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This Feb. 9 marked the 40th anniversary of the first showing of the
Westford League of Women Voters’ slide-tape show “Westford: A Sense of
Community” at the Elks Hall in Forge Village. The League has made this documentary of the history of Westford as it changed throughout the years available online for streaming at lwv.westford.org.
From its incorporation in 1729 through the late 19th century, Westford
was a farming community sparsely populated by families of English
ancestry. But in the first years of the 20th century, a significant
change occurred in Westford when mills that had opened in the town’s
Forge Village and Graniteville sections began to recruit workers from
Russia, Poland, England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Canada.
Through historic photos and interviews with former mill workers,
“Westford: A Sense of Community” depicts what the arrival of the mills
and these new Americans meant to the town and its evolution in the 20th
century. The documentary also describes the effect of the mills’ demise
in the 1950s, and chronicles the town’s more recent development into the
appealing suburban community it is today.
The slide-tape show was originally created as the League’s gift to the
town on its 250th anniversary. The streaming version boasts a bonus
feature: Ellen Harde and Beth Shaw, the writer and editor of the
slide-tape show, telling the story of how they and other League members
came to make the documentary that is still relevant today.
The League also produced a book based on the material in the slide-tape
show. Copies of the book version of “Westford: A Sense of Community” are
available at the Westford Museum, 2 Boston Road, and at Muffins on Main,
40 Main St, Westford, and can be ordered online at lwv.westford.org.
Residents are invited to join the League in rediscovering this work about the
history of Westford.