CENTER FOR LOWELL HISTORY – UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL LIBRARIES

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THE BLUE PLATE SPECIAL: AN ECLECTIC VIEW OF 
THE LOWELL HISTORICAL SOCIETY'S COLLECTION
 
Another document from the mill eara is a broadside announcing a play at the National Theatre of Boston in 1849.  The subject is a Grand Gala Performance of Mill Girls of Lowell, or Lights and Shadows of Factory Life with Mysteries of Lowell, Dover, Nashua and Manchester, A Drama of Innocence and Guilt.  Another reference to cultural history is the 1859 poster announcing a special train to a theater performance in Boston.  This recalls the Lowell Folk Festival train in July, 1990, which carried Bostonians to Lowell for a taste of culture.

     One of the many impressive Civil War items in the Lowell Historical Society’s collections is the Allotment Roll of Co. G, 33rd Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers.  The 1862 roll lists the name, rank and pay of each soldier and the person to whom his allotment shall be sent.  Note the Lowell addresses.

     The objects displayed in cases at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History advance the theme. The most unusual piece in the Society’s collection is a mummified child’s foot.  One Society member says, "Every historical society has an Egyptian artifact, and this is ours."  It is the oldest item in the collection.

     One curiosity shown here is the sea urchin helmet with a coconut shell liner from he Philippine Islands that was donated by Sergeant Scott, a Lowell soldier who took part in the Philippine Insurrection of 1899-1901.  The helmet is one of several artifacts from the Philippines in the collection.  Another piece of American military history is a copper bolt mounted on a  scrap of timber, from the frigate Constitution.  This remnant of  “Old Ironsides” was presented to the Society in 1929, when the ship was being rebuilt at the Charlestown Navy Yard.

     There is a wide assortment of objects of material culture in the cases: printing plates for a Boston and Lowell Railroad map; ceremonial ribbons or “ribands” of the Old Residents' Historical Association; a pair of woman’s high top leather shoes; a Lowell cigarette box; a brick made at a brickyard of East Merrimack Street; books; pamphlets; and other artifacts.

     The funeral broadside from 1835 announcing the services for the late Rev. Enoch W. Freeman has an extraordinary story behind it.  The broadside recently surfaced while a historical society in New York was weeding its collection.  Thinking it would be of interest to people in Lowell, the New York group sent it to the Society.  This artifact is linked to one of the greatest mysteries in Lowell and will be the subject of a talk by Walter V. Hickey, Society board member, at 7:30 p.m. on February 27th in the Mogan Cultural Center.

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