February 6, 2010

You See, She Was Addicted to Facts

Annie Haven Thwing (1851-1940), was the daughter of Supply Clap and Anne Shapleigh Haven Thwing, and was born and raised on Fort Hill in Roxbury, Massachusetts. She was an historian and children's author, and her book The Crooked and Narrow Streets of the Town of Boston 1630-1822 has become not just a fascinating read, but indispensible to Boston historians. When asked what prompted this masive research project, she was quoted as saying that it was simplty "to find out where my ancestors lived, who were their neighbors, and what the neighborhood was like." The result of this project and its interrelated research made her blighthly say that she had become "addicted to facts."
Miss Thwing compiled an enormous card index of subjects related to the history of Boston, which she donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society, where the cards occupied seventy-four library drawers in the catalog room. She also created a 3-dimensional model of the town of Boston as it appeared in 1775, based on her meticulous research. This model featured the eighteenth-century street pattern she had so carefully researched over the previous years and had over one hundred handcarved building replicas, and was carved by a carpenter by the name of Munsey who lived on Orr's Island, Maine, where the Thwing Family had a summerhouse. The massive model of the Town of Boston is now on public display at the Old South Meeting House, and still fascinates adults and children alike.
However her book on the streets of Boston which by 1920 had reached the Boston Globe best-seller list, and has gone through numerous reprints. Miss Thwing also wrote a book for children, Chicken Little, with illustrations by Nelly Littlehale Umbstaetter, which appeared in 1899.
The Thwing Lot is on Cherry Avenue, with a simple slate headstone surmouting a terraced hill on natural looking grass terraces.

1 comment:

Mary Claffey said...

You may be interested to know that the Massachusetts Historical Society converted the The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston into the Thwing Index, an electronic database available to researchers who visit the MHS (also available for purchase on CD-ROM.) More information here:http://www.masshist.org/library_collections/databases.cfm