Bonnie enjoys transcibing original historic letters and researching as a volunteer
National Park Service, Weir Farm National Historic Site
Spring Volunteer Spotlight: Bonnie
This spring, Weir Farm National Historic Site is celebrating Bonnie as our featured volunteer. Bonnie has a unique volunteer role at the park. As a Historic Letter Transcription Volunteer, she has translated and transcribed hundreds of letters found in the archives and collections of Weir Farm National Historic Site. These historic letters, many of which are over 200 years old, provide crucial insight into the day-to-day lives of the artists that called the farm home from 1882 to 2005. Bonnie works with the park's Curatorial staff to uncover untold stories of the past through these historic correspondences. Bonnie also volunteers as an Interpreter, sharing the stories she's come to know and love with visitors through special tours and as a docent in the Weir and Young Studios.
Bonnie began working with the original letters in 2003, when she started her thesis project for Wesleyan University. Bonnie's thesis, Poetry, Painting and Prose Inspired in J. Alden Weir's Beautiful Land of Nod, was published by Wesleyan in 2004, but her role as a volunteer and Weir Farm National Historic Site advocate was just beginning. This project was truly a labor of love, and led Bonnie to continue her connection to the park in a volunteer capacity. In addition to continuing to transcribe letters for the park, Bonnie also developed three specialized tours, which she leads each year. In spring, The Nature of Love offers a peak into the love letters between J. Alden Weir and his fiancée Anna Dwight Baker. In summer, Bonnie's Poetry and Painting in the Land of Nod, includes a sharing of her poems inspired by selected Julian Alden Weir paintings. Her third tour, Foreshadowing Fate, gives visitors an intimate look into Anna Baker Weir's ethereal presence and eerie sense of her own fate, and is offered around sunset one evening each autumn.
Bonnie says her love affair with Weir Farm began years before it became a national park – in 1984 when her family moved to the neighborhood. As a neighbor, she and her family have enjoyed living near this special place, and have many fond memories. Her favorite story takes us back to 1986, when her son JT claimed a day of successful fishing in Weir Pond. Her husband, Jim, laughed in disbelief, saying "what a fish story!" JT then marched straight to the pond, retuning with a foot-long largemouth bass. After proving his point to Jim, JT promptly marched right back to the pond and released his fish, as he still does today in the streams of Wyoming and Montana. "I connect his love of the sport to his first experiences on Weir's prize money pond, which Weir stocked for his and his friends' enjoyment," said Bonnie of her son's "fish story."
Today, Bonnie enjoys researching and transcribing letters, leading tours, and interacting with visitors and other volunteers. She is especially excited about the grand opening of the Weir House, Weir Studio, and Young Studio this May. "Now after years of detailed research and restoration work, the house and studios will share their contents with the public," says Bonnie, "Each phase of the process has been painstakingly and professionally executed to ensure an accurate representation of the humble home among the rocks in The Land of Nod. I feel so lucky to have been a part of the most exciting and vibrant period in Weir Farm National Historic Site modern history."
Bonnie's heartfelt and unique contributions to the Volunteers-In-Parks program at Weir Farm National Historic Site and her role in discovering new stories though research has been extremely valuable to the park. Thanks Bonnie, for all of your support as a neighbor, volunteer, and advocate!