Historical Society Happenings: Deaccession Creates Interesting International Connection

Programs from the National Peace Jubilee Concert, held in Boston in 1869 and recently deaccessioned by the Bedford Historical Society - Courtesy image
Programs from the National Peace Jubilee Concert, held in Boston in 1869 and recently deaccessioned by the Bedford Historical Society – Courtesy image

Submitted by the Bedford Historical Society

The Bedford Historical Society takes it’s mission to preserve and protect the history of Bedford seriously; for over a century we have been gratefully accepting donations from generous residents. However, due to limited storage space, the collections are periodically reviewed.

Donated and deaccessioned objects unrelated to Bedford’s history are sold (generally on Ebay) or are donated to organizations for which they have relevance. Some of the proceeds have been used to acquire objects that strengthen the Society’s collections. An unanticipated additional benefit has been that our presence on Ebay has created connections with other folks who share our enthusiasm for history. Several Ebay buyers have even sent additional donations with their payments after they realized that their purchases were supporting Society acquisitions.

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore - Courtesy image
Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore – Courtesy image

The recent sale of two deaccessioned programs for Boston Public Schools 1869 musical exhibitions led to just such a new connection. The buyer, Jarlath MacNamara of Kildare, Ireland, was very excited to find these programs. MacNamara is a researcher, working to revive the memory of Irish composer and conductor Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore. Gilmore was well-known during the 19th century; many still remember his piece, When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

Gilmore was the driving force behind the National Peace Jubilee of 1869 and the World Peace Jubilee of 1872, both held in Boston. For these events, a giant coliseum with seating for 30,000 audience members and 11,000 musicians was constructed near the Boston Common. These enormous events spanned several days and featured thousands of singers and instrumentalists; they were considered a tremendous undertaking for their time. The programs MacNamara purchased were printed to be handed out at student dress rehearsals for the 1869 National Jubilee and they represent an important addition to MacNamara’s collection of Gilmore artifacts.

National Peace Coliseum - Boston 1869 - Courtesy image
National Peace Coliseum – Boston 1869 – Courtesy image

MacNamara was particularly delighted to find himself in contact with a Massachusetts-based historical society because he is still searching for more information about Gilmore’s career in Boston, and he would like more people to be aware of the impact Gilmore’s Jubilees had here. He provided the Society with a PDF of his paper, “With Perfect Pitch: Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore,” published in the New York Irish Society Roundtable Newsletter in November 2013. He added that, although his article concentrated on Gilmore’s legacy in New York City, “ I can assure you that his legacy in Massachusetts is equally as strong . His personal legacy in Salem, Charlestown, and Boston is incredible and his influence still lasts to this day.” He closed by stating that he would welcome hearing from anyone who may have additional information about Gilmore and his accomplishments in Massachusetts.

If anyone would like to contact Jarlath  MacNamara, or is interested in reading MacNamara’s New York Irish Society Paper, the Historical Society would be delighted to share our information. Feel free to contact the Society office at info@bedfordmahistory.org.

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