Custom House Maritime Museum A View of the Museum from Water St.


CLARISSA: Before Her Time

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May 18, 2011 – June 30, 2011
CLARISSA: Before Her Time


The Inaugural Exhibition of our 2011 Season


In 2009, the Custom House Maritime Museum received a collection of belongings from a North Hampton, New Hampshire, woman who had recently passed away.  During World War II, she served in the SPARs, the women's corps of the U.S. Coast Guard.  And her name was Elinor Bachelder.

Because the museum's collection celebrates Newburyport as birthplace of the USCG, Elinor's family felt it would be the proper location for the many SPARs uniforms and accessories Elinor preserved and of which she was most proud. This gift of her possessions and keepsakes, provides highly personal insight to an especially unique woman.

For Elinor's story reveals an individual whose path through life represents that brave progressive arc of others like her who changed the societal role of 20th century American women. They did so not by any organized imperative to break a mold, but through bold and necessary personal choices made under extraordinary circumstances of a challenging time.  The story of Elinor is that of "The Greatest Generation's" everywoman who fostered an era of remarkable social transition.  And in borrowing her middle name, Clarissa, for the title of this exhibition we honor not only Elinor, but so many of her peers, largely unrecognized, who were indeed, before their time.

We invite you to explore "Clarissa: Before Her Time" to appreciate and celebrate the important story revealed through the personal life of North Hampton's own Elinor Bachelder.  For we all have a Clarissa in our midst, and whether she is or was a friend, co-worker, neighbor, grandmother, mother, aunt, sister or even oneself, this exhibition is a tribute to them all.

Join us for the ribbon-cutting ceremony that will open this exhibit at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 18th, at the front door to the museum.

The museum gratefully acknowledges the leadership contributions of Bill and Elizabeth Harris, Peggy Utterback, Beth Welch and Joanie Purinton, in making this exhibition possible.

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