Continuation School (Lawrence, MA)

csThe Lawrence Continuation School was started in 1920 by state law (Compulsory Continuation School Law) to allow children 14 and older to work in the mills and other locations and still attend school.  Funding allowed each municipality to share dollar for dollar with the state of Massachusetts.  Communities having more than 200 employed minors were required to create such an institution.  It required children to attend four hours of instruction, twenty hours if the student was not presently employed.  Half of the instruction was shop work for boys and household arts for girls.  The school was originally housed with the Industrial School on Common St. (School comm.. reports 1918 p. 9-11).  Francis X. Hogan, headmaster of the Rollins School, was appointed the first director of the school.  During the first year the school had 1700 pupils on paper and an actual attendance of 1400.  The program was discontinued in 1951.  The Lawrence files include more than 11,000 records.

Here are the indices for the records.  You are welcome to contact the Lawrence Public Library to obtain copies.  The records often include visits by teachers or social workers to student homes and their observations are sometimes in great detail.



Digital Commonwealth (Massachusetts)

Four movie theaters that were located on Broadway in Lawrence, Mass. at night

“This site provides access to photographs, manuscripts, books, audio recordings, and other materials of historical interest that have been digitized and made available by members of Digital Commonwealth, a statewide consortium of libraries, museums, archives, and historical societies from across Massachusetts.”

The Lawrence Public Library has been adding material to this site.  Here are the collections presently available.  Many more soon.

Fairy Tale Posters (Lawrence, MA)


Allidan, 12/29/15, 11:25 AM, 8C, 7230×9383 (348+453), 100%, Art 1, 1/30 s, R127.3, G95.1, B107.7

The posters in this collection were part of something called the Home and School Series with a subset of Fairy Tale Pictures. In the pamphlet Ten Years Service by the National Child Welfare Association, Inc., 1912-1922 the posters are described as “exquisitely colored in water-colors, so that each is, in effect, and original painting. They are so imaginative and childlike in spirit and so vividly beautiful in color that they form a charming decoration for the schoolroom, kindergarten, children’s hospital ward, library or nursery.” There were twelve of these posters originally; the Library has eleven, missing the Chicken Little poster.

The Lawrence YMCA is listed as a participant in the 1922 pamphlet, but not the Library.

Elizabeth Tyler, the artist, was born in Massachusetts  and attended Mt. Holyoke College (she studied with George Grosz at the Art Students League) and then attended the Normal Art School of Boston. She was the wife of Wallace Wolcott, an architect who worked with McKim, Mead and White.  She illustrated six books: I spend the summer, The world to know, Playing with clay, The singing farmer, Two children of Tyre, and Akka Dwarf of Syracuse. She created a mural for the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.  She won the Book Week Poster Contest for 1949.  She died Nov. 27 1951.


The posters were displayed first on the Old Library Building on the corner of Haverhill and Hampshire Streets.   Some of them were distributed to the Branch Library in South Lawrence. the Children’s Room in the new Library building, and various offices in the building.  The remaining eleven posters are now on display at the main library building at 51 Lawrence Street.  The newly digitized images are now available online.


O. F. Kress & Co. (Lawrence, MA)

kressThe Lawrence Public Library owns ten plates read either “Rebuilt and painted by O. F. Kress & Son Lawrence, Mass.” or “Sold by O. F. Kress & Son Lawrence, Mass.”

It appears that Herman and a number of brothers emigrated to Lawrence in 1870 or so from Bremen, Saxony, Germany. Herman was born about 1848. His brother Otto, was born January 14, 1856. In 1881 Herman is listed as a wheelwright and living at 55 Woodland Street. By 1890 this ad appears in the Lawrence City Directory: “Kress Brothers, carriage manufacturers. Store and express wagons, sleighs, traverse runners and pungs. Horse shoeing and jobbing. Our factory is run by electric power, 107 Common St.” Otto married Lizzie J. Fuller December 1, 1876.

By 1911 the business was called Otto F. & Edward F. Carriage builders and Fire Dept. supplies, the Edward being Herman’s son. The ad now read: “Wagons of every description fire department apparatus and supplies painting and trimming and rubber tires agents for Knox Motor Trucks”. Otto died November 23, 1930 and, his son, Edward F. died March 18, 1937. The name of the company was O. F. Kress & Son now and listings for a number of years would show car repair, car painting, or Acetylene welding. The business had moved to 268 South Broadway and family lived at 437 High Street. The business was run by Raymond Kress. Raymond had two children, Claire and Roy.

Lawrence Duck Company (Lawrence, MA)

duckmillThe Lawrence Duck Company was establisehd in 1853 in a parcel of land between Canal Street and the Merrimack River on North Union Street. It was a manufacturer of cotton duck cloth and made sails for the American Yaught Club Defenders. A sobriquet for the nearby Union Street Bridge over the Merrimack River is the “Duck Bridge”.

The Library owns this wonderful plan drawn in 1894 and two sets of plans originally from the Engineering Office.

Lawrence Bar Association (Lawrence, MA)


The Lawrence Bar Association was incorporated January 11, 1905.  The impetus for the formation of this organization was the need for a law library.  Consequently the group helped establish and maintain a law library in the Essex County Courthouse.

Birth Records (Lawrence, MA)

cantoneiThe Library and its dedicated volunteers have indexed the 8,000 or so Proof of birth records. These documents include passports, baptismal records, birth certificates, and other forms of identification that were taken from parents to prove the ages of their children. In a few exceptions parents did ask for this material back, but fortunately, most of this documentation is now here in the Library. These documents would allow young people over the age of 14 to no longer attend school and join the work force.  By 1921 Children between the ages of 14 and 16 could only work with supervision by the Lawrence Public Schools.

The index is now available.  The list on this post includes only the names and birth dates, when available.  It is a wonderful collection and the Library very much wants to share its rich detail with the public.  Should you find a name of a relative please contact me.  As a hint of what is in the collection I have displayed some images.  About .02% of the documents contain photos of the children, sometimes with their families, who came to Lawrence from about 1910 to 1930.  These images have been scanned and will be available soon.



Kitten Ball


The Library has scanned the 5 volumes of scrapbooks compiled by Margaret Hogan, a physical education teacher in the Lawrence Publc schools from 1931 to 1969.  She promoted this intramural Kitten Ball League druing the 1930’s at the Oliver School.

Kitten ball is another name for softball. Softball was invented in 1887 and was designed to be an indoor sport. In 1895, a member of the Minneapolis, Minnesota fire department named Lewis Rober invented outdoor softball and named it Kitten League Ball, which was subsequently shortened to Kitten Ball. The name was changed from kitten ball to diamond ball in 1922 and eventually to softball in 1926.  The Library owns a copy of Rules and regulations governing Playground Kitten Ball which was adopted by the Girls’ Playground League in 1922 and was printed by the Playgrounds Dept. of the City.  Leagues from the grammar schools were set up all over the City during the spring and fall.




Commercial Art (Lawrence, MA)

ad17pacificThis artificial and still open collection consists of a wide variety of advertising samples dating from the last 4 decades of the 19th century and into the middle of the 20th.  Everything with the scrapbook that follows was professionally printed and often includes lots of illustration, both black and white and color.  Most were created and printed locally, but a substantial number were national brands created elsewhere and stamped with local businesses.  Forms include newspapers, trade cards, handbills, a telephone index (address book), a coaster, a label, booklets, pamphlets, almanacs, letterheads, programs, and envelopes.  Images from this collection are the focus of the new Friends of the Lawrence Public Library Historical Calendar of the the year 2014.


The collection also includes a large scrapbook of advertisements on the verso side of pictures of the old masters on the recto.  The advertisements are hand lettered in many colors on the black pages and colored illustrations are pasted on.  The style of dress looks like the late teens or early twenties of the 20th century.  The image above is from that scrapbook.   The scrapbook is now available on Digital Commonwealth.

1984 Riots (Lawrence MA)

riot1Hispanic immigration began in the 1960s, first from Puerto Rico and then from the Dominican Republic.  By 1984 there were more than 10,000 Hispanics living in the city.  The native “Lawrencians” perceived the newcomers as a threat in housing, job competition, and city culture.  It was a hot, muggy evening, August 8, 1984, when a confrontation broke out over a broken car windshield.  It started at the corner of Haverhill and Oxford Streets and moved to 448 Haverhill Street where Gary Gill was allegedly beaten with bats by the group of Hispanics.  This morphed into a group of between 250 to 300 people on Oxford Street throwing rocks at each other and passing cars.  During that five hour period guns were fired, 42 cars were stoned, and at least five buildings were set fire by way of Molotov cocktails.  The local police took five hours to respond and they found that the “riot” was over.  Twenty-two people were admitted to local emergency rooms and no one was killed.


The next night police were out in force, but again 300 to 400 rioters used the same means of the night before to incite each other to violence.  August 10 the City was put on an 8:00 PM curfew.  That was the end of the 1984 riots.

The Library has these two photographs and a paper written about the riots.