Historical Society takes shape in Eastie

January 7, 2010
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They have their very own blog set up to get neighborhood kids and adults excited to learn about East Boston’s rich history from colonial days, through the age of clipper ships to the jet age.

The blog is the working of East Boston’s new Historical Society–a new group comprised of students and teachers from the Mario Umana Middle School Academy. These students and teachers have been teaming with residents and developers of the Boston Museum to “save” local spectacular history.

The East Boston Historical Society will introduce itself to the community through two separate events scheduled for this month.

First, on Tuesday January 12, 8-9 a.m. the Cultural Exchange Center will host a breakfast to introduce residents to the Historical Society project and to encourage them to loan artifacts, such as letters, photographs or personal mementoes related to East Boston history. All items will be returned.

Then, on Thursday, January 28 from 4-6 p.m. at the Atlantic Works Building’s Cultural Exchange Center at 80 Border Street, the Umana Middle School Academy will welcome the community to a launch event for the Historical Society.

“Despite Eastie’s storied past, no such organization to preserve and protect local history has ever existed,” said Katy Abel of the Boston Museum. “The Boston Museum, a new history museum proposed for downtown Boston (www.bostonmuseum.org), worked with Umana educators to create a local history curriculum for students. The effort will culminate in an exhibition of student history projects and loaned artifacts at the Center.”

The project has received strong endorsements from local leaders, including Boston City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who is issuing a citation to students commending them for their efforts, and Fran Rowan, longtime resident and activist.

“The project gives kids a reason to feel proud of this neighborhood, and a reason to celebrate their own heritage and contributions to East Boston,” said Rowan. “And as the neighborhood changes, we need to find ways to connect the old-timers and the newcomers. What better way to do that than by getting everybody together around something we share – the history of this wonderful community?”

For more information on the breakfast or exhibition please contact Fran Rowan at 617-510-7011 or fran80borderstreet@gmail.com. The public is also invited to visit the project blog at www.umanaebhs.blogspot.com.

“We’ve got some incredible people participating in this project,” said Abel. “Piers Park Sailing Center is staffing a class to help kids make ship hulls recalling the community’s maritime past. Last month we had someone from a tech start-up in Charlestown who came over to East Boston help kids create an iPhone application game about the Battle of Chelsea Creek. The city’s archeologist and the city’s architect are meeting with kids and Trinity Financial, developers of Maverick Gardens, hosted a class to their downtown offices. There’s a lot going on, and this is really a demonstration project for how to build ties between a school and its community, around history.”

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