Local Scout Eagle Project re-houses and catalogs Lowell Archives

By Nick Hoff

It is no secret that our city is a historical gem. Not only does the city have a rich history of the mills so prominent in Lowell, but also hundreds of years of narratives of working class Americans seeking their dreams. While the city is rich in history, the small public group in charge of helping organize, maintain, and publicize this information is overwhelmed and


In search of an Eagle award project that would satisfy my history itch and which went beyond the typical “build a bench,” I was put in contact with Mr. Anthony Sampas by Stephanie Donahue. Together we put in motion a plan: to assemble shelving, rehouse and move some documents and artifacts, and to document and digitally catalog the Student Papers Project.

The point of the Eagle project is to give the Scout an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, to plan, develop, and lead others, not to necessarily accomplish things by myself. My project team included a few adults and a rotating slate of six teens. It was a small group, given the tight space restrictions and the focused tasks.

Now, newly re-archived in 3 boxes, taking up 1.5 linear feet on the shelves of the Center for Lowell History, are those student research essays written by local high schoolers of the 1970s for a contest offering cash prizes, sponsored by the Lowell Historical Society to encourage “an understanding and appreciation of the unique heritage of Lowell”. The 118 papers, assigned and facilitated by then-LHS English teacher Marie Sweeney, covered topics ranging from the development of Lowell as an industrial textile powerhouse, to notable city citizens such as Lucy Larcom or Benjamin Butler, to specific cultural groups that settled in Lowell, like French Canadians and later Puerto Ricans, to the development of parks and community green spaces, among other subjects.

My Eagle project team met multiple times over the course of a month, although I spent several months in preparation. We learned how to work with old and delicate materials. We examined, verified, relabeled, and cataloged the extent of the collection, with an additional document highlighting a variety of the essays. Under the direction of Mr. Sampas, we produced a Scope and Content note to be published on the website. My Eagle Award is expected to be confirmed January 19, 2023.