Harvard Historical Society

Harvard Historical Society We are a private, non-profit organization that is not related to the town's Harvard Historical Commission. Our members and generous contributors support our operations and capital spending. We hope you will become a member and join us in discovering Harvard’s rich history and how that history has shaped the present-day town we love.
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The Society is located in the Still River Meetinghouse, now a museum of Harvard’s past, where our collections are displayed, including furniture, tools, paintings, and other objects. Periodic exhibits depict the town’s history and its people. • Concerts feature musicians performing in the meetinghouse, known to be acoustically superb. • Art exhibits allow local painters and crafters to share their creativity with the community. • Discovery Open Houses showcase the extensive collection of the Society. The archives are a treasure trove of information about Harvard. Maps, photos, books, documents, town reports, personal narratives are all windows to a past that influences Harvard today

Always something to find in the archives!  Here's a picture of the General Store.  Can you help us put a date on this? N...
06/09/2020

Always something to find in the archives! Here's a picture of the General Store. Can you help us put a date on this? Note the payphone booth and the signs.

We recently obtained a picture of this house on Ayer Rd.  It was very close to the town line with Ayer, right next to th...
06/08/2020

We recently obtained a picture of this house on Ayer Rd. It was very close to the town line with Ayer, right next to the Mr. Mike/Citgo gas station (now closed) It was torn down fairly recently, we are not sure how many years ago.

Nelson Newell lived in Still River.  His mother, Sarah Atherton Newell, ran the Post Office and store in Still River. (s...
06/01/2020

Nelson Newell lived in Still River. His mother, Sarah Atherton Newell, ran the Post Office and store in Still River. (see the previous post for a picture of the store.) Nelson was a stamp dealer and musician. This envelope was recently for sale on ebay--which is how we learned about Nelson.

This drawing of the Shaker Stone Barn by Bayard Underwood would make a wonderful graduation gift.  We also have drawings...
05/26/2020

This drawing of the Shaker Stone Barn by Bayard Underwood would make a wonderful graduation gift. We also have drawings of the Bromfield School and the Square house in Shaker Village available. The prints are 17 x 22 inches on fine rag paper high quality photolithographs. All prints are $20 each, can be picked up in Harvard or can be shipped for the cost of mailing tube and postage.

To all those who have served our country, we remember you today.
05/25/2020

To all those who have served our country, we remember you today.

Some Harvard Boy Scouts in the 1930's.  We hope someone will recognize one or more of them!
05/19/2020

Some Harvard Boy Scouts in the 1930's. We hope someone will recognize one or more of them!

This is probably the first Boy Scout meeting in Harvard, October 1914.  Atwood E Dickson was the secretary.  Dr Royal ga...
05/18/2020

This is probably the first Boy Scout meeting in Harvard, October 1914. Atwood E Dickson was the secretary. Dr Royal gave a lecture on First Aid to the Injured, and continued at the next meeting with a lecture on bandaging.

The first Harvard Boy Scout troop seems to have been formed in 1914 with Mr. Calkin as the troop leader.  We have a note...
05/18/2020

The first Harvard Boy Scout troop seems to have been formed in 1914 with Mr. Calkin as the troop leader. We have a notebook with minutes from the 1914 meetings. The earliest troop charter we have in the collection is from 1929.

05/12/2020

Does anyone have a picture (or information) about the house that was at the corner of South Shaker Road and Ayer Road and was taken down or burned in the 1970s? Please let us know. If you'd like to email us, it's [email protected].

A boom in planting apple trees in Harvard began around 1910 -- by 1941 there were about 55 commercial growers in town.  ...
05/11/2020

A boom in planting apple trees in Harvard began around 1910 -- by 1941 there were about 55 commercial growers in town. The earlier apple trees were of enormous size--one tree was said to have produced over 100 bushels of apples and had a trunk four feet in diameter but these were not grown by the 1940s.

This picture is not of a Harvard tree; it's a notably large tree in Marshfield taken in 1924. Does anyone have a picture of an enormous Harvard tree?

A view looking east from Town Hall. This postcard was never sent so has no date, but it only needed a 1cent stamp (2 cen...
05/04/2020

A view looking east from Town Hall. This postcard was never sent so has no date, but it only needed a 1cent stamp (2 cents for foreign.)

Postcard view of Still River in 1915.  It looks like there may have been a sidewalk, or at least a footpath.  The road w...
05/04/2020

Postcard view of Still River in 1915. It looks like there may have been a sidewalk, or at least a footpath. The road was lined with trees.

This looks like early spring on Ayer Road in 1933.  Maybe they were going out to spray some apple trees.
04/28/2020

This looks like early spring on Ayer Road in 1933. Maybe they were going out to spray some apple trees.

Does anyone know what may have been happening?  or the approximate date?
04/27/2020

Does anyone know what may have been happening? or the approximate date?

Here's an old postcard view from Pin Hill showing open fields. Can someone identify the buildings in the middle ground o...
04/27/2020

Here's an old postcard view from Pin Hill showing open fields. Can someone identify the buildings in the middle ground or any other landmarks?

An Easter greeting from the Harvard Historical Society archives.
04/12/2020

An Easter greeting from the Harvard Historical Society archives.

The scene looks  different with the older church, but it's definitely Harvard Common.  Many will recognize it this way.
04/10/2020

The scene looks different with the older church, but it's definitely Harvard Common. Many will recognize it this way.

Town Hall and the Unitarian Church in 1872. The first town meeting was held in the then new Town Hall in April, 1872. In 1899 the building was enlarged on the north end.

Town Hall and the Unitarian Church in 1872.  The first town meeting was held in the then new Town Hall in April, 1872.  ...
04/08/2020

Town Hall and the Unitarian Church in 1872. The first town meeting was held in the then new Town Hall in April, 1872. In 1899 the building was enlarged on the north end.

The Whitcomb Reed mansion stood on the  corner opposite from the General Store.  It burned in 1917 and was never replace...
04/08/2020

The Whitcomb Reed mansion stood on the corner opposite from the General Store. It burned in 1917 and was never replaced. The fire also took the Farwell house that was next door (on the left side of this picture) and seven beautiful elm trees.

Another donated treasure.  What year was this? The tall gentleman in the center is a staff member at Matagamon, the rest...
03/30/2020

Another donated treasure. What year was this? The tall gentleman in the center is a staff member at Matagamon, the rest will be familiar faces to many.

How many of you remember making one of these?  The HHS received this donation so we can remind you of this piece of Harv...
03/30/2020

How many of you remember making one of these? The HHS received this donation so we can remind you of this piece of Harvard History. Who was the shop teacher who designed and helped you make these and what years were they made?

Another Pollard painting showing the south view of the Common, with the Pollard house on the far left.  The "belvedere" ...
03/24/2020

Another Pollard painting showing the south view of the Common, with the Pollard house on the far left. The "belvedere" is still there. The blue and white houses to the right burned in 1917 and were not rebuilt. The early General Store and the Center School are next before the Congregational Church.

The Old Library when first built is part of a larger scene of the Common attributed to Luke Pollard. He lived at the old...
03/24/2020

The Old Library when first built is part of a larger scene of the Common attributed to Luke Pollard. He lived at the old Pollard homestead at 14 Fairbank St. The painting, one of a set of four, was found in the carriage house of the homestead, and acquired by the HHS through the generosity of the Eleanor Cray Cottle Memorial Trust. The four paintings hang at the HHS--and we hope you'll be able to come see them after the emergency is over.

03/23/2020

Though HHS is now closed due to the Covid 19 pandemic, we will continue to provide interesting Harvard pictures and notes and we will always try to provide answers to your questions about Harvard's history. Stay safe!

Fruitlands Museum
03/22/2020

Fruitlands Museum

On this day in 1843, William Miller and his followers, the Millerites, believed the fiery end of the world would occur, the day Christ returned for the Second Coming. These images are of a Millerite chart from that time period that inspired an exhibition opening here this spring, “Recruiting for Utopia: Print and the Imagination.”

Perhaps more relatable than ever, this moment in history might also provide comfort and perspective. Humans are incredibly creative and resilient, and what might seem like a huge challenge in the present can later be understood as a source of strength and wisdom.

We will keep you posted about when this and other exhibitions will be open for you to visit. In the meantime, we will share sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes glimpses of our work, and we look forward to seeing you hiking our trails on the weekends during our open hours.

#thetrustees #exhibitionpreview #1843 #thisdayinhistory #millerites @ Fruitlands Museum

Not long after the library was proposed, Henry L Warner made arrangements to give the town $10,000 for a series of educa...
03/17/2020

Not long after the library was proposed, Henry L Warner made arrangements to give the town $10,000 for a series of educational lectures, to be called the Warner Free Lecture series.

A picture of the "Old Library" from an album in the archives.  A Harvard architect, William Channing Whitney, donated hi...
03/17/2020

A picture of the "Old Library" from an album in the archives. A Harvard architect, William Channing Whitney, donated his services to the town. Mrs Hannah Sawyer's estate, the town, and Warren Hapgood contributed to the cost. The building was dedicated in 1887, and in 1902 Warren Hapgood made an additional donation and a substantial addition was added to the side of the library.

Anyone remember this day in 1987 and the giant saw?
03/02/2020

Anyone remember this day in 1987 and the giant saw?

Ice Cutting 1987 on Bare Hill Pond. There are several pictures and it looks like they have antique saws and tools.  Mayb...
03/02/2020

Ice Cutting 1987 on Bare Hill Pond. There are several pictures and it looks like they have antique saws and tools. Maybe someone can name these people.

This photo looks like cutting ice in more recent times.  Does anyone remember this or know who the people in the photo a...
03/02/2020

This photo looks like cutting ice in more recent times. Does anyone remember this or know who the people in the photo are?

Mother Anne's Birthday February 29th - The Square House in Shaker Village was Mother Anne's headquarters for missionary ...
02/28/2020

Mother Anne's Birthday February 29th - The Square House in Shaker Village was Mother Anne's headquarters for missionary trips around New England.

Another negative scanned, this one in better condition. The trees in the background seem like recent growth.  No date or...
02/25/2020

Another negative scanned, this one in better condition. The trees in the background seem like recent growth. No date or name available.

1983, Carlson's has a familiar logo and the stand was on Rte 110.  Look at all the things you could get at the store.  F...
01/20/2020

1983, Carlson's has a familiar logo and the stand was on Rte 110. Look at all the things you could get at the store. For those who don't remember, the stand was where the current post office is now.

Address

PO Box 542 - 215 Still River Rd
Harvard, MA
01451

General information

The Curator's Quarters is open most Monday and Tuesday afternoons from 1-5. If you are interested in finding out more about the Society or have research questions, see the addresses below.

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Comments

I remember visiting this cemetery as a kid and someone pointing out that some deaths were grouped in years due to an epidemic at the time. This came up due to recent events. Do you have any further info? Quick googling didn't turn up anything specific. http://www.harvardshakers.com/shaker-burial-ground.html
Hello I have a print of a Harvard map from 1870 that I would like to donate. Any interest? It has the names of the landowners on it. If interested let me know where and when I can drop it off. Thanks, Sue
Merry Christmas, Harvard Historical Society! I'll retake these on another day, not winter, when there is more color!
My Harvard Memories still have a place at the top my tree along with the bulbs I would with my mom, May she Rest In Peace. I also miss the small hometown caroling on Withington Lane. It was more like a second trick or treat. I miss the tree lighting. An chance you could post significant events like the tree lighting and the fourth online. And I ask again..........does anyone yet know where the time capsule is? Thank you for all you do. Just a side note........for the Fourth all of us who have lived in Harvard should put together a float this year. I will represent the Harvard Garrison.
Haven't got tickets to the Barn To Barn tour yet? Get them today!!!! You can purchase them at the Harvard Historical Society in Still River today 1-5 pm or 6-8pm. Can't get there? Purchase online at www.harvardhistory.org!
Dear Harvard Historical Society, My name is Stephen Howe. I am an associate professor of historical linguistics in Japan but was born in England. I am researching special words for “no” and “yes” in Massachusetts. Colonists from the East of England, where I grew up, may have brought "dow" and "jess" to New England in the seventeenth century. Four hundred years later, these special words still survive. Gerald E. Lewis gives an example of "daow" in How to Talk Yankee: Did you get your deer yet? Daow, I can’t even see one. And an informant from New Hampshire gives an example of "jearse" or "jess," stating that “I totally just thought this was a weird NH thing”: Hey, have you seen where the muffin tins went? Hmmmm, jearse, in the oven I think. In the East of England, we still use "dow" and "jearse" today. However, these words for “no” and “yes” are not recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary or the Survey of English Dialects. Nor were they recorded by the Linguistic Atlas of New England; but the Dictionary of American Regional English cites daow, daowd, dow, doh or day-oh in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well as New York State. There is also daow in New Hampshire. For “jearse" or "jess,” informants in my survey cited jass in Upstate New York and possibly Vermont, jearse in New Hampshire, and jyes or djess in Maine and Massachusetts. I am writing a book on "jess" and "dow" and wonder whether it might be possible to ask your members whether they know either of these words? I would be most grateful for any information you may have. I have more information about my research plus a survey that readers can complete online at http://yesandno.info/ Yours sincerely, Stephen Howe ============================================= Dr Stephen HOWE Associate Professor Department of English and Graduate School Fukuoka University Japan Website: http://yesandno.info/ =============================================
I've never noticed this stone marker before, right next to the side steps of the General Store. "C"is for ??
Hey there, since FB makes it virtually impossible for users to search their own sites, are there any plans to further split photos up into folders, for example 'class pictures', 'town events', etc.? And would the Harvard Post be amenable to scanning the paper's old photos in (if they haven't been doing already)? Thanks, R. Pittelli formerly of Elm Street.
Can anyone recommend a good book about the town's history? I am also looking for a book about the Shaker community. I would appreciate any suggestions.
Writing a genealogy article on ancestors who lived in Still River area from the 1730's to 1780's. Have come across three places in deeds: Plumtree Intervale, Willards Pond Meadow and the Neck of the P.ond. I am assuming the later two are east of Still River Rd in the vicinity of Willard Lane. The other I am assuming is the lowland in the southwest corner of Harvard east of Nashua River. Anyone familiar with these place names? Thank you.
Ayer Rd. farm, June 6, 1938. Now owned by Mrs. Hazel.
Ayer Rd. farm circa 1910. Pictured l-r, Walter Hill Roberts, Elizabeth Bell MacKay, unknown workman, and Alice Souther Daniels Roberts. Farm currently owned by Mrs. Hazel.