If you have Massachusetts ancestry, you may well be interested in the new Mass Moments web site. Created by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Web site provides fun facts about everything from Framingham's Revolutionary War martyr, Crispus Attucks, to abolitionist John Brown's speech at Concord Town Hall.
The site displays a new Mass Moment every day with an image and a well-researched background essay that includes a source citation to verify its accuracy. The site even includes a Radio Moment heard on 10 selected stations across the state, which can also be played on your computer or downloaded. Veteran actor Jack Clancy reads the radio spots.
Many historic events and people are mentioned on the ever-changing web site. One expects to read about the day of Paul Revere's ride, the battle at Bunker Hill, and other facts found in most every American history textbook. However, the site also commemorates many other historical events that are not as well known. Here is a sample:
- January 15, 1919: People in Boston's North End were startled by a loud rumbling noise. They watched in horror as a five-story tank broke apart, unleashing a wave of molasses 15 feet high and 160 feet wide. Moving at 35 miles per hour, it traveled over two blocks and engulfed everything in its path. The disaster killed 21 people, injured 150, and caused property damage of more than 100 million in today's dollars.
- January 6, 1994: Stoneham figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked for the purpose of preventing her from winning a competition.
- March 9, 1704: The town of Newbury voted to pay a bounty to men who had killed two wolves on Plum Island.
- In November of 1849, Dr. George Parkman disappeared at the Medical School in one of the most famous murder cases in Harvard history. A week after the disappearance, a suspicious janitor broke through a brick vault below the lab of Parkman's colleague, Dr. John White Webster, and found human body parts, which the authorities soon discovered all around the lab. Found guilty of first-degree murder, Webster belatedly confessed and appealed for clemency, but was hanged on August 30, 1850. Parkman's widow led a fund drive to support Webster's wife and children.
- Birth control pioneer John Rock was born in Marlborough on March 24, 1890.
- June 28, 1853: Dollie Dutton, world's smallest woman, is born.
- On March 15, 1820, Massachusetts lost 30,000 square miles of land when Maine became a state.
- The paralyzing blizzards in March 1888 and February 1978 are well documented.
You can find a lot of sports history on this site as well:
- Harry "Bucky" Lew, the nation's first African-American basketball player, was born Jan. 4, 1884, in Lowell.
- February 9, 1895: the new game of Volleyball was played for the first time at the YMCA in Holyoke. The YMCA's sports director, William Morgan, was looking for a less strenuous alternative to the new game of basketball (which was also invented in Massachusetts).
- January 27, 2000: Bill Belichick was appointed head coach of the New England Patriots.
All this and a lot more is available at the Mass Moments web site at http://www.massmoments.org.