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Common local history questions

Q: Who was Lowell named after?
A: Francis Cabot Lowell (1774-1817). Son of Judge John Lowell. 1793 graduate of Harvard College. Established Boston Manufacturing Co in 1813 with Patrick Tracy Jackson and Nathan Appleton. He is famous for adapting English engineering plans for water powered turbines for use in American textile manufacturing. Lowell died before the city that bears his name was founded.

Q: When was Lowell founded?
A: Town of Lowell incorporated March 1, 1826—Population 2,500
City of Lowell April 1, 1836—Population  18,000

Q: Are there any fiction books about Lowell?
A: Plenty. Lowell has been the muse for and setting of many a work of fiction. We have
created a partial list that’s available here Lowell in Fiction. If you know of a work that’s not included please let us know on our comment form.

Q: How do I research my home?
A: We have a number of resources which will help you research the history of your home.

    1. Your home might be listed in the Lowell Cultural Resources Inventory or the Lowell Neighborhoods: Historical Survey both of which have been digitized by UMass Lowell Libraries. We have bound print copies of the former survey in the our Reference Room.
    2. You may want to come in and look at our Lowell atlases: 1879, 1897, 1906, 1927, 1936  and City Directories from 1832 to present. Often times the atlases will show footprint information for structures and a listing of the owner at time of publication.
    3. You will want to check out the City of Lowell Geographic Information System. This handy resource features an interactive map with many “layers” allowing you to view municipal data, roadways, school districts, neighborhoods and more. Along with current information about particular properties, their assessed values, history and sales information. Lowellians are lucky to have such a rich online treasure-trove of community data.

Q: How can I obtain obituaries?
A: 1) Microfilm. We have The Lowell Sun on microfilm dating back to 1878 plus other area newspapers. You are welcome to use what microfilm we have during normal business hours. Requests for our reference department to do the research for you may be made in writing  by filling out the form on our Ask a Librarian page or by sending your request in writing to: Attn: Local History Pollard Library, 401 Merrimack St., Lowell, MA 01852.
2) Online. We have a subscription to Access Newspaper Databases available for in-library use. This database covers the years roughly 1900—present.  You can search by the person’s name or keyword to obtain a full text .pdf of the appropriate newspaper page. Please come in to the library and we can set you up and show you how to search.

Lowell Maps

  • 1879 City Atlas of Lowell – PDF | JPGs published by G.M. Hopkins, 1879. Digitized by The State Library of Massachusetts
  • 1906 City Atlas of Lowell – PDF | JPGs published by L.J. Richards & Co., 1906. Digitized by The State Library of Massachusets
  • Additional maps and atlases can be found at the Center for Lowell History site, which includes various city maps (1821-1914), millyard maps, city atlases, congressional districts and a state atlas.

Lowell Area Yearbooks

City of Lowell Documents

Lowell Mills and the Mill Girls

General Local History History Links

  • American Local History Network, Inc. – A central point of entry to independent web sites with historical or genealogical content.
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Official website.
  • Library of Congress – American Life Histories- Manuscripts from Federal Writers Project 1936-1940.
  • Lowell Historical Society – At the Boott Cotton Mills Museum. The Society collects, preserves and publishes materials related to Lowell and encourages and promotes the study of the history of the city
  • Massachusetts Archives – General information, hours & directions, services, researching family history at the archives.
  • Center for Lowell History– Part of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, the Center is located at the Mogan Cultural Center. Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Massachusetts, local and state insurance maps, city directories, and town histories. Special collections. Special projects include Dracut, Lawrence, and Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.
  • National Historic Landmarks Program – “National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States”
  • The Secretary of the Commonwealth – Division of the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth with links to archives, public records, registry of deeds, state records center, etc.
  • Preparing, Protecting, Preserving, FamilyTreasures Library of Congress page provides simple instructions as well as comprehensive links to resources related to saving and protecting priceless family treasures

Jack Kerouac Links