In 2020 the Pioneer Valley History Network (PVHN) announced, “Revolution Happened Here: Our Towns in the American Revolution.” Funded through a grant from Mass Humanities, the project brought together a collaborative team of our region’s historical societies and museums to create an online exhibit and related programming that tells the story of the American Revolution as it unfolded in western Massachusetts. Visitors to the “Revolution Happened Here web exhibit can discover how the American Revolution, while a globally transformative event, was fundamentally a grassroots movement – intrinsically local and intensely personal.

PVHN is a consortium of, and advocate for, the many small historical organizations in our region of western Massachusetts that archive and steward much of the region’s history. Frequently run by volunteers, these institutions often have limited public hours and few resources. The Revolution Happened Here project encouraged and enabled even the smallest organizations to participate and share their town’s unique stories and treasures with a wider audience to help tell a larger, region-wide history. Often unknown outside their communities, these compelling 18th century artifacts and documents will also give voice to myriad, diverse histories of individuals and groups often marginalized in traditional, top-down histories of the Revolution – people of color, both free and enslaved of indigenous and of African descent, indentured servants and apprentices, the poor; women, children, loyalists, and prisoners of war.

The “Revolution Happened Here” website interprets artifacts and documents, grouped by topics and themes, and provides interactive opportunities for users to develop a deeper understanding of the American Revolution. An interactive map enables visitors to locate each story and object as they explore what happened town by town. The database and website exhibit are expandable to accommodate future participants and materials.