About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.

Light Me Up – The First Electric Street Lamp

One of the unexpected gems is the artistic and scientific wonderment that is the first electric street lamp, invented by Charles F. Brush of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1879. You can see it today in Public Square. Heady with Victorian ornament, … Continue reading

Nanny – A Servant Wager Cup

Online databases are incredible tools. While my museum career has mostly focused on textiles, dress, and ethnographic materials, I never know what is going to inspire me when I search mfa.org, metmuseum.org, emuseum.history.org (Colonial Williamsburg), and so forth. I’ve heard a … Continue reading

Kotex Goes to War

Some old women’s magazines from the 1940s turned up when we emptied my grandparents’ house. You would expect the articles and advertisements to address their ideal audience of conscientious housewives, transitioning from the wood stove of her mother’s generation to … Continue reading

Wanderlust Wednesday: Governor’s Island

We are off to Governor’s Island at some point this weekend. Whereas tourists seek Central Park to see some of the greenery of Manhattan, locals hop on the ferry to Governor’s Island, long a military outpost. The trappings of the … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday – The Elevated in NYC

The El still lives on in Chicago – I’m not sure that they could live without it. But the El once was a vital part of New York transportation, an improvement on surface railways, pre-dating the underground subways, and discarded … Continue reading

Happy Labor Day

Lewis Hine’s photographs will always remind us of the successes of the Labor Movement. The title of this image is Addie Card, 12 years. Spinner in North Pownal Cotton Mill. Girls in mill say she is ten years. She admitted … Continue reading

Whose Sleeves? Tagasode Screen

The garments draped over the racks in the golden scene depicted on this screen raise questions about the woman who left them there. The late seventeenth century kosodes are energetic in their designs of fans and wheels and riotous in … Continue reading

Having Dinner with Robert Jocelyn

I’ll have the Scollop of Oysters, hartychokes, cold lobster, and olive pudding! Winterthur has in their collections the Dinner Book of Robert Jocelyn, First Viscount of Jocelyn and one time Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The book includes drawings of his … Continue reading

Transit Tuesday: Dusseldorf to Cologne

Say it with me: Hauptbahnhof. What a great word “train station” is in German. I was recently in Germany for work and I had a free day to pop over to Cologne. Unfortunately, it was Monday and nary a museum … Continue reading