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Our Plural History | Springfield, MA

Agawam and Nonotuck
The Agawam people were the first to sell land to the group of English colonists led by William Pynchon, while the Nonotuck, who made their home near present day Northampton, largely resisted English encroachment

John Brown

Before leading his ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry Virginia, the fiery abolitionist called Springfield, MA his home. Here, Brown worked extensively with abolitionists in both the African American and white communities and aided them in their fight to resist the institution of slavery

King Philip's War
Indigenous resistance to European domination erupted into warfare across New England in 1675-1676, and several key battles in what became known as King Philip's War took place in the Connecticut River Valley

First Explorations
The area's geography circa 10,000 BCE

Pre-contact Cultures of the First Peoples
Although sharing a cultural and linguistic heritage, the First Peoples of what is now the area around Springfield displayed significant diversity

William Pynchon

Founder of the city of Springfield, Pynchon and his family helped build Springfield from a trading post on the outskirts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony to a thriving commercial city

Conflict and Cooperation among the First Peoples and European Settlers
Despite a clash of cultures that made integration and cooperation between native groups and European colonists difficult, instances of mutual exchange reveal the complex relations between the two societies

Indentured Servitude in Colonial Springfield

Over half of all immigrants during the colonial period came as bonded or indentured servants, contracted to provide labor to a particular master for a fixed period of time in exchange for passage overseas

John Pynchon
After his father returned to England, John Pynchon expanded the fur trade in the valley and secured land claims from Native American groups

Thomas Thomas

A former slave, Thomas Thomas would befriend John Brown as well as become a successful small business owner in Springfield

Abolitionism & the Underground Railroad in the Connecticut River Valley
Local activists involved in the resistance movement against slavery included church leaders, businesspeople, and committees of concerned citizens, both black and white

Springfield and the Civil War
When the first shots rang out at Fort Sumter in April of 1861, Springfield was a city of 15,000 residents supported by several local industries. By the war's end, Springfield had sent 2,625 of its men to fight for the Union cause

St. John's Congregational Church

One of the oldest African American churches in Springfield, St. John's has undergone numerous name changes but has remained a center of African American community life

Irish Immigrants in Holyoke

Irish immigrants arrived in large numbers early in the Industrial Era of the Connecticut River Valley, and built by hand the canals that would power the mills of Holyoke

French-Canadian Immigrants in Holyoke

The availability of work in the mills of Holyoke attracted overland migrants from French-speaking Canada

The World of Basketball

In Springfield, Canadian immigrant James Naismith invented the sport of basketball, which grew into a worldwide sport

The Springfield Armory

Founded by George Washington, the Springfield Armory provided a means of social mobility for a diverse array of ethnic groups in the twentieth century

Puerto Rican Communities in the Valley

Puerto Rican migrants have increasingly been attracted to the smaller industrial cities and farm lands of New England. The cities of Springfield and Holyoke continue to be a destination for migrant communities

The Civil Rights Movement in Springfield

The vibrant African-American community in Springfield was instrumental in the fight against segregation and racial discrimination and in favor of justice and equality for all Americans

Hmong Story Cloth

The Hmong collaborated with the United States during the Vietnam War before being forced to flee to Thailand and eventual refuge in the United States

Immigration from Russia and the Soviet Union: After the End of the Cold War

After the fall of the Soviet Union, large numbers of Russians immigrants settled in the area around Springfield
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