Perhaps that should say “re-introducing” because many readers will fondly remember Julie Mofford, a former staffer at the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, who currently lives in midcoast Maine where she writes and works as a museum and historical society consultant. Julie has agreed to contribute blog posts to richardhowe.com from time to time. Here’s her first:
I am pleased to be invited to contribute occasional features on this blog. Some readers will remember me from Lowell Historic Preservation Commission where I was Assistant Director and then Director of Cultural Affairs from October 1988 through June of 1995. At LHPC, I developed and coordinated Community Temporary Exhibits at the Mogan Cultural Center. I also oversaw approximately 15 cultural and cooperative grant projects annually and served as liaison to the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac October Festivals and March birthday events.
After the Commission was dissolved by U. S. Congress my interests in Lowell persisted so that I managed numerous paths back into the city. Middlesex Community College appointed me interim director at the New England Folklife Center then located in the Boott Mill. I received an assignment from the Tsongas Center and the American Textile History Museum to develop a high-school role-playing curriculum on the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike. I then wrote the script and with the help of ethnic and community contacts made through LHPC’s Temporary Exhibits program, selected the visuals for the textile museum’s interpretive video about immigration to Lowell. I was invited back to present at Tsongas Center’s teacher-training conferences on Child Labor and Immigration. The Center also hired me to help develop their interactive Coming to America studio and I wrote curricula for several elementary schools on the history of immigration to Lowell.
Lowell themes remained evident in a book I wrote for young people entitled The Beat Generation (Discovery Enterprises, 1998). That even included Jim Higgins’ photo of the Jack Kerouac Commemorative and an essay by world-class musician David Amram, who has since become a familiar face around Lowell. Former Lowellian Joanne Weisman published three other books of mine for her Perspective on History series: Cry Witch! – The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 in 1995 and two 1997 publications obviously inspired by Lowell history and Lowell National Historical Park exhibits: Child Labor in America and Talkin’ Union – The American Labor Movement. Pete Seeger gave me his personal permission to use the name of his song for my title.
By the time these projects were completed, I had become the full-time director of education and research at Andover Historical Society. Still, I continued to seek out talented Lowell folks whenever I needed special help. For example after receiving a grant from Massachusetts Cultural Council to develop the 8-panel traveling exhibit “Slavery, Anti-Slavery & the Underground Railroad,” it was Guy LeFebvre I called upon to fabricate the show.
History was not my favorite subject in school, though I always loved reading stories set in the past and biographies of people long dead. Classroom history always seemed only about dates or wars started by old men who then signed treaties before waging another war. I arrived at my passion for history through art history – oh yeah: so the past can be told in pictures. By this time scholars and the media were emphasizing women’s history and African-Americans.
I’ve been writing free-lance articles and stories most of my adult life so have watched the dramatic changes in publishing since the digital revolution. Sure, we all cherish holding a book in our hands, turning pages lovingly, displaying books on our coffee tables and seeing their decorative spines grace our shelves. However, writing is communication and if authors still wish to share their words and works, they need to change with the times. Publishers and agents seldom even bother to send out rejection letters or respond anymore unless they plan to publish the piece. It gets recycled; no matter if you included that self-addressed, stamped envelope!
That’s why I uploaded my last two books onto Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing where I receive royalties and have an Author’s Page. These historical novels represent many years of research and revision. Captain Redlegs Greaves – A Pirate By Mistake is based on the amazing life and adventures of my husband’s 17th century Caribbean ancestor. My other ebook is Abigail Accused: A Story of the Salem Witch Hunt. (You don’t need a Kindle to read them either. Just download the free Kindle app available for every major smart phone, tablet and computer).
Thanks for reading my first blog post on richardhowe.com. I look forward to being back in touch as an occasional contributor.