Our latest blog profile features Forgotten New England, written by Ryan W. Owen. Here, Ryan introduces his blog:
My blog, Forgotten New England, went live in September 2011, more than twenty years after I started researching my family history. I started Forgotten New England to explore genealogy and regional history, but most of my entries explore the history of Lowell, Massachusetts, and my ancestors' relationship with the city. Five generations of my family were born in Lowell. I use Forgotten New England to document their stories and the minutiae that likely shaped and affected their lives. The research helps me to add leaves to the names, dates, and places forming the branches and limbs of my family tree.
Growing up, history, to me, meant names I recognized through municipal landmarks, faces I had encountered on currency, and places I had seen on maps. I, like my grade school peers, was generally uninterested in history. That changed in the sixth grade, when I created a family tree for class. Some classmates had interesting connections — including a cousinship with the teacher. In my family, I learned about ancestors named McNamara, Lannon, Hare, and Machado, which the world seemed to have forgotten. In the following years, I studied my ancestors’ photographs and learned their stories. I studied their eras, their neighborhoods, the personalities that fascinated them, and the gripes that irritated them. Forgotten New England is history that recreates the world of our ancestors, as they lived it, with all the dirt, sweat, worries, fears, dreams, and fascinations that consumed them.
My work on Forgotten New England led me to become a board member of the Lowell Historical Society. I also write Forgotten Billerica, a local history column that runs in the Billerica Minuteman twice monthly.