Mass memories in Nahant

Nahant Public Library Director Sharon Hawkes shows an example of what will be documented during the Mass. Memories Road Show.


NAHANT — Call it scrapbooking on a mega-level: The Mass. Memories Road Show comes to town next weekend as part of a statewide effort to preserve Massachusetts residents’ memories and memorabilia.

An initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston, the road show’s mission is to digitize family photos and memories of the people of Massachusetts and share them in the online archives at UMass Boston.

Since 2004, more than 8,000 stories and images have been digitized, creating an educational resource for future generations.

Nahant was one of a select few towns asked to participate with residents asked to bring photos from family reunions, special events, candid shots, recent and old to Town Hall on Saturday, April 1, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The photos will be scanned, projected onto a screen for viewing, and returned to owners at the event. Personal items can be viewed and photographed.

Items collected by Mass. Memories will eventually be made available at the Nahant Public Library. They will be uploaded to Digital Commonwealth, an online library of photos, manuscripts, audio recordings and other materials from the state’s libraries, museums and other historical institutions; and Digital Public Library of America, a portal of all digital library archives in the United States.

“The larger message is that everyone, whether living here a day or for generations, contributes to the strength and diversity of the community,” said Library Director Sharon Hawkes.

The library is hosting the event with the Johnson Elementary School, Nahant Council on Aging, Nahant Historical Society, Northeastern University Marine Science Center, Nahant SWIM, Inc. and 01908.

Contributors will write down their stories or sit in front of a video camera and tell them. A collection of all the materials will be included in the archives.

“Everyone brings their history to the community,” Hawkes said. “The uniqueness of everyone’s background makes us a rich community; whether their family has been in Nahant for many generations or for a day.”

A slightly damaged drawing of the town’s original 1819 one-room school house, which later became the town’s first library, will be photographed for the archives, said Hawkes.

Hawkes, who has been in Nahant for a year-and-a-half, will also bring personal items to contribute, including a piece of lace that belonged to her great-great-grandmother. The lace was worn by generations of brides in her family on their wedding days.

“I was the last to wear it in 1977,” Hawkes said.

She will also bring a photograph from her wedding.

“It makes it resonate when the stories are heartfelt,” said Hawkes. “If it has meaning, it probably helped form who you are.”

Historians and professional archivists will be on site to give advice on caring for and preserving family photos. Volunteers, many of whom have participated in their own towns and chosen to help out in other communities, will guide participants through the various stations.

The Mass. Memories Road Show is produced by the University Archives and Special Collections Department at the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston. It’s co-sponsored by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund.

Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.

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