Buggy in front of P. Buckley’s store, Main Street, Peabody.

Mark your calendars! The Mass Memories Road Show is coming to Peabody on Saturday, October 20th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Peabody Senior Center, 79 Central Street.

The Mass Memories Road Show is a state-wide digital history project with the goal to document the people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. The goal is to create a digital portrait of all pf the Commonwealth’s 351 towns and cities.

On Saturday, October 20th, the Mass Memories Road Show will come to Peabody. Current and former residents of our city are invited to bring 2 or 3 photographs that they believe represent themselves, their families, and/or some aspect of Peabody’s history. You can have been here all your life or have moved here recently. Everyone is invited and it is free!. Contributed photos range from those of immigrant ancestors to snapshots taken at recent family gatherings. The photos are scanned, then immediately returned to you.

You are also invited to share a 3-4 minute story about your photos on camera; we also take a “keepsake photo” that you will take home with you to document your participation in the Road Show. The images and videos will be indexed and incorporated into the Mass Memories online archive.

For more information or to sign up for the Mass Memories Road Show, call the Peabody Institute Library at 978-351-0100, x10. You may also call this number if you would like to volunteer to help out at the event.


Commemorative plate for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, 1887. Peabody Historical Society, Gift of Mrs. Lyman Osborn, 1912

With the celebrations in Britain these past few days of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, it’s hard not to make comparisons to another influential Queen of England, Queen Victoria (1819-1902). Queen Victoria was the longest-reigning monarch in British history. From her accession in June of 1837 to her death in January of 1901 she reigned for almost 64 years. She died at the age of eighty-one. Yet Queen Elizabeth II has surpassed Queen Victoria as the longest-living monarch, having turned eighty-six in April. Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria both celebrated their Diamond Jubilees in the sixtieth year of their reigns.

George Peabody was South Danvers’s most famous son, for whom the town was renamed in 1868. He moved to London in 1837, the same year that Queen Victoria ascended the throne. In London Peabody became a successful banker and philanthropist. When he donated over $2 million to create housing for the working poor of London, Queen Victoria wished to find a way to thank Peabody. Because he was an American citizen, she couldn’t offer him knighthood. Instead, she commissioned her court artist, Frederick Arnaud Tilt, to paint a miniature portrait on enamel of the Queen. It arrived at the Library on Sept. 22, 1866, along with the Queen’s autographed letter, thanking Peabody for his generosity to the poor of London. Peabody’s legacy to the working poor of London still exists to this day. The Peabody Trust in London recently celebrated its 150th anniversary. This past March staff and members of the Peabody Historical Society traveled to London at the invitation of the Peabody Trust to participate in the celebrations, including a mass at Westminister Abbey.

Portrait miniature of Queen Victoria by Frederick Arnaud Tilt in the collection of the Peabody Institute Library

Reception or dinner dress, ca. 1885. Silk faille, pearls. Made by R.H. White & Co. of Boston

Don’t forget – “Stepping Out: The Art of Formalwear” opens this Sunday. Our exhibit explores the art of “dressing to the nines” for men and women from the 1870s to the 1980s. The opening reception is this Sunday, November 13, from 1-4 pm at the Cassidy Art Museum, 35 Washington Street, in Peabody. The reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public. We can’t think of a more pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Witness the dramatic evolution of special occasion attire between 1870-1980 in Stepping Out: The Art of Formal Wear. This exhibition will feature items from the Peabody Historical Society’s costume collection including gowns, suits, capes, coats, hats, and jewelry that illustrate how men and women “dressed to the nines” from the Victorian period through the modern era.

Stepping Out: The Art of Formalwear is on view at the Peabody Historical Society from November 13, 2011 to April 15, 2012. The exhibit is on display in the Gideon Foster House, 33 Washington Street, and the Cassidy Art Museum, 35 Washington Street, in Peabody. OPENING RECEPTION – Sunday, November 13, 2011, 1-4 pm, Cassidy Art Museum. The reception and the exhibit are free and open to the public.

Evening Gown, ca. 1936-1938

Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837-1861)

In a recent post about the Civil War, we used an image from our collection to illustrate a letter written by John W. Stevens of South Danvers. The image is a photograph taken of a lithograph or sketch of a young soldier, cut into an oval shape and pasted onto a piece of cardboard. On the reverse was written simply “Ellsworth.” Now we know who he is. A recent Facebook post by our colleague Camille Breeze of Museum Textile Services reveals that he is Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth. Ellsworth was the first Union soldier killed in the Civil War. A member of the New York Zouaves, he was killed on May 24, 1861 while attempting to remove a Rebel flag from atop the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria, VA. The hotel’s proprietor, a staunch secessionist, shot him. Ellsworth’s death prompted thousands of men in the North to enlist in the Civil War.

Ellsworth is currently the subject of three different exhibitions: “Col. Elmer Ellsworth and The Marshall House Incident” at the Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site in Alexandria displays most of one blood-stained star taken from the flag Ellsworth was removing when he was shot. The National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. presents “The Ellsworth Incident” as part of a larger exhibition commemorating the start of the Civil War. The New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, displays most of the rest of the Rebel flag, which was cut up for souvenirs after his death. Also on display is the uniform Ellsworth was wearing when he was killed. It still bears the large bullet hole where the slug entered his chest. Click here for more information on the exhibits commemorating Col. Ellsworth.

Souvenirs bearing Ellsworth’s image were largely reproduced in the North to commemorate the first Union martyr of the Civil War. No doubt it was a patriotic soul in Peabody who had acquired this photograph, which is why it is today part of the Peabody Historical Society’s collection.

Poke Bonnet, ca. 1830s-1850s

“I consider that without hats, an intrinsic part of fashion, we would have no civilization.” – Christian Dior

Hats Off to History and Art is a collaboration between the Peabody Historical Society and the Peabody Art Association. PAA artists were invited to create art based on historic and vintage hats in the collection of the Peabody Historical Society. The show features a variety of period hats, ranging from poke bonnets to pillboxes to straw hats, all from the Society’s collection. The hats date from the mid-19th century up to the 1970s and traces the evolution of headwear. “Poke bonnets” (above) were so-called because the wearer could poke up all of her hair beneath it. By contrast, cloche hats of the 1920s (below) were fitted close to the head – perfect for the short, bobbed hairstyles women sported during that decade. The show also features a large selection of vintage hats from the 1950s and 60s, an era of glamor and sophistication in which a woman wasn’t considered properly dressed for leaving the house unless she wore a hat and gloves. The show also includes a selection of men’s hats, including military hats.

Hats off to History and Art is on view through August 31st at the Peabody Historical Society’s Osborn Salata House, 33 Washington Street in Peabody. For more information visit www.peabodyhistorical.org.

Cloche from the 1920s

Warren A. Galeucia (1842-1941)

The Galeucias were a large extended family from South Danvers. They were descended from Daniel Galusha who came to Massachusetts from the Isle of Jersey in the 1660s. A total of seven men from the Galeucia family fought in the Civil War. Warren A. Galeucia enlisted in 1864 as a Private with Company L of the Fourth Heavy Artillery Regiment Massachusetts. He mustered out after the war ended, in June of 1865. Galeucia returned to South Danvers, where he lived on Lynn Street until 1923 when he and his wife moved to Maine. This veteran of the Civil War lived long enough to see the start of the Second World War. He died on December 10 1941, three days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was ninety-nine years old. This photograph was taken by A. Pearce at Arlington Heights, VA in May of 1865.

Peabody and the Civil War is an exhibition presented by the Peabody Historical Society and Museum to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. It opens tomorrow, June 1, in Peabody City Hall on Lowell Street.