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Understanding Katharine S. Day’s Identity



How should historians interpret apparent LGBTQIA+ historical relationships involving people who did not self-identify?  How can museums design responsible guidelines for historical storytelling that encompass the complexity of suppressed and hidden histories—as well as the wishes of the subjects? Hear four case studies of historic sites in New England doing this work in a variety of geographic places, in different timelines, and at different points in their institutional research and interpretation.

Through these four 20th-century case studies, scholars and educators explore these questions in the lives of four individuals, including Katharine S. Day, the founding preservationist of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and the great-niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe.

This program was made possible in part by CT Humanities, and by the generosity of Anne Stanback and Charlotte Kinlock.

Image: Photograph of Katharine Seymour Day in the Stowe House backyard, c. 1925. Harriet Beecher Stowe Center,

Shaelyn Amaio is Public Engagement Manager at Connecticut Landmarks, where she coordinates interpretation and visitor experience for 11 house museums spanning 400 years of New England history. For the Palmer-Warner House, currently open by appointment, she has worked to develop an interpretive framework focusing on the mid-twentieth century story of preservation architect Frederic Palmer and his partner Howard Metzger, the last residents of the 1738 home that is in the process of becoming Connecticut Landmarks’ newest museum.

Marilyn Keith Daly is the past Site Manager at the Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum (South Berwick, ME) and currently the Project Manager, Historic New England Center for Preservation and Collections. She conceived, researched, wrote, and collaborated with organizational staff to create the reinterpretation of Historic New England’s Sarah Orne Jewett House Museum, launched in 2018.  With a background in professional theatre, Marilyn Keith Daly was formerly Education Manager at Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College and a master’s degree from Jackson Center for Creative Writing at Hollins University. She interprets Jewett and Annie Fields’s 19th-century “Boston marriage.”

Meghan Gelardi Holmes, Curator at the Gibson House Museum (Boston, MA), is a public historian, writer, and museum specialist. Holmes received a master’s degree in public history from UMASS-Amherst.  She interprets Gibson House founder Charlie Gibson Jr.’s queer life in early 20th century Boston.

Susan Ferentinos, Ph.D. is a public history researcher, writer, and consultant, specializing in project management for historical organizations and LGBTQIA+ and women’s history. She is the author of Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites, which won the 2016 Book Award from the National Council on Public History. Recent projects include a historic resource study for Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and national historic landmark nominations for three LGBTQIA+ projects in Washington, DC, and Virginia. Her work with the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is a CT Humanities funded project titled Understanding Katharine Seymour Day’s Identity: Interpreting Women’s Sexuality in the early 20th Century.