High praise for Framingham and Henry S. Dennison from world renowned economist

by Annie Murphy, Executive Director
February 12, 2014

As we continue to peruse the newly arrived Dennison manufacturing archives, Pat Lavin and I came across the following letter from John Kenneth Galbraith to a former Director of the Framingham History Center as she was preparing for a Dennison exhibition in 2002. It helps us understand the impact Mr. Dennison had not only on his company and Framingham, but on the nation as well with his progressive economic thinking. Note the “Framingham is an agreeable center…” comment at the end.  These archives are amazing! Galbraith writes:

“He [Dennison] was an early follower of Keynes.  Alas, I took a more orthodox view: monopoly, imperfect competition was the program of the Great Depression.  Only later, the year 1936, did I become persuaded of what amounted to modern New Deal fiscal policy by John Maynard Keyes.  Dennison had already been there — the newly accepted liberal view.

Framingham is an agreeable center and makes an intelligent contribution to the economic and social life of the country.  But nothing quite equals the contribution of Henry Dennison and Dennison Manufacturing.  It gives me great pleasure to approve and applaud this exercise, [our exhibition], not only in community but in larger national history.”

Focus on the Collection

Mark M's image for post card



Sunday, January 26, 2014, at 2:00 p.m.

Edgell Memorial Library

3 Oak Street, Framingham 

Come see gems from the Framingham History Center collection as you’ve never seen them before. What will you discover when you see these precious objects through the eyes of a professional museum photographer? Mark Maiden spent the last several months working with FHC Curator, Dana Dauterman Ricciardi, and photographing special items from our collection chosen for their history and their aesthetic qualities. See how lighting, perspective and a close-up look bring these historic pieces to life. Hear why these pieces warranted this attention.

Members/students free. Non-members $5.00

Photo:  Netsuke from FHC’s Smith collection photographed by Mark Maiden, Mark F.J. Maiden Photography

Two Years in Review

Edgell toy soldier

by Charlene Frary
December 20, 2013

Wow.  It’s hard to believe that I’ve been flexing my creative muscle for more than 2 years at the Framingham History Center!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the “face” behind the FHC’s Facebook page, and part of the program team at the Framingham History Center.   While I’ve had a 25+ year love affair with the FHC that has involved a number of volunteer projects large and small over those years, I have for the past 2 years or so invested 20 paid hours or more per week working on membership, annual appeal, donor cultivation, a daunting constituency database switch, fundraisers, website, and my favorite – PROGRAMS:  childrens’ programming, living history programming, roundtables, and academic presentations. I’m gratified with the tangible proof of my work; we’ve grown from under 250 Facebook fans to over 500.   We have more than 125 new members.  We’ve introduced a summer childrens’ series.  Our programs draw larger audiences and garner more significant attention.  And through all of it, the most rewarded beneficiary has been me.

What I’ve loved most about working at the FHC, aside from the group of caring staff and volunteers, is that I’ve honestly learned something new from something old every single day.  I have a much greater appreciation for Framingham’s 20th century transformation.  When you understand where a town comes from, it’s easier to understand and perhaps help have an impact on where it is going.  (As a Framingham native, I’ll always consider Framingham my hometown even though I live in an adjacent community.)  Looking more inward,  I’ve been inspired by those women who have lived here before me, most particularly Mary Ware Dennett, whose story is one that I’ll never forget and one that  I think every divorced woman and single mother could benefit from hearing.   The wealth of intriguing material that springs from our collection is seemingly endless, with something of interest for everyone.  I hope that if nothing else, I’ve encouraged others to dig in a bit and embark on their own path of discovery here at the FHC.

So as I leave, returning fully to my real estate profession and growing next generation of family, I’ll not go so far afield.  I look forward to indulging my passion for Framingham’s diverse housing and architectural appeal by chairing the 13th Annual Framingham House Tour in a volunteer position, and I’ll look forwarding to joining other volunteers on the FHC’s Program Committee.   Above all, I look forward to all of the fascinating stories I’ve yet to hear, the artifacts I’ve yet to see, and the similarly enthusiastic folk I’ve yet to meet at the Framingham History Center.

A Sense of Place

By Pat Lavin
November 20, 2013

In early October, twenty-four young Time Travelers and their teachers walked from the Summit Montessori School to the Old Academy Museum.  The youngsters, all familiar with the book, THE ABCs Of  FRAMINGHAM HISTORY, were eager to step back in time.  They were curious and anxious to hear Framingham’s story and see its many treasured artifacts.

abc book

History quickly came alive for them!  Our docents transported the group from the early days of the Nipmuc and the new settlers through the 19th century and into today’s world of Bose and Staples.  Along the way, the children were delighted as they found their favorite artifacts from the ABC book sprinkled throughout the museum floors.  Students and adults were fascinated by the penny that saved Lothrop Wight’s life when he was struck with a Rebel bullet in 1862.  There were lots of giggles when the children learned that dresses were the fashion for little boys until they were four or five years old.  And that mysterious highwheeler!  How does one get on and off  without falling?

abc book H

Many questions were asked and answered as the tour came to an end.  Our travelers were then off to picnic on the Centre Common and tour the Thursday afternoon Farmer’s Market.

The children’s teachers wanted their students to get a sense of place as they visited the Common and its surrounding buildings. What better way to begin developing that sense of time and place than a visit to the Framingham History Center!

Editor’s Note:  The ABCs of Framingham History is available for sale in our Museum Gift Shoppe, or click here to order online.  Meet the authors and get a personally inscribed edition for the holidays at the FHC’s upcoming celebration Caroling on the Common December 8th.  For more details on that event, click here

What’s In a Word?

by Pat Lavin

Fire buckets, witch trials, “bone shaker,” straw hats, Musterfield, Dennison, Shoppers’ World ….

What do all these words have in common?  Ask one of more than 100 students from Framingham’s Adult ESL Program who visited the Framingham History Center this fall.  They might say these words helped to tell us the story of Framingham’s early settlement to the present day.

esl 2013

New vocabulary filled the air as docents escorted students through the three floors of The Old Academy building and to Edgell Memorial Library.  Students excitedly connected artifacts on display to those they had seen, and in some cases, used in their native countries.  Our 19th century school display brought out many interesting and fun stories of schooling in other parts of the world.  It was quite noticeable to many that the basic farming tools of the 18th century hadn’t changed so much that they couldn’t be used today.  That old iron shovel could still dig a perfect hole!  The display case of exotic birds, quickly noticed by students from Brazil, connected the story of the Brazilian Para Rubber Shoe Company that occupied the building  which later became the home to the Dennison Manufacturing Company.

Along with its importance as a Civil War Memorial, Edgell Memorial Library’s special exhibit, Shoppers’ World, lent itself to conversation about old and new ways of shopping.

The Framingham History Center tour is a great way to enrich and expand the study of the English language and at the same time learn about the history of our community, Framingham.  The docents felt they learned a lot from the students as well.

New words certainly are a stimulating catalyst for conversation!