Past Exhibition

Signs of the Times

January 26, 2019, through March 7, 2020

Signs are important tools of communication that guide people through their daily lives. Signs are so commonplace that we often barely notice them beyond the information they provide when we need them. For centuries people have depended upon both signs’ words and visual cues—symbols, images, and colors—to guide them. Practical creations guiding us through life, they are also expressions of the values of the times and their makers. Signs not only tell us where to go or what to do, they can also help us understand our past. They tell us about messages that were delivered, the people for whom they were produced, and the times in which they were created.

For more than a century the New Hampshire Historical Society has collected signs that have marked the landscape and culture of the state of New Hampshire. The Society's exhibition Signs of the Times featured an array of advertising, political, informational, and directional signs, ranging from a toll sign for the Cornish Bridge, dated 1796, to a 1920s advertising sign for the "honest" brand of underwear and hosiery manufactured by the Contoocook Mills Corporation in Hillsborough, to a 20th-century highway sign marking a stretch of Interstate 93 named for Alan B. Shepard Jr. of Derry, the first American to travel into space (1961) and the fifth to walk on the moon (1971).

The exhibition Signs of the Times was on display from January 26, 2019, through March 7, 2020.