Humans of Hartford

Humans of Hartford:
The Legacy of Everyday Objects

By Erin Frederick, Education Enrollment and Marking Coordinator

In The Piano Lesson, Boy Willie and his sister Berniece fight over the legacy of a family heirloom. The battle over this object threatens to tear the family apart, as Berniece treasures the beautifully hand-carved antique piano and its role in their family’s past, whereas Boy Willie sees it as the key to his future. While this family’s particular heirloom is unique, the importance of the family’s legacy is something many of us can relate to. 

Director Jade King Carroll and her Grandmother's Ring. Photo credit:  Nick Cinea, Humans of Hartford

Director Jade King Carroll and her Grandmother's ring. Photo credit: Nick Cinea, Humans of Hartford

Often it is not so much the items themselves that hold value, but rather the stories that go with them. The love letters written back and forth between grandparents during World War II, the family Bible that was lovingly wrapped to protect it from the damp sea air during a transatlantic crossing, the dining room table with worn edges from years of elbows resting on it, or a grandmother’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe that always reminds you of home – all of these items may not be worth anything to someone else, but to your own family, they are precious.

According to, the top 15 most common family heirlooms are bibles; photos; albums and scrapbooks; letters, diaries and datebooks; clocks and watches; jewelry; furniture; china and silver; weapons; military relics; quilts and samplers; recipes; clothing; dolls and toys; musical instruments; and Christmas decorations.