If you were to walk . . . Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, 1886

If you were to walk . . . Boston's Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market 125 years ago, on the afternoon before Thanksgiving, you would encounter a large assortment of the city's vegetable and meat merchants, selling their wares from the many wagons crowding the scene.  Today, although these merchants have long since moved on to…Read more If you were to walk . . . Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, 1886

Turkey Drovers – Traditions from Thanksgiving Days Past

It turns out that wild turkeys are incredibly difficult to move across long distances.  In the days before refrigerated travel, a national roadway system, and even railroads, driving turkeys across long stretches of land was the province of men called turkey drovers.  From 1790 to about 1830, turkey drovers walked turkeys to market, literally, at a…Read more Turkey Drovers – Traditions from Thanksgiving Days Past

Slice of Victorian Life: Skunking with a Ten-Foot Pole

Sometimes, when researching a column or even a post, a view into a slice of life from the past will emerge.  Today's 'slice of life' comes to us from late 19th-century Bath, Maine.  As November wore on in 1895, skunking became popular in town.  Being a card player, 'skunking' makes me think of cribbage -…Read more Slice of Victorian Life: Skunking with a Ten-Foot Pole

The Etiquette of Eating Olives – Victorian-Era Table Manners

There's a story about the rather richly named Armand Jean du Plessis that circulated throughout Victorian-era New England during the 1880's.  The story goes that du Plessis, better remembered by the world as the 17th-century Cardinal Richelieu of  France, once exposed an impostor pretending to be a nobleman by the way the man ate his olives.  Those watching this spectacle,…Read more The Etiquette of Eating Olives – Victorian-Era Table Manners

The Civility of the Past – Our Ancestors’ Experiences with Public Transport

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

If you were to walk . . . Boston’s Scollay Square and Tremont Street, 1895

If you were to walk . . . through Boston's Scollay Square and down Tremont Street, into what those alive in 1895 called "the congested district", you would feel the crush of people and electric car traffic on what, even then, was considered a narrow road.  On this midsummer workday, as you walk southwest through the…Read more If you were to walk . . . Boston’s Scollay Square and Tremont Street, 1895

The Value of Living Memories, Lowell, MA: Circa 1865

For those of us born into Generation X, the earliest living memory of a family member we've likely been exposed to might stretch as far back as Prohibition, or the Great War, or maybe, for the older members of our generation, childhood memories of the Spanish-American War.  I write a local history column for the…Read more The Value of Living Memories, Lowell, MA: Circa 1865