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.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The NARA in Boston (Waltham) Sure Has Changed, What Else is New?

New room  to the left, old room to the right.
For complete information for this Free Virtual Genealogy Fair
by the National Archives and Records Administration
see schedule here for October 26th and 27th, 2016.

Research area, with computers, I believe I saw only two microfilm readers on the side and two researchers working together.

No more Saturdays! It used to be the busiest day, and people had a limit of two hours if it was very busy.

This was the research room. It was filled with 5 or more rows of microfilm readers (NARA employee and I guessed 40) plus a few microfilm printers. And, a large number of cabinets with hundreds or more rolls of microfilm. The center of this room had a few tables, a copy machine and cabinets on each side, all containing censuses for 1790, 1800, 1810 and so forth. They had all the New England censuses for all the years, and for some of the states, but I'm not sure if all were there.

This facility had a friendly staff, and I got to know Bill Read and Cindy pretty well, along with Walter. I first started going here in 1995, at least twice a month because it was closer than NEHGS. In addition I found my Revolutionary War patriot's pension file there.

Around 2008 (give or take), I went and was surprised to see a table in the center of the room with about 5 computers, all loaded with Ancestry. I was told I could use that for the year I was interested in. I didn't, just left and never returned because I was an Ancestry subscriber, and realized there was no need to be there, other than to get a nice hard copy. Fast forward to yesterday, when I paid them a visit because I wanted to use their vending machine! I was totally surprised to see the room empty and other changes, including a security door locked in the hallway leading to the lunchroom where the vending machines were. Researchers now have no access to the lunchroom.

I chatted a bit with the one staff person at the main desk, about all the changes. He suggested I take the flyers and said I could scan them and post to my blog, which I will do in a day or two.

He asked me to come back and do some research (they subscribe to all the genealogy databases), and I said I would. And, I will, when I'm in the area with some genealogy with me. I rather liked being in my part-time second home again.

 Main hall with information pamphlets. The research room is to the left of the red sign. Old room was straight ahead.

Main entrance to the:
380 Trapilio Road
Waltham, MA 02452


Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts -- Before and After

Was this mill where your ancestor worked in the mid 1850s? For over 100 years many mills in Lowell, Massachusetts operated with laborers from all over New England and Canada. If you want to look back in time, I've included some photos from the 1930s. 
The banner above is for the Lowell National Historical Park. What you are looking at is the popular Boott Cotton Mill Museum. It is one of two Park centers in the city, both have National Park Service (NPS) staff, gift shops, restrooms, and lots to see. The largest museum, with a huge display of old looms with quite a few operating to make dish towels to sell.

There are several ways to get to the Boott Cotton Mill in Lowell, Massachusetts. One is to walk from a multi-level parking lot across the street, for which you pay, or you could go to the Visitors Center about 5 blocks away, park for free and take the free trolley. I suggest the latter, especially if walking isn't your thing or if you have children.
 Above is the view, if you walk from garage. If you took the trolley, you would get off in front of the entrance.

Door leads to Museum. The sign above and below is about the steps, which is shown below.
In the Steps of Mill Workers
For almost a century, streams of Boott Mills
workers-men, women and children, immigrants
and  native-born Americans-climbed this stair
tower each morning to start another day in
the mill.

Park rangers are here to assist with questions, sell admission tickets or items from the gift store.
 Towels made inside the mill.

Below are three photos taken in the 1930s and are part of the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) Collections. Those and others of Boott Cotton Mills are on the Library of Congress website at:
Distance photo, closeup is below.

I'm not sure of the exact year these were taken, but I do know the buildings were still standing when I lived in Lowell in the 60s. As a matter of fact, I walked through that middle door for about four months during the fall, when I had a part-time job to earn Christmas money. I loved that job.
The skywalks were removed, but the framework remains and flags are draped from them (see 2nd and 3rd photos).
Entry to the National Park Historic Museum is to your right.
When the looms are running, ear plugs are nearby. There are usually a few people watching the looms and making repairs. Cotton is woven to make towels, and several colors with different patterns are made, and sold in the gift shop (see example below).

Looking out at the canal below. Notice how thick the walls are.
Below you'll see the row of red fire buckets!
The second floor displays various of exhibits to explain the cotton manufacturing business.

The photo in the background is shown below.

When you want to return to your car via the trolley, check out the time table schedule and enjoy a ride through Lowell.

Another staircase that took me up to a different tower where I could view the courtyard. This was from a special tour.
Other views from the ground level and from a nearby parking lot roof.

The skywalks below may be seen above, in the center. Entrance to the museum is on your right.

The Eastern canal, and Boott Mill on the left. I took this photo last week, and on Friday, the canal was drained (as it is every year for several weeks).

You can walk around the huge complex.  The buildings are occupied by renters, condos, businesses, and NPS training rooms. The photos above show open windows, and a view of the Merrimack River. From here, you can walk along the side of the river and the distance of the mill on to another mill,  go under a bridge, and see some interesting things along the way.