Skip to Main Content

Tsongas Industrial History Center Wraps up Anniversary

UMass Lowell-National Park Partnership Embodies Sen. Tsongas’ Vision

UMass Lowell Image
U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, seen here speaking with Lowell City Councilor Vesna Nuon at right, said the Tsongas Industrial History Center embodies the late Sen. Paul Tsongas' values.

By Jill Gambon

For the past 20 years, the Tsongas Industrial History Center (TIHC) has been providing students with hands-on learning about the Industrial Revolution and offering training and curriculum development to teachers from around the country. A partnership between UMass Lowell’s Graduate School of Education and the Lowell National Historical Park, the TIHC has come to embody its namesake’s vision for Lowell, according to U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas.
“As I’ve seen this evolve, it captures so many of the themes of Paul’s life,” Tsongas said, referring to her late husband, U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas.

Tsongas spoke to a crowd of about 100 at a June 4 event at the Bellegarde Boathouse to mark the conclusion of the TIHC’s 20th anniversary celebration. The anniversary observance kicked off last October and has incorporated numerous events, including a Carbon Smarts Conference, the Massachusetts Memories Roadshow digital history project, a Bread & Roses Centennial Symposium and an “Evening With the Mills Girls” performance.  

Since it opened its doors in 1991, more than 1 million students and teachers have taken part in TIHC programs at its Boott Mills Museum headquarters, in boats on the Merrimack River and in a classroom at the boathouse. Visiting students weave cloth, work on an assembly line, measure the river’s water quality and design canal systems. TIHC educators also visit schools to teach about life during the Industrial Revolution, from the work conditions of 19th-century mills to the typhoid epidemic that swept Lowell in 1890. The center also offers training, curriculum plans and professional development workshops for teachers. 

“The Tsongas Industrial History Center is a great partnership between UMass Lowell and the National Park,” said Chancellor Marty Meehan. “It brings Lowell’s history to life.”

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the TIHC on his recent trip to Lowell to receive an honorary degree from the University and was able to see first-hand the kind of work that has resulted from the partnership.

“To have the Secretary Salazar here so he could see how this has unfolded was a real pleasure for all of us,” Tsongas said.