On Tuesday June 16, 2009, the citizens of Northampton have a Proposition 2 1/2 over ride vote to raise taxes for the FY10 budget.
    For more information on the FY10 City budget and over ride, see http://www.northamptonma.gov/fy2010/
    The Coolidge Museum has been asked, “what would Calvin do?”
    The answer is a simple one. Calvin Coolidge would tell his constituents to get out and vote, to care about their government, and to exercise their duty as citizens. As you make your decision whether or not to go to the polls and then how to vote, remember the words of Calvin Coolidge, “We have a tendency to be too indifferent before primaries and elections and too critical after. Public officers can and do exercise large influence over our daily life but the main course of events is in our own hands.” From a November 4, 1930 newspaper column

  • Interview with author Susan Well

    In the fall of 2005, Julie Bartlett, archivist at Forbes Library asked Coolidge Museum volunteer, Susan Well, to read through a housing file that was created in 1940 about where the President lived in Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Today on the eve of the publication of Well’s book, Calvin Coolidge: At Home in Northampton, the two women sat down to talk about how the project developed.

    JB: Do you remember your first impressions of the file’s contents?

    SW: Yes, it was clear that the material was compiled by Joseph Harrison, librarian of Forbes, from 1912 to 1950. The file contained fairly complete information on Coolidge’s early homes in the city as well as a list of his home and office addresses from the city directories beginning with the 1896/97 edition and ending with 1932.

    Harrison started the file in 1940 when he and other local historians were puzzled. They knew that the City Directories showed Coolidge first living at 162 King Street with a shoemaker and his wife and then moving to Clarke School for the Deaf to room with its steward. A now well-respected biography was published that year, and its author said that Coolidge first lived at 63 Center Street and then moved to Clarke School. So first and foremost, Harrison was trying to find out if Coolidge lived on both King Street and Center Street, or if only one of the two, which one was it? Everyone, including Calvin and Grace, said that he lived with the steward at Clarke School.

    JB: So you became a history detective. What did you find?

    SW: One of the biggest surprises for me was that Coolidge was a bachelor for ten years. I think that’s a really long time to be single in Northampton. I concluded that he lived in all three homes between the fall of 1895 and October 1905 when he married Grace Goodhue.

    JB: You just mentioned that Harrison’s research was good for the early homes. Was there information missing?

    SW: For the Northampton homes, there was a two-page, double-spaced typed narrative that related conversations with the granddaughter of the shoemaker and a neighbor on Center Street. He mentioned two hotels – one that the Coolidges lived in for three weeks after their honeymoon and another that I was never able to fully confirm. There was information about the house they rented from a professor on sick leave for nine months, but little about Clarke School or Massasoit Street and does not mention The Beeches at all.

    As for any missing information, I think Harrison would have been helped if he had consulted the 1895/96 City Directory and found Coolidge at 162 King Street. That fact coupled with the death of the shoemaker’s wife in June 1896 is strong evidence that it was the first of Coolidge’s city homes.

  • Calvin Coolige At Home in Northampton

    Calvin Coolige At Home in Northampton

    Calvin Coolidge At Home in Northampton, a new book by local historian and volunteer Susan Well, is now available. Using original material from the collections at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, Well presents the daily life and residences of Calvin Coolidge in Northampton, Massachusetts. Well uses new sources to document the unique and interesting personal life stories of Coolidge’s landlords and neighbors. Most of the Museum’s visitors ask where the former President lived, and now we have a definitive answer for them.

    Susan Well will give an author talk and book signing at the Coolidge Museum Wednesday, June 17 at 7pm.
    The book is for sale for $16 at the Forbes Library Circulation Desk or Coolidge Museum.
    Online ordering is coming soon. Email Coolidge@forbeslibrary.org for an order form.
  • A ‘Calvin Coolidge’ Living Room Set

    A ‘Calvin Coolidge’ Living Room Set

    Per the caption, it seems the designer of this 1928 set felt if it were named after President Coolidge the chances of winning the (unnamed) competition would increase.  Wrong.  The style is closer to mongrel Borax than L’Art Moderne and seventh place was at best, well, kind.  With 20-20 hindsight it’s easy to see why the first three years of American Modernism (1926-1929) was an abysmal failure both commercially and aesthetically.  Image from ‘A History of American Furniture’ by Marta K. Sironen, Towse Publishing Company, 1936.

  • The Coolidges Return to Northampton

    March 4th 1929 Herbert Hoover was inaugurated as the 31st President and the Coolidges, after attending the inauguration, returned to their beloved Northampton. Grace Coolidge wrote that as she journeyed back to Northampton from Washington D.C. that “I suddenly realized that I had come back to myself, that my husband was no longer the head of our great nation, and that he and I were free to come and go and order our lives according to the dictates of out hearts, responsible only to ourselves for the outcome of out decisions. Gone were the men of the Secret Service, the aides, the valet, the maid, and we were homeward bound.”

    from Grace Coolidge: An Autobiography
    Edited by Lawrence E. Wikander and Robert H. Ferrel

  • Happy Birthday Lincoln!

    Happy birthday to Abraham Lincoln! Today marks his 200th birthday. Over 70 years ago, Calvin Coolidge remarked on the character of our 16th president:

    “He declared that right makes its own might and he dared to act accordingly. Not only because he was a leader of those who saved the Union, but because of the man himself, his humanity, his sincerity, his devotion, the whole nation joins in observing his birthday and the whole world looks on him as a friend.”

    From “Calvin Coolidge Says” a syndicated newspaper column February 11, 1931

  • Perseverance

    The end of January approaches. How many of you are still working on those New Year’s resolutions? If you haven’t started, haven’t yet chosen one, or have already given up, it’s not too late to concentrate on them once more. For motivation, take Calvin Coolidge’s words to heart:

    “The great fact seems to be that when a man dedicates his whole soul to his work, when he fully determines to meet the responsibilities that he incurs, in his time of need some power outside himself directs his course and gives him the strength to prevail. To such men comes revelation. They do better than they know. Therein lies the hope of the world.”

    From “Calvin Coolidge Says” a syndicated newspaper column July 10, 1930

  • Inauguration Day

    In honor of Inauguration Day, here are some words from a former President:

    “Confidence in the President is almost identical with confidence in the country and in ourselves. With public support he can do a great deal to save any situation.”

    From “Calvin Coolidge Says” a syndicated newspaper column July 17, 1930

  • 1925 Inaugural address

    1925 Inaugural address

    For the text his speech see The American Presidency Project

  • 100th Anniversary of Coolidge as Mayor

    Calvin Coolidge was elected Mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts on December 7, 1909 beginning a continuous course of public service until he left the White House on March 4, 1929. The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum is planning special events, programs and exhibits later this year to mark the 100th anniversary of his election as Mayor. Stayed tuned to this blog for more information in the coming months.