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Thanks to a grant from the Anderson Foundation, professional archivist Melissa Mannon has recently been organizing 16 boxes of the Lawton family papers at the Shirley Historical Society Museum.

The Lawton family lived in Shirley for many generations with Frank Lawton being an early 20th century antiques dealer. From his house on Parker Road he offered water and hospitality to World War I soldiers training at Devens. His daughter, Shirley, wrote a book about the early days of Devens, and the Historical Society is hoping to publish that book.

It was several years ago when Frank’s grandchildren gave the collection of Lawton family papers to the Shirley Historical Society Museum. The letters and business papers were tied with string into bundles that could not be identified or used. Now they are being cleaned, unfolded, and filed according to author and date. A finding aid will be created so that researchers can quickly find papers on the topic they need.

Melissa Mannon, of archivesinfo.com, is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and Simmons College. She is an Archives and Cultural Heritage Consultant who has worked on Shirley archival projects in the past. While here, several years ago, Melissa trained town organization librarians in how to care for their collections. Most recently, she also trained a Shirley museum volunteer to do some of the cleaning and unfolding of the Lawton papers while she was working on the organizing. Melissa left work to be done by the volunteer and will be back later this summer to pull the whole project together.

The Bruce J. Anderson Foundation is a supporting organization of the Boston Foundation. It makes awards for preventive programs, direct services, and new initiatives in the fields of mental health, environmental protection, historic and archival preservation, and the arts. Informed by intelligence, sensitivity, and the knowledge of many countries and cultures, Bruce J. Anderson was a serious and idealistic young man who cared deeply about the problems he saw around him. The Bruce J. Anderson Foundation was established by Bruce’s brothers and sisters to honor Bruce and support the causes he championed. This is the third time that the Anderson Foundation has funded preservation projects at the Shirley Historical Society and they are very grateful for the support.

To learn more about the Historical Society, go to www.shirley history.org.

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