Monthly Meeting – Feb 27

For our February 27th meeting the Maynard Historical Society will have
David Mark read from his recently published book “MAYNARD: History and
Life Outdoors.” The book is available in local stores, and will also
be for sale at the meeting.

Mark brought his years of experience as a writer and scientist to create
this fact-populated collection of short essays gathered into twelve
theme-linked chapters. Much of the content was originally published as
his column in Maynard’s newspaper, the Beacon-Villager. More recent
columns are at

The Maynard Historical Society meets in the lower level of Maynard Town
Hall, 195 Main Street. The meetings start at 7:00 pm and are open to the
public. A social hour with light refreshments follows the meeting.
Meetings are open to non-members, and there is no charge.

They Came From Ireland: Free National Archives Program – Jan 19th

They Came From Ireland: A Free National Archives Program Explores Irish in America

How painful it is to leave family and friends forever, to depart for an unknown place, to know one will never return home! Immigrants come to this country seeking greater freedom and opportunity, and each immigrant group sheds part of its past while retaining certain cultural elements. The story of Irish immigration is part of the fabric of Greater Boston.

On Thursday, January 19, 2012, at 6:00 P.M., the National Archives at Boston (Waltham) will offer a free program “They Came from Ireland.” It will feature a presentation by Dr. Thomas O’Grady, professor of English at University of Massachusetts, Boston. Dr. O’Grady, a specialist in Irish literature and poetry, will present “Going Into Exile: Poems of the Irish Diaspora.” Walter V. Hickey, archivist/genealogist from the National Archives, will describe how to research your Irish family. Researcher Elizabeth Condon will share her experiences uncovering her family history in Ireland. The presentation is intended for the general public. Céad míle fáilte.

Free public programs are offered twice a month. To register for “They Came From Ireland” on January 19th at 6:00 P.M., please call toll free 866-406-2379, local 781-663-0130, or email .

The National Archives is open to the public M, T, W, and F 7 A.M. – 4:30 P.M., Thursdays 7 A.M.- 9 P.M., and the first Saturday of each month 8 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. The National Archives and Records Administration is located at 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, MA.

Parker Street Hall Curtain

One of the truly rewarding aspects of our work here at the Historical Society, and in particular for the team that is working to catalog and put our collection online, is the connections that we are helping others make – with families and with people who share interests in things historical.

One of those came to light last week when I received a call from Chris Hadsel in Burlington, VT who was asking about the Parker Street Hall — she had come across a photograph in our online collection.  It turns out she is part of a group that restores theatrical backdrops/curtains called “Curtains Without Borders” and she knew who the artist was who painted the curtain in Parker Street Hall!  (She was calling hoping that it existed so they could consider restoring it.)

Chris told us that the Parker Street curtain was painted by Helen Tooker.   Chris provided this short biography: Helen Tooker was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1906. In the 1920’s, she studied art for a year at the Boston Museum, then married and moved to Taunton, MA, where she set up her “Bay State Studio” and taught art as part of the WPA. In the mid-1930’s, she and her sister and her best friend added theater curtains to the wide variety of art, calligraphy and sign painting that provided her with a living. The three young ladies would set out together and persuade local businesses to buy ads that were then painted on a muslin rolldrop. Although she produced theater curtains throughout northern New England, the only known surviving examples are this one at the West Windsor Historical Society at the former Ascutney Mountain Grange Hall, and two similar curtains in Maine.  Helen passed away in 1997.

We will continue to look for more photographs of the backdrop for Chris’s records, and while the Parker Street Hall curtain is almost certainly gone you can visit some of the places where Helen’s work is still on display and get a sense of what it was like to be in our hall in the 1930s…

You can see more on our photo of the Parker Street Hall in our online collection.

Please visit the Curtains Without Borders website to learn more about their wonderful work restoring these beautiful works of art across New England (and they are looking to expand across the nation).

November 28th Program – Water

Tonight’s regular meeting of the Maynard Historical Society features a program entitled “The Hidden History of Maynard’s Water” — a history of how that water that comes out of your tap.

Our meetings and the program are open to the public.  We meet in the lower level of Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street, at 7pm.  The program will run about 1 hour.  Light refreshments and some social time follows the program.

Bedford Historical Society – Veterans’ Day Program – Nov 13

Special Sunday Historical Society program: Tribute of Bedford’s veterans.

A special tribute to Bedford veterans  – their history and impact on the community – will be presented by the Historical Society this Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 pm in the Fellowship Hall of the First Church of Christ, Congregational. Veterans from the War for Independence to the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict will tell personal and poignant stories and relate their service to events in Bedford’s history and the nation.

Six veterans, three of whom are Society members, will describe their experiences and relate the wars to happenings in Bedford at the time: War for Independence, Civil War, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam and Iraq conflicts. This should be an interesting and thought-provoking program, coming a few days after Veterans Day.

Please join us!

October 2011 Monthly Meeting Reminder

For our October 24th meeting the Maynard Historical Society will present the history of Emerson Hospital, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.  Our guest speaker is Kenton Blagbrough.  (This presentation was originally planned for our April meeting.)

The hospital was founded in 1911 when Charles Emerson (a nephew of Ralph Waldo Emerson) donated $20,000 and a site along the Sudbury River in Concord for a 14-bed cottage hospital. Formerly known as Deaconess Hospital, in 1924 the hospital was deeded to the community and renamed in honor of Charles Emerson. Today Emerson Hospital is a 179-bed acute care medical center providing advanced medical services to over 300,000 individuals in 25 towns.

Kenton Blagbrough is an employee and volunteer at Emerson Hospital. He holds masters degrees in History and Information Studies. He recently researched a property history which is included on the National Register for Historic Places, and the two hundred year status of an old New Hampshire road used in a civil proceeding.

Mr. Blagbrough, under the direction of the Medical Library and Office of Development, is researching the history of Emerson Hospital to prepare a written account for the hospital’s centennial in November 2011.

The Maynard Historical Society meets in the lower level of Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street.  The meeting starts at 7pm and are open to the public.  A social hour with Light refreshments follows the meeting.   There is no charge for the meeting.

Ken Olsen Tribute Day – October 22, 2011

A Ken Olsen Tribute Day will be held at 146 Main St. in Clock Tower Place in Maynard, MA on Saturday, October 22nd.  This day features a first screening of the Ken Olsen/Digital PBS documentary, Digital_ Man/Digital_ World.

The event will begin at 2 PM with tours of Clock Tower Place, displays of Digital Equipment Corp. memorabilia, the PBS showing (4 PM), and a paid ticketholder reception from 5:30-7:30 PM.

Sponsors include Clock Tower Place, Gordon College, the Town of Maynard, Maynard Historical Society, Legacy Financial Advisors, and the Dec Connection group of former Digital employees.

The events from 2-5:30 PM are free and, space permitting, open to anyone who wishes to attend.  Ticketholders have priority for auditorium seating for the PBS special. The 5:30-7:30 PM reception, where light food and refreshments will be served, is also open to anyone.

[DEC Connection Members/Guests: $15; Non-Members: $20]

If you wish to register for the reception or for more information on this event see:

Ken Olsen (1926-2011) co-founded Digital Equipment Corporation in 1957.  Based here in Maynard, Massachusetts it became the second largest computer company in the world and under Ken’s leadership was renown for numerous innovations that reverberate today in people’s interactions with technology.   The Maynard Historical Society is honored to participate in this town-wide tribute to one of the most successful entrepreneurs in American history who set up shop in an old woolen mill in the center our little town.

Preservation requires Preparation

Like a number of small local historical collections ours has known some moments when circumstances combined to create a situation where some portion of the collection was put at risk.

While stored the lower level of Maynard Town Hall for over 30 years there were at least two events where water damaged some portion of the collection.   In a very real sense, the last event, which occurred in January 2008, set in motion the current preservation plan that we are now on (supported by both member funding and Maynard CPA funds).

For over three years now we have been slowly but steadily bringing our collection of Maynard’s history into a better state of preservation:  documents and photographs are being stored in a manner consistent with modern archival practices, the collection is being cataloged and digitized, and we have the use of a building that is providing us with reasonably safe storage.   This is all good.

It isn’t perfect, and given our limited resources it probably will never be.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t prepare for those confluences of circumstances that always rise up to bite you in the butt.    The recent tornado that ravaged several towns just 60 miles to our west a few months ago was a bit of a wake-up call for me.  Following the tornado I was working in the collection room and thought “what would happen”.

While the MHS doesn’t have a formal disaster preparedness plan, our conservation survey and plan does dip into that territory a bit and now we’re taking a few more steps.

Many of our storage racks are near windows.  A direct hit by a tornado could scatter our history over a large swath of the commonwealth.  Not good and unfortunately there’s not a lot we can do about that at the current time.  Our space has lots of windows and unless someone wants to throw a LOT of money at us, we’ll have to live with that risk.  Fortunately the risk is incredibly low.

Which brings us to today — and we have the threat of a Category 2 hurricane (Irene) washing over us in the next 48 hours.  Current forecasts show a larger threat of rain rather than wind damage.   We’re on the second floor so flooding is not a real concern — but the roof leaking is.  [Note: The roof leaking threat is only there because we might get a LOT of rain in a short amount of time, creating a unique situation — we’ve had no issues with the roof leaking in the three years we’ve been here.]

So, for a small investment we thought it would be a good idea to put some plastic sheeting over the collection.   About 80% of the collection (and probably 90% of the documents/photographs) now has something over them.   Most of what is exposed would survive getting wet and we’ll keep a close eye on the building anyways.  We may even try to get the rest covered in the next 48 hours but there’s a bunch of diminishing returns at play (e.g., there are things on the floor that we simply have no way of getting off the floor, so if water comes in they are going to get wet.)

Our collection represents the combined efforts of hundreds of people spanning the past 150 years.   Our overriding goal as a historical society is to make sure that the “stories of Maynard”, which are held in the words, photographs, and artifacts that we manage are preserved for the future generations and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that happens.

June Meeting – Treasures and Puzzles

The Maynard Historical Society invites you to our summer program on June 27th in the lower level of Town Hall at 7pm for a special program we’re calling “Treasures and Puzzles”.

Our crack team of collection volunteers have assembled a wide array of documents, photographs and artifacts that are sure to bring a smile of a memory of days gone by or have you wondering if you recognize a family face in a 3rd grader in an old class photograph.

Some of the “puzzles” we don’t know the answers to and, if we’re lucky, we hope to tap the wisdom and experience of our audience to identify some of them.

Our meetings are held in the lower level of Maynard Town Hall, 195 Main Street.  Parking is available in the rear of the building (as is the entrance to the lower level).  Light refreshments may be served (nobody volunteered).  Our meeting is free of charge and open to the public.

News and stories from the Maynard Historical Society in Maynard, Massachusetts