So, say you're writing a scene about Edwardian-era police officers in New England, or researching the life and times of a police officer ancestor. Or, perhaps you're trying to get an idea of how people got into trouble with the law in the first years of the twentieth century. You'll need to know why Edwardian-era…Read more Understanding Crime in Edwardian-Era Massachusetts – Arrests in Lowell, 1904
Sometimes, you need to work really hard to land the latest find in your family tree discoveries. Sometimes, family history finds just fall in your lap. Before going to work yesterday morning, I stopped at the barber shop, and checked Facebook while waiting for my turn in the chair. And I found - quite a…Read more Unexpected Family Tree Finds – Western Electric’s Merrimack Valley Works
In these days of point-and-click genealogy (think sites like Ancestry.com or familysearch.org), local and regional history centers of the brick-and-mortar variety are sometimes unjustly overlooked. Some, like the New England Historic Genealogical Society, have online resources and an impressive web presence themselves. Others, especially those dedicated to smaller cities or even towns, have wonderful resources…Read more Most Likely to . . . Visit a Local History Center? High School Yearbooks and their Value to Genealogists
Black sheep ancestors - we've all got them. If you don't, it probably means that you haven't discovered them yet. I find them fascinating. I mean, I enjoy the church-going, god-fearing, alms-giving ancestors as much as the next genealogist, but there's a certain spark of interest that surges when you come across ancestors who were…Read more Embrace your black sheep ancestors!
Imagine the anticipation of these folks aboard the SS Canopic as it docked in Boston over 90 years ago. Were your grandparents or great-grandparents among these immigrants, who had perhaps spent more than a week aboard ship traveling to a new life? How long had these families planned, sacrificed, and prepared for this moment as…Read more Boston’s Immigrant Experience in 1900 – Anticipation & Hope Amidst Confusion & Exploitation
So, say you've inherited a large stack of family photographs showing ancestors who are far up your family tree - such as great-grandparents, or their siblings, cousins, or close family friends. As you stare into the moment in time captured in that cabinet card or tin type photograph, do you ever wonder what their voices…Read more A Window into the Past: Ancestors’ Letters as Genealogical Records
If you were to visit Lowell, Massachusetts before . . . say, 1890, you would not have met many men walking about the city named João or Manuel. The Portuguese began arriving en masse in New England in the late 19th century and had established, by the first decades of the 20th century, sizable communities in…Read more The Challenge of Researching Portuguese Ancestors
‘Herring choker.’ Today, it’s a somewhat pejorative term used in some circles to refer to Scandinavians or possibly folks from the Canadian province of New Brunswick. In our family (which has neither of those connections), it’s remembered as the term my great-grandmother used when referring to my grandfather’s (her son-in-law’s) Owen family. By the time…Read more Busting the Family Tree Brick Wall – Listen to those Rumors!
Do you commute to work using public transportation? There's a certain etiquette, a set of norms, that is easily observable when you are on the bus, the train, the subway, or even a plane. There's a prevailing thought out there that civility is a "thing of the past". But, was it? Did our ancestors live…Read more The Civility of the Past – Our Ancestors’ Experiences with Public Transport
Question: What was the price of a cup of chicken soup in 1915? Answer: Ten cents a cup. Add some ham and eggs to that, and you should be prepared to part with the Barber quarter and Buffalo nickel burning a hole in your pocket. If you're feeling a little more adventurous or extravagant, you…Read more Dating Old Photographs – The Price of Tea in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1917