher is the Senior Correspondent for Zip06. Email Rita at news@shorepublishing.com.

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