Friday, July 29, 2022

Day Five of the "Path of the Pilgrims" Tour by the GSMD

Day One:  

Day Two:  

Day Three:  

Day Four:  

Day Five, our last day of the tour, includes The Massachusetts State Library to view the original Bradford Journal, and the Boston Tea Party Museum: 

The Massachusetts State House, Boston, Massachusetts

This column marks where the
original Beacon stood on top
of Beacon Hill

The Massachusetts State Library

The reference desk inside the state library

Yours truly with a facsimile of Bradford's journal
open to the page where he lists the Mayflower passengers

The original journal (under glass) open to the same page listing families

In William Bradford's own handwriting,
he listed the Allerton family, my ancestors

Yours truly, examining
Bradford's journal under glass

Everyone had to wake up early for the last day of the tour, to beat the traffic into Boston.  But it was well worth it because we had a special appointment arranged just for us at the Massachusetts State Library, which is located inside the Statehouse on Beacon Hill in Boston.  I had never been inside the Massachusetts State Library.  However, the special treat was not just seeing the library, it was seeing the original journal written by William Bradford documenting the Pilgrim's voyage to the new world and their early days in the Plymouth colony!

The Bradford journal originally had been kept by his family, and later it was stored in the Old South Meetinghouse in Boston for safekeeping. During the British occupation of Boston during the Revolution, the English soldiers looted the Old South and used the building as a horse stable. This manuscript was considered lost. In the middle of the 19th century the journal was found in England and returned to Massachusetts.  

Bradford's journal had not been viewed by the public in over five years.  Originally it was set to be displayed for the 400th anniversary commemoration of the arrival of the Mayflower, but those plans were cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.  A fine display case was built, and we were able to see the journal in this case.  It was very thrilling to see his journal first hand.  The staff knew we were all descendants, and they kindly opened his journal to the pages near the end of the book where he listed the original families.  We all had fun pointing to our own ancestors names inscribed on the pages.  

There were also three exact duplicates of the Bradford journal on the table. We were allowed to handle these duplicate versions, and turn the pages.  Of course I flipped through the books looking for references to my own ancestors.  

This was a very exciting part of the tour!  What a great finale for a great trip this week!  I'm so glad we had the chance to participate in this special viewing of the Bradford manuscript. 

The Boston Tea Party Museum

Our last stop on the tour was to visit the Boston Tea Party Museum.  This is more of an educational "experience" than a museum, and we had never been to it before. Isn't that always the way when you live right near a historic site? This part of the tour had nothing to do with the Mayflower or the Pilgrims, but it was a lot of fun and I was glad it was part of the tour (or I'd still never have experienced it!)

Our "identities" as participants in the Tea Party

"Sam Adams" rallied the crowd with a speech

Audience participation in the debates over the tea

Throwing the tea overboard!

Vincent chose to be a "Son of Liberty"

Tea floating in Boston Harbor

The Boston Tea Party Museum is an interactive experience that starts with a meetinghouse where the audience listens to Sam Adams lecture on the problem at hand, taxation and the East India Tea Company.  Every audience member is given an identity as a citizen of Boston, some are loyal to the crown and some are patriots. After riling up the emotions, we stormed out of the meeting to board the ship Eleanor and throw the tea overboard. This was the fun part of the tour, and not just for the children - everyone who wanted to toss tea had a chance! 

After visiting the tea laden ship, there were several galleries to view with interactive exhibits.  One had actual artifacts from the Tea Party, including a tea chest that had washed ashore soon after the protest, and a vial of actual tea taken from one of the chests.  Other galleries showed citizens of Boston debating both sides of the conflict.  One gallery that Vincent especially enjoyed had the paintings on the wall come to life to argue both sides - a portrait of King George III included.  The last gallery showed how the tea protest finally led up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and thus the American Revolution. 

This museum also had a great gift shop, and a very nice tea room with a view of the harbor and two replica ships tied up to the museum. I'd love to go back soon and try the tearoom! Although it had nothing to do with the Pilgrims, I'm glad the Tea Party museum was included in our tour. 

For the truly curious: 

The Massachusetts State Library:  and this webpage has a digitized version of Bradford's journal:  

The Boston Tea Party Museum:  


To cite/link to this blog post: Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Day Five of the "Path of the Pilgrims" Tour by the GSMD", Nutfield Genealogy, posted July 29, 2022, ( accessed [access date]). 

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