Historical Society Hosting Talk on 19th Century China Trade, Has Old Family Photos

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The Watertown Historical Society announced two upcoming events, one about the history of the China Trade and the second seeks to find homes for family photos from the 1940s and 1950s.

Massachusetts and the 19th Century China Trade

A Slide-show and lecture will be presented by Doug Stewart on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Watertown Savings Bank Meeting Room in the Watertown Free Public Library, 123 Main Street, Watertown, MA 02472.


Two hundred years ago, greater Boston was the richest corner of the nation, thanks to the tea, spices, porcelain, silk, and other luxury goods that daring local shipmasters brought back from East Asia.

The early nineteenth-century China Trade merchants of Massachusetts included the new nation’s first millionaires. Many Boston-area institutions, from MacLean Hospital and the Museum of Fine Arts to Theodore Lyman’s Waltham estate, were built in part with China Trade wealth.

Between the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Salem was the heart of the trade. That is why its municipal seal shows not a Puritan or a witch on a broomstick, but a Sumatran gentleman in a silk robe and slippers with a volcano in the background.

In 1807, import duties paid at the Salem customs house alone counted for 5% of all federal revenue. (This was before income tax, of course.)

Learn about the impact and influence of the China Trade in Massachusetts in this lecture that will discuss the involvement of Watertown residents Edmund Fowle Jr. and John Perkins Cushing (known in China as “Ku-Shing”).

Ipswich resident Doug Stewart is a freelance magazine writer whose stories have frequently appeared in Smithsonian, as well as Time, Discover, and American Heritage.

He is the author of The Boy Who Would Be Shakespeare: A Tale of Forgery and Folly.

For more information please contact Joyce at 781-899-7239 or joycekel@aol.com

All programs are free and open to the public.

Bring Home Family Photos for the Holidays

The Historical Society of Watertown invites you go to our website to peruse a listing of family portrait proofs taken by Oxford Studios in the 1940’s and 50’s. We may have your family’s, friend’s or neighbor’s photos!

Drtad and Harry Boyajian of Oxford Studios in Cambridge preserved the history of many Watertown families in classic style studio portraiture. When the brothers left the business, the proofs were given to the Boyajian family. Harry’s son David has donated photos of Watertown residents to the Historical Society of Watertown.

Listings of the photos sorted by surname and street address are available on our website, so you can easily find what you are looking for. One of our residents, Millie (McLaughlin) Leitner of School Street, has already picked up the photos of her and her brothers.

The Historical Society invites you to come to the Fowle House on Saturday, November 12 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to pick up portrait proofs for free so you can get them to those who will appreciate them most. Enlarged, framed prints of the photos would make very memorable holiday gifts.

Please visit our website at www.historicalsocietyofwatertownma.org

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