Growing up, history, to me, meant names I recognized through municipal landmarks, faces I had met on currency, places I had seen on maps. All of this arrived through a weekday force-feeding called school – where I was surrounded by my 25 or so peers, all of whom were equally uninterested in the tattered pages of our hardcover textbooks. That changed in sixth grade. I created a family tree. Mrs. Oldaker assigned the homework. One boy in my class discovered a cousinship with Mrs. Oldaker through a Mayflower Pilgrim. Others found, or more likely became aware of, equally interesting connections. In my tree, I learned about ancestors named McNamara, Lannon, Hare, and even Machado, all of which the world, and even I, had seemed to have forgotten. In the following years, I studied their photographs and learned their stories. To better understand them, and their lives, I studied their eras, their neighborhoods, the personalities that fascinated them, the gripes that irritated them. Most lived in New England. Forgotten New England is history that recreates the world of our ancestors, as they lived it, with all the dirt, sweat, worries, fears, dreams, and fascinations that consumed them.
About the author
I’m Ryan W. Owen, creator of http://www.forgottennewengland.com. My main focus is New England history from the 1850′s forward, but I’ve also spent time researching Irish immigration to the Canadas (Upper and Lower), many eras of Irish history (with a particular focus on the Plantation of Ulster), and the fascinating story of the Portuguese people, including those in Madeira and the Azores. In addition to Forgotten New England, I write a local history column, Forgotten Billerica, that appears twice monthly in The Billerica Minuteman. I’m also a member, and sit on the board, of the Lowell Historical Society.
If you would like to contact me, please post a comment to the blog, or write to me at forgottennewengland at gmail dot com.