Digital Commonwealth

The Wilkins Notebooks

Gleason Public Library

The items in this collection are drawn from "Old Houses and Families of Carlisle, Mass.," a nuanced and detailed history of the town. This 25-volume set of notebooks was written and compiled by Martha Fifield Wilkins, who donated the series to the Gleason Public Library in 1941.

Locally known as the Wilkins' Notebooks, the twenty-five volumes provide extensive and unique documentation of Carlisle's history. Throughout the 1930s, Carlisle resident Martha Fifield Wilkins researched houses in town built before 1830. She compiled the histories of these houses from deeds and other documents, family lore, and local history resources. Extensive genealogy is integrated with the house histories, including in-depth histories of selected families. Enhancing the histories of houses and people are colorful descriptions of community institutions, events, and traditions. Local folktales and unique anecdotes enliven the narrative.

Approximately 500 photographs are placed throughout the notebooks to compliment the text. Mrs. Wilkins included several photographs of each house, most of which were taken between 1900 and 1940, but also older images when available. The photographs provide researchers with a rich visual history of Carlisle's past.

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