Events

November Public Program

Gangland Boston: A Tour Through the Deadly Streets of Organized Crime
A slideshow lecture by author Emily Sweeney

Thursday, November 8, 2018
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Gangsters have played a shady role in shaping Greater Boston’s history.  While lurking in local restaurants or just around the corner inside that inconspicuous building, countless criminals have quietly made their mark on the city and surrounding communities.  Emily Sweeney's book Gangland Boston: A Tour Through the Deadly Streets of Organized Crime (2017) reveals the hidden history of these places, bringing readers back to a time when the North End was wrought with gun violence, Hanover Street was known as a "shooting gallery," and guys named King Solomon, Beano Breen and Mickey the Wiseguy ruled the underworld.  
Drawing upon years of research and an extensive collection of rare photographs, Gangland Boston sheds light on how gang violence unfolded during Prohibition, the Italian mafia rose to power and the Gustin Gang came to be.  From South Boston to Somerville, Chinatown to Charlestown and every neighborhood in between, Ms. Sweeney's lecture will offer listeners a guided tour of Boston's underworld, revealing the places where the deals were made, people were killed and bodies were buried.
  

Emily Sweeney is an award-winning journalist who researched and wrote “Greatest Hits: A Mob Tour of Boston” for the Boston Globe in 2003.  She is featured as a guest commentator in Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed, a documentary about organized crime in South Boston.  Sweeney is from Dorchester, MA, and her knowledge of Boston and its history runs deep.  She has been a staff writer at the Boston Globe since 2001.

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..

September Public Program

Exploring Greater Boston's Historic House Museums: Bringing the Past Into the Future
A slideshow lecture by author Elizabeth S. Levy Merrick

Wednesday, September 19, 2018
7:00 PM
Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room
Watertown Free Public Library
123 Main Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Regarding her book Be There Then: Exploring Greater Boston’s Historic House Museums (2014), author Elizabeth S. Levy Merrick writes: "One of the pleasures of visiting or living in Boston, with its wealth of historical resources, is to be able to experience the past through the historic houses left to us by earlier inhabitants.  This guide, including colorful profiles of more than forty historic houses open to the public in and around Boston, is an indispensable handbook to help you discover hidden historical gems as well as some better-known portals to the past.  From colonial to Victorian, from modest to upper-crust, there are houses for every interest.  Be There Then aims to convey not only the basics of each house but also the overall visitor experience, going beyond a listing of facts and allowing you to plan your visits carefully.  Houses of the distant (and not-so-distant) past serve to bring history alive, helping us know what it was like to live then and there. In these historic house museums, you can step over the threshold and start your journey back in time."  Elizabeth will present topics from her book in this lecture.  She is a lifelong aficionado of historic houses and lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

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 14, 2018
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 and the Watertown Cultural Council.

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

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.