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Worcester, MA history





Worcester, MA History:  Directory for 1871


Worcester MA Directory for 1871

Worcester History:  Howland's 1871 Worcester Directory

The longer we're involved in re-publishing history, genealogy and Americana, the more we understand the importance of the information found in old directories and gazetteers. 

This one, Henry J. Howland's 1871 Worcester Directory, is a great case in point. 

Howland's Worcester Directory has all the features one expects to find in a 19th century city or county directory.  First, there's plenty of advertising.  Nothing really gives a flavor of a community or area -- or the times -- better than the advertising that appeared in it.  The Worcester Directory we've re-published is better than many others in that it has a convenient index of advertisers, which serves a purpose for the historian or genealogist as well as the collector of Americana. 

The Worcester Directory has a "General Information" section that begins with a list of the officers of Worcester city government for 1871, starting with the mayor, Edward Earle, and going on to list the ward officials, as well as the police and fire departments and the overseers of the poor.  The government of Massachusetts is next, including court officers.  The public schools follow, along with the free public library, the Worcester Academy, the College of the Holy Cross, the Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science, the private schools, the American Antiquarian Society, the State Lunatic Hospital, the Worcester County Mechanics Association, the Worcester Lyceum and Natural History Association, the Worcester County Medical Convention, the Mozart and Beethoven Choral Union, the Worcester Agricultural Society, the Worcester County Horticultural Society, the YMCA, the Worcester People's Club, and even more organizations.

Next, we find meeting houses and ministers, railroads, stages and omnibuses, banks, insurance companies, Masonic organizations and other lodges, coroners, temperance organizations, mutual aid and protective associations, the local GAR, and even the New England Poultry Club.  There was a lot happening in 1871 in a city of 41,115!  With regard to population, there is considerable detailed census information for Worcester, for Worcester County, for Massachusetts, and for the United States, and the section ends with a compilation of crime for the previous year.

Another convenience in the Worcester Directory is a directory of "Streets, courts, Lanes, &c." with descriptions of each.  These things do change over the decades, and this listing should be of use in translating historic addresses to current locations.  We have also reproduced the fold-out map of Worcester.

Next comes the Worcester Directory itself.  Names are listed, along with occupations, businesses, whether a boarder or a homeowner, and the address.  A business directory by trade for the City of Worcester follows.  The volume concludes with still more advertising.

Typical page from the Worcester Directory for 1871

WHO NEEDS THE Worcester Directory?

If you are working on genealogy or history with a Worcester County connection, or teaching the subject, or helping others to understand Worcester, we think that you do.  While Massachusetts had a particularly well-documented history, too often it is the history of the privileged classes, and the ordinary people are, if present at all, simply surnames or numbers.  This kind of directory provides information.

If you're simply interested in Worcester or Worcester County, MA -- even as it is today -- the Directory represents an inexpensive, easy to use way of learning about the city's 19th century past.  

We've diligently searched the web to try to locate a free download of this book and been unsuccessful.  We note that Ancestry.com will permit you to do lookups in it, but in terms of being able to view whole pages or whole sections at will without some fancy footwork, we have not seen it.  Even if you do find it available, we suspect that you will find that our version, for $4.50, in PDF format, is considerably more user friendly than the typical archival book download.  Our scans, for example, are high resolution.

This book was previously available as our Worcester Directory CD-ROM.  When we discontinued our line of CDs, this book became unavailable, but now we have made it available as a download.  405 pages, in PDF format, for $4.50.   




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Between the Lakes Group is located at 372 Between the Lakes Road, in Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut.  More specifically, we're in Taconic -- a hamlet  in the Twin Lakes area of the Town of Salisbury.  Questions about us or about our products?  Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.  

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