Historic Resource Study for Lowell National Historical Park

Project Title:  Prepare Historic Resource Study:  Lowell the Spindle City

Project Budget:  $71,250.00

Projected Start Date:  September 2019

Timeline for Completion:  36 months from start

Deadline for Letter of Intent to OAH:  July 8, 2019

Deadline for Proposal to OAH:  August 1, 2019

Expected Date to Award Project:  September 1, 2019

Exterior of the Boott Cotton Mill Museum, Lowell National Historical Park. NPS Photograph.

Project Purpose

The intent of this project is to research and write a Historic Resource Study containing a narrative history, footnotes, a list of significant historical and cultural resources, maps, bibliography, and select maps and illustrations.  This knowledge will be made available to the public via a presentation of findings which will be recorded for inclusion on the park’s website and a digital map or similar based on the final section of the report which links resources to the park’s five principal themes via maps and illustrations.  The digital map or similar will be made available on a variety of platforms such as the park’s website and a future mobile app.

Project Background

Lowell, Massachusetts, 30 miles northwest of Boston, was founded in 1822 as a planned industrial city and became one of the most significant textile producing centers in the country. Lowell served as America’s model industrial city during the first half of the 19th century. Established on June 5, 1978, Lowell National Historical Park represented an innovative partner-driven management concept between federal, state, and local governments, the private sector, and the local community. Today visitors weave in and out of the past and present in this living monument to the Industrial Revolution and its legacies. The physical resources protected by the park include the original 5.6-mile power canal system; major cotton textile mill complexes; diverse museum collections; and intact 19th-century streetscapes of commercial and residential structures.

Lowell is a partnership park integrated into the fabric of a living city. Many park partners and developers own the mill buildings, financial institutions, cultural institutions, and businesses in the NR historic district. Like everything Lowell NHP undertakes, the park and HRS researchers will collaborate with them to develop this study. Potential partners include the City of Lowell, UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Pollard Library, and the New England Quilt Museum.

The park’s previous Historic Resource Study was completed in the mid-1980s and does not reflect the significant advances in scholarship made since that time. 


Undertaking an HRS now is timely because it will inform the replacement of two major exhibits (Boott Cotton Mill Museum and Boott Boarding House) and baseline resource-specific projects (two Historic Structure Reports on canal gate houses and a cultural landscape report on the Guard Locks complex).

Project Scope of Work

Part 1:  Written Historic Resource Study

The study should be written for a broad popular audience. It should place the park's story in the larger context of national trends and events. 

The final approved HRS shall contain all content as described below. Each section will include footnotes; the format for citation of park research and administrative records will be established prior to submission of first draft.  All citations and formatting will be according to Chicago Manual of Style. The researcher will be responsible for all sections of the HRS.  

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Maps and Illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Management Summary
  • Historiography:  The HRS will open with a historiography placing park themes in the context of recent scholarly historical writings to assess Lowell’s history in a national setting.
  • Narrative History (broken into sections or chapters, as needed):  A narrative history will address the people of Lowell including its leaders but with an emphasis on working people, immigrants, and the middle class.  The study will examine changes to the land from pre-European settlement through the 20th century as well as city building, factory growth and decline, immigrant communities, and the suburbs.
  • Maps and Illustrations:  This section will feature the significant cultural and historical resources linked to the park’s five principal themes. 
    • After reviewing requests by the contractor, the NPS will provide access to digital images or reproduction photographs for historic photographs or other illustrations in NPS collections.  The contractor should include color illustrations when the report references color in a particular image or color is otherwise necessary for the reader to fully understand the report.  
    • All illustrations should be labeled with captions which identify the specific location and date of the images, where published (if published), and describe why they are included in the furnishings report, and provide a citation identifying where the original can be found.  Illustrations should be numbered 1 through n; this number should be used when referring to illustration in text and plan sections.  A full list of illustrations with captions will be included following the table of contents.
    • Contractor is responsible for obtaining permissions and use rights for print and website from repositories outside the NPS.  
  • List of Repositories Consulted:  This section lists all repositories consulted, the research conducted, and the findings made at each.  If the contractor was not able to access promising repositories or materials during the course of this project, make a list of recommendations for future research here.  
  • Bibliography
  • Appendices

Part 2:  Transfer of Knowledge

An important component of the HRS project is sharing the research findings with park staff and especially the public.  This will happen in three phases.

  • Researcher will share preliminary findings with park staff in an oral presentation.
  • Researcher will share final findings with public in a recorded oral presentation which will be placed on the park’s website for future viewing. The park will arrange to record the session.
  • Researcher will have or obtain the capability to produce a digital map or similar based on the maps and illustrations section of the report linking resources to park themes. The park envisions a map of Lowell with the locations of significant resources identified and the capability to include text and images to briefly explain the resource’s significance to visitors.  

Specific Tasks and Deliverables

  • Site Visit #1
  • Research Plan – NPS staff to approve before research proceeds.  Research plan to include an outline of the study, repositories and collections the researcher plans to consult, and the timing and sequencing of the research.  
  • Site Visit #2 to Include Preliminary Presentation to Park Staff
  • Brief Progress Report including one draft chapter
  • Site Visits #3 or more
  • Draft 1/Comment Period
  • Draft 2/Comment Period
  • Final Draft/Comment Period
  • Print Draft– NPS staff to approve before final printing
  • Site Visit for Public Recorded Presentation
  • Digital Map or Similar
    • Development
    • Drafts/Prototypes – up to 3 with comment periods. Researcher will suggest timeline for developing digital map or similar.  The first draft/prototype is required no later than 4 weeks following completion of the final draft.
    • Final Digital files ready for public use on a variety of platforms such as the park’s website and a new mobile app. 

A preliminary schedule for deliverables and associated payments can be found here.


  • The principal investigator must be fully qualified personnel according to the Secretary of the Interior's standards for professional historians, outlined in NPS-28:  Cultural Resource Management Guidelines, Appendix E.
  • Copies of research files and other material produced as a result of this project, except for those items for which another institution or the author has copyrights or has placed restriction on distribution, shall be delivered to Lowell National Historical Park and become property of NPS upon completion of the project, whether or not they were used in preparation of the final report.
  • The NPS retains all rights to publish and disseminate this report. The research materials and completed products will be in the public domain and may not be copyrighted. However, the researcher may publish the results of the research without written permission, but shall inform the NPS and OAH of any publications or presentations resulting directly from the products of this research. Revision of the manuscript for publication with an academic press, after completion of the project, is encouraged, provided that the role of the NPS and the OAH is acknowledged in print.