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Digging up Wellesley's past: a new blog looks for untold stories

Posted by Evan Allen  January 9, 2013 03:29 PM

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Josh Dorin has always been a history nut – and he’s got a special place in his heart for Wellesley. So after he left teaching, the 30-year-old took his passion and turned it into a full-time hobby, starting a Wellesley history blog dedicated to uncovering long-buried stories.

“I’ve always been obsessed with the past and nostalgia. For some reason, history itself is what drives me,” said Dorin, who grew up in Wellesley.

Dorin started his blog just after Christmas. Each entry is meticulously researched – they take around three days apiece, he said, and long lists of sources appear at the bottom of each post.

One of the most unexpected pieces of history Dorin says he uncovered: the tale of Albert Jennings, member of the prominent Jennings family, who served as Wellesley’s Town Treasurer and who became embroiled in scandal in 1901 and 1902 after forging town notes.

He was found out, and eventually was found insane by the courts – twice. The story played out in Boston and New York media, according to Dorin, but the Wellesley papers stayed mostly silent.

“So here I am,” writes Dorin on his blog, “trying to bring this man back to life.”

But some of the most fascinating material Dorin says he has uncovered has yet to make it onto his blog.

“I could talk about race and gender, which I haven’t done yet,” he said.

To tackle sensitive subject material like that, he said, he wants to make sure he’s ready. Dorin wants to do more research before he delves into charged topics.

“There was slavery in Wellesley. Yet, at the same time, there were places in Wellesley that served as stops along the Underground Railroad,” he said. “I got the same thing with women’s suffrage, in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. There’s people on both sides. There’s women against suffrage.”

Dorin no longer lives in Wellesley, but his parents do, and he visits frequently. When he saw historic buildings like the old high school, country club and inn being torn down, he said, he felt the town was losing pieces of its past.

The blog, he said, is partly an attempt to educate people, and keep the rest of its history intact.

“The people that developed this town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s thought carefully about how to preserve its history,” he said. “Unfortunately, over the last few decades they have lost that. They’ve forgotten about the past they once had.”

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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