My blog has been changed to make it more appealing for those who have New England ancestors and want to see the area through photos. Things I’ll include are typical white New England churches, libraries showing their genealogical collection, historical societies, cemeteries, war memorials, in general, anything to do with history.

For four years I’ve blogged mostly about my personal genealogy in New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire), New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Canada. I still will, can’t forget my own roots.

Please check out the labels on the right side for articles. The header tabs at the top are a work in progress.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Doing Genealogy in Lowell, Massachusetts? Here is Help.

The city of Lowell first hit a little over 106,000 people in 1910 and we have a few more thousand in population now, so there have been a lot of people born here or just passed through. So, where are the records kept? I wasn't born here, nor do I have relatives, except for my born and bred Lowellian husband. Therefore, even though I spend a lot of time on my genealogy, I have often been confused as to where people doing research should go for reference material.

During the past week, I've spent time in the Lowell Library, also known as the Pollard Memorial Library, and at the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center. It is the later that has always puzzled me...does this belong to the Lowell National Historical Park? City of Lowell? University of Massachusetts?  I've seen park rangers in the building a lot, but knew there was a university connection, so what it this place all about?

If you are doing Lowell research, I believe you have two options, first the Lowell / Pollard Library and second is the Cultural center. I did a Lowell Library blog post in 2012, and just updated it. In a nutshell, it has a typical reading room, with a section for genealogies, reference materials, computers, and a separate room for looking at microfilm, mostly newspapers. Parking can be limited (since it's next to the city hall), but they do have a free small parking lot next to the library (in the back).

For all parking, either the Lowell Library free parking lot or on the street using meters, the limit is two hours. Parking garages aren't too far away and you can stay much longer, but cost is rather high.

One nice thing about the library is if  you discover you need a vital record, you could easily walk next door to the city hall and have them type one up for a fee. My link for the Lowell Library is HERE.

The remainder of this post is about the Center for Lowell History (located in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center) and is maintained by the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The building is owned by the Lowell National Historical Park. In the building are also office space, restrooms, and the entrance to the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit (see 3rd picture for full picture of the building). There is no close parking, but a block away there is on-street parking with meters and a full-sized parking garage. During the summer and class breaks is the very best time to use this library because school is out (a 4,000 student high school is a block away), and parking could be tight.
This is where  you enter.
The Boarding House Park is on the right side (see below photo).

Boarding House Park
(The free Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit is through the middle door showing the young girl.)

The Center for Lowell History at  40 French St, Lowell, MA 01852
 web page for Genealogy Resources may be found at

Phone: 978-934-4997

I selected a few of the links from above to give you an idea what is located in this facility. City directors, which aren't online, provides useful information. The Lowell's Civil War Soldiers and Sailors has over 3,000 names and was a project which I participated in with along with a few other people. The entire list is alphabetical. The third section regarding Vital records, taken from newspapers.

     Lowell Directories are available from 1832 to 1990.  They include: Resident Directory arranged by name, listing work address, occupation, and home address; Business Directory arranged by product; and Advertisements.  In 1836 they had a Female Supplement City Directory. After 1881, dates of death are noted.  Beginning in 1883, most directories contain a ward and street map.  Beginning in 1917, wives' names are listed and there is a section arranged by street address. 

     A small group of volunteers have transcribed the 4 volumes that
contain the 3,525 names of the Soldiers and Sailors mustered from Lowell
that served in the Civil War (1861-1865). Many of these men were from
Lowell and the surrounding towns. They are listed alphabetically.

     As part of an ongoing effort to document the City's History, a small
but determined group of volunteers in conjunction with the Center
for Lowell History staff are gathering Lowell Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death)
from local newspapers.  The indexes are far from complete but new
information is added frequently.

As you can see, there are plenty of tables, and a copy machine.

The file cabinets contain reels of film, a lot of early Lowell newspapers (Lowell Advertiser dated 1838, and Lowell Sun papers), early census film (1790-1855 (for all states), and Massachusetts birth records from 1841-1891, and the index from 1841-1905. Maps and other material are located in the long drawers shown below on the right side.

Some archived material is located here, some upstairs.

The majority of the books are about Lowell, and yearbooks are also here, as well as a selection of the Massachusetts Vital Record books to 1850.
Six of these old city directories are being replaced, because I had copies stored in my cellar for 15 years. A genealogy club member got them when a library was tossing them, so several of us took them to store at home. Our club disbanded and after various discussions about them, we just kept them. Because I decided to write this post, I figured it was a good time to get rid of some of my books. There are two sets of city directories in Lowell; one here at this location and the other in the Lowell / Pollard Library. The dates are circa 1892 - 1987, more or less and depending where you look.
This google earth photo shows the locations and distance between the two libraries.

I recently found this web page with a lot of Lowell information. Felt it was important enough to share.


Dorene from Ohio said...

What a great post! I especially like the pic of the stained glass window that says city library!

Barbara Poole said...

Dorene, thank you, thank you for noticing. It is among my favorite photos and I took it three nights ago. I was so surprised at how good it looked. I really appreciate you letting me know you liked.

Becci said...

Wow! My man from the suitcase was raised in Lowell! I bet there's tons of great info about his family. I wish I could visit!

. said...

Beautiful image Barbara. Thank you for the ideas and the link offered on FB to your blog for those of us doing genealogy research. I recently retired and have begun with my sister the adventure of tracing my roots. Often fun but sometimes a crazy endeavor but well worth it.

Barbara Poole said...

Becci, have you done the Lowell research from Ancestry and FamilySearch? What is his surname and approximately time frame here in the city. On my blog, I've written quite a bit about Lowell.

Thank you to the second commenter, no name given, sorry. But I'm glad you liked the City Library image (I think that is what you are talking about). This is a perfect hobby for you, you'll be surprised how quickly the hours pass during the day.

Teri Lyn said...

Hi sorry, not sure why name not given. My name is Teri Lyn and yes that was the image. Genealogy research does fill the hours, sometimes too much. lol

Barbara Poole said...

Teri Lyn, so nice to hear from you again. Those things happen, computers and the internet can be fussy at times. Happy Researching.

Anonymous said...

Hi Barbara! Just wanted to say I liked to read your post about research possibilities in Lowell. As I found out that I have some ancestors in my family tree who settled in Lowell, I would have loved to go to these places for more knowledge. But but... it's too far right now. Maybe one day.... :)

/Christer Nilsson, Norrköping, Sweden

Barbara Poole said...

I find that pretty amazing. If you care to, I would love it if you could share a bit of information on this site about your family. Was it a grandchild or other relative who left this area for Sweden? Why did they leave? and what was their nationality? Thanks.

Christer Nilsson said...

Hi again, Barbara! Well...I still haven't got the whole story about "my" emigrants who are related to Famagust Sipping Paulson. But I will try to make it understandable: He was born on June 8th 1884 (in Halmstad,Sweden)as the first child to Johanna Bernhardina Bengtsdotter. His father is unknown. He got a very strange name. It's a long shot but as Halmstad is a coastal town I have a guess about some sailor, working on board a ship from Famagusta Shipping. Though, I will never be able to confirm this. :)
Johanna is my mother's father's mother's aunt, and she left Sweden and moved to Denmark in 1888. There she met an Danish man and together they got several children. His name where Poulsen.
I have found Famagust in the US census' 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940. And the first time I find him in Lowell is in census 1940.
I'va also found out that he died in February 1978. During many years he lived at 175 East Merrimack Street. He was married twice.

I have also found some of his siblings, e.g. Albertina Florence (Poulsen) Larson, in Fairhaven:

Well,maybe I'm being to detailed... I'll stop for now, and if you think it's interesting I can write some more another day.

/Christer Nilsson, Norrköping, Sweden

Barbara Poole said...

Are you looking for further information? Could you be specific. Nice obituary of Albertina, I see she lived further south from Lowell, but still in Massachusetts.

I went to 175 East Merrimack St. today and took photos of where they lived and the neighborhood. Across the street are two beautiful churches. He was close to the center of town. I'll send them to you, if you give me your email. Mine is:

You were not too detailed, actually, the more information the better.

Hope to hear back again.

Christer Nilsson said...

Hi Barbara!
It will be great to see the pics. I will write you an e-mail!