Category Archives: Collection

Several large items moved from Town Hall

Today we moved a number of large items that were still at Town Hall.  A painted fence, a wall-sized photograph of a 1966 “Digits” little league team, some 3×6 blow-up panels of old Mill scenes (from Digital in Marlborough), and the 13 foot long “Asparagus Farm” sign which was recovered from the barn before it was demolished to make way for a housing development a number of years ago.

Maynard’s Town Hall is undergoing renovations and we wanted to keep these important artifacts out of harm’s way.

My thanks to Paul Boothroyd for keeping an eye on these items and coordinating the move; Jack MacKeen for his help removing them from the walls they were bolted on to or hung from; Fred from Town Hall for getting us a trailer to safely haul the stuff to the Paymaster Building (and helping load/unload the items); and Bob Larkin / Frik and Frak for providing use of their trailer for the move.  Walking down Main Street with these things would have been really awkward!

Maynard Historical Society Podcast #12


Our podcast this week (back from a short hiatus) covers a project that has been ongoing with the collection the past month or so.  We are working on creating subcollections to make research of the collection easier for folks who will visit us in the future.  Deciding what deserves a subcollection requires thought and discussion.

We recently decided to create a “school photographs” subcollection – organizing the photographs by class year.

Here are some examples of the “forensic history” photographs: these photos come to the collection with little or no information other that what we can see.  We will eventually tie together photographs, town records, and other information to “fill in the blanks”.

Maynard Historical Society Podcast #12

By examining the backgrounds we determined that the following two photos that they originated at the original Nason Street School which existed from 1892 to 1916.



The stairway in the following photo means that it was at the Bancroft Street School (which later became the Coolidge School).  We’ll eventually be able to use dress styles to pin the age to a decade or so.


The entryway in the following photograph pins this to the Main Street School (1902-1952).


This photograph was also taken at the Main Street School, but was harder to identify.  We used the patterns of the brick and window stones to determine it was Main Street.   The photograph itself contained a two additional clues on the back that will be useful in the future for further identification: it was a 2nd grade portrait and the teacher was Miss Garvey.  But that’s all we know right now.


As we continue to catalog and cross-reference photographs and other documents, this sub-collection will provide relatively easy access to relevant photographs to anyone who wants to see school-age photos of a person given their birth date or graduation year.


Maynard Historical Society Podcast #10

This is a short podcast that introduces the digital version of the 1921 “A Brief History of Maynard” by William H. Gutteridge.

The book was created for the 50th anniversary of the town and is a valuable resource to anyone researching Maynard history.

Maynard Historical Society Podcast #10

The scanned version of the book is available here: A Brief History of Maynard (PDF, 20MB)

The Society also has the original print plates used to reproduce the photographs in the book.  Here are a few of them:


This is a close-up of one of the plates:



Here is an aerial photograph plate, and a reversed image to show you roughly what the photo looks like when printed:



The front of the book included a map printed on thin paper (many copies of the book no longer have the map because it is so fragile).  This was done with a engraved plate:



Maynard Historical Society Podcast #9

20092-263-0548In this podcast Dave Griffin discusses one of the more significant historical books in the collection: a 1930 appraisal of the properties held by the American Woolen Company.

Maynard Historical Society Podcast #9

While the Mill and the town were founded by Amory Maynard, as Amory grew older and infirm a new management scheme for the mill was required. In 1862 the ownership of the Maynard Mill complex moved from the Maynard family ownership to a corporation called the “Assabet Manufacturing Company”  (of which Amory Maynard, was listed as the “agent”). This corporation lasted through the Civil War.

Assabet Manufacturing Company ran until poor business conditions drove it to insolvency on Dec 31, 1898. It stayed operating under receivership until May 1, 1899 when it was purchased by the American Woolen Company for $400,000.  The American Woolen Company was a conglomerate of textile mills in New England and at the time the Maynard Mill was the largest woolen mill in the country with 350 looms.

By the early 1920’s the American Woolen Company had 27 mills, 7,200 looms, and clothed an estimated one in six men in the United States (the cloth was used primarily for men’s suits).  By that time, despite its size and expansion to nearly 800 looms and 2,500 people the Maynard Mill was no longer one of the major mills in the company.

The appraisal of the 267 non-mill properties owned by the American Woolen Company provide an insight into what it was like to live in “company town” back then, the living conditions of the mill workers and the town in general.  For those people who currently live in one of the properties listed, it provides a unique slice of history about their home.
Here are a few pages from the book:
As part of the digitization of the collection, the entire 209 page appraisal is available for download from the Society’s web site.   The file format is Adobe PDF. Please note that this is a relatively large file (90MB), so you don’t want to download it unless you have a reasonably high-speed connection.

Maynard Historical Society Podcast #6

“Priorities” – Dave Griffin discusses how we will be prioritizing the cataloging and digitization efforts.  We are faced with processing thousands of items in the existing collection and they represent a wide variety of conditions and importance to the Society’s collection.

To show some of the challenges of prioritization, two boxes recently found in the Collection are used as examples.

Maynard Historical Society Podcast 6

These are some photographs of items mentioned in the podcast:

The “Doll’s Suitcase” (from the estate of Eva Edwards):




The box containing important documents from the Albert E. Batley family:






1905 Maynard News front page describes the tragic Baker Bridge train accident:



Thanks for listening!  Happy New Year.

Link: New England Document Conservation Center (NEDCC)

Music: Ella Fitzgerald, © 2002 The Verve Music Group

Bertha Lawton’s First Grade Class Photo – 1894

Bruce McGarry recently donated two chairs and a photograph to the Society.  Being a bit of a photography person, I was most excited by the photograph.  Considering its age, it was in pretty good condition – but the best part was that the reverse side listed all of the names.  I can’t stress enough how important information like this is.   We will soon begin the process of identifying the thousands of photographs in the collection and only a small percentage come with any sort of identification or date.  Bruce’s donation is as close to ideal as you can get.

I just took a snapshot of the photo – we haven’t scanned and cataloged it yet.  I transcribed the reverse side the best I could.  There are plenty of long-time Maynard family names on this list:



Top Row – Left to Right

Louis Parmenter, Jack Carey, Clarence Styvert, Albert Whitney, Albert Priest, ???, Wilfred Talon, Nealy Callahan, Chester Sawyer

Second Row

Ethel Butterworth, Ada Rand, Agnes Greenhalge, Mabel McAuslin, Bertha Lawton, Lillian Brooks, Myrtle Sims, Chris Lynch, Sadie Garlick

Third Row

Mary Moore, Mary Hanson, Mildred Walker, Garry Gove, Lillian Usher, Minnie Casey, Margie Farrell, Clem Wagner, Margeret Driscoll, Leander King, Ed Riley?

Forth Row

Archie Harding?, ??? Glenes, Clemie Sullivan, Eva Lemaine, Agnes Mahoney, Addie McWilliams, Nellie Coughlan, Elsie Himery, Ida Moore, Gertie Randall

Bottom Row

Herb Usher, Alvin Smith, Eddie Coughlan, Emmet Riley, Bert Mallison, Leo Comeau, Walter Comeau, Archie Livingston, Pat Hanson, Wallace Locke

Progress Report – Dec 3, 2008

We continue to make excellent progress with our initial organization of the collection.

We’ve now looked into just about every box and have marked them accordingly with their contents.  All the boxes are in the correct rooms.   This is important because we found a lot of boxes containing items that the Society has for sale, file folders, and other items that aren’t part of the collection.  Getting them into their own room gives one a much better sense of what lies ahead.

We found 5 more boxes of town reports and perhaps a box worth of Screech Owls.   Next week we’ll likely go through the umpteen boxes of these that we have and sort them by date and condition.  Then we can put the unneeded duplicates aside and we’ll figure out what to do with them later.

My thanks to Peg Brown, Ellen Duggan, and Jack MacKeen for putting in some time these past few weeks.  It’s really remarkable to see how much progress we make by chipping away at this by dedicating just a few hours each week.

As always, if you would like to join us — we’re there pretty much every Wednesday morning from about 9am to 11 (or noon at the latest) — please stop by.  If you send me your email address I typically send out reminders and, more importantly, cancellations or tardy notes.