"Any person shall be eligible to membership who was resident in Lowell
twenty-five years, and attained the age of forty-five years." These
were the membership requirements of the Old Residents Historical Association
(ORHA) when it was formed in 1868. Their mission was to “collect,
arrange, preserve, and perhaps from time to time publish, any facts relating
to The History of the City of Lowell, and also to gather and keep all printed
or written documents, as well as traditional evidence of every description,
relating to the city."
According to Frederick W. Coburn in History
of Lowell and Its People (1920), in November 1868, “a meeting was called
at the bookstore of Joshua N. Merrill. Fifty-four persons were
present. The attendance at the next meeting on December 21, was so
large that it was necessary to adjourn to Jackson Hall, where the constitution
was read and adopted and officers chosen as follows: President, John O.
Green, Vice-President, A. L. Brooks; Secretary and Treasurer, Z. E. Stone.”
At the time there were 45,000 people living in Lowell.
By 1902, the pool of eligible members had all but
disappeared. The Association then reorganized itself as the Lowell
Historical Society with open membership. The Society occupied two
rooms adjacent to Memorial Hall in the city’s new public library.
The Society was noted for its publications of papers and talks delivered
at its meetings. A fire at the library in 1915 caused extensive smoke
and water damage to the collections, much of which were moved to the attic
of the Green School across the street until Memorial Hall was reconstructed