The West Branch of SPL opened to the public on May 27, 1909. It was one of 2,509 libraries built in the U.S. with funds from Andrew Carnegie - the Central Library and East Branch were also built with Carnegie funds. The image here shows the adult reading room in the early 20th century, now home to mysteries and audiovisual materials. Wait, is that a ghost in the picture? See if you can find the double-exposure "ghosts" in the frame. More images (and more ghosts!) of the West Branch in its... Read Post
Dilboy is a familiar name our city: Dilboy Field in West Somerville, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 529 – Dilboy Post - on Summer Street; the statue of Dilboy by City Hall. He was killed in action on July 18, 1918, near Chateau Thierry, France, and awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery posthumously. In May of this year, he was honored along with other World War I veterans at the Chateau-Thierry American Monument in France, where the American Battle Monuments Commission launched an... Read Post
Today we know the Somerville High School Radiator as the annual yearbook, but in the 19th and for part of the 20th century it was a monthly student literary and news magazine, often with striking cover art and design. The group of covers we're featuring for today's Throwback Thursday were created by Bill Hanley, who graduated from SHS in 1945. His later work appeared on the covers of the Boston Globe Magazine and other magazines, book jackets, and commercial advertising. He was the art... Read Post
We at the library recently created a Flickr page for sharing photos and images from our local history collection. So far, we've scanned and uploaded photos of Somerville kids dating back to the 1920s; the city's centennial celebration in 1972; Davis Square landmarks from the 1960s, before the Red Line; Somerville High School, and advertising from 19th- and 20th century Somerville businesses, like the Metropolitan Ice Company card featured with this post. We'll be adding more images regularly... Read Post
As National Women's History Month draws to a close this week, our spotlight is on Mae Durell Frazar (1852-1919) an accomplished writer, editor, world traveler, and entrepreneur who lived most of her life on or near Prospect Hill.
Frazar is chiefly known as Somerville’s first female publisher. In 1887 she created a 16-sheet paper called The Home Life, which was printed by the Somerville Journal, and "crammed with original matter, illustrated stories, prizes, premiums, music and book... Read Post
Would you believe that word-puzzle contests were so popular in the mid-20th century that many libraries had to put their dictionaries under lock and key? Puzzle-solvers devoured dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works in pursuit of cash prizes, and deluged library staff with requests for answers to puzzle questions. They ripped pages from dictionaries and hid reference books to thwart other contestants’ chances.
In a recent browse of our local history room, we... Read Post
Blog by Kathryn Smith, author of “The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency.”
Thanks, Cathy, for letting me be your guest blogger today.
Missy LeHand was one of Somerville’s most famous residents in the 1920s-1940s, when she was the private secretary of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Especially during her White House years, 1933-1941, every visit to her family home at 101 Orchard Street generated an interview by the Boston... Read Post
Have you ever taken a stroll in Somerville, to come across an octagon shaped house with all the windows boarded up and cameras leering down at you? Well, if you know what I'm talking about, you've seen the Round House at 36 Atherton Street in Somerville. Although, it may not be as mysterious as we all think. The house was built by Enoch Robinson sometime around 1847, right after the locksmith and designer moved to Somerville. He lived in the house with his wife, three daughters, one son and... Read Post