Forging Lawrence's Contemporary Identity: Lawrence History Center Symposium on "New Immigration" into Lawrence a Success!


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On April 5, 2014, the Lawrence History Center and its sponsors held a one-day symposium on the history of the “new immigration,” into Lawrence, Massachusetts and similar communities at the Everett Mill in Lawrence.

The event was dedicated to LHC founder Eartha Dengler (August 15, 1922 – March 8, 2014), a post Second World War immigrant, and attended by over 175 participants from a myriad of local and regional organizations -- Brown University, Harvard University, the UMass campuses, NECC, Brooks School, Phillips Academy, the National Park Service-Salem and Lowell, Essex Heritage, the Immigrant Learning Center, Project Bootstrap (Lynn), Salem State University, Notre Dame Cristo Rey High School (Lawrence), and many others.

All told there were 16 panel sessions, a morning keynote from Brown University Professor Jose Itzigsohn, a lunch roundtable discussion moderated by UMass Lowell Professor Robert Forrant with panelists Professor Llana Barber (SUNY at Old Westbury ), Victor Martinez (Lawrence CommunityWorks), Eliana Martinez (Lawrence International High School), and Attorney Zoila Gomez (Law Offices of Zoila Marisol Gomez, Lawrence), and other attractions (e.g. photography exhibits, Oliver Partnership School Immigration Storyboards, The Lewis Hine Project: Stories of the Lawrence Children, and the LHC bilingual exhibit, Short Pay! All Out!).

Here's what attendees are saying!

"Thank you for inviting me to this great event … I did not know what to expect and it ended up being one of the best conferences I participated in the last years."
~ Keynote speaker Professor Jose Itzigsohn, Brown University

“A great day! Excellent plenaries and I enjoyed all of the workshops I attended - Dr. Avi Chomsky's, Working Cities' Challenge Program Lawrence CommunityWorks), and Movement City's Guerrilla Society poetry workshop!”
~ Julie Todd, Iliff School of Theology, Affiliate Faculty for Justice and Peace Studies

"What a grand day turning around the retrograde story people have about Lawrence."
~ Professor Robert Forrant, UMass Lowell / LHC board of directors

"Thanks for the invitation. I was honored to be part of such a gathering!"
~ Eliana Martinez, Teacher, Lawrence International High School

“On April 5, Essex Heritage participated in the Lawrence History Center's well attended symposium on "new immigration." Presentations helped participants to make connections between the complex history of immigration in the region and contemporary realities in Lawrence and other cities in the area, while scholars gave research-based insight into these issues and panelists highlighted the voices of Lawrence's immigrants themselves. Essex Heritage Education Coordinator Beth Beringer and NPS Education Specialist Maryann Zujewski, shared lessons learned from the Caribbean Connections program, a project that involved English Language Learning Middle Schoolers discovering ties between Salem and the Caribbean.”
~ Essex National Heritage Area

"In Andover, I've had occasion to speak to high school- and college-level attendees, all of whom were blown away. They'll have occasion to attend other conferences, but they'll remember this one."
~ Adele Carter, Phllips Academy / LHC board of directors

Memorial and Reception to Celebrate the Life & Legacy of Eartha Dengler, March 26, 2014

"She lived a full life, hated war, loved nature, enjoyed Beck's Dark beer, and did more for the city of Lawrence and the working immigrant families whose labor built the City, than any of us imagined possible. Her family loves her and a whole lot of other people do too!"
~ Claudia Dengler, March 8, 2014 (Eartha's daughter)

The Lawrence History Center board of directors and staff invite to you to join us at a Memorial and Reception to celebrate the Life & Legacy of our founder Eartha Dengler.

Date: Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Lawrence History Center, 6 Essex Street, Lawrence

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made to the Lawrence History in her memory. Checks may be made payable to: Lawrence History Center, 6 Essex Street, Lawrence, MA 01840 or by credit card online at

If possible please RSVP by phone or email to help us prepare at 978-686-9230 or by email.

In Memoriam: LHC Founder Eartha Dengler Passes at Age 91

Our founder Eartha Dengler passed away peacefully at home in St. Louis Park, MN on March 8, 2014, exactly 36 years to the day of forming the Immigrant City Archives, now known as the Lawrence History Center.
Those who knew Eartha personally, as well as those who did not have that distinct pleasure, but who carried out her mission through their work at the Lawrence History Center are deeply saddened by this loss. As a community we will mourn and reflect on her leadership and vision – the impact of which on our “immigrant city” will be felt for generations to come.

Eartha sent us these sentiments for our annual Eartha Dengler History Award Ceremony in June 2013:

“The story of Lawrence and its people is the story of America - of people pursuing a better life, of families taking care of each other, of hard work, of industry and of freedom. It's a story that most of us share. I am almost 91 years old and still the courage & fortitude of the people of Lawrence inspires me. When I started 'the Archives' I had a simple vision that the story of an American mill town & its people had to be captured & told. Truthfully - there were many days when I wondered if this goal of mine would ever be achieved. I am so thrilled to see how many of you share this vision. Through your efforts & contributions we have together collected, preserved and shared the story of the remarkable people of this community. I send my love & deep appreciation.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Dengler family during this difficult time. We will miss Eartha deeply. May she rest in peace.

Alice Winifred O’Connor Papers Online

This collection was processed thanks to funding from the ECCF Merrimack Valley General Fund, an Essex Heritage Partnership Grant, the Stearns and Russell Trusts, and the White Fund.alice_oconnor_child_sm.jpg

Alice O'Connor (1886-1968) was an immigration worker in Boston, Massachusetts. Between 1918 and 1962 she worked as the executive secretary, social worker, executive official, and finally board member for the Massachusetts Department of Education's Division of Immigration and Americanization. She sought to ensure that all immigrants to Massachusetts were treated without prejudice and were given the opportunity to gain an education, earn a living, and become citizens of the United States. Living her entire life in Lawrence, Massachusetts, she was a very religious woman for whom family and friends were very important. Her diaries and thesis document both her personal and professional lives.


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Sun-Mon: Closed

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Founded in 1978 as the Immigrant City Archives, the mission of the Lawrence History Center is to collect, preserve, share, and animate the history and heritage of Lawrence and its people.