Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mass Historical Society

A few weeks ago, I got to visit the Mass Historical Society,1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215.  I wanted to read some background material on the Battle of Lexington.  I got to view primary source documents including a listing of the militia men from all over that were that day as well as the ones who died.  I will have to mention that this is not a place for a non-serious search. It was not easy. Starting with the parking situation in the Fenway which is non-existent.  They are located around the corner from the Mass Ave block where the Berklee School of Music is located. Most of the parking around this area is Resident Parking Permit only. There are some parking meters on Mass Ave which is what I found after circling the block after 30 minutes.

 They are very hard-core about thier restrictions. You cannot bring in anything with you into the viewing room-not a jacket, a purse, phone, etc. They have lockers you can leave your belongings. You will need to bring a laptop which they will let you. They will also allow a camera (without flash). For more information on visiting the museum click here.

You will need to get the wi-fi access code from the librarian in the viewing room. I takes awhile searching their ABIGAIL Online Catalog. I tried a few different searches from Keyword in Title and Subject searches.  I was trying to only look at and read print material.  They had some files on microfiche but that required going down to another viewing room and more instructions I felt I did not have time for.  By the time I found parking, registered with the front desk, packed away my belongings, got the "lay of the land" I only had only a little more than two hours left before they closed.

I did find a diary of an Elias Phinney who details the history of the Battle of Lexington and the details of the morning of the 19th April, 1775. This was a very delicate bound copy and the binding of the book was very old.  The librarian brought it over with gloves and placed in on a foam wedge to read and I had to turn the pages very carefully. I needed to use a weighted string to keep the pages open as they don't want the pages touched often.  It was hard to read due to it being written in longhand and the ink was really light in some areas. It took some time and patience but what I was able to read was interesting. I was able to take a few photographs of important pages or the lists of militia written in the diary.

I also found a secondary source written by a grandson, Cyrus Hamlin about his grandfather Colonel Francis Faulkner who participated in the Battle of Lexington. This wasn't as long and in better condition as it was the grandson was who re-telling his grandfather's recollections. The text was in type face but very tiny typeface. I needed to use one of the library's magnifying sheets. Before I knew it my time was up and all materials had to be returned. The sources I found are listed below.

Format:Printed Material
Call number(s):E241.L6 P5 1825
Creator:Phinney, Elias, 1780-1849
Title:History of the battle of Lexington : on the morning of the 19th April, 1775 / By Elias Phinney.
Publisher:Boston : Printed by Phelps and Farnham, 1825.
Description:40 p. ; 21 cm.
Local notes:MHS copy contains two copies bound together.
Subject(  Lexington, Battle of, 1775)

Format:Printed Material
Call number(s):Box 1887
Creator:Hamlin, Cyrus, 1811-1900.
Title:My grandfather, Colonel Francis Faulkner, and my uncle, Francis Faulkner, Jr., in the battle of Lexington : Read before the Lexington historical society, May, 1866 / by Rev. Cyrus Hamlin ...
Publisher:Boston [Mass] : Press of Stanley and Usher, 1887.
Description:16 p. ; 23 cm.

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