Mapping and thoroughly transcribing the oldest Catholic cemetery in Naugatuck, Saint Francis, Maher has made connections between generations of families and friends. The book includes selected marriage, baptism and death records throughout the nineteenth century and excerpts from rare letters between Irish immigrants and individuals still in Ireland. It is replete with photographs from Ireland and Connecticut, and restored personal images selected from families' collections, including her own, from materials safeguarded in scrapbooks and albums for years. In many ways Maher has made the people whose graves she encountered in cemeteries come alive again.
Creatively overcoming the limited existence of early genealogical records, From the Old Sod to the Naugatuck Valley draws a colorful, intimate, multi-layered vision of a generation of immigrants and their descendants who shaped the character of southern Connecticut. Its fusion with family histories brings to the foreground a captivating thread in the tapestry called America.
Janet Maher has been a professional artist for more than thirty years. Her drawings, prints, artist books, mixed media works and collaborative projects have been exhibited widely and are in numerous private and public collections. A native of Connecticut, she also lived and worked in New Mexico before settling in Baltimore, where she is an Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Loyola University Maryland. This is her first scholarly book.