Old Colony History Museum

Old Colony History Museum 66 Church Green Taunton, Massachusetts 508-822-1622 www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org @OCHM1853
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History museum and library dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the Taunton region.

Mission: The mission of the Old Colony History Museum is twofold: First, to collect, preserve and exhibit the history of the region of southeastern Massachusetts once known as the Old Colony. Second, through a vigorous program of outreach and education, we aspire to interpret the area's history in ways that are accessible, inclusive and meaningful to local residents and visitors.

02/26/2020

Thank you, everyone!

"The American Lenin" On February 25, 1881 William Z. Foster was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, the son of an Irish immi...
02/25/2020

"The American Lenin"

On February 25, 1881 William Z. Foster was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, the son of an Irish immigrant who had come to America looking for a better life. He never found it, and the six years the family spent in Taunton introduced young William to hopeless destitution. From Taunton, the Fosters moved to the slums Philadelphia, where his father took a job sweeping out railroad cars. William Foster's memoirs, written a half century later, describe a boyhood spent in filth and poverty.

When William was 16-years old he took to the road in a 10-year odyssey that saw him work as a sailor, lumberjack, miner and circus canvas man. With him, the pattern was always the same: After being hired, he'd find both the pay and working conditions deplorable. He'd agitate and try to unionize the workers and upon discovery he'd be fired. At first a socialist, in 1909 he joined the International Workers of the World, or simply the Wobblies as they were known. He and his radical compatriots often found themselves in violent confrontations with police or strike breakers, and in 1917, he narrowly escaped lynching.

During World War I, Foster rose quickly through the ranks of American radicals and by 1920 was a committed communist. He ran as the American Communist Party's presidential candidate in 1924, '28 and '32. In the latter year, as FDR swamped Herbert Hoover, Foster received more than 102,000 votes, including 14 in Taunton. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, he continued to speak and write on behalf of Communist causes, and in 1945 he became party's national chairman, a post he held for a dozen years.

In 1948, well into the deep freeze of the Cold War, Foster and eleven other Communist leaders were indicted under the Smith Act, charged with conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government by force. Because of a serious heart ailment he was never brought to trial, but the other defendants were convicted and sent to prison.

By 1957, Foster was too ill to continue his work as party chairman and was ushered into retirement. Two years later he began a court battle to get permission to travel to the Soviet Union for medical treatment. In December 1960, despite again being under federal indictment for conspiracy, he was issued a passport and departed the U.S. forever. His last birthday--his eightieth--was spent in the company of Soviet premier Nikita S. Khrushchev. He died seven months later, with his wife by his bedside. His body was viewed by thousands of Russians as it lay in state and his funeral was attended by the upper ranks of the Soviet Politburo.

#thisdayinhistory
#OnThisDate
#oldcolonyhistory
#Tauntonhistory
#HistoricalTiesToTaunton

Friends, we need your vote.The OCHM's postcard submission to be THE official postcard of the 2020 Massachusetts History ...
02/21/2020

Friends, we need your vote.
The OCHM's postcard submission to be THE official postcard of the 2020 Massachusetts History Conference was selected in the final 12! And now, the winner is whoever gets the most votes. We're currently in 5th, and we're hoping you can power us through to #1.

How to vote:
1. Click this link: https://masshistoryalliance.org/2020-postcard-competition-entries/
2. Vote for us. We're the second entry, and it looks like the image above.
3. That's it!
(one vote per computer just FYI)

Let's be the cover photo for Massachusetts history in 2020!

In celebrating Black History Month, the OCHM recognizes Warren L. Offley, the first African American ever named to the T...
02/20/2020

In celebrating Black History Month, the OCHM recognizes Warren L. Offley, the first African American ever named to the Taunton Police Department. Appointed a fulltime officer in February 1970, Officer Offley was on the job for thirty years, and in that time he and his colleagues were on the front line of widespread societal change. He worked under four police chiefs and through eight mayoral administrations. During his three-decade career, law enforcement became increasingly automated, with an ever-greater reliance on the Internet, technology and community policing. Also throughout that period, police departments across the commonwealth were asked to do more in an age of tight budgets, constricted staffing and greater police accountability. Officer Offley wore the badge honorably for thirty years, and when he retired in March 2001, he carried with him the respect of the city he served.

Photo caption: Patrolman Warren L. Offley
Photo courtesy of Taunton Police Department

Stop by Taunton’s Family Resource Center at 37 Main Street from 12-3 today to get your HANDS ON HISTORY and find out wha...
02/19/2020

Stop by Taunton’s Family Resource Center at 37 Main Street from 12-3 today to get your HANDS ON HISTORY and find out what all this historic stuff is!
Learn about all that the Old Colony History Museum and the Family Resource Center have to offer!

It's a busy week at the OCHM! We hope to see you for one of these great events.
02/18/2020

It's a busy week at the OCHM! We hope to see you for one of these great events.

Old Colony History Museum
02/15/2020

Old Colony History Museum

THE MUSEUM WILL BE CLOSED ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020 IN OBSERVANCE OF THE PRESIDENTS’ DAY HOLIDAY.
02/15/2020

THE MUSEUM WILL BE CLOSED ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2020 IN OBSERVANCE OF THE PRESIDENTS’ DAY HOLIDAY.

Happy Valentine's Day!We wanted to share the love with all our members today, and especially mention our 2020 Corporate ...
02/14/2020

Happy Valentine's Day!

We wanted to share the love with all our members today, and especially mention our 2020 Corporate Members.

Thanks to our Corporate Members, the OCHM continues to be a vibrant, dynamic organization in our 167th year. And for 2020, we have more than 60 events planned, 1,800 students to visit, new temporary and permanent exhibits to open, blog posts to write, walking tours to lead, an awesome fall festival to host, and so much more! None of this is possible without your membership support and the love of our Corporate Members.

We hope you'll join us for some (or all!) of the amazing things we have planned this year. It's never too late to join. Stop by, give us a call, or sign up online. Memberships last for the full calendar year, so it's definitely not too late to get involved for 2020!

"But, I've never been there, I'm not welcome." ---False! Come on in! Everyone is welcome!"But, I haven't finished the bo...
02/06/2020

"But, I've never been there, I'm not welcome." ---False! Come on in! Everyone is welcome!

"But, I haven't finished the book."--That's OK, come share what you think. See if you want to join the group!

"But, my kid can't handle a storytime."--Ours is 30 minutes long and we have coloring pages and legos for you!

This Saturday is packed with events for the whole family. And if you want to just enjoy Taunton's history in a beautiful historic space, we love that too! Come have a look around. It's only $5 to tour the museum and members are always free! :)

The Four ChaplainsJust after midnight, in the early morning darkness of Wednesday, February 3, 1943, four U.S. Army chap...
02/03/2020

The Four Chaplains

Just after midnight, in the early morning darkness of Wednesday, February 3, 1943, four U.S. Army chaplains earned their places among the heroes of World War II. Standing on the listing deck of the American troop transport Dorchester and accepting that they would soon perish in the icy Atlantic, each man selflessly handed over his lifejacket so that another man would have a chance to survive.

George L. Fox, a native of Pennsylvania, was a Methodist minister, a highly decorated World War I veteran and the father of two children. Arthur D. Goode was a Jewish rabbi who was raised in Washington, D.C. and then studied medicine at Johns Hopkins University. He had left his congregation in York, Pennsylvania to enter the military. George V. Polling, a Dutch Reformed minister, was born in Ohio but had lived in Massachusetts and most recently in Vermont. His wife Betty was pregnant with their second child when he departed for the service. John P. Washington, the son of Irish immigrants and a graduate of Seton Hall University, was a Roman Catholic priest who left his parish in Elizabeth, New Jersey to serve his country.

These four clergymen had become friends while at Camp Myles Standish, in Taunton, Massachusetts. Opened in October 1942, the camp served as the main staging area for the Boston Port of Embarkation. Here, the four chaplains, along with thousands of other American and Allied personnel, were processed for overseas duty. Physicals were administered, paperwork completed and perhaps there was time for a hurried phone call home. Then it was a train ride to Boston--or in the case of these chaplains, New York-- and onto a troop ship headed for the European Theater of Operations.

After a stop at St. John's, Newfoundland, the Dorchester was part of a six-vessel convoy bound for an American base in southern Greenland, but first it had to make its way through the enemy-infested waters of the North Atlantic. Just 150 miles from its destination, the ship was spotted by a German U-boat which fired three torpedoes into the slowly moving transport. As the mortally wounded Dorchester lost power and began to sink, men poured up the ladders from lower decks, most ill-prepared for the emergency at hand and therefore prime candidates for death via hypothermia. Because of the list, several lifeboats proved useless and the loss of power prevented the crew from sending the usual distress signals. The ship went down in about twenty minutes with the loss of 675 of the 902 men aboard.

Throughout the ordeal, the four chaplains were at the center of activity as they offered words of encouragement to fearful passengers, many of whom had left their lifejackets in their quarters below. Each of the clergymen distributed spares taken from a centralized emergency station on the main deck, but that supply was quickly exhausted. When it became apparent that some soldiers would go into the water with no chance of survival, each of the chaplains--Fox, Goode, Polling and Washington--removed his own lifejacket and gave it to another man. And as the ocean closed in around them, they came together, linked arms, and prayed.

Free showing. Saturday at 1 p.m.
01/31/2020

Free showing. Saturday at 1 p.m.

Yay! It's Photo Scanning Day on Saturday!
01/30/2020

Yay! It's Photo Scanning Day on Saturday!

01/29/2020
Let's Map

Museums all maintain a balance of behind-the-scenes work of collections care and planning and the more public elements of exhibitions and programming. When our annual schedule shifts to the public, field trip end, we reaaaaaally enjoy it!

We're been thrilled to visit all the Taunton Public School 4th-grade classes throughout January with all-star Community Programming Coordinator Saria Sweeney. Take a peek at the awesome work she does with the students!

And a huge thank you to the Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation for their support of this program!

The first of our February Flicks movie series starts this Saturday. Come on by and enjoy the show!
01/28/2020

The first of our February Flicks movie series starts this Saturday. Come on by and enjoy the show!

On this #NationalHandwritingDay we're thankful for well-made pens, clear penmanship, and interesting notes from 1907!
01/23/2020

On this #NationalHandwritingDay we're thankful for well-made pens, clear penmanship, and interesting notes from 1907!

We've got a lot going on for 2020, stay connected or get involved!
01/21/2020

We've got a lot going on for 2020, stay connected or get involved!

01/15/2020
City of Boston

It's the anniversary of the great molasses flood in Boston.

On January 15, 1919, a 50-foot tall tank full of industrial grade molasses ruptured, sending a 2.3 million gallon wave of molasses rushing through the crowded North End.

Read more about the molasses flood: https://bit.ly/3ac7hpQ
More videos from #BostonUncovered: Boston.gov/boston-uncovered

Boston City Archives

The North American Reciprocal Museum Association
01/07/2020

The North American Reciprocal Museum Association

Sharing Local Memories: Photo Scanning Days at the OCHM
On view through May 2020
Old Colony History Museum
Taunton, MA
www.oldcolonyhistorymuseum.org

After a year of collaboration with the general public as part of Old Colony History Museum's Photo Scanning Days program, "Sharing Local Memories" features images in a digital collection shared by the people of Taunton. Catch a glimpse of what locals have been saving in their personal archives and see how history is at its fullest when it's collected from and shared by all members of a community.

Credit:
Evan Francis
Taunton, Massachusetts
Taunton Green Evenings, ca. 2019
Color print, 8 x 10 in.

A head's up that we will be closed to the public for our annual maintenance week, January 7-11. We apologize for any inc...
01/06/2020

A head's up that we will be closed to the public for our annual maintenance week, January 7-11.

We apologize for any inconvenience and look forward to seeing you all the following week for Wednesday Workshops: Pet Portraits!

As we leap into 2020, we want to be sure to take a moment and share the importance of the year we just had. In 2019, we ...
01/04/2020

As we leap into 2020, we want to be sure to take a moment and share the importance of the year we just had. In 2019, we welcomed more people to the OCHM than ever before. In addition to our museum-goers, researchers, and genealogists, we hosted 58 programs that welcomed 1,043 attendees. We learned from historians, made art, listened to poets and songwriters, went on walking tours, and read books together. We collected photos, opened exhibits, and celebrated our 166th year as an organization. We tried out new things and adjusted our favorites, all while welcoming an additional 1,863 students for field trips with our staff.

We held the biggest Liberty & Union Festival we ever have and joined in as partners in the great programs of Artweek, Free Fun Fridays, Smithsonian Magazine's Museum Day, and, closer to home, Curiosity Factory's Invention Convention and Lights On!

We had guests from 39 different states and 6 foreign countries learn about the important history of the Old Colony and how Taunton has helped to changed the world.

We benefitted from your support; from your membership, donations to the Annual Fund, and donations of objects, books, and documents. We benefitted from your attendance, suggestions, and commitment to local history. We benefitted from your friendship.

We renovated our main exhibition gallery, added wayfaring signage throughout the building, built an interactive Old Colony puzzle map, updated our Gift Shop, improved the long-term safety of our historic building, modernized storage conditions in our collections areas, and continued to add documentation and searchability to our records.

We couldn’t do this work without our program presenters, speakers, volunteers, local partners, and sponsors. We’re honored to be the collectors and holders of this important history, but we are much more honored to be able to share it with all of you.

Thank you for 2019. And stay tuned for 2020!

The Museum is closing 12/31 at noon, and re-opening at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 2nd. Happy 2020!
12/31/2019

The Museum is closing 12/31 at noon, and re-opening at 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 2nd. Happy 2020!

Taunton's history is everywhere.Two days after Christmas, news spread throughout New England of a disastrous fire in Con...
12/30/2019

Taunton's history is everywhere.

Two days after Christmas, news spread throughout New England of a disastrous fire in Concord, Massachusetts that destroyed a well-known 19th century home. Built in 1899, it had once belonged to Charles Francis Adams III, great-grandson of President John Quincy Adams, and great- great-grandson of President John Adams. What most of the stories failed to mention was that there is a Taunton connection to both the Adams family and the house that burned.

Charles Francis Adams III was born in Quincy, Mass. in 1866. A Harvard graduate and lawyer, he served for two years as mayor of Quincy and was later appointed Secretary of the Navy by President Herbert Hoover. He served in the post from 1929 to 1933. In addition to his professional duties and membership in high society, he was an avid yachtsman who captained the America's Cup defender Resolute in 1920.

In April 1899, Adams married Frances Lovering, a Taunton woman with wide social connections of her own. Her father, William C. Lovering, had made his fortune in the textile business and his Whittenton Mills was one of the largest employers in Taunton. Lovering had also served in the Massachusetts State Senate in the mid-1870s and at the time of his daughter's marriage was a member of the Massachusetts delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives, a position he would hold until his death in 1910. The Adams-Lovering wedding, celebrated in Washington, D.C., was a magnet for foreign diplomats and prominent American politicians.

The Adamses and their children spent winters at their home on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, and their summers at the 5-bedroom mansion that burned on December 27. Frances Lovering Adams died at age 87 in 1956, two years after her husband's passing. The beautiful house in Concord remained in the family until 1952.

Address

66 Church Green
Taunton, MA
02780

http://www.gatra.org/

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00
Thursday 10:00 - 16:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 16:00

Telephone

(508) 822-1622

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Our Past is Always Present

The history of the original Old Colony is one that reaches from Rehoboth to Provincetown, and from Scituate to Dartmouth. It’s as distant as 1639 and as relevant as a moment ago. It is a history that plays like a page-turner, replete with epic battles, brash entrepreneurs, new-for-the-time technologies – and the stuff of everyday life. Things that happened in the Old Colony made the region what it is today and frequently influenced events worldwide.

At the Old Colony History Museum, we’re proud to be the keeper of this history. It is our ongoing mission to be able to bring it to life for the region’s families and children as well as historians of every age. Open year-round, we curate exhibits and offer guided tours, lectures, workshops, field trips and special presentations for school groups. We invite you to join us, to personally experience our collective past in a way unique to our region.

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