Past Occupations: Lamplighters in Lowell, Massachusetts

Lamplighters turned night into day.  A staple of the urban Victorian streetscape, the nostalgic image persists of a lone man, walking a darkening city street as dusk descended behind him, extending his staff to ignite each dark, cold lamp stem to life with a small flame.  He would light the way along the lonely city…Read more Past Occupations: Lamplighters in Lowell, Massachusetts

Macaroni and Cheese? For Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Dinner in 1883

Was Thanksgiving dinner different during Victorian times? If you were to sit down at a Thanksgiving table in 1883, you would see the familiar turkey and cranberry sauce and pies. But, what might surprise you would be, first, macaroni and cheese, and next, the meal that arrived when the Victorians called for macaroni and cheese. In…Read more Macaroni and Cheese? For Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Dinner in 1883

Fires of Lowell, Massachusetts – Associate Building, 1924

The first alarm sounded just after midnight on April 28, 1924. Lowell's firemen arrived soon after to find tendrils of smoke wafting from the Associate Building's fourth floor windows. Inside, the Portuguese Club was ablaze. By the time firemen gained access to the downtown Lowell landmark, they found the fire well underway inside and quickly…Read more Fires of Lowell, Massachusetts – Associate Building, 1924

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The Men of the Boston, Lowell and Nashua Line – Train Life in the 1870s

My two-year-old son loves trains.  One of his first words was "train".  And, he likes to announce the arrival and departure of trains, with the word "train", repeatedly, while pointing. The fascination people have with trains can be traced back much further than today's living generations.  In fact, before planes and automobiles, trains, or iron…Read more The Men of the Boston, Lowell and Nashua Line – Train Life in the 1870s

The Rise and Fall of Shorthand in Victorian-Era America

Shorthand experienced its heyday in the years immediately following the Civil War.  As the end of the 19th century approached, many reporters began to swear off its usefulness, saying that shorthand's time had passed, and that it was no longer worth the significant effort required to learn it.  By the early 1890's, the century's practice…Read more The Rise and Fall of Shorthand in Victorian-Era America

In Search of Good Sleuths: A Downtown Lowell Treasure Hunt, 1912

"Are you a good sleuth?"  The headline teased, from the Lowell Sun's front page.  One hundred years ago, on Saturday, September 21, 1912, the newspaper invited all would-be sleuths to Lowell's Merrimack Square (today's Kearney Square) that night, at 8 PM, 'sharp'.  One lucky sleuth, they claimed, would win $100 ($2300 in today's dollars) if…Read more In Search of Good Sleuths: A Downtown Lowell Treasure Hunt, 1912