Parks, Polka and Portuguese: A Little Massachusetts History Trivia for You

By Diane Haddad

And now, in honor of next week’s Massachusetts Genealogy: Beyond the Basics webinar, some history trivia about the Bay State:

  • In 1634, Boston Common became the first public park in America.
  • Puritans established the first public school in America in 1635 at the home of schoolmaster Philemon Pormont. It was later moved to School Street.
  • Lowell, Mass., was America’s first planned industrial city, a textile manufacturing center.
  • The state of Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820.
  • The Massachusetts flag was two-sided from 1908 to 1971. The state seal was on one side (an Algonquin Indian on a blue shield), and a pine tree on a blue shield was on the reverse.
  • Massachusettsans invented vulcanized rubber (1839), the sewing machine (1845), volleyball (1895), and the first automatic digital computer (1944).
  • Since 1998, Massachusetts has had an official polka, “Say Hello To Someone From Massachusetts” by Lenny Gomulka
  • In 1795, the population of Massachusetts was nearly 95 percent of English ancestry. Today, Irish and part-Irish are the state’s largest ancestry group.
  • Massachusetts has a relatively large population of Portuguese descent. Immigrants came from the Azores in the 19th century to work in the whaling industry; later arrivals worked in textile and other factories.

In the webinar Massachusetts Genealogy: Beyond the Basics, professional genealogist Laura Prescott will show you new resources and strategies for tracing Massachusetts ancestors.

The hour-long session is Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7p.m. ET (6p.m. CT, 5p.m. MT, 4p.m. PT). Registration includes a PDF of the presentation slides, plus access to view the webinar again as often as you want. Click here for more on what you’ll learn.