The Dennison Mfg. Company: 1844-1990

largest tag factory in the world (2)Location: Edgell Memorial Building – 3 Oak Street, Framingham

Parking: Please park on 3 Oak St. (street parking available) or in the Village Hall lot (2 Oak St.)
Hours: 1-4pm, Wednesday thru Saturday until December 31, 2015; Admission Free for FHC Members, $5 for Non-Members.

The story of “the Dennison” is very much the story of Framingham for nearly 100 years. From 1897 when it came to town until 1990 when it merged with Avery Corporation and operations were moved to California, Dennison was at the forefront of manufacturing, progressive management, technological innovation and marketing ingenuity. From creating the first American-made boxes to producing the ubiquitous tags and labels that organized the country, the Dennison name meant quality.

This exhibition features a timeline tracing nearly 150 years of manufacturing, product development, retail and industrial systems, marketing initiatives, and progressive management practices that ensured the welfare of Dennison employees.

Exhibits feature Dennison product “firsts” from jewelers boxes (1844) to jewelers’ tags (1851) to first American made crepe paper (1894) to Christmas stickers and gift tags (1901) that gave rise to the Christmas gift wrapping industry. Pre-Babylonian “tags” dating back to 4,000 B.C. and crepe paper art are among other eye stopping objects that you won’t want to miss.

3rd Grade Program

1013396_10151696976989872_1591998888_n      museum3

Each year 700 Framingham third grade students stream through the Edgell Memorial Library and Old Academy doors to learn and experience their rich local history. To glimpse what your classroom will learn about, read our tour highlights below.


3rd Grade Academy Tour Highlights


 17th and 18th Centuries Framingham

  • Nipmucks – Native American stone tools, wetu, canoe
  • John Stone – Early settler
  • Eames Massacre
  • Refugees from Salem – Sarah Clayes
  • “W” Stone – introduction of marking property boundaries
  • Nixon Family – recorder, sash, shoemakers’ bench
  • Crispus Attucks, Peter Salem, Abel Benson – African American contribution to RW
  • Everyday Life- Hearth, spinning wheels, farm implements

19th Century Framingham

  • Industry – Straw Bonnets, Saxonville Mills
  • Leisure Time – Toys, games, pianoforte
  • Transportation – Trains, bicycle
  • Education – School Room
  • Everyday Life – China cabinet, fireplace mantle, furniture

20th Century Framingham 

  • Municipal Building – Compare/Contrast with Village Hall
  • Suffrage – Josephine Collins, Louise Mayo (Mary Ware Dennett)
  • Industry – Dennison, Staples, Bose
  • Military – WWI & WWII
  • Everyday Life – Kitchen, telephone
  • Space Age

A Dennison Roundtable – Part 2

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 7PM

Edgell Memorial Library

3 Oak Street, Framingham

Free for FHC members, $5 for non-members

round robin march 1920

Because there was not nearly enough room to display all of the treasures found in the Dennison archives for our current exhibition, we are hosting another roundtable discussion. Since our first Dennison Roundtable, where Curator, Dana Ricciardi, and volunteers presented their favorite archival discoveries, we have had time to dig more deeply into this rich archive. Come and learn more from this talented team of researchers as they discuss never-before-seen items that were the result of further exploration.

Bella Costa Marathon Fundraiser

Thursday, March 5, 2015, 6 – 9pm

Bella Costa Ristorante

147 Cochituate Road, Framingham, MA 01701


Join us for dinner and meet the runners! To help our two marathon runners reach their fundraising goals, the Framingham History Center has partnered with local restaurants that offer $15-20% of your meal cost to our cause. No coupon required. Make sure to tell your waiter/waitress that you are there for the Framingham History Center.

The Dennisons – A Family Ahead of their Time

Saturday, March 21, 2015, 2:00 P.M.

Historic Village Hall

2 Oak Street, Framingham

$5/FHC member, $10/non-member

Dennison family portait

Libby Franck will portray Kate Ware Smith – a Framingham wife, mother and social worker who became a part of the Dennison family when her son Edmund married Henry S. Dennison’s daughter Helen. Kate will provide a glimpse into this remarkable family of reformers from Henry with his progressive economic and social activities to the women who were highly educated and devoted to local and national reform agendas. Kate will recollect Helen and Edmund’s marriage on the Centre Common after fire destroyed the family home. She marvels at the medical research, healthcare, recreation and art programs run by socially conscious women at the Civic League founded by Henry and other local business leaders. Activities at the family home on Nobscot Mt. filled with horses, dogs, capers and a lot of music will come to life. Kate will also travel to Maine where the Dennisons renewed their energy at the family camp a source of great joy and sorrow.

The Dennisons Tickets

In Memory of Mary…

Contributed by Elsa Hornfischer

December 14, 2014

Years ago, when the Framingham History Center’s Oral History Project began, it was my privilege to volunteer alongside Mary E. Murphy. During the years since and over 100 stories later I had learned many things from this loving teacher, mentor, and friend.

  • Mary was all about stories – both in and out of the Oral History Project…
  • She listened, closely, to the stories around her.
  • She repeated many of them – historical stories, interesting stories, Irish stories, political and educational stories, and stories from her many years of teaching.
  • She lived a most beautiful, committed, kind, attentive, and forward-thinking story of her own, and, by example, showed others how to TRY to do the same.
  • But one of her most impressive and frequent demonstrations was to relay these stories accurately and visually – exposing her clear and impeccable memory in the “telling!” It was Mary, not I most of the time, who remembered just about everything I ever told her or had been written within the pages of a book I once read!

She was a positive life force – always – and seemingly ageless: a very early example of where the accomplishments of America’s women would end up going since the 1950’s. She mentored dozens and dozens of women by her example – in a nutshell, the movement just flowed out of her and up into the community, it seems, just about everywhere. What could we women do but TRY to follow!

Over this past year, I often heard my grandson Jacob speak fondly about one of his very favorite ITN clients – a wonderful lady he drove around town on errands. (His client could no longer drive herself so often called ITN – a Framingham-based non-profit service for those who no longer drive.) Jacob’s client? Her name was Mary E. Murphy. Within one year of their friendship, however, Jacob left to pursue a job as a taxi driver, hoping for more hours.

My very last memory of Mary, only weeks before she passed, was of her almost running through a full capacity crowd in Old Edgell Library.

“Elsa,” she spoke excitedly, “Jacob is back!”

Mary’s spirit, her smile, her memory, her kindness, and her storytelling has passed down to yet another, much, much younger, generation – to my grandson’s – and undoubtedly to grandchildren of her own…

That’s just exactly how a good life plays out – Mary knew that.

Thank you, Mary E. Murphy for all that you were and all that you stood for!