Frequently Asked Questions
Why did we choose to learn more about street names in Boxborough?
We chose to investigate street names in order to better understand how our communities honor the people and stories of their past. Whether it is a local crop or an influential individual, each street has its own lore.
According to Merriam-Webster, “lore” is “a particular body of knowledge or tradition.” It is also “something that is learned.” We’ve chosen to focus on lore as a method of storytelling. Our communal history is a work in progress, evolving and passed down by generations. We want to explore how we form our local lore as a community and help community members contribute to the lore themselves.
What was your methodology for this research?
We received a complete list of street names in Boxborough from the Town Clerk and consulted a variety of primary and secondary sources. We consulted with members of the Boxborough Historical Commission and Boxborough Historical Society, as well as neighboring towns’ historical commissions. We also used a variety of Massachusetts state archives, including the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS), as well as genealogical resources, historical texts, and interviews with members of the local community.
How are road names chosen?
In Boxborough today, new roads are proposed by real estate developers. Often, these developers consult local historical organizations (such as the Boxborough Historical Commission) for road name ideas that are important to the community. Once an initial name is chosen, it is submitted to the local fire department, police department, and department of public works to confirm that name is unique enough from other names to allow for adequate public safety.
Some cities and towns have regulations on road names. For example, in some Washington, D.C. neighborhoods, road names must be based on particular themes, such as historical figures or single syllables. Los Angeles County prohibits roads being named after any commercial organization or living individual.
While any major pathway connecting two places can be called a “road,” there are rules that determine what can be called a “street” (it has buildings on both sides), an “avenue” (has buildings and trees on both sides), or a “way” (a narrow road), and precise definitions can vary based on local regulations. In Boxborough, almost every pathway is a “road,” and there are very few “streets.”
How can I submit my own stories or photographs?
We welcome your oral histories, especially:
Historical sites and buildings (“There was a ski slope on Example Road in the 1970s.”)
Events and the particular streets where they took place (“During the Boxborough Bicentennial, there was a parade down Example Road celebrating the cultivation of a new apple.”)
People who lived here (“Irie Jones, a famous scientist, lived on Example Road with her family in the 1990s.”)
Memories (“When I went to AB 20 years ago, we’d get ice cream on Example Road on the last day of school.”)
In particular, we would like to honor the histories of marginalized communities in the area, including Indigenous history. Please reach out to us if you would like to share any relevant resources.
To submit your own stories, scroll down to the form at the bottom of this page (or the Home page) and add your story in the “message” section. Please include whether you are happy to have us publish your stories on our site or social media.
We also welcome visual records of Boxborough's history! We are particularly interested in photographs of historical sites and buildings, people who have lived in the town (including those for whom streets are named), and of important documents. To submit a photograph, please email your photograph to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please keep in mind that we are a volunteer team, so there may be a delay between when you submit your stories / photographs and when they appear on the website.
How can I make a Local Lore street name history project for my own town?
Local Lore is a project under the larger umbrella of The Civic Collective, Inc. Civic Collective is an organization which aims to support civic engagement through education, training, community building efforts, and project facilitation. As such, we warmly welcome other people to create their own Local Lore projects.
We are happy to provide guidance and share our methodology. For more details, reach out to us using the form below.