Boston Public Library
BPL News and Events

Local & Family History Lecture Series at the Central Library

 

The Boston Public Library's Local & Family History Lecture Series is in its 10th year of sharing information about the history of Boston and its neighborhoods along with tips and guides for those beginning their own genealogical research.
 

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Boston Neighborhoods: People, Place, and Planning

Wed.
Jan. 9
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
James Madden on Boston Neighborhoods

An exploration of how people, place, and planning interacted throughout history to create the Boston of today, including the "eras" of Boston's history shaped by these forces. James Madden is a co-creator with MIT professor Tunney Lee of Boston: People, Place, and Planning, a web-based, comprehensive, and accessible history of Boston's urban development.

The Unofficial Family Archivist: Documenting and Keeping Memories

Wed.
Jan. 23
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Melissa Mannon Family Archivist

Melissa Mannon will present strategies for protecting and caring for personal papers, family histories, and memories. Ms. Mannon is an archivist, cultural heritage consultant, librarian, and author of the ArchivesInfo Blog and Cultural Heritage Collaborators: A Manual for Community Documentation. Her consulting work, projects, and workshops encourage cultural heritage organizations to work collaboratively with local governments, businesses, and individuals who keep records in order to identify archives and plan for their care.

Boston’s Chinatown: Beyond Stereotypes, Food, and Boundaries

Wed.
Feb. 13
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Tunney Lee on Boston's Chinatown

Boston's Chinatown started on Harrison Avenue around 1880 to serve as the center for the Chinese in the Greater Boston area. Today, Chinatown has evolved into an active residential neighborhood and a vital commercial and services center for Greater Boston.

Tunney Lee was born in Taishan, Guangdong, China; grew up in Boston's Chinatown; and attended the Quincy School and Boston Latin. Professor Lee is retired from MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and from the Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

They Came for the Gold and Stayed: An Introduction to Chinese-American Genealogy

Wed.
Feb. 27
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Alice Kane on US Chinese genealogy

Chinese-American and native Bostonian Alice (Yee) Kane presents a historical overview of Chinese immigration from southeastern China to the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the elements considered are Chinese societal and cultural values, immigration patterns, immigration and naturalization laws, and resources specific to researching Chinese-American citizens as found in courts and National Archives and Records Administration centers.

Ms. Kane previously worked in the Boston Public Library's Microtext Department before becoming a professional genealogist and researcher.

The Harbor Islands: Boston's Unique Neighborhood

Wed.
Mar. 13
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Ellen Berkland on Boston's Harbor Islands

One of Boston's most noted archaeologists presents the history of this unique area and explains why it can be considered a neighborhood. Ellen Berkland is the former Boston City Archeologist and currently serves as the Archaeologist for the Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Being a Genealogy Detective for Harbor Islands Stories

Wed.
Mar. 27
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
The Kings Handbook to the Boston Harbor Islands

Suzanne Gall Marsh will share stories of the Boston Harbor Islands including Portuguese fishermen who floated their homes from Long Island to Peddocks Island, the Lovells Island lighthouse family, the Great Brewster Island community, and other little-known stories about the Harbor Islands.

Ms. Marsh is the founder of Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands and is a program facilitator at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program at UMass Boston and a seasonal ranger/interpreter with the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

The West End: From Early Immigration to Urban Excess

Wed.
Apr. 10
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
James Campano and Duane Lucia on Boston's West End

James Campano and Duane Lucia of the West End Museum present a broad look at an important American urban neighborhood from the seventeenth century to the present time. The West End Museum is a neighborhood museum located at 150 Staniford Street on the ground floor of West End Place, and is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history and culture of the West End of Boston. Mr. Campano is the Founder of the West End Museum and Mr. Lucia is the Executive Director.

Tracing the West End Families: Yesterday and Today

Wed.
Apr. 24
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Richard Andrew Pierce on West End Families

Richard Andrew Pierce provides insight to those facing the challenges of researching family histories in the unique urban neighborhood setting that is the West End. He is a consultant to the West End Museum and a professional genealogist in Boston. Mr. Pierce has traced the ancestries and missing heirs for hundreds of clients. His books and articles include: The Stones Speak: Irish Place Names from Inscriptions in Boston's Mount Calvary Cemetery, The Wampanoag Genealogical History of Martha's Vineyard, and a five-part series of articles on the ancestry of President Kennedy for the New England Historic Genealogical Society's American Ancestors website.

The Memoir Project: Recording the Memoirs of Boston’s Seniors

Wed.
May 8
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
My Legacy is Simply This by Tula Mahl

Since 2008, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Boston's Elderly Commission have partnered with a local nonprofit, Grub Street, to produce The Memoir Project. The project has gathered senior citizens from Boston neighborhoods to write down their personal memories. The project guides participants in sharing their stories through writing their memories in bound journals for their families and future generations to learn from and remember. Project staff will describe how the partnership came about and explain the techniques they use for gathering and writing oral histories.

Speakers include:

  • Tula Mahl, Deputy Commissioner of Communications and Policy for the City of Boston's Commission on Elderly Affairs
  • Christopher Castellani, Artistic Director at Grub Street and author of three novels
  • Michelle Seaton, Lead Instructor and creator of the curriculum for the Memoir Project
  • Judith Klau, Senor Participant from the South End workshop of the Memoir Project

Memories and Mortuary Records: Community Archiving Projects at UMass Boston

Wed.
May 22
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Joanne Riley on Massachusetts Memories

UMass Boston houses many archival collections that are utilized by family historians and researchers interested in exploring Boston and Massachusetts cultural history through the lives of individuals. The University's collections include more than 4,000 stories and images in the Mass. Memories Road Show project, hundreds of case records from the Boston Female Asylum, and more than 30,000 mortuary records from the Massachusetts Catholic Association of Foresters between 1880 and 1940.

Joanne Riley will share examples from these collections, and will discuss the fascinating, productive, and sometimes challenging interplay among individuals, communities, and institutional archives. Since 2010, Ms. Riley has served as University Archivist at the University of Massachusetts Boston.