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Local & Family history series features the evolution of Boston's neighborhoods

Boston Public Library’s Local and Family History Lecture Series continues in January with a focus on Boston’s changing neighborhoods and includes in-depth looks at three of today’s most diverse neighborhoods: East Boston, Mattapan, and Allston-Brighton.

Now in its eleventh year, the Local and Family History Lecture Series includes information about the history of Boston and its neighborhoods and features tips and guidance for those beginning their own genealogical research. Lectures take place on select Wednesdays from January through May in the Commonwealth Salon at the Central Library in Copley Square, which is located at 700 Boylston Street.

The series includes the following lectures, all of which are listed with additional detail at

  • James Madden explores how Boston’s once solidly ethnic and predictably patterned neighborhoods are now multiethnic and diverse, and more difficult to map. Wednesday, January 15, at 6 p.m.
  • BPL staff members Kim Tenney, Henry Scannell, and Gail Fithian discuss tips and tricks for researching your family’s home to enrich ancestors’ stories. Wednesday, January 29, at 6 p.m.
  • Architect Antonio Di Mambro examines the economic and technological transformations of East Boston and looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities that may shape its future. Wednesday, February 12, at 6 p.m.
  • Cartographer Jonathan Wyss and the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s Evan Thornberry examine digitized, building-level detailed maps and instruct participants on how to utilize online resources to locate a range of historical information. Wednesday, February 26, at 6 p.m.
  • President and CEO of the Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly Amy Schectman discusses how outmigration from Mattapan and Dorchester is connected to Jewish migration patterns in and around Boston. Dr. Kerri Greenidge speaks about the evolution of Mattapan from mid-nineteenth century to today. Wednesday, March 12, at 6 p.m.
  • Marian Pierre-Louis describes the role oral history plays in recapturing family stories and building stronger bonds, particularly within immigrant communities. Wednesday, March 26, at 6 p.m.
  • Historian and author Anthony M. Sammarco discusses how Brighton came to be one of the most unique and culturally rich neighborhoods in Boston. Wednesday, April 9, at 6 p.m.
  • Professional genealogist and lecturer Meredith Hoffman details how to utilize online, local, and specialized Jewish resources in her talk “Researching Your Jewish Ancestors in Old Boston Neighborhoods.” Wednesday, April 23, at 6 p.m.
  • James O’Connell explains the migration of residents of Boston’s neighborhoods to surrounding suburbs during the twentieth century and examines the settling patterns of specific ethnic groups. Wednesday, May 7, at 6 p.m.
  • Archivist Joanne Riley shares examples of “goldmines” for family research and provides tips for gaining access to various local archives. Wednesday, May 21, at 6 p.m. Following the talk, the speakers from the Local & Family History Lecture Series join together for a roundtable discussion on the evolution of Boston’s immigrant gateways and neighborhood development.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, a literacy center, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first publicly supported municipal library in America, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit

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