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Lowell as a Laboratory: An Experiment in Public Housing

Lowell Housing Authority (1937-1987) by Julie M. Leney
children in front of a building book cover   large house
"Typical "block" consisting of 6 tenements located where North Common Village now stands." Lowell Housing Authority Photo. Cover to 1987 edition, Lowell Publishing Company Inc. "This is a typical property located at 21 Common Avenue, now the site of North Common Village." Lowell Housing Authority Photo.

In early 1984 the Lowell Housing Authority Commissioners designated funds for the creation of an institutional history of their organization to commemorate its fiftieth anniversary. It would be written by Julie M. Leney under the supervision of University of Lowell History Professor Mary Blewett. The Authority paid a stipend, supplied a work area, and assisted Leney in obtaining documents and conducting interviews. The final version of the narrative appeared in 1987 through the Lowell Publishing Company with copyright registered as the Lowell Housing Authority and Julie M. Leney's authorship as "work for hire." This ninety-two page monograph, Lowell as a laboratory : an experiment in public housing, Lowell Housing Authority, 1937-1987, is part of the Center for Lowell History and other library collections, while a one hundred and thirty-seven page pre-print version is filed at the CLH under Julie M. Leney in the Lowell Papers and Studies Collection

Lowell as Laboratory covers the economic crisis of the Great Depression, the role that the New Deal played in meeting Lowell's housing needs, both the support of and opposition to Lowell's first public housing project (the North Common Village), the impact of World War II on public housing, the building of temporary veteran housing and its eventual demolition, the Julian D. Steele, George Flanagan, and Bishop Markham projects, as well as issues that arose as Lowell's Public Housing Authority units aged.

A digitized version of the pre-print typescript is available via the Internet Archive as well as supporting documents that have been filed with it in the Lowell Papers and Studies Collection:

Lowell As Laboratory : An Experiment in Public Housing by Julie M. Leney 

A letter dated March 27, 1984 from James M. McCarthy of the Lowell Housing Authority to University of Lowell History Professor Mary Blewett confirming that Julie Leney has been contracted to write an institution history of the Lowell Housing Authority.

A letter dated July 25, 1984 from Julie M. Leney to Victor Norman CC'ed to Mary Blewett regarding progress and content of the Institutional History of Lowell Housing Authority.

North Common Village Lowell Housing Authority photographs, 1939

sign north common village
Lowell Housing Authority Photo LHA III 002 Lowell Housing Authority Photo LHA I 003


Book: Leney, J. M. (1987). Lowell as a laboratory : an experiment in public housing. Lowell Pub.
Pre-print typescript: Lowell As Laboratory : An Experiment in Public Housing (c.1984) by Julie M. Leney, 137 pages, with additional documents, Lowell Papers and Studies Collection, UMass Lowell Libraries, Center for Lowell History.