are vital records for Massachusetts cities and towns stored?
The Boston Public Library has vital records prior to 1850 for much of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts State Archives
(220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125; 617-727-2816) has vital records from 1841-1905 for
the entire state. Vital records from 1906 to the present are available from the Massachusetts Registry of Vital
Records and Statistics (150 Mount Vernon St., Dorchester, A 02125-3105; 617-740-2600).
When was the
Cocoanut Grove fire? How many people died?
On November 28, 1942, many fans from the Boston College/Holy Cross football game flooded
Boston's nightclubs. A tragic fire broke out that night at the Cocoanut Grove. Among the
491 fatalities was Western movie star Buck Jones.
What was the
Molasses Flood or Explosion?
On January 15, 1919, two million gallons of molasses burst out of a tank owned by Purity
Distilling Company and flooded the streets of Boston. Twenty-one people died and over 50
were injured. Cleanup took weeks to complete. Purity Distilling Company and its parent
company eventually paid over $1,000,000.00 to settle the 125 lawsuits filed against the
company as a result of the flood.
What was the name
of Paul Revere's horse?
No one knows. Many names have been suggested over the years, but there is no historical
record to verify any of them. What is known is that Paul Revere rode a horse provided by
Deacon John Larkin. No contemporary Larkin family records give a name for the horse. The
naming of horses was not common at the time.
How much tea was
dumped into Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party?
Benjamin Labaree's The Boston Tea Party (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1964)
states that 342 chests holding over 90,000 pounds of tea worth 9,000 British pounds were
thrown off the ships Dartmouth, Eleanor, and Beaver on December 16, 1773. The Salada Tea
Company estimated that the figure was more like 20,000 pounds of tea. They base this on
the fact that the type of chest would have been a "half chest" holding about 65
pounds of tea each.
What do the
lights on the Hancock Tower signify?
The lights indicate the weather conditions expected 3 hours later. The color code usually
is recited in rhyme:
Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead
In summer, flashing red
indicates that the Boston Red Sox baseball game has been postponed.
What towns were
flooded to create the Quabbin Reservoir?
The Swift River Valley towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott were evacuated in
the 1930s to allow for the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir.
What is the
background of the Swan Boats in the Public Garden?
In 1877, Robert Paget was inspired by the opera Lohengrin to add swans to his fleet
of boats. The Paget family had begun running a rowboat concession in the Public Garden in
1870. They adapted the boats to be powered by pedals in 1877 and hid the mechanism between
giant swan figures. The swans serve both a fanciful and practical purpose.
What are the Boston
Edwin A. Grozier, Boston Post publisher, created a publicity gimmick in 1909 that
became a New England tradition. Grozier announced his intention to send gold-headed canes
to 700 New England towns. The canes were to be presented to the oldest citizen of each
town. Grozier further stipulated that the canes were to be passed on to the next oldest
citizen upon the death of the original recipient. Although many canes were lost or kept by
heirs, there are still towns in New England where the cane is passed down from one oldest
citizen to the next.
Who was the last
person executed in Massachusetts?
Philip R. Bellino was executed on May 9, 1947, in the old Charlestown prison after being
convicted of murder. His is the last execution to date in Massachusetts.
Why is there a
grasshopper on top of Boston's Faneuil Hall?
There was a similar grasshopper weathervane atop the London Exchange in England. Peter
Faneuil had been a member of the Exchange and ordered a grasshopper for his Hall in
Boston. The Grasshopper was put in place for the dedication of the Hall in 1742.
Where are Boston
Public Schools high school yearbooks located?
Boston Public Schools high school yearbooks
are usually collected by the individual high school's library. A new are available
at Boston Public Library branches. The policy on access and years available may vary.
Individual schools should be contacted directly.