Lillie V. Albrecht (1894-1985), a descendant of seventeenth-century English Puritans, Nantucket Quakers, and Dutch settlers on Long Island, began working as assistant children's librarian at the Westfield Athenaeum in Westfield, Massachusetts, in 1927, and was the first curator of its Edwin Smith Historical Museum, serving from 1928 to 1952.
The Albrechts lived for many years in Westfield, where Mrs. Albrecht became interested in the town's three centuries of history. It was to teach history that she first started writing short stories for children set among the real people and places of western Massachusetts and created the story of fictional antique doll Deborah.
The stories she wrote about Deborah's adventures in Westfield's history eventually became the full-length children's book Deborah Remembers. Publishers at first turned down a book about a doll's memoirs, but encouraged Mrs. Albrecht to write more historical children's stories. She then wrote Hannah's Hessian, which appeared in 1958 and was an immediate success; soon her publisher was eager to publish Deborah Remembers, which has since become the best-known of her books. Deborah was followed by three more stories set in Westfield and western Massachusetts in the colonial and Revolutionary eras.
The Edwin Smith Historical Museum's Colonial Kitchen is now named after her and the image at
left, of Mrs. Albrecht and Deborah, is part of the new mural, The Story of Westfield, that was installed at the Westfield Athenaeum in 2010.