Monthly Archives: October 2017

Our Newest Acquisition

The Alfred Shaker Museum is proud to announce its latest acquisition; a Thomas Cushman spinning wheel with attached plate. Come and see it!

Did you know that the Museum accepts donations of Shaker items, and that donations are tax-deductible? The Museum also has a new Acquisitions Fund, to be used exclusively for purchasing Shaker artifacts and related materials. For more information, look here.

Biographer, Military Sleuth, and Historian: Don Deignan’s Talk at Shaker Museum on October 15

He’s written a book that is a double biography, a World War 2 mystery, and a book about family, industrial and local history. Even more, it is a story of inspiration overcoming disability. Rhode Island author Don Deignan spoke at Alfred Shaker Museum at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 15, the last of four speakers in this season’s Sid Emery Memorial Forum sponsored by the museum and the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society.

His book recounts a tale of personal commitment that is a repayment of a “debt of honor” to the uncle who helped him overcome enormous physical disabilities. And part of his story is set in Alfred during the years of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression.

Deignan’s book is titled The Shadow of Sacrifice / The True Story of a Pearl Harbor Survivor and His Nephew and Namesake. Deignan has a doctoral degree in history from Brown University and is one of the primary forces behind establishment of Providence’s Irish Famine memorial.

In the Alfred portion of the book, he was helped to do research by Gus Hedden, director at Alfred’s Parsons Memorial Library, local historian and author John Cook, and Irish historian and author Mary Lee Dunn Maguire, a board member of Alfred Shaker Museum, who helped him tap records about the CCC at Alfred’s town museum, thanks to help from Allison Williams.

Deignan was born with serious disabilities affecting both his sight and his ability to walk. For years he was a student at the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. There, at the Perkins School when he was 10 years old, on one anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was inspired by the service of his uncle who had died there on military duty.

It was his Uncle Donald whose life had most captured the boy’s commitment and imagination and given him the inspiration to press on despite his physical disabilities. With that early epiphany, he had developed a spiritual link with his late uncle that lasted and comforted him for a lifetime. But there were surprises as he focused on repaying his debt to Donald, the war hero. Don started to research his uncle’s war experience and encountered a record that presented questions that he set out to answer and mysteries he aimed to solve. Thus, he went up against the military bureaucracy in trying to find out how his uncle had died. And the answers, when he found them, did not comport with the family story he’d been told.

In the end he made peace with his Uncle Donald and satisfied his mission to repay the debt of honor that he felt he owed his uncle which he had undertaken so many decades earlier as a forlorn 10-year-old with overwhelming burdens.

Museum Hours:

Museum Hours: 1 PM – 4 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and by appointment.

Closing for the season on November 11.

Admission: Free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

We are dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome in our building.

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