Events

Annual Members Meeting with Election of Board Members and May Public Program

Mom's World War II Letters
A slideshow lecture by Corinne H. Smith

Thursday, May 17, 2018
7:00 PM Annual Members Meeting
7:15 PM May Public Program
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

In May, 2017, Corinne Smith found her mother's stash of more than 100 letters from 16 servicemen with whom she had corresponded from 1944-1945. Most of the men were from Allentown, PA, or Trenton, NJ.  Corinne began to trace the soldiers' family trees with one goal in mind: to return the letters in person to their children.  She started a Mom's WWII Letters (1944-1945) blog to document this project.  This presentation will link history and genealogy to present-day research and diligence.  It will revisit a time that we may not want to forget and may prompt others to wonder for themselves what treasures lurk in their old family boxes and how the information can be shared with others.

Corrine H. Smith is a writer and a librarian who is originally from Lancaster County, PA.  She served for several years on the board of the Blair County Genealogical Society in Altoona, PA.  The first book she compiled was a self-published family history titled From Saxony to the Lehigh Valley: The Descendants of Ludwig Hossfeld (1992).  Since then, she has written several books about American author Henry David Thoreau. She currently works at the Stevens Memorial Library in Ashburnham, MA, and lives in Gardner, MA.

This meeting and program are free and open to the public.
For more information, call Joyce at 781-899-7239.

March Public Program

Colonial Burying Grounds: Interpreting the Past for the Present
A slideshow lecture by author Barbara Donahue

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 (snow date)
7:00 PM
The Apartments at Coolidge School Auditorium
319 Arlington Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Colonial burying grounds provide a unique glimpse into New England's past.  Many agree that gravestones serve as striking examples of colonial folk art, in addition to documenting important genealogical information.  What is often overlooked is the function of the burying ground in Puritan society; the ways in which changing attitudes towards death and a changing society are reflected in the physical and visual landscape of the burying ground; the function of the burying ground in today's world; and the constant struggle of maintaining this fragile resource.

Barbara Donahue will discuss some of the fascinating, forgotten stories she uncovered while conducting research for Preservation Management Plans for colonial buying grounds, as well as her book, Copp's Hill Evolution of a Puritan Burial Place 1659-The Present.

Ms. Donahue, a Registered Professional Archaeologist, received an M.A. degree in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston in 1990.  She has decades of experience in her principal areas of concentration, New England historic archaeology and cemetery preservation.  Copies of Ms. Donahue's book will be available for purchase.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, call Joyce at 781-899-7239.

November Public Program

Watertown Notables:  A Virtual Walk through Mount Auburn Cemetery
A presentation by Rosemarie Smurzynski

Thursday, November 9, 2017
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Maude deLeigh Hodges wrote, "Watertown, Massachusetts, was founded in the year 1630 and was the first inland settlement in Massachusetts. It began as a Puritan settlement and became a hub for trade and commerce  . . . Waves of migration brought to Watertown Puritans escaping from English religious persecution; Irish fleeing starvation and want; and Italians, Armenians, Greeks, Jews and Canadians seeking new opportunities." (Hodges, Maude deLeigh, Reddy, Sigrid, & The Watertown Free Public Library (1980).  Crossroads on the Charles:  A History of Watertown, Massachusetts.  Canaan, NH:  Phoenix Publishing)

This presentation will name and celebrate that diversity, the men and women of Watertown, and Mount Auburn Cemetery, a Watertown landmark which holds their remains and the monuments dedicated to their memory.

Rosemarie Smurzynski is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.  She graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1980 and has served her denomination for over 40 years.  Upon retirement from parish ministry in 2010, Rosemarie became a docent at Mount Auburn Cemetery.  The topics of her walks include notables buried in the cemetery, but also the cemetery's history, topography and structures.  Each year on the first Sunday in January, Rosemarie leads Mount Auburn's popular Cherubs & Angels walk.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, call Joyce at 781-899-7239.

Special Event:  Historic Banners Walking Tours

Faire on the Square 2017

Saturday, September 23, 2017
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Saltonstall Park
149 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Visit the Historical Society of Watertown table at Faire on the Square and join HSW Executive Board member Mary Spiers for a free Watertown Square walking tour that will feature historic lamp pole banners depicting eleven prominent men and women who made historic contributions in Watertown and beyond.  Tours will depart from the Civil War Soldiers' Monument located in Saltonstall Park at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM.  The banners were made possible through the generosity of Watertown Savings Bank.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Special Event:  Ringing of the Bells

Boston Charter Day

Thursday, September 7, 2017
4:30 PM
Church of the Good Shepherd
Redeemer Fellowship Church
Watertown, MA 02472

The Partnership of the Historic Bostons' celebration of Charter Day each year begins with a joyous ringing of church bells in the three towns that received their present names on September 7, 1630:  Boston, Dorchester and Watertown.  Church of the Good Shepherd and Redeemer Fellowship Church in Watertown will ring their bells on Thursday, September 7, at 4:30 PM (16:30 in 24-hour notation), the same time that bells will ring in Boston and Dorchester to commemorate the occasion.

Charter Day 2017's theme is Medicine and Mortality in 17th-Century Boston.  Visit the PHB web site for a full list of Boston Charter Day, which run though October 3.  All events are free, but registration may be required.

 

September Public Program

The Strangers' Tomb
A slideshow lecture by author Robin Hazard Ray

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Robin Hazard Ray's murder mystery, The Strangers' Tomb, is set in historic Mount Auburn Cemetery during the tumultuous period before the Civil War.  A night watchman is assaulted.  An extra corpse turns up in a tomb.  How are these incidents connected--and what's next?

Ray will discuss how the histories of Cambridge and Watertown, including the growth and development of their police departments, influenced the plot of her novel.  She will also talk about the impact that some of the wider issues at play in science and society in the era leading up to the Civil War are having on the composition of the next book in her Murder in the Cemetery series, tentatively titled The Soldier's Grave.

Ms. Ray studied geology and biology at Brown University and European intellectual history at UC San Diego.  A freelance writer, editor, public speaker and media escort, she also volunteers for the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery.  There she gives talks and tours on themes ranging from glacial geology and the history of science to gay Bostonians and Isabella Stewart Gardner's circle of friends.  She is currently collaborating with Heyward Parker James, Ph.D., on a world-historical biography of Sir Victor Sassoon.  She lives in Somerville with her husband and two black cats.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Treaty Day: a Commemoration of the Declaration of Independence and Treaty of Watertown

Saturday, July 15, 2017
10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Edmund Fowle House
28 Marshall Street
Watertown, MA 02472

This annual event marks the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of Watertown on July 18, 1776.  The signing of the first treaty negotiated by the new nation with a foreign power, namely the St. John's (aka Maliseet) and Mi'kmaq Tribes of Nova Scotia, at the Edmund Fowle House on July 19, 1776, will also be celebrated. Special presentations by invited guests will shed light on the continued importance of the Treaty of Watertown.

The Nugumij (Grandmother) Drum from the United Native American Cultural Center in Devens, MA, will be present and drummers and singers will perform several songs to mark the occasion.  Center members and guests, dressed in their native regalia, and colonial reenactors will be present to share their stories.

The Edmund Fowle House will be open for free tours.

A basket for donations of non-perishable food items to the Watertown Food Pantry will be available.

This event is partially funded by the Watertown Community Foundation.

This program is free and open to the public.
For more information, call Audrey Jones Childs at 617-926-2577.