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
 
A Balloon Ascension

THE COLLECTIONS 
"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 in 1917.

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