The Commonwealth Museum

The Commonwealth Museum FREE admission, rare national treasures, engaging field trips. This museum is YOUR museum!
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Located by the seafront of Columbia Point, the Commonwealth Museum serves as a state history museum in Massachusetts for the public. Our exhibit contains many important written texts and documents such as the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Paul Revere’s original engraving of the Boston Massacre and more. With neighboring John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate and the University of Massachusetts Boston all located within a 2-mile radius from the Commonwealth Museum, Columbia Point is certainly a go-to tourist attraction for child-friendly families as well as those interested in getting to know more about the history of the United States. Join us today for an exploration back to the birth of the Commonwealth!

Boston Athenæum
02/09/2020

Boston Athenæum

It's a beautiful day to visit the Dillaway-Thomas House, Roxbury Heritage State Park. Theo Tyson will speak about Harriet Hayden and her historic photo albums.

TODAY, 2 pm
183 Roxbury Street, Boston

Details on attached flyer!

The Commonwealth Museum
Historic Boston Inc. - HBI
Boston African American National Historic Site
Museum of African American History - Boston and Nantucket
City of Boston

Born and raised in Boston, Frances Perkins (1880-1965), the first woman to serve in a U.S. presidential cabinet, was Sec...
02/03/2020

Born and raised in Boston, Frances Perkins (1880-1965), the first woman to serve in a U.S. presidential cabinet, was Secretary of Labor (1933-1945) for the entire tenure of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Perkins was the driving force behind many of the groundbreaking New Deal programs that are still the foundation of the American social safety net — Social Security, unemployment insurance, the 40-hour work week, and the minimum wage.

The Frances Perkins Center invites the public to a showing of a five-panel traveling exhibit on the Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins. Thanks to Senate President Karen Spilka, the exhibit will be on display concurrent with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National League of Women Voters.

LOCATION: Massachusetts State House, 4th Floor - House Gallery
DATE: February 3 – 7, 2020
TIME: 8 AM to 5 PM
FREE & Open to the Public
To learn more about the Frances Perkins Center, call (207) 563-3374, email [email protected], or visit www.FrancesPerkinsCenter.org.

5th grade students learned so much during their field trip.
12/19/2019

5th grade students learned so much during their field trip.

Parker Middle School’s social studies students went on an exciting and informative field trip to The Commonwealth Museum in Boston where they learned about history through interactive exhibits. What a great way to learn all about Massachusetts! #ChelmsfordPS #CPSLionsPRIDE

Honoring the 246th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party! #eveningplans
12/16/2019

Honoring the 246th Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party! #eveningplans

Monday, Dec 16th, is the 246th Anniversary and Annual Reenactment of the Boston Tea Party! All outside portions of this event are FREE and open to the public! The action begins at 6:30pm outside of Old South Meeting House and the tea goes into the water at 8:00pm at the BTPSM!

Free parking!
12/12/2019

Free parking!

#OTD in 1901, George, Charles, and Edward Parker incorporated a game company: Parker Brothers. http://ow.ly/dpwb50xpIAo

Thankful for this beautiful sunrise.
11/26/2019

Thankful for this beautiful sunrise.

Mrs. Porcello, Mrs. Barnes, and Ms. DiMaio's classes at Brookside Elementary School recently held a Pop Up Museum at the...
11/21/2019

Mrs. Porcello, Mrs. Barnes, and Ms. DiMaio's classes at Brookside Elementary School recently held a Pop Up Museum at their school by printing out our Food for Thought exhibition. Our panels were shown alongside activities created by the class including a pen quill station and a butter churning game. We are so excited they were able to use our exhibits to learn more about the history of Massachusetts and it’s food traditions.

11/21/2019
Stunning
10/30/2019

Stunning

Today’s #19forthe19th post highlights the work of Clarissa “Clara” Barton and Female First Responders everywhere. Clara ...
09/11/2019

Today’s #19forthe19th post highlights the work of Clarissa “Clara” Barton and Female First Responders everywhere. Clara Barton is most known as the founder of the American Red Cross, but her impact spans far beyond that.

Clara Barton was born on December 25th, 1821 in Oxford Massachusetts. At age 18, Barton went into teaching and founded her own school by the age of 24. Barton left teaching when she found out the school she was working at paid a male teacher twice her salary.

In 1854, Barton was hired at the U.S Patent office in D.C. but left in 1861, at the beginning of the war. She made it her mission to help bring supplies and support to Union soldiers, including the 6th Massachusetts Infantry. She eventually gained official permission to transport supplies to the battlefields. From that point on, Barton was present at every major battle in Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, where she became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” for her treatment of wounded soldiers. Barton became head nurse despite not having any official medical training. Her efforts continued after the war as she helped enslaved people prepare for freedom and helped locate missing soldiers.

After her efforts during the war, Barton spent time in Europe as she recovered. It was in Switzerland that Barton became familiar with the International Red Cross and its efforts in protecting and giving aid to those suffering from conflict. She returned to the U.S. with the mission of creating the American Red Cross. She built support through campaigns and partnerships with other leaders such as Fredrick Douglass. The American Red Cross was successfully created in 1881 and Barton continued her work at the Red Cross until 1904.

Clara Barton is our choice for Female First Responders because of her efforts on the battlegrounds and her success in creating the Red Cross. Barton’s life was filled with service to others, specifically those that needed it the most. The Commonwealth Museum is thankful for her service and the service of all other first responders; on this day and everyday.
Sources: Red Cross and National Women’s History Museum

This week’s #19forthe19th theme of “Mothers of Invention” gives us the perfect reason to highlight the inventor Margaret...
09/04/2019

This week’s #19forthe19th theme of “Mothers of Invention” gives us the perfect reason to highlight the inventor Margaret Knight and her accomplishments. Knight made her first invention when she was only 12 and continued inventing until her death.

Margaret Knight was born in 1838 in York, Maine. After the death of her father, Knight and her family moved to New Hampshire. In order to help her mother out, Knight left school and began working in a cotton mill. Knight became inspired for her first invention after witnessing an accident caused by a malfunctioning loom. Her invention was a safety device that would protect workers from these types of accidents. While the invention became a staple in cotton mills across the country, Knight was never compensated as the invention was not patented.

In 1867, Knight moved to Springfield, Massachusetts for a job at the Columbia Paper Bag Company. Seemingly bored by the slow and manual process for creating these bags, Knight began inventing a machine which could majorly speed up this process. Knight shared her invention with another inventor, Charles Annan, who tried to steal and patent it before Knight could. However, Knight was able to get the patent by showing her original blueprints of the machine.

Knight would go on to create a manufacturing company called The Eastern Paper Bag Company in Hartford, Connecticut. This didn’t stop her from seeking more solutions to manufacturing problems. Knight is thought to have created over 80 inventions in her lifetime and had 25 patents out on her products. Her inventions include a fishing reel, a rotary engine, and a sole cutting machine for shoe productions.

Margaret Knight spent her life thinking up and creating solutions to problems. While she is relatively unknown, her inventions have had an impact on many countless lives.

Sources: ASME, Lemelson MIT, National Inventors Hall of Fame

Summer at the Commonwealth Museum never looked better... Happy Friday!!!
08/30/2019

Summer at the Commonwealth Museum never looked better... Happy Friday!!!

In honor of last Friday’s event celebrating Sheroes and this week’s #19forthe19th theme “Defender of Human Rights”, we w...
08/28/2019

In honor of last Friday’s event celebrating Sheroes and this week’s #19forthe19th theme “Defender of Human Rights”, we want to highlight Sojourner Truth for her work as a women’s rights activists and an abolitionist.

Sojourner Truth, born into slavery in a Dutch speaking part of upstate New York, was originally given the name ‘Isabella Bromfield’. As an enslaved person, Truth was subjected to harsh labor and violence. She was bought and sold multiple times before she ran away to a nearby abolitionist family. The family bought her freedom a year before New York law abolished slavery.

In 1828, Truth moved to New York City where she worked for a local minister. She eventually became a preacher and changed her name to Sojourner Truth, having been called by the Spirit to preach the truth.

After changing her name, Truth moved to Florence, MA and joined a utopian community dedicated to equality and justice. It was here that she met abolitionists Fredrick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison. While living in Florence, Truth moved away from speaking on religion to speaking on abolition and women’s rights. Her ability to speak about religion and spirituality as a reason for abolition and equal rights made her a powerful voice in these movements.

Truth stayed in Florence making a career out of giving speeches for various reformer causes, despite never having learned how to read or write English. In 1850, she started her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” tour which sought to challenge notions of racial and gender inferiority. By showing listeners her own successes and abilities as a black woman, she proved that these notions were unfounded.

She eventually settled in Michigan where she continued her efforts for equality.

Sojourner Truth spent her entire life defending human rights. She helped recently free men find jobs with the Freedman’s Bureau, staged sit ins for reform movements, expanded the idea of what a “reformer” was, and helped collect supplies for black soldiers during the civil war amongst a whole list of accomplishments. Truth used her voice to advocate for not only her rights, but everyone’s.

Sources: Women’s History and the Sojourner Truth Memorial

Check out this Boston Globe article to learn more about Sheroes and the Women's Equality Day event we helped host with t...
08/27/2019
‘Strong, bold, and remarkable’: Celebrating African-American suffragists from Mass. - The Boston Globe

Check out this Boston Globe article to learn more about Sheroes and the Women's Equality Day event we helped host with the Women's Suffrage Celebration Coalition of Massachusetts, Inc. and Mayor's Office of Women's Advancement - Boston.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2019/08/23/strong-bold-and-remarkable-celebrating-african-american-suffragists-from-mass/kWguhEF0fNUUy9cAEnjWxJ/story.html

A Women’s Equality Day celebration in the Boston Public Garden honored African-American suffragists, whose legacies are often overlooked in history.

Today is Women’s Equality Day!!! Last Friday, the Commonwealth Museum had the chance to celebrate at a Women’s Equality ...
08/26/2019

Today is Women’s Equality Day!!!

Last Friday, the Commonwealth Museum had the chance to celebrate at a Women’s Equality Day event hosted by @suffrage100ma , The Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Francis Galvin, and The Boston’s Mayor’s Office of Women’s Advancement.

The event commemorated Sheroes: the African American Suffragists of Massachusetts. The Commonwealth Museum had the honor of creating and unveiling panels on Maria Louise Baldwin, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, and Sojourner Truth.

We are thankful to be apart of such an event!

To view our panels, click here: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/mus/suffragists.html @ Public Garden

Famed as being the first woman accepted into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ellen Swallow Richards was an ...
08/21/2019

Famed as being the first woman accepted into Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Ellen Swallow Richards was an industrial and safety engineer who’s impact on the world went far beyond being the first woman admitted into MIT. Richards, the first practicing female chemist in the nation, was the founder of ecology and a pioneer of science and public health. Richards’s career helped pave the way for more women to enter STEM. For these reasons, we can’t imagine anyone more perfect than Ellen Swallow Richards to highlight for this week’s #19forthe19th theme of ‘Women of Stem’.

Ellen Swallow Richards was born and raised on a farm in Dunstable, MA. She did not start her education until she was 16. By age 26, Richards became a student at Vassar College. Vassar gave Richards the chance to learn under many different professors who would soon influence and shape the rest of her life.

After graduating from Vassar in 1870, Richards continued her studies in chemistry at MIT. MIT declined every female applicant asides from Richards. At MIT, Richards became the nation’s preeminent water scientist and began pioneering the study of how improving living environments improves human functioning.

In 1876, MIT opened a laboratory for women, which Richards was hired to instruct and eventually run. She dedicated her time in the laboratory to the study of “sanitary chemistry”. Her lab saw the first study on water pollution in the country and continuous studies of water, air, and minerals aided in the development as ecology as a field.

Richards success continued outside of the laboratory as she wrote over 17 books on home economics and sanitation, helped reform hygiene policies of Boston schools, organized the first school lunch programs in the nation, and introduced inexpensive and nutritional cooking to immigrant communities in Boston.

Ellen Swallow Richards proved that women could not only succeed in the sciences, but that they could pioneer in the sciences. She showed that women are not only capable members of STEM, but that having women in STEM actively affected what was studied.

Sources: Vassar Encyclopedia, ACS, and MIT

Phillis Wheatley was the first black woman and only second woman in America to have a book of poems published. As a slav...
08/14/2019

Phillis Wheatley was the first black woman and only second woman in America to have a book of poems published. As a slave and a black woman, Wheatley had to navigate spaces that actively tried to keep her out in order to have her poems published. Phillis Wheatley’s accomplishment in navigating these spaces is why we are highlighting her for this week’s #19forthe19th theme of Frontier Women.

Wheatley was born in Gambia, Africa but was kidnapped and sold into slavery when she was only 7 or 8. She was brought to America in 1761, where she was sold to the Wheatley family of Boston. The Wheatley’s educated Phillis to the point where she could read the Bible, Greek and Latin classics, and British literature.

Phillis started writing poetry at the young age of 14. By the time she turned 18, she had written 28 poems. Her first poem wasn’t published until 1767. Phillis wanted to publish a book of poems but struggled to find someone to publish her book in Boston due to racial prejudice. With the help of the Wheatley’s, Phillis was able to find a publisher in London to publish her book. In 1773, her book, “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral” was released to the public and shortly after Phillis was freed.

Within her poems, Wheatley subtly questioned the institution of slavery. She even corresponded with various leaders in the hopes that they would question the institution of slavery too. She was a patriot but quickly became disenfranchised with fighting with the patriots as many owned slaves.

In the 18th and 19th century, opponents of the transatlantic slave trade and proponents of abolition cited Wheatley’s work as evidence of the equality and humanity of people of African descent.

Phillis Wheatley was a frontier woman in life and death. During her life, she carved out new lands for women and people of color by publishing her book of poems. The legacy of her life helped propel movements which sought to reform slavery and racial injustices in America. Beyond this, her life and work helped establish a place within literature for people of African descent.

Sources: Public Domain Review, Poetry Foundation, and Women’s History

On this day in 1676, Metacom, also known as King Philip, was shot and killed, bringing an end to one of the deadliest wa...
08/12/2019

On this day in 1676, Metacom, also known as King Philip, was shot and killed, bringing an end to one of the deadliest wars in American history. The war was fought between settlers and natives over the colonists relentless appetite for native lands.

Interested in learning more about the King Philip’s War or King Philip himself? The Commonwealth Museum offers a historical recounting of this war and a glimpse into the life of Metacom and his role in Native and American history.

Faced with poor working conditions and exploitation, the Lowell Mill Girls fought back and ended up creating the Lowell ...
08/07/2019

Faced with poor working conditions and exploitation, the Lowell Mill Girls fought back and ended up creating the Lowell Female Labor Rights Association, the first union of working women in the country. Their story of working together to createchange is perfect for this week’s #19forthe19th theme: Fierce Female Friendships

Lowell became the center of the industrial revolution in Massachusetts in the early 19th century. During this time, Francis Cabot Lowell established the Lowell System which relied on young adult women to run it rather than adult men or young children. The Lowell system was extremely successful and gave the workers opportunities to gain skills and educate themselves.

In the early 1830’s, the Lowell system began facing major difficulties. Overproduction caused prices of the factory goods to lower, wages decreased, and workers were forced to work harder and faster. In 1834, wages for the mill women were cut by 25 percent. They responded by staging a strike and forming a labor union called Factory Girls Association. The worker union and strikes failed in its goals, but the mill women had found a new ability to fight back.

The conditions in the mills continued to deteriorate until 1844 when the mill girls fought back again. The mill women founded the Lowell Female Labor Rights Association (LFLRA), with the intending of fighting back through political action. The women of the LFLRA ran campaigns and organized petitions for 10 hour work days, established chapters in other towns and states, testified before a state legislative committee, and even campaigned against and beat a state representative.

The LFLRA did little to accomplish their short term goals. As women lacked much political power and a vote, they faced discrimination and struggle every step of the way. While there short term efforts may have failed, the LFLRA proved to those without political power that anyone can organize and fight back against injustices. The Lowell Female Labor Rights Association laid the groundwork for many women and labor rights movements to come. The mill women of Lowell illustrate the power of fierce female friendships in action.

(AFL-CIO, NPS, History of Mass) @ The Commonwealth Museum

Address

220 William T Morrissey Blvd
Boston, MA
02125

By Car (free parking) From the north: Rte 3/I-93S to exit 15 (Morrissey Blvd/JFK Library). Follow signs for UMass and JFK Library. From the west: Rte I-90/Mass Pike to I-93 South. Follow signs for UMass and JFK Library. From the south: Rte 3/I-93N to exit 14 (Morrissey Blvd/JFK Library). Follow signs for UMass and JFK Library. By MBTA Take the MBTA Red Line to JFK/UMass station. Free shuttle Bus #2 stops at the Archives Building and the JFK Library. The bus runs every 20 minutes from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the hour and 20 minutes after and before the hour.

Opening Hours

Monday 09:00 - 16:45
Tuesday 09:00 - 16:45
Wednesday 09:00 - 16:45
Thursday 09:00 - 16:45
Friday 09:00 - 16:45

Telephone

(617) 727-9268

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