When I was examining the items that were found in the time capsule, I was able to organize them into four categories: materials associated with the 1901 restoration of the Old State House, materials that pertained to Boston newspapers, items representing the Grand Army of the Republic, and items that related to local and national politics. However, there was one item that didn't fit into any of these categories - a bill for tuition and one piece of music, dated January 1, 1901 and addressed to John A. Silver. When the news picked up the story of the time capsule last year, this seemingly random document didn't get any coverage and it wasn't included in our temporary exhibit of time capsule items.
|John Silver cabinet card|
|Bill for tuition and one piece of music, 1901|
It seems likely that this would be a tuition bill for one of Silver's children, but confirming that would require additional research. As such, I searched the 1900 Federal Census and found a listing for a John A. W. Silver, with a birth date and occupation that matched the man I was researching. From the census, I learned that he was born in Maine, his father was born in England and his mother was born in Pennsylvania. His wife, Cora, was born in New Hampshire in June 1862. John and Cora were married in 1884, and the census also confirmed what I suspected, that they had one son, Earl, born in November 1888. As a twelve year old at the time that the tuition bill was issued, it seems very likely that the music lessons were for him to study under Alcide de Andria.
My co-worker joked that this additional information about the Silver family has made "history come alive!" and I have to agree with her. Learning more about the men who assembled the time capsule reminds us that these were real people, who had families, went to work, supported their children's extracurricular activities, and essentially, were not all that different from Bostonians today. October is Archives Month, designated as such by the Society of American Archivists to raise awareness about the value of archives. Celebrate by using primary sources to learn more about your own family history, or by delving deeper into a topic that interests you. I might be slightly biased, but I believe that it's really through archival materials that we can connect to history to make it truly come alive.
By Elizabeth Roscio, Library and Archives Manager