Finding Aids

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Introduction to Finding Aids

Finding aids are an excellent tool for researchers, students and genealogists. These documents are inventories of the documents you can expect to find within a given collection: like a table of contents. Once you find a document you are interested in, you can reach out to our curatorial staff to ask about its availability. Sometimes there are electronic copies of these documents, but most must be accessed in-person.

Lowell National Historical Park holds significant personal papers, organizational archives and NPS resource management records that are directly associated with the park's resources. These archives document the people and organizations responsible for the creation, maintenance and preservation of the locks, canals, and structures of historic Lowell prior to park custody. The park holds the James B. Francis and Descendants Correspondence and Papers (personal papers), the Proprietors of Locks and Canals (organizational archives) and the park's own operational records and files (NPS resource management records) that together document the history of the Lowell canal and lock system throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

I. Museum Archival and Manuscript Collections (Non-official Records): "All types of documentary records that contribute substantially to understanding, interpretation, and management of other park resources (cultural and natural) as well as being important resources in their own right." Managed as part of the museum collection, they are divided into five non-mutually exclusive types:

A. Personal Papers: "Records that have been created or accumulated by an individual or a family. Personal papers that are associated with the history of a park (e.g., with a park's founders, formative staff, or eminent associated individuals) may be acquired for the museum collection."

1. Eliza Adams Collection (1841-1848)
2. Kirk Boott et al Letterbook (1783-1813)
3. Ruth I. Brennan Papers (?-?, undated)
4. Fox-Brockway Letters (1861-1863)
5. James B. Francis and Descendants Correspondence and Personal Papers (1879-1972)
6. Galusha Family Papers (1820-1900)
7. Gibson-Sawyer Papers (1857-1910)
8. Reverend Aaron Green Diary (1791-1853)
9. Dr. John Orne Green Diary (1816-1885)
10. Alexander Herron Papers (1931-1955)
11. Charles B. Nichols Papers (1936-1977)
12. Eliza Smith Collection (1849-1861, 1979)
13. Susan Wetherbee Diary (1836-1848)

B. Organizational Archives: "Organic collections created by an organization as a routine part of doing business, such as correspondence and fiscal and personnel records. A park may acquire organizational records that are related to or associated with its mission or history before its establishment (e.g., the Edison Archives at Edison National Historic Site)."

1. Boott Mill Flood Damage Records (1936-1940)
2. Dom Polski Records (1909)
3. Lowell Historic Preservation Commission Records (1978-1995)
4. Proprietors of the Locks and Canals Records (1801-1972)
5. U.S. War Department, Pawtucket Bridge Correspondence (1871-1916)

C. Assembled Collections: "Artificial collections of documents such as manuscripts that have been accumulated by a collector, usually from a variety of sources. Documents in these collections usually are on a single topic, in a single format, or related to a single individual."

1. University of Massachusetts, Lowell Collected Papers (1843-1964)

D. Resource Management Records: "Include documentation made or acquired by a park to record information on cultural and natural resources. Resource management records are the documentary products of archeological surveys and excavations, natural resource surveys, historic structure and cultural landscape research, scientific projects, and various natural and cultural resource maintenance projects. These records document park resources and serve as information bases for their continuing management."

1. Park Central Files and Administration Division Records (1978-2006)
2. Maintenance and Facility Management Division Records
3. Interpretation and Education Division Records
4. Visitor Protection and Resource Management Division Records, 1980s-2006
5. Office of Heritage Development and Preservation (1995-2006)

E. Sub-official Records: "Those files of copies or duplicate documents (e.g., carbon copies of internal policies and procedures, desk files, reports, or subject files of individuals or offices) that are useful for reference, administrative histories, interpretation, research, and other informational purposes … Most park museum archival and manuscript collections (with a few exceptions) are not official records as defined by the National Archives and Records Administration (44 USC 3301), since they are made or acquired for reference or exhibition."

1. Copies or duplicate documents from park Central Files

II. Official Records of the National Park Service: "Records created for purposes other than reference or exhibition are considered official records." After official records are judged non-current, they must be disposed of in accordance with records schedule provided in NPS-19, Records Management Guideline.

A. Inactive Official Records: Transfer to Federal Records Center/National Archives and Records Administration. Refer to NPS-28, Chapter 9 and Appendix B, and the NPS Records Management Handbook in order to determine which Central Files are designated as Official Records for transfer to the National Archives.

B. Active Official Records (includes Museum Records): Managed by NPS. Refer to NPS-19.


Personal Papers

Eliza Adams Collection (no pdf at present)
This is collection of mill girl letters currently on exhibit at the Mogan Cultural Center, in the "Lives of Factory Women" section.
1841-1848 Accession no. 313

Kirk Boott et al Letterbook (no pdf at present)
This letterbook contains letters of Kirk Boott and Kirk Boott II. Kirk Boott was Treasurer or the Merrimack Mills, and the namesake of Boott Mills.
1783-1813, Accession no. 583

Ruther I. Brennan Papers (no pdf at present)
Member of Lowell Historical Society undated lists of donations, membership letters, and newsletters.
Accession no. 227

Fox-Brockway Letters (pdf)
The correspondence of George Fox and Mary Brockway document Lowell in the Civil War Years.
1861-1863 Accession no. 450

James B. Francis and Descendants Correspondence and Personal Papers (pdf)

These papers document the life of hydraulic engineer James B. Francis, known for his work in hydrologic engineering and design of the Lowell canal and locks system. The collection contains genealogical data, photographs, publications, documents, Civil War memorabilia, pamphlets, a family bible and two scrapbooks, in addition to correspondence.

Galusha Family Papers (pdf)
These papers document family members Amy, Aaron, and Arvilla Galusha, who worked in the Lowell mills.
1820-1900, Accession 686

Gibson-Sawyer Papers (no pdf at present)
Bills and payments of Lowell's Gibson and Sawyer families.
1857-1910, Accession 39

Revered Aaron Green Diary (pdf)
These diaries document the life of a Lowell area minister, family relation of Dr. John Orne Green.
1791-1853 Accession 695

Dr. John Orne Green Diary (pdf)
8 bound volumes and 1 disbound volume 0.5 linear feet Green was a physician in Lowell from 1821-1885 and a critic of Lowell mill working conditions.
1816-1885 Accession 695

Alexander Herron Papers (no pdf at present)
These papers document the work of an inventor and holder of the patent for the A. T. Herron rotary brushing machine, a device used to brush fabric. The papers contain correspondence, charts, work rate calculations, etc.
1931-1955 Accession 108

Charles B. Nichols Papers (pdf)
These collected materials, business records, and manuscripts concern a Lowell native and past president and treasurer of the Appleton Company in Anderson, SC, where the Appleton Mills moved from Lowell.
1936-1977 Accession no. 260

Eliza Smith Collection (no pdf at present)
This collection includes letters to Smith, who worked in the Lowell Mills as well as from friends.
1849-1861 Accession 434

Susan Wetherbee Diary (no pdf at present)
This monthly diary of family life documents the diarist and her sisters, all of whom worked in Lowell's mills for a time.
1836-1848 Accession no. 655

Organizational Archives

Boott Mill Records (pdf)
Boott Mill Records, The Boott Mills is known both as a major nineteenth-century textile mill and as a site for the Lowell National Historical Park. This collection of Boott Mills materials documents the transition beginning in the 1950s from the textile mill to the creation and growth of the Park in 1978 and afterwards. After textile production ceased in the mid 1950s, new ownership converted the buildings for use for small manufacturing and office firms.

Boott Mill Flood Damage Records (no pdf at present)
1936-1940 Accession no. 701 Catalog no. 11908 29 items, Correspondence, photographs, and supply lists are included.

Dom Polski Records (no pdf at present)
One ledger book and minutes of the Polish National Home Association, October 1909 meeting.
1909 Accession no. 417 Catalog no. 2188

Lowell Historic Preservation Commission Records (pdf)
These records document the work of the LHPC, legislated into existence in 1978 along with the park. The LHPC undertook many of the renovation projects of downtown buildings. The collection includes 80 lineal feet of documentary records and about 4,000 drawings.
1978-1995 Accessioned and cataloged.

Proprietors of Locks and Canals Records (Volume 1 & Volume 2)
These records document a corporation chartered in 1792, which by the late 19th century administered and maintained Lowell's system of canals and locks. The park museum specialist has compiled a database which includes the 9,304 drawings; Processing and cataloging needs to be completed for the remainder of this collection consisting of 5.5 linear feet of records in the Link collection storage room, 5.5 linear feet of records in Collection Storage Room #1, and 16 linear feet of records in Collection Storage Room #2.
1801-1990, Accession nos. 48,111, 132, 388

War Department, Pawtucket Bridge Correspondence (pdf)
Case files, proceedings, blueprints (latter need to be unfolded), photographs document the Pawtucket Canal and Pawtucket Street Bridge Project in Lowell.
1871-1916 Accession no. 128

Assembled Collections

Lowell Industrial Development Company Records (pdf)
These records were created and maintained by the Lowell Industrial Development Company which specialized in leasing space and power in the former Massachusetts Mills buildings and other Lowell facilities.

Massachusetts Mohair Plush Company Records (pdf)
The Massachusetts Mohair Plush Company Records, 1934-1956 (bulk dates 1953-1955) were created and maintained by the Massachusetts Mohair Plush Company at their facilities in Lowell, Massachusetts. They contain correspondence, fabric samples, time cards, and vertical files.

Records for the Faulkner Mills, formerly the North Billerica Company (pdf)
These records were created and maintained by Faulkner Mills, Inc., formerly the North Billerica Company, and the five affiliated companies. Although the manufacturing of woolen fabrics occurred in North Billerica, the companies were managed in Lowell.

C. G. Sargent Records (pdf)
The C. G. Sargent's Sons Company Records and Estate Documents
Collection consists of patents, deeds, advertisements, newspapers,
photographs, plans, and bundles of documents produced by the Trustees of
the Estate of C. G. Sargent while the estate was being probated.

Nancy E. Savage (pdf)
Nancy Emeline Savage was a mill worker in Peterborough, NH, who left the mill for unknown reasons. The letters from her friends and acquaintances were written from various locations in New Hampshire. There are three letters, April 25, May 9, and July 13 that show no year.

University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Collected Papers (pdf)
Donated from the Center for Lowell History, this group of materials comprises a real miscellany and includes personal papers as well as printed material
1843-1964, Accession no. 207



Last updated: December 4, 2021

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