A lifelong student of history and a former professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature has leveraged her passion for historical research to preserve the images and memories of the families that defined Middletown.
“I've never written a book like this before,” said Christine Haverington, author of the book Images of America Middletown that was released last month. As a professor at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, Haverington has published books and papers, but said they were all academic. This is her first book that appeals to a wider audience, she said.
The book is a chapter in the Images in America series, sponsored by Arcadia Publishing. According to the publisher’s website, each book in the series features more than 200 vintage images, that bring to life the people, land and events that defined the community.
The publisher approached the to write the book, and as a member of the Society’s board of directors, Haverington agreed to take on the task.
Haverington, who has lived in Middletown for the past seven years, said the process made her fall in love and appreciate her new home.
“I’ve traveled a lot in the world.” said the author. “There is no place more beautiful in the world.” Haverington moved to Newport eight years ago from Albany when her daughter Elizabeth married a Newporter.
She said in addition to public collections, she also approached families to capture family photos that have not yet been archived.
“I opened family albums of quite a few descendants,” she said. She was struck that four generations later, the same names, families and businesses still exist.
Haverington completed the book over the course of a year, despite that she had a full time job at a fine art gallery in Newport. She said she often worked long into the night, reviewing and formatting the old images.
When asked if she had a favorite image, she said it was impossible to single one out.
“I couldn’t stop looking at them,” she said.
She hopes readers will end up with a greater appreciation for how historically significant Middletown is to the country. She cited Middletown’s influential role in the American Revolution, religious tolerance and the slave trade.
“It’s a surprisingly important town,” said Haverington. “History begins 1500-2000 years ago when native farmers farmed the lands,” she pointed out.
To celebrate the book’s debut, the Newport Historical Society and the Middletown Historical Society have partnered for a lecture by the author next Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 5:30pm at the Colony House on Washington Square in Newport.
Haverington said the location of the Colony House is historically symbolic of the origins of Middletown, which was once part of Newport until it became its own entity in 1743. She said the book has also brought the Newport and Middletown Historical Societies together, a collaboration she said she hopes to see in future projects.
The book is available for $21.99 at Island Books, Custom House Coffee as well as major bookstores.