By Deina Zartman
from The Wanderer, April 17 2017

There was a healthy turnout of American history buffs at the Mattapoisett Free Public Library on Sunday afternoon to hear author, historian, and teacher Stephen Puleo discuss his latest book, American Treasures: The Secret Efforts to Save the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address.

Puleo is the author of six narrative nonfiction books, including Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1819. Kathleen Damaskos of the Mattapoisett Historical Society introduced the author, saying, “Any fan of American history, often with a Boston or Massachusetts flavor, will want to read all of [Puleo’s books].”

Puleo lives in Weymouth with his wife, Kate, who couldn’t accompany him on Sunday as she often does. Having spoken at such venues as the National Archives in Washington D.C. and the National Constitution Museum, this was his first visit to Mattapoisett.
Puleo began his talk by sharing how the idea for the book, published roughly six months ago, first took shape in his mind.

“The book had its genesis … really about eight years ago,” Puleo said. He had read a small article in a history magazine about how the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the original Gettysburg Address had been moved from Washington D.C. to Fort Knox shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor due to “fears of German bombers or German sabotage.”

“I said, ‘Wow, I never heard of this…. This is really fascinating,’” he recalled. The article started him ruminating about why President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish felt “such a strong stewardship for these documents, why did they feel it was so necessary to protect them…. What’s behind it?”

In order to understand what made these documents so important to American morale and American national history, Puleo realized, “One of the things you had to do was go back to the creation of these documents and to go back to some ways in which these documents were protected and preserved over the period of American history.”

To do that, he constructed the book as a “braided narrative,” meaning it moves back and forth between “present day” (the World War II narrative) to other significant periods in American history.

The book looks at different times when these “precious documents” had to be protected, both from dramatic threats like the British burning of Washington D.C. in 1814, as well as from more mundane (but still very real) threats like humidity, fading, vermin, etc.

In December of 1952, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address were moved for the last time from the Library of Congress to the National Archives, where their protection continues to be of utmost importance.

“When you think about it, the history of these documents is really the history of the United States,” Puleo said.

The talk – co-sponsored by the historical societies of Freetown, Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester, and Wareham – was followed by a question-and-answer period and book signing.
Puleo’s website,, includes summaries and reviews of his books, a blog, and links to his Facebook and Twitter accounts.

By Georgia Sparling | Sippican Week, Feb 23, 2017


Liam Waldron draws a map of Mattapoisett. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)

MATTAPOISETT — A dozen students got a look into the town’s history and practiced navigation without GPS at the Mattapoisett Historical Society’s Map-A-Palooza on Thursday.

Held during school vacation week, the event started with a search around the Historical Society’s museum. The children got layouts of the building, each with an X marking a different spot where they could find a quarter.

After that students got a packet with old photos of the town, and Alison Van Keuren led a walk through the Village to see changes between the pictures and the current landscape, from houses that once had porches to the much expanded Center School.

Thomas Waldron said he was amazed by “how much the buildings changed. Like Center School, they added so much.”

Back at point A, the students got to make their own maps, something Liam Waldron said was right in his wheelhouse.

“I read atlases for fun,” he said.

The whole event ties into the Historical Society’s summer exhibit on maps.

Once the children finished their maps, real or imaginary, Historical Society President Jennifer McIntire said they can become part of history.

“The idea is they can loan their maps to our exhibit this summer,” she said.

Alison Van Keuren leads a walk around Mattapoisett Village. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)

Kids discuss their maps. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling)

‘Your Story’ brings community to the mic in Mattapoisett

February 12, 2017

By Georgia Sparling | Sippican Week, Feb 12, 2017 Mattapoisett Historical Society President Jennifer McIntire spoke about her zany Aunt Mary. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling) MATTAPOISETT — Despite the snow and slush, a full crowd gathered at the Mattapoisett Historical Society for Your Story, an open mic event with songs, poems and stories. The second […]

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Cranberry farmer visits Mattapoisett Historical Society

November 30, 2016

By Tanner Harding | Sippican Week, Nov 06, 2016 Woody Hartley holds up a traditional cranberry picker. (Photo by: Tanner Harding) MATTAPOISETT — Ever wonder where the cranberries in your Thanksgiving cranberry sauce came from? Rochester cranberry farmer Woody Hartley stopped by the Mattapoisett Historical Society on Sunday afternoon to talk about the work that […]

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New exhibit highlights ‘Mattapoisett Fun’

July 1, 2016

By Georgia Sparling | Sippican Week, Jul 01, 2016 The summer exhibit features a combination of items from the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum’s collection and on loan from people in the community. (Photo by: Georgia Sparling) MATTAPOISETT — If you’ve lived in or around Mattapoisett for more than one summer, you likely have a connection to […]

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Enjoy The Great Community Picnic!

June 22, 2016

Join the Mattapoisett Historical Society and the Mattapoisett Land Trust for The Great Community Picnic at Munro Preserve, west of Shipyard Park in Mattapoisett on Thursday evening, August 4th (6 to 9 pm)! Begin with a summer sunset by the harbor, friends and neighbors, and your own delicious picnic fare.  Add great live music by […]

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Scavenger hunt sends kids around town

February 18, 2016

By Georgia Sparling MATTAPOISETT — Identifying a fid at the Mattapoisett Historical Museum, seeking out a boundary marker at Munro Preserve and finding a plaque for Florence Eastman at the Mattapoisett Library were just a few of the clues kids sought out at the first annual Seaside Scavenger Hunt on Thursday afternoon. Said one enthusiastic […]

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Presto Press sale offers pages from Mattapoisett history

September 28, 2015

By Georgia Sparling MATTAPOISETT — Flipping through the archives of the Presto Press was a trip down memory lane for Mattapoisett native Cathy Bowers. “There are things I remember happening when I was a teenager,” Bowers said as she flipped through a stack of the now defunct newspaper. On Sunday, the Mattapoisett Historical Society and […]

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Mattapoisett’s Connection To Alaska

September 13, 2015

By Marilou Newell On a balmy August 6 evening, a group of people sat next to the gazebo in Shipyard Park and listened to Seth Mendell as he spoke nearly extemporaneously for 45 minutes sharing the history of Captain Charles Bryant. Mendell, a well-known local historian and past president of the Mattapoisett Historical Society, gave […]

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Swordfish Tales

August 2, 2015

By Marilou Newell | The Wanderer By the age of ten, Tom Brownell had witnessed the thrill and the danger associated with swordfishing.One day, while hunting for swordfish, about 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard with his Dad, a fish was “ironed.” But on this day, the enormous animal reared up from underneath their boat […]

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