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The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War

Originally created to be a digital archive for Lowell documents from 1826 to 1861, this website has grown to cover many periods and events in Lowell's history.

Annie Powell (1859-1952) is the likely photographer of beautiful Lowell streetscapes, mills and neighborhoods, but her story has eluded historians. She didn't advertise or sign her work; however, Bernie Zelitch combined curiosity, persistence and luck to make him believe she was a person whose remarkable work and life was worthy of examination.

Follow the story of Annie and her photographs of people and places in Lowell’s history at


Just added -

Photographs from George F. Kenngott's 1912 book The Record of a City: A Social Survey of Lowell, Massachusetts


"Lowell Illustrated" - Published by Nelson's Department Store in 1907."


(Brad MacGowan personal collection)

Click here for a picture of a colored postcard on the Lowell National Historical Park Facebook site.


"Lowell on the Merrimack" - This book of photographs was published in 1892.







(Brad MacGowan personal collection)

The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War

Originally created to be a digital archive for Lowell documents from 1826 to 1861, The Town & the City: Lowell before and after The Civil War has grown to cover many periods and events in Lowell's history.

"No part of the earth's service is more worthy of study, for us, than that on which we live. No part can boast a history more replete with the elements of poetry and romance, — what she has done for the advancement of the mechanic arts, — what she has contributed to the comfort and well-being of civilized mankind, — what her citizens have done, and are now doing, for the preservation of the unity and nationality of America, — the world well knows."
— Charles Cowley, Memories of the Indians and Pioneers of the Region of Lowell, 1862.


 “History is a tale . . . not of immutable forces but of human endeavors.”
Walter Isaacson in Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"Pawtucket Dam, 1833" (Oil painting on canvas)
Brown Digital Repository. Brown University Library


Navigating this website

The pages on this site and their contents fall into two major categories:

1.) Digitized documents

2.) Other primary and secondary source materials from a variety of collections including images, maps, and books.

Digitized documents -

For many, but not all, of the collections, there is both a webpage describing and listing the documents and an "Inventory" webpage with information/metadata (e.g., date, title, subject, names) including a link to each document. For these collections, there are links to the digitized documents and the indexes for them on the “Documents Collections List & Links” page of the site. In addition, a downloadable EXCEL spreadsheet file is available for each document collection on that page.

All of the individual collection pages can be accessed by clicking on a blue button on the left under the “Contact us” box.

The originals of these document collections belong to the City of Lowell, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the Lowell Historical Society. The originals are located at Lowell City Hall and The Center for Lowell History.

These documents were digitized and are presented in the order that existed at the time of digitization. No effort was made to sort, reorder, or categorize. It is not known whether, or to what degree, any sorting, reordering or categorizing has been done over the previous decades. EXCEL spreadsheets and the Search function within the website give researchers the abilities to perform these functions as needed.

Other primary and secondary source materials –

Pages with other primary and secondary source materials, in addition to many other features can be accessed by clicking on the blue buttons on the left between “Documents Collections List & Links” and “Contact us.”

This site is a work in progress and documents and other resources are added on a regular basis.

Using the "Search" boxes on this site

Most pages on this site have a Search box.

This Search function searches all of the UMASS Lowell LibGuides for the Search Words entered.

It does not browse the whole web, nor does it only browse this specific LibGuide/site.

The middle box on the page with the results of the search titled “LibGuides” will contain links to the UMASS Lowell LibGuide site (bolded) and the specific page on that site where the search word or words are found.

Clicking on the link will not bring you right to that specific word on the page. Use the Find command (command f on a Mac, or ctrl f on a PC) to locate the word on the page.


Under Construction

There is already a lot here, and there is a lot more to come.

Your comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Contact us