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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: Do you have Lowell High School yearbooks?
A: The library is starting to collect yearbooks of Lowell Schools. We have a very small collection in our Second Floor Reference Room. Lowell High School Library has a small collection of LHS Yearbooks. We would suggest you follow up with the other schools to see if they have a similar collection. If you’d like to donate a copy of a yearbook for our collection, please email adultref@lowelllibrary.org with your donation and contact information.

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 (full list available on our collections page [research-collections]). 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 postal mail attn: Reference Department or by filling out the form on our Ask a Question 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—1970.  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 Links

Jack Kerouac Links