Bringing History Home

Bringing History Home

There is no better time than now to explore history at the Filson – bringing history home to you!

The Filson Historical Society is pleased to bring history to you – in the comfort of your own home. Please check back regularly for more downloadable activities, virtual programs, and digital exhibits to keep people of all ages entertained, educated, and connected to our past! Click on one of the titles below to be directed to our family-friendly content, and be sure to watch our one minute video to experience what the Filson has to offer!

Collection Reflections

Activities for All Ages

Virtual Programs

Digital Exhibits

Photo of Cultural Pass Program with kids

Activities for All Ages

The Filson is pleased to share these fun activities related to our collections with history fans of all ages!

At Home Scavenger Hunt

Let’s collect some artifacts!! You’re going on a Scavenger Hunt around your house to see if you can find similar items to what the Filson collects.

Can you find…
· a photograph or painting of a family member
· a map
an article of clothing that belonged to an ancestor
· a handwritten letter or postcard
· sheet music or record album
· a watch or clock that must be wound by hand (no batteries)
· a book about Kentucky
· items related to a horse, a steamboat, basketball, and Abraham Lincoln
· a hand-made blanket, quilt or article of clothing

Some of these items might be extremely hard to find in your home. Be creative and find alternatives but try to get as close to the quest item as possible!

Can you tell a story about a family artifact or one of the items that you found during the scavenger hunt? Here are some suggestions to get you started.
· Describe the item
· Do you know where it came from?
· Why is it important to your family?
· How do you take care of it?
· What is it used for?
· Can you look online to find out any more information about it, such as how it was made, or its original function?

Share your artifacts and stories with us! You can tag us on Facebook or Instagram, or email us at gro.l1657068638aciro1657068638tsihn1657068638oslif1657068638@ofni1657068638!

Digital Scavenger Hunt

Seek and find answers to the following questions about the Women at Work: Venturing into the Public Sphere digital exhibit, located online at: You can navigate through the online exhibit by using the right-hand table of contents menu. Once in the exhibit, you can advance using links at the bottom of each page.

A Spanish Beauty Fashion Plate ca. 1930, from Mary Cummings

A Spanish Beauty Fashion Plate ca. 1930, from Mary Cummings [1986.11.12]

  1. What is Viola Stow holding in her photograph?
  2. What kind of lab did Julia Tevis institute at Science Hill Female Academy?
  3. What was the name of the Central High School yearbook?
  4. What toy is named after Louisvillian Patty Smith Hill?
  5. How old was Lucie DuValle when she began teaching?
  6. What color is Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston’s jacket in his portrait by Magladen Harvey McDowell?
  7. How many sewing girls were in Louisville in 1874? What food did Jennie Benedict create that is still enjoyed today?
  8. What food did Jennie Benedict create that is still enjoyed today?
  9. Where did Bessie Meyer wear the gown that Madame Grunder created for her?
  10. What color are the flowers on the Madame Mulvaney dress in the exhibit?
  11. Is there a fashion plate for any of the dresses in the collection? Who was the creator?
  12. What item is Dinnie Thompson carrying in her picture that is also in the exhibit?
  13. What did the Jewish Ladies Benevolent Society want their money to purchase for Jewish Hospital?
  14. Who founded the Woman’s Club of Louisville?
  15. What material did Irene Mudd use in her artworks for the Filson’s Women at Work exhibit?

Answer key located here.

Filson Activity Sheets

Filson Activity Sheet (PDF) – Challenge yourself or a family member to solve some of these challenges of historical proportions!

Filson Activity Sheet

Learn to Crochet at home!

The Filson’s Special Projects Coordinator, Sarah Laufer Bruns, has created a tutorial for crocheting at home. Using everyday items and your fingers as the hook, you’ll be able to create a snuffle mat for a pet, a bathmat, or a playmat. Download the tutorial here (PDF).

Create your own Paper Dolls!

Paper dolls are figures cut out of paper or thin card, with separate

clothes, also made of paper, that are usually held onto the dolls by paper folding tabs.[1] They may be a figure of a person, animal or inanimate object.[2] Paper dolls have been inexpensive children’s toys for almost two hundred years. Today, many artists are turning paper dolls into an art form.-wikipedia

Steps to making Paper dolls

  1. Click here to choose your paper doll
  2. Print out the different images
  3. Color the article of clothing and the people as you wish
  4. Cut out the people. Cut them out staying on the outline as best as possible
  5. Cut out the clothing. When you cut out the clothing, leave a little paper tab that can be folded over to keep the clothes on the doll

Here’s a helpful article about making paper dolls:

Virtual Programs

Previous Programs

Nationally recognized author and host of NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Steve Inskeep, discusses his latest book, Imperfect Union the riveting story of John and Jessie Frémont, America’s first great political couple. Recorded on January 30, 2020 at the Brown Theater.

Recorded Virtual Events

Dr. Lynn Pohl, Collections Cataloger at the Filson Historical Society, presented Living with a Deadly Disease: A History of Tuberculosis and Waverly Hills Sanatorium, on Friday, July 24. If you missed the lecture or would like to view it again, you can see it on our YouTube channel here.

Be sure to check out all of our recorded events at our YouTube Channel.

Filson staff have selected audio recordings and video lectures from recent years to be featured for their relevancy to current events, historical anniversaries, and themed content. Please click the button above to listen!

Digital Exhibits

To see all of our online exhibits and content, please visit:

Online Exhibits

History of the Louisville Legion

The Commonwealth of Kentucky has a long history of military service, dating back to its frontier days as a Virginia territory. Volunteer militias were initially formed in the Kentucky territory as a fighting force opposed to indigenous tribes still living in the region. Kentucky combatants were particularly infamous amongst the indigenous peoples of the midwestern territories for their ferociousness in combat. As military engagements developed from frontier skirmishes to large-scale battles with sovereign nations abroad, the Kentucky military responded with enthusiastic service. This fierce spirit in combat would define the military history of Kentucky, particularly the history of the Louisville Legion.

Louisville Legion Drum 1911.1

Collection Reflections Series

The 2020 Collection Reflections Series is made possible through the generous support of PNC Wealth Management.

The Collection Reflections series focuses on items in the Filson’s collection that highlight people and events in Kentucky’s and the nation’s history. The items range across the breadth of the collection – from portraits to letters to photographs to books – and provides an opportunity to view items rarely seen by the public that help tell the story of the Ohio Valley region and the nation.

A collage of a white man in a blue oxford shirt holding a variety of black and white photos and documents. In the upper right hand side, it says "The Filson Historical Society" and across the middle it says Collection Reflection Series.
  1. Introduction to the Filson’s Collection Reflections Series (0:48)
  2. William Clark (7:22)
    The Filson’s collection contains a large collection of Clark family papers and a variety of artifacts. This edition of Collection Reflection highlights noted Kentucky artist Joseph Bush’s ca. 1817 portrait of William Clark, a William Clark letter dating from the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition, and the horn of a big horn sheep that Clark brought back from the expedition and presented to his sister Fanny Fitzhugh.
  3. William Preston, Susanna Smith Preston, and Meriwether Lewis (7:36)
    This edition of Collection Reflections connects the mention of Meriwether Lewis and William Preston in the William Clark Collection Reflection edition. Lewis and Preston were comrades in arms during the Indian war of the 1790s. Clark and Preston eventually became brothers-in-law and Clark and Lewis partnered on the greatest exploring venture in American history. The collection includes not only William Preston’s portrait by Joseph Bush but also his mother Susanna Smith Preston’s ca. 1760 portrait attributed to John Wollaston. Meriwether Lewis’s July 1808 letter to his old army friend Preston ranges across a variety of subjects from land investment to romance.
  4. James Wilkinson (5:25)
    History has its heroes and its villains; its nobles and its rascals. James Wilkinson is one of history’s famous rascals. A long career in the army and government was marked with scheming, treason, and bungling. John Wesley Jarvis’s portrait of Wilkinson depicts him in his military splendor. His letter to a friend speaking of patriotism reveals him to be the hypocrite he was, serving as a paid agent of Spain for some twenty years.
  5. Joseph H. Bush (4:08)
    Joseph Bush was one of Kentucky most famous ante bellum artists – joining Matthew H. Jouett and Oliver Frazer – in that rarefied group. The collection contains a wonderful little self-portrait of the artist presented to the Preston family. Bush not only painted members of the Preston family but also was sweet on one of William Preston’s daughters, as evidenced in correspondence in the Preston papers.
  6. John J. Audubon – The Cardinal (5:25)
    No artist is better known for birds than John J. Audubon. The Filson is fortunate to have one of Audubon’s early bird paintings, his painting of a cardinal he observed at the Falls of the Ohio in June of 1808. Audubon lived in Louisville for several years during this time, devoting more time to roaming the countryside, pursuing his art, and socializing than minding his store.
  7. John J. Audubon – portraits of BFC Todd and Thomas Henderson (4:30)
    Audubon left Louisville for Henderson in 1810 following the failure of his store. He returned in 1819 for about a year after his Henderson enterprises failed. While in Louisville he drew portraits and gave art lessons to make ends meet. Two portraits done during this Louisville residency were profile portraits of Barbara Fontaine Cosby Todd and Rev. Thomas Henderson.
  8. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Sr. and Sons (9:08)
    Meriwether Lewis Clark, Sr. – named in honor of his father William Clark’s partner in discovery Meriwether Lewis – married Louisvillian Abigail Churchill. They had seven children – six boys and one girl. The girl died young and Abby died in childbirth. This photo of Lewis (as he was known) and his six boys from the mid-1850s show them together before the five youngest were placed among relatives. The boy on the far right is Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. – destined to be the founder of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.
  9. Robert and Julia Pickett Hord (5:55)
    One of the most interesting portraits in the Filson’s collection is the rare double portrait of Robert and Julia Pickett Hord. Painted by Patrick Henry Davenport in the 1830s, in an age when many a young couple were separated by death and the surviving spouse married again, it was very unusual for husband and wife to be painted together. Not only was it expensive but a later spouse likely wouldn’t want a portrait of their predecessor with their now husband or wife on display. Julia was a teenage bride (not unusual for the time). They lived in Middletown and their house still stands.
  10. George Rogers Clark (10:17)
    The Hannibal of the West, Conqueror of the Northwest, and other sobriquets have been bestowed upon the founder of Louisville and Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark. The military exploits of Clark and the Illinois Regiment in the western theater of the war played an important role in the young United States acquiring the vast territory north of the Ohio River. His popular posthumous portrait traditionally has been attributed to Kentucky artist Matthew H. Jouett; and his famous Mason Letter of November 1779 recounting his Illinois Campaign both reside in the Filson’s collection.
  11. Issac Shelby (7:28)
    Revolutionary War hero in the Battle of King’s Mountain and first and fifth governor of Kentucky, Isaac Shelby played an important role in both the young nation and Kentucky. While serving his second term as governor he raised an army to aid William Henry Harrison’s Northwestern campaign during the War of 1812 and the American victory against the British and Indians in the Battle of the Thames in October 1813. Matthew H. Jouett’s ca. 1816 portrait of Shelby preserved his image for posterity.
  12. Zachary Taylor (13:12)
    Kentuckian Zachary Taylor became a national hero during the Mexican-American War of the 1840s. Old Rough and Ready achieved a resounding victory in the Battle of Buena Vista in February of 1847 and rode that acclaim to the White House in the 1848 presidential election. James Reid Lambdin’s portrait of Taylor depicting the hero in military uniform is one of the highlights of the Filson’s significant portrait collection. Letters Taylor wrote to his brother Hancock have survived and are part of the Filson’s manuscript collection.
  13. Chapultepec and George Caldwell (7:19)
    The castle of Chapultepec protected the approach to Mexico City. It was a significant American victory during the Mexican-American War in capturing the Mexican capital and the eventual end of the conflict. Kentuckian Clement Edwards served in the army and most likely based his later painting of the fortress on his personal observation. Kentuckian George Caldwell participated in the assault on Chapultepec and upon returning home settled in Louisville and became one of its wealthiest citizens.
  14. Joseph Hamilton Daveiss (8:57)
    Attorney Joseph Hamilton Daveiss was much better known for his legal abilities than his military despite being painted in uniform. He was one of Kentucky’s foremost lawyers whose career might have carried him to greater fame if he hadn’t been killed in November 1811 in the Battle of Tippecanoe. Famous Philadelphia-based artist Charles Willson Peale and Kentucky artist Matthew H. Jouett have both been mentioned as the possible painter of this posthumous portrait of Daveiss. When Kentucky formed a new county and named it in his honor, the e and i in his name were reversed, thus it is Daviess rather than Daveiss County.
  15. Otto A. Rothert (7:09)
    Editor, author, collector, and long-time secretary of the Filson Historical Society, Otto Rothert established the old Filson Club History Quarterly as one of the finest state history journals in the country. As an author, his history of Muhlenberg County, Ky., is a model for writing such a history; and his Outlaws of Cave in Rock is a classic. J. Bernard Alberts, Jr. captured the young Rothert perfectly with his reported ever-present unfiltered cigarette in hand.