New Book – A Century of Cures: Dr. J.C. Ayer & Co., Lowell, Mass., U.S.A.

The Lowell Historical Society is proud to partner as publisher with board member and past LHS president Cliff Hoyt and his wife Linda to bring you A Century of Cures: Dr. J.C. Ayer & Co., Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. A Reference Guide

Cliff & Linda Hoyt’s collection of J.C. Ayer Co. memorabilia was one of the main reasons they moved from Maryland to Lowell. They began writing the book within months of moving here in April of 2004. Since they knew they would have to describe the bottles used by the Ayer Company, they began writing a bottle manufacturing identification guide. This guide ended up being the sole appendix to the book. From this starting point they developed a 500 page (9.0″x12″) hardbacked history with over 750 color images pertaining to products, advertising, photographs, and historical company documents. The book discusses many of the individual stories and issues that combine to make the 100 year history come alive. Items discussed will include:

  • What was state-of-the-art of medicine?
  • How did the term “patent medicine” come to mean the opposite of the individual words’ meaning?
  • Were J.C. & Frederick Ayer quacks?
  • What was the company’s stance on the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act
  • Why did the brothers build a railroad?

Book Price: $49.95 plus Massachusetts tax of $3.12 if mailed to a Mass. address and shipping of $6.50 (book rate – 3-9 days).

Checks can be mailed to Cliff Hoyt, 10 Kearney Sq. Apt. 408, Lowell, MA 01852. There is credit card purchasing available at:

This book would be a great gift for your history buffs.

Annual Meeting – 1903 US Cartridge Company Magazine Explosion

Join us on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 6:30-8:30pm in the Pollard Library Meeting Room for our annual meeting and a special program by Kim Zunino on the US Cartridge Company Magazine Explosion!

On July 29, 1903, the Town of Tewksbury was rocked by a major explosion. That morning, two cartridge magazines owned by the U.S. Cartridge Company exploded,killing 22 people, injuring 70 more, and destroying the nearby neighborhood of Riverside Park. News of the event spread across the country, and tourists arrived to see the site en masse. The City of Lowell provided aid to the overwhelmed town, including militia to control the crowds. The magazines were located along the Concord River in what is now South Lowell.

So why were there cartridges holding over 20 tons of black gunpowder and almost a ton of dynamite so close to a populated area? Join us for an in-depth look at the series of events leading up to the explosion and its aftermath

Film event! Praying Town: John Eliot and the Praying Indians

“Praying Town: John Eliot and the Praying Indians” is a documentary film by Zadi Zokou, and will be shown on March 14th in South Acton.

This film has interest to Lowellians as Wamesit, which today is largely in Lowell, was one of Eliot’s praying towns.

More information is available in the flyer here.

Lowell in the early 1980s

Before there was Instagram, there were actual film cameras and photos left to age for decades. As Lowell National Historical Park looks at its 35th birthday, this set of snapshots donated to the Historical Society anonymously is a great insight to a city in flux 30 years ago:

Central Savings Bank and Woolworths ca. 1982

This album is on Facebook, but you can view it even if you are not a member:

Enjoy, share, and don’t forget we are a volunteer nonprofit and depend on your donations and membership to keep material like this coming!

George Russell Downtown Lowell Panorama, 1918

The Lowell Historical Society is constantly receiving artifacts from people around the country. While it would be an impossible task to share them all out with the world, we like to share a few of our more recent acquisitions.

Recently, an 80-year-old woman who moved from Lowell to Vermont in the 1950s sent us a box of newspapers and panoramas. One of them was this George Russell that will celebrate its 100th birthday in a few more years.

Click the thumbnail to view the full (4.5 MB) image:


And a tagged version


Lowell City Documents 1862-1927 now available online!

Lowell City Documents were digitized through the Boston Library Consortium, Open Content Alliance Project. They are now available on the Internet Archive. Each annual volume is a compliation of the City of Lowell’s annual depatrment reports – included — School Department, Health Department, etc. from 1862 to 1927. Check them out for more details.

Reminder: Lowell Historical Society Annual Meeting May 27th!

Lowell Historical Societys

Annual Meeting Featuring a Presentation on

Charles Dickens and the Lowell Mill Girls


Dr. Natalie McKnight, Boston University

Date:May 27, 2012, 1:00-2:30

Location:Boott Mills Events Center, Second Floor, Lowell National Park, Boott Gallery, Boott Cotton Mills Museum, 115 John Street, Lowell, MA

Dr. McKnight
Natalie McKnight, Professor, Associate Dean, Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, Boston University.

Dr. McKnight will be talking about Dickens and the Lowell mill girls, and with a particular focus on how and why Dickens was so impressed with the Lowell factories and particularly the women he met there. Dr. McKnight will emphasize Dickens high regard for the journal the mill girls produced, The Lowell Offering. She will suggest ways in which his visit to Lowell shaped his attitude and approach toward his own role as author for the rest of his career.

Dr. McKnight has published three books on Victorian fiction, Idiots, Madmen and Other Prisoners in Dickens and Suffering Mothers in Mid-Victorian Novels (St. Martins/Palgrave) and Fathers in Victorian Fiction. She is Co-Editor of Dickens Studies Annual and Archivist and Subscription Manager of Dickens Quarterly.

Available both before and after Dr. McKnights presentation is the Exhibit:

Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation

This major exhibit was co-curated by Diana Archibald, Associate Professor of English at UMass Lowell, and David Blackburn, Chief of Cultural Resources and Programs, Lowell National Historical Park. It is being held at the same location as Natalie McKnights presentation in the Boott Gallery (first floor in the Lowell National Historical Park. This interactive exhibition will open on March 30, 2012 and run through October 20, 2012. It features a rich collection of rare Dickens artifacts, on loan from the Charles Dickens Museum of London, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the American Antiquarian Society, the New York Public Library, the Fellman Collection at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Perkins School for the Blind and other institutions. In this exhibit, an iconic 1842 portrait of the young Dickens, painted by Boston artist Francis Alexander, will receive its first public display in over 30 years.

The Dr. McKnights program and the Dickens and Massachusetts exhibition are free to the public.


Lowell Historical Society

Lowell National Historical Park,

University of Massachusetts Lowell


Need a reminder? Sign up at our Facebook Page

March 24th – Mass Memories Road Show comes to Lowell

The Mass Memories Road Show is coming to the Tsongas Industrial History Center (Boott Mills) on Saturday, March 24th, 2012!

This show is an opportunity to provide up to three photos representing you or your family’s history in the city for a digital online archive. They are also looking for oral histories.

For more information, please visit:

Lowell Cultural Resources Inventory

From Lowell Historical Society board member and Director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Lowell History Martha Mayo:

The first batch of Lowell Cultural Inventory Reports of Buildings in Downtown Lowell [369] are available on the UML Digital Commons site. They can be viewed here. They can be viewed here —

Please share this effort was part of an Mass Bureau of Library Council Grant for digital preservation. Please share with others interested in Lowell History through email, blogs, facebook, and other social media.

Old English Cemetery Part 2

For those who were unable to attend the recent tour of the Old English Cemetery down on Gorham Street, tour guide and Lowell Historical Society board member Kim Zunino has kindly provided her notes. Thanks to all those who did attend, the turnout was fantastic!

Notes are after the jump Continue reading “Old English Cemetery Part 2”