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Sarah Storrs, 1832-1907

by Melissa Cybulski, Board member, Longmeadow Historical Society
August 13, 2020

Today's History Note tells the story of an unsung hero of Longmeadow's cultural life, Sarah Storrs.


The Storrs name is a recognizable one in the life of Longmeadow’s residents today because of the important role of the Storrs Library in our community. But how did the library come to be called the Richard Salter Storrs Library? It may surprise some to learn that it is a woman, Sarah Storrs, who is behind the founding of Longmeadow’s town library..


Sarah Storrs circa 1844. Signing the letter 'A'
Longmeadow Historical Society's Collection
[click image to enlarge]

Sarah Storrs was born in 1832, the granddaughter of the town’s 2nd minister, Richard Salter Storrs. As a baby, Sarah lost her hearing after contracting whooping cough. Deafness and blindness were common results of many childhood illnesses in the days before vaccinations. At age eleven, Sarah was enrolled at the American Asylum for the Deaf in Hartford, CT. She was a bright student, and was asked to stay on as a teacher as well. On faculty was her brother, also named Richard Salter Storrs. Sarah and “Salter” were important faculty members at a time of incredible growth in the field of deaf education. Though they lived and worked in Hartford during school terms, the Storrs’ parsonage at 697 Longmeadow Street was always home.


Professor Richard Salter Storrs and his sister Sarah Storrs
Both teachers at the American Asylum for the Deaf in Hartford.
Photo credit: Archives/American School for the Deaf in West Hartford, CT

When Salter Storrs died in 1884, Sarah knew it was his wish to establish a town library with a permanent home. Sarah died in 1907 and upon her death, her will stated, "Desiring to perpetuate a name dear to my family for three generations I wish to establish The Richard Salter Storrs Library of Longmeadow.” She left the family’s land, house and a sum of $5000 to make that wish a reality. The town raised a matching $5000 and in 1910 the first Richard Salter Storrs Library opened. That first library building stands today in the parking at the rear of the current library building. Directly next door stands the Storrs House Museum, home of the Longmeadow Historical Society. Contact us to visit this museum of Longmeadow’s history and learn more about Sarah at an exhibit created in her honor.


Sarah Storrs/ Early 20th Century Exhibit
Storrs House Museum


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Longmeadow Historical Society

697 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 567-3600
LongmeadowHS@gmail.com
 
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