Changes at the Mogan Center

In a notice sent yesterday, UMass Lowell Library Director George Hart announced the retirement of longtime librarian Martha Mayo who for many years has overseen the university’s Center for Lowell History which is located in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center at 40 French Street in downtown Lowell.

Martha Mayo has been a fixture in the Lowell historical community for as long as I can remember. Her involvement was not limited to her employment at the Center for Lowell History, for she was a constant presence at walks, tours, talks, presentations, and other gatherings. I hope she continues to share her knowledge of and enthusiasm for Lowell history in those settings and more in her retirement.

Here’s the statement from George Hart:

The University of Massachusetts Lowell Libraries would like to announce the retirement of long-time librarian Martha Mayo who has been at the forefront of preserving Lowell’s history for the benefit of the campus and community for several decades. After graduating with a degree in library science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Martha arrived in Lowell in 1971 working with the special collections for Lowell Technological Institute. Her role in organizing local history archives corresponded with a growth in the development of a consciousness of Lowell’s important role in the Industrial Revolution and her work contributed to the movement that created a National Park for the city in 1978.

In 1989, Martha oversaw a team that opened the Center for Lowell History at the National Park Service’s Mogan Cultural Center. Her work over the decades to promote Lowell’s story included supervising dozens of exhibits and publications while Martha’s pioneering research on the Merrimack Valley’s African-American community contributed to a greater understanding of slavery, abolitionism, and even integration in professional basketball. Her co-direction of an oral history project with Professor Mary Blewett led to the publication of The Last Generation: Work and Life in the Textile Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, 1910 – 1960 which has become a standard in labor history. Her support of other researchers is evident in the scores of “hits” one may find if they search her name in Google Books. And Martha’s legacy will remain vibrant in her retirement as she continues to volunteer for many causes around the area.

In conjunction with Martha’s retirement, Hart also announced new hours which begin today. The Center for Lowell History will be open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. It will be closed on Mondays and Saturdays.

The Center for Lowell History will be operated by a three person team:

Special Collections and Archives Manager Janine Whitcomb has 30 years experience at the University working with Lowell’s historical records. Born and raised in Lowell, Janine brings a depth of local understanding to assist academic and community researchers in all areas of study.

University Archivist and Metadata Specialist Anthony Sampas holds a Masters in Library Science from Simmons College. Raised in Lowell, he has been a UMass Lowell Librarian since 2007 specializing in Congressional records and local history. Other areas of expertise include rare books, photography, and Beat literature scholarship. Since 2014 Tony has been Library Liaison to UMass Lowell’s Art Department.

Project and Program Coördinator Mehmed Ali received his doctorate in history from the University of Connecticut where he wrote his dissertation on urban renewal in Lowell. Previously the Director of the National Park Service’s Mogan Cultural Center and currently Lowell’s City Historian, Mehmed is a specialist in local research, oral history, and public history.

One Response to Changes at the Mogan Center

  1. Szifra Birke says:

    Congratulations, Martha– and thank you for all your contributions. I know firsthand how involved you have been. Without you, stories like my parents’ would not have been preserved in the same way. Please accept my gratitude for the many ways you have made a difference. Your work will live on.

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