Unheralded and Unknown, They Sleep: Salem's Forgotten Almshouse Burial Ground

Frank Cousins, Almshouse on Salem Neck, c. 1890. Digital Commonwealth, Phillips Library.
 Frank Cousins, Almshouse on Salem Neck, c. 1890. Digital Commonwealth, Phillips Library.


The Pickering House
Sunday, March 14 at 5:00 p.m.

Jen Ratliff: Unheralded and Unknown, They Sleep
Salem's Forgotten Almshouse Burial Ground

Salem is often celebrated for its history of millionaire merchants and their mansions, but there is another side to the city’s past, that of Salem’s poorest residents: the aged, disabled, ill, or transient, that were relegated to a harsh life at the City Almshouse.

The last almshouse built in Salem, opened in 1816 on Collins Cove to provide housing and support for the city’s impoverished, many of whom were expected to work the adjacent City Farm to offset the cost of their stay. This site was active for over a century and included a small burial ground which would have served as the only option for those who were unable to afford a funeral or that had no family to claim their remains.

Unfortunately, few know of this land’s former purpose and significance, as there is very little evidence of the Almshouse or its burial ground. Join us to learn more about the important history of this site and how we can preserve its memory.

Salem historian Jen Ratliff has dedicated herself to uncovering and sharing the forgotten stories of our collective past. While earning a B.A. from Salem State University in Public History, she created multiple exhibits and digital projects for both Salem Maritime National Historic Site and Salem State University, spotlighting items from their archives and the unique stories behind them. Jen is currently pursuing an M.S., concentrated in Archives Management, from Simmons University. She shares her love for local history on her blog, History by the Sea, as well as her Facebook group, Salem History Exchange.



Holiday Gift Guide #2

Salem, MA, USA



Shopping small this holiday season is a great way to support local businesses and find that perfect gift for  the history lover in your life. Salem is filled with shops, museums, and restaurants that all add to the city's unique and magical character. Here are few picks to help you check off your list or treat yourself, while helping our community.

1. The Woman's Friend Society has been supporting and empowering women since 1876. This year they are offering a beautiful limited edition ornament of their famed Emmerton House to new or renewing members that make an end of year donation before December 15th. Don't miss out on this stunning gift and opportunity to continue this impactful mission! 

2. Historic Salem, Inc's annual Christmas in Salem house tours have gone virtual this year! Stay warm and cozy while getting an inside look at the city's most stunning and unique homes and get a little gift while you're at it. Once again HSI has partnered with Black and Brindle to create these adorable mini house plaque ornaments. The perfect present for the history lover or new home owner on your list.

3. Speaking of Christmas in Salem, History by the Sea and Herbal Candle Co. partnered with Historc Salem, Inc. to create a deliciously fragrant candle inspired by this annual Salem tradition. The scent takes cues from the classic holiday orange pomander and has an all-natural essential oil blend of orange, clove, cinnamon, and chamomile.  It’s an uplifting aroma that will keep your holiday season bright and merry! (Psst. Salem residents, use code: SALEMFREE for free Etsy shipping) Bonus: a portion of the proceeds are donated directly to Historic Salem to support their mission. The History by the Sea candle collection is also available at Moody's Home + Gifts

4. Salem has an incredibly rich history with roots in the spice trade. Past centuries saw the city's wharves brimming with exotic spices. Salem Spice on Pickering Wharf helps keep this tradition alive, offering a large assortment of spices. herbs, and blends that you can't help but love. My pantry is filled with their jars but my must-have is their Hawaiian Alaea Salt, once you try it, you'll never want to use another salt again. Get a few for yourself and the cooks in your life.

5. There are so many amazing artists capturing this city's charm but one of my favorite pieces are the historic house paintings on natural wood by Lucia Loveless at Coon's Card and Gift Shop. The amount of detail in each painting is incredible and the resin finish makes them extra durable, so you or your loved one can enjoy them anywhere! Also, did you know Coon's dates back to 1953? You're not only shopping small but supporting a part of Salem's history!

Holiday Gift Guide #1

Salem, MA, USA

 




Shopping small this holiday season is a great way to support local businesses and find that perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Salem is filled with shops, museums, and restaurants that all add to the city's unique and magical character. Here are few picks to help you check off your list or treat yourself, while helping our community.

1. What do you get a history buff that loves to cook? A Salem cookbook of course! What Salem Dames Cooked was originally printed in 1911 to support Salem's Esther C. Mack Industrial School, run by the Woman's Friend Society. It features recipes submitted by local women, as well as classic dishes from cookbooks dating back to 1683. Higginson Book Company has a wonderful selection of rare and out of print local history books. 

2. The Witch House candle by Herbal Candle Co. and History by the Sea captures the essence of this famous first period home using an all-natural essential oil blend of bay, sage, chamomile, and pine. This scent was made in partnership with the museum and is inspired by plants that would have been familiar to colonial life. A portion of proceeds are donated to Historic Salem, Inc. to support historic preservation. 

3. Book lover? Historic Streets of Salem, Massachusetts is the latest book by local author and historian Jeanne Stella. Follow along as the author shares lesser-known tales and unique stories of Salem's well-worn paths. Need more books? Wicked Good Books has everything you need, from local authors to classics, and New York Times best sellers. Support Salem's very own independent book shop this holiday season!

4. The House of the Seven Gables is so much more than a historic house museum, it's a community center, a preservation advocate, and an education hub for immigrants seeking ESL and citizenship classes. Purchasing a membership to The Gables not only gets you access to their gorgeous seaside campus, it gets you invites to events such as their member's only 4th of July celebration, and free or reduced tickets to presentations on local history and social reform. A membership is the perfect gift for any Salem lover. 

5. Want to support Salem's oldest businesses, while eating some delicious snacks? Ye Old Pepper Candy Companie's Gilbralters and Black Jacks are a great way to indulge in 19th century Salem and they make great stocking stuffers. Love finding popcorn tins under the tree? Get a batch of E.W. Hobb's world-renowned popcorn. They've been making Salem's favorite treat since 1897.

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