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Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center Wins Prestigious CLHO Award of Merit for SISTERS

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center is thrilled to announce that the museum has been awarded the prestigious 2021 Award of Merit from the Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) for its multi-program project SISTERS.

According to CLHO Executive Director Amrys O. Williams, Ph.D., the CLHO committee “was impressed with this effort to grapple with difficult history head-on. By bringing thorny issues around race, gender, and enslavement to life through theater, and connecting the play to a series of educational activities and public conversations, the ‘Sisters’ Project offers a model of the sort of innovative work that small organizations in Connecticut can do.”

SISTERS is a KTM&HC initiative that includes public and school program components based on an original play titled “Sisters.” At the heart of the “Sisters” production lies the story of two women – Anna Resseguie, a white woman, and Phillis DuBois, a Black woman – who lived at the Resseguie Hotel, today the site of KTM&HC, in the mid- to late-nineteenth century. The play explores the complicated dynamics of the women’s relationship. The play – co-written by Royal Shirée and Joanne Hudson, directed by Kimberly Wilson, and choreographed by Sharece Sellem – is informed by historical records from KTM&HC’s archives and the lived experiences and imaginations of its playwrights: Shirée is Black and Hudson is white. The play was staged for school and public audiences in 2020 (virtually, due to the pandemic), followed by programming and lessons for students and a community talkback for the public.

Playwright Shirée emphasized the importance of efforts to encourage present-day reckoning with and discussion of historical injustices: “In co-authoring ‘Sisters,’ I appreciate the opportunity to un-silence a bit of history to give voice and agency to the unaccredited many. I'm honored that in some way, I helped to spur thought and conversation, hopefully until the need to do so does not exist.” Shirée’s co-author, Joanne Hudson, expressed her appreciation for the collaborative nature of the play and its accompanying public and school programs, stating, “I am filled with love for everyone involved in this project. It’s a great honor for SISTERS to be recognized for the intention we envisioned.”

Both the public and school program components of SISTERS fulfill the museum’s renewed effort to “speak truth to history” by critically examining how KTM&HC tells its site history to ensure that all voices are heard truthfully and completely. This includes the site’s stories at the intersection of race, gender, and privilege, such as those told in SISTERS. KTM&HC aims to use the site’s history to reflect upon and contribute to our town, state, and national identities with the goal of affecting structural change and changing behavior and outcomes for a more just society. In addition, the school program uses historiography – the study of how the writing of history changes over time – to challenge students to think through how history was interpreted and taught in the nineteenth century and today.

“We are honored to receive this award, and we want to recognize the many people who helped make this project possible,” said KTM&HC Executive Director Hildegard Grob. “Combining history and theater, SISTERS is exceptional because it harnesses the power of the humanities to create honest, open, and critical engagement with the past, including difficult history, to provide context for the present.”

KTM&HC will receive the Award of Merit at CLHO’s Annual Business Meeting on April 20. Interested individuals can register for the ceremony here. To book the award-winning school program of SISTERS, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Future productions of the SISTERS public program will be announced on our website at keelertavernmuseum.org/events and on social media.

 

 

About Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center

Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center (KTM&HC), located on Main Street in Ridgefield, CT, tells three hundred years of the town’s—and nation’s—history through the lives of its past residents. The four-acre historic site is currently open for outdoor visits to the Cass Gilbert-designed Walled Garden and Rose Arbor, including the self-guided walking tour “Gilberts in the Gardens.” Scan the QR code on any one of the outdoor signposts for a map of the campus and walking tour stops. Visitors can view the famous cannonball – an authentic Revolutionary War relic from the Battle of Ridgefield – embedded in the corner post of the historic Keeler Tavern. The Carriage Barn is open for limited-capacity exhibitions and events. The Tavern Museum is temporarily closed to the public pursuant to state and local health guidelines for social distancing due to the coronavirus. Additional information, including updates about on-site and virtual programming and events, as well as rental availability of the Garden House and Walled Garden, can be found at keelertavernmuseum.org, @KeelerTavernMuseum on Facebook and Instagram, @KeelerTavern on Twitter, or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . For inquiries about school programs and digital learning experiences, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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