Exhibits

The Westford Museum houses several permanent exhibits. Temporary exhibits highlight parts of our collections which cannot be displayed on a permanent basis. A large percentage of the collections are in storage and can be viewed by appointment if their condition allows.

Approximately 80% of the Westford Historical Society’s collections are in storage, not normally on display in the Museum. Each week we feature a different artifact from our collection.

Permanent Exhibits

Graniteville

Westford has a long history in industry, with the earliest recorded granite quarrying beginning in 1826 on Oak Hill, near today’s Fletcher Granite company. Granite from here is known for its clean blue-gray appearance, “Chelmsford Gray.” The earliest operations occurred before the use of railroads, with the old horse and …

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The Westford Knight

Legend has it that a Scottish earl named Henry Sinclair took a crew of explorers and discovered America in 1398, a whole century before Christopher Columbus. According to the story, they explored regions of Nova Scotia and New England. Some even claim that the evidence of that is the grave …

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Westford Doctors

As in every town, disease and illness in Westford was inevitable. From 1850-1868 the #1 cause of death in Westford was consumption, the #2 cause was old age, and the #3 cause was Scarlet Fever. Life expectancy was approximately forty years of age. Fortunately Westford had a reliable doctor for …

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The American Revolution

Notable items from the Revolutionary War period are: – Several items which belonged to Col. John Robinson. – Recently acquired drum sticks attributed to Jonathan Minot, Jr., Drummer in Capt. Minot’s company. – An epaulette attributed to David Goodhue, a Westford native and officer during the war.

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Westford Academy

Westford Academy (WA) was founded in 1792 as a private secondary school for children “of any nation, age, or sex.” It was exceptional from its beginning, taking both boys and girls as students as long as they could read the Bible without sounding out words and pay 9 shillings per …

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Power of the Mills

The opening of the Stony Brook Railroad brought new industrial activity to all three Stony Brook villages: Brookside, Graniteville, and Forge Village. The granite quarries above Graniteville now had a convenient and economic means to transport their stone to Lowell and from there to the rest of New England and …

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Westford Women Dolls

Westford has an abundant history of outstanding and courageous women. Jean Downey (1925-2003),  conducted the Westford Women Doll project in 1985 to highlight women’s history and civil rights within Westford, with 12 women originally highlighted. A prominent resident in town, Jean was a nurse, involved with charities, and an accomplished seamstress. …

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The Prescotts of Westford

The Prescotts were early settlers of Westford and Chelmsford, and by the end of the 1700’s there were many Prescott families that were related in one way or another. Abram, Olive’s husband who was born in 1769 was among the fourth generation. Abram was the third son of twelve children …

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Country Store

The General Store not only provided residents with their common household supplies and luxuries, but also was located in the center of town to make it easily accessible. Many could get to the store by walking or on horses. The post office was located in the General Store as well. …

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Farming

Before the mills came to Westford, the town was mainly agricultural. A farm was home to many Westford residents. Apples were Westford’s major crop. Other profitable crops consisted of peaches, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, as well as many more small fruits. Common farming tools included the brush hook, buck saw, scythe, …

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Temporary Exhibits

Women’s Rights in Westford

Women’s Rights in Westford timeline 1780                   Massachusetts State Constitution restricts voting to males only but omits “male” as a qualification for holding public office. 1819                   Susan Prescott becomes the first woman assistant preceptor (assistant principal and teacher) at Westford Academy. c1833               Led by …

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Stone Circle at Grassy Pond

Many thanks go out to Cori Ryan and all the people involved in yesterday’s History in Stone program! Over 80 people visited the Museum to hear Cori’s talk on the Stone Circle at Grassy Pond, view the ancient artifacts found here in Westford, listen to Spirit Dancer’s stories and revel …

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Photo of mural

Nabnasset

Nabnasset is the 5th and final theme in our Villages of Westford series. It started as a farming community and added the mills at Brookside. In the late 19th century the recreational land around Nab Lake was known as “Nabnasset Grove.” A summer community built up in the 1930s and …

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Online Exhibits

Featured Artifact of the Week

State Guard Armband This Commonwealth of Massachusetts State Guard armband from around 1919 is made of black wool with gold embroidery, featuring the triangular crest of the Commonwealth. Armbands such as these were one of a kind items, and used by new Guardsmen recruits, who did not yet have uniforms. …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Graniteville Postcards The selected postcards are from a set of 15 for Westford’s village of Graniteville. They depict a man and a woman in metaphorical tongue-in-cheek situations, relating to such things as time and morality. According to the Center for Southeast Studies, the size, shiny surface, and color of the …

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Westford Historical Society Video Resources

Check out our video resource collections: Museum programs, Westford Knight, 3rd grade tours, the villages, Westford’s general history and more Programs Two Truths, One Lie https://museum.westford.org/join-us-saturday-october-26th-for-two-truths-one-lie-three-pours/ Declaring Independence: Then and Now https://www.westfordcat.org/watch-online/education/shows-and-episodes/special/episode/declaring-independence-then-and-now Virtual 3rd Grade Tours Westford Center: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZyxTcuT9dI Kate Hamlin’s Walking Tour of Westford: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cEzyLcIKSQ American Revolution/Westford’s Minutemen: https://www.westford.org/westford1775/history.html …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Abbot Worsted Company Advertising Display The wall mounted, advertising case from the Abbot Worsted Co. features six hand knitting yarns, six machine knitting yarns, and 17 specialty yarns of various colors. Both natural and synthetic fibers are displayed. However, Abbot Worsted outsourced dying of their yarns. This kind of display …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Julian’s Fund Printing Block From the Westford Academy Exhibit This printing block was used to mark Westford Academy books purchased by the special fund, Julian’s Fund. The fund was established in 1858 in memory of Julian Abbot (1837-1857), who died in a North Billerica railroad accident. John William Pitt Abbot …

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The Atwood-Carlton-Millett Family

The Westford Family lived in town starting in the 1880s. Having left their mark on local medicine and art, members of the family lived in town until 2007.

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Photograph From the Hildreth Glass Plate Negatives Collection This photograph depicts North Main St, Graniteville, looking to Grieg’s Corner. It was taken December 31, 1905. The house on the left is 5 North Main St, still standing. It was built around 1864, according to Zillow.com, and was noted on the …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Photograph From the Hildreth Glass Plate Negatives Collection The photograph shows the house at 59 Main St in 1909. This Greek Revival (Colonial) house was built by the Nichols Bros in the 1800s, and it was noted on the 1855 map as owned by E.K. Proctor. The porch was added …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Photograph of June Kennedy From the Collection The photo depicts June Kennedy with Colonel John Robinson’s rum cup in 1975, during Bicentennial celebrations. June was born in 1935, and grew up in Lexington, where she developed an interest in local history. She moved to Westford with her husband, Charlie (1931-2017), …

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Featured Artifact of the Week

Photo of Rita Miller Casual family photo of Rita Edwards Miller (1918-2003) taken in the 1920s. From left to right: Flora Edwards (1881-1952), Marie Wright, Rita, and Dog, Jack. Rita was born in Westford, and Graduated from Westford Academy in 1935. In 1942, she married Everret Miller (1918-1993). They lived …

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Past Exhibits

See highlights from past exhibits on our Past Exhibits page.