Jet on MLK - 60 Years Later

Images courtesy of Salem State University Archives & Special Collections

Jet magazine began in 1951 as a “Weekly Negro News Magazine” and covered everything from beauty advice to the start of the Civil Rights movement. Sixty years ago, April 1956, Jet magazine chronicled a young pastor from Montgomery, Alabama by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, Dr. King had recently been chosen to be the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Montgomery Improvement Association, following Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus.

Jet magazine dubbed Dr. King as “Alabama’s modern Moses” and shared an in-depth look at his childhood as a quiet boy from Georgia whose family was rooted in the church and had a history of social action. These experiences would shape Dr. King’s style of protesting into peaceful, non-violent activism.
Jet magazine wrote: “To Montgomery, Alabama’s 50,000 Negroes, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is no ordinary Baptist minister. In fact, he never wanted to be a minister at all. But as the pacifist leader of the city’s thousands of footsore Negroes, who have traded their crushed spirits for new dignity and tired feet, Rev. King has become a symbol of divinely-inspired hope, a kind of modern Moses who has brought new self-respect to southern Negroes.”

Dr. King and his supporters spent a little over a year boycotting Montgomery’s bus system. Although their protests were peaceful, they were met with violent attacks and harassment. After many setbacks, the activists were granted victory when the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was illegal, on November 13, 1956.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

Salem Public Library - Salem, Massachusetts

Images: Salem State University Archives and Special Collections
Courtesy of Salem Public Library.
The building that now houses the Salem Public Library was once the home of one of the wealthiest men in Massachusetts, a merchant and ship-owner by the name of Captain John Bertram. The house was built in 1855 for Bertram and his family, which sat on the former estate Caroline Plummer. Bertram and his third wife, Mary Ann Ropes occupied the house along with Bertram’s five children with his previous wives, both of which died in childbirth. His daughter Jenny would become the mother of Caroline Emmerton, founder of The House of the Seven Gables historic site and settlement house.
John Bertram was born in 1796 into a middle class farming family, off of the coast of Normandy. In July of 1807, Bertram, his parents and his five siblings embarked for America in hope of finding a better future. Their ship was destined for Baltimore, Maryland but experienced malfunctions during its voyage, docking in Boston. Upon a recommendation, the Bertram family settled in nearby Salem.

Despite Salem’s industrious maritime history as one of the richest cities in the world, its great fortune was halted due to the Jefferson Embargo of 1807 and the war with Great Britain. With trade being cut off from America, Salem’s economy experienced a depression. John’s father, Jean Bertram, a master carpenter was unable to find work. He in turn opened a grocery store but with customers unable to afford to pay their credit, his business quickly failed. When John was 11, his father built a family home and a carpentry shop on Central Street and took John out of school to assist him. Unhappy with working in the carpentry shop, John enlisted as a cabin boy at age 16 and began his life at sea. His pay helped alleviate his family’s debts back in Salem and steadily earned him a fortune. John became a Master in 1824, earning the title of Captain. At the age of 36 in 1832, Captain John Bertram was able to retire from his work at sea. Bertram was known for his ability to successfully take risks with new ventures and elements of trade. He established his own shipping firm in Salem and successfully invested his money in railroads.

Captain John Bertram, understanding the plight of poverty, helped aid and establish many of Salem’s charities including Salem Hospital, Women’s Friend Society, Plummer Farm for Boys, Bertram Home for Aged Men, and the Old Ladies’ House (present day Brookhouse.) He also served on many area committees such as Salem Common Council and Massachusetts General Court. John Bertram died in 1882, at age 86. Following his death, his widow and remaining children donated the Bertram mansion on Essex Street to the city for use as a public library. The Salem Public Library opened on July 8, 1889.

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.

The Grimshawe House - Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, MA, USA
Courtesy of Salem State University Archives & Special Collections
The Grimshawe or Peabody House sits upon the corner of Old Burying Point cemetery at 53 Charter Street in downtown Salem. Present day, it looks much like its depiction in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Dr. Grimshawe’s Secret: A Romance.” In his book, Hawthorne described the area as “…the old graveyard about the house which cornered upon it; it made the street gloomy, so that people did not altogether like to pass along the high wooden fence that shut it in; and the old house itself, covering ground which else had been sown thickly with buried bodies, partook of its dreariness…”
Image:  Hawthorne in Salem
Few know that centuries ago this house was once a grand display of Federal style architecture and a meeting place for great literary thinkers. In 1835 Dr. Nathaniel Peabody, a dentist, purchased the stately home for himself, his wife and their five children. It was in the home that Peabody’s youngest daughter Sophia met Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom she would later wed. Hawthorne, an author, had recently received praise for his work “Twice Told Tales” and was invited to the home by Sophia’s sister, Elizabeth.
The Peabody sisters were true Renaissance woman of their time. Elizabeth, the oldest, was very involved in the literary world, both as an author and a bookstore owner. Elizabeth’s bookstore on West Street in Boston served as a meeting place for authors such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was in her bookshop that the transcendentalist movement began to take shape and garnered a following. Elizabeth Peabody was also heavily involved in social reform and along with her sister Mary, opened the first kindergarten in America. The sisters had been profoundly inspired by the work of Friedrich Froebel in Germany.
Mary, the youngest of the Peabody’s wed Horace Mann, who is often referred to as the Father of Common School. The two actively advocated education reform. Mary penned a variety of books in her lifetime ranging from children’s books to cook books.
Sophia Peabody was often sick in her youth, suffering debilitating headaches and regularly needing the care of her sisters. Despite her weakness, she became a respected painter and author. Upon marrying Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sophia ceased painting and focused on raising the couple’s three children. After Nathaniel’s death, Sophia edited and published his notebooks, as well as her own journals and writings.
The Grimshawe House underwent many renovations and additions during the 20th century and today greatly differs in appearance from the time of the Peabody’s residence. The original portico is now housed on the back exterior of the Phillip's Library on nearby Essex Street. The home is privately owned and as of 2019, the developer has requested to divide the building into five apartments and erect an attached three-story addition. His request was met with controversy.

MACRIS SAL.2507  (1974)

*This article was written by Jen Ratliff for use by Salem State University Archives and Special Collections.
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