CENTER FOR LOWELL HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL LIBRARIES

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A 19TH CENTURY IMMIGRANT'S VIEW OF LOWELL
 
The Exhibit
The tools on display belonged to L. Fletcher, possibly a co-worker of John's from the same craft guild in Bury.  John's tools would have been very similar to these.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate them.  After his death, his boardinghouse mistress, Mrs. Betsey Senior, petitioned the court to be allowed to sell his possessions in order to recoup her losses for back rent that John owned her. 

     The tools date from the 1840's.  The three planes, known as paring tools, are made of beech wood and are for smoothing and moulding the wood.  The 1 1/2" rebate plane was used for recessing groves into the wood, the box plane was for smoothing and the shooting plane was used for coarse work.  The auger and gimlet were boring tools.

     On display are enlarged copies of the letters, photographs of Bury, England and lithographs of Lowell, Mass.  The cases contain the original letters John sent to his family as well as historic photographs, documents and records.

     A video of a storytelling performance with George Capaccio as John Wood is available for viewing.  This performance was made possible through Cultural Program Support from the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission.  The videotaping of Capaccio's performance is provided through a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Lottery, as administered by the Lowell Arts Council.

The Researcher 
Helene Desjarlais has lived in Lowell for over twenty years and is currently Director of Development at the University of Lowell Center for the Arts.  She previously served for eight years as Administrative Director of the Merrimack Repertory Theatre. 

     Helene has always been interested in some of the lesser known aspects of Lowell's history, and began to research John Wood's letters upon the urging of Martha Mayo, Librarian at the Center for Lowell History.  Lengthly correspondence with Kenneth Walker, Dorothy Clarke, Edna Daily and Mrs. Rita Hirst, resulted in additional information on the Wood family.  A recent grant from the Cabot Trust enabled Helene to travel to Bury this past June to research John Wood's early life.  Some of the research, photos, documents and artifacts gathered on that trip make up part of this exhibit and display.

     A confirmed Anglophile, Helene is the author of several articles on her adventures in England, and hopes to retire within the next few years into the quiet of the Dorset countryside.
 

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