Partnership of Historic Bostons

Donations allow the all–volunteer Partnership to continue its free programs.  You will become a Member of the Partnership of Historic Bostons for a donation of $35 or more.

Below are the themes of Charter Day from 2001 to 2017

2017  Medicine and Mortality in 17th-Century Boston

2016  Passionate Puritans: Marriage, Love, and Sex in 17th-Century Massachusetts

2015  Food and Drink in Early Boston


2014  Survival: Boston 1630


2013  Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts


2012  Stirring the Pot: Women in Early Massachusetts


2011  Built in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

           17th-Century Architecture Adapted to the New World


2010   Education: Enduring Legacies from Massachusetts


2009   Breaking Away: Evolution of Governance in the Massachusetts Bay Colony


2008   The Story of the Massachuseuk: In the Time Before Now


2007   Treasures of the Mass Bay Colony


2006   Boston’s Cultural Continuities and Changes Since 1630


2005   Shared Legacies:  The Founding Generations Tell Their Stories:

            Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630-1710


2004  Boston on Display: The Founding Generation


2003  The Environment


2002  Learning Today from the Lessons of the Past


2001  First Boston Charter Day following Governor Jane Swift’s proclaiming

          September 7 as Boston Charter Day 

Puritans Leave for New England
At the right is a stained glass window at St. Botolph's Church.  It shows John Cotton bidding members of his congregation farewell as they leave for New England. 
At the left is old Boston in new Boston.  The plaque next to the tracery says the following: 




Boston’s history as a major center of the western world began in 1630 when the Puritans settled in Boston and in the surrounding village communities and townships of The Massachusetts Bay Colony.  A small but very important group that gave the city its name came from the environs of Boston, Lincolnshire, England.  They were led by John Winthrop of Groton, Suffolk, who became the Colony’s first governor.


Among those who arrived with Winthrop on the Arbella or followed during the 1630s, were The Reverend John Cotton and members of his congregation at The Church of St. Botolph in Boston, Lincolnshire, including Governors Thomas Dudley, John Leverett, Richard Bellingham, and Simon Bradstreet. They and others who dominated the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s government for most of the rest of the 17th century also played central roles in the development of education and culture in the new Boston as the founders of Boston Latin School, America’s earliest public school; Harvard College; and the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.

Among Puritan women who made important contributions were two members of John Cotton’s church.  Anne Bradstreet, the wife of Simon Bradstreet and the daughter of Thomas Dudley, became America’s first published poet.  On the left is the stained glass window of Anne Bradstreet at St. Botolph.  Anne Hutchinson’s strong religious beliefs and controversial opinions made her, arguably, America’s first campaigner for women’s rights.

Partnership of Historic Bostons 

Rose A. Doherty, President 2014-2017

The last three years have seen tremendous growth in the public stature of the Partnership and in programmatic and administrative activities. In calendar years 2015 and 2016 over 1,000 people attended programs, and in 2017 over 1,100 attended PHB programs.  Under 400 people came to programs in 2014.

We now offer non-Charter Day lectures throughout the year.  The Partnership moved from tours on only on September 7 and CD Sunday to tours with multiple sections from April to November. The Partnership had 78 tour takers in 2012, 123 in 2013, 249 in 2016, 201 in 2017. Two new tours “Anne Hutchinson” and “Poxes and Prescriptions” were added inn 2016 and 2017 bringing the total number of tours to five.


The reading group program at Massachusetts Historical Society began in February 2015. Six programs each year allow the public to read and discuss primary sources and the latest scholarship frequently with the author in attendance. We have had outstanding scholars and have grown each year in stature and in the number of attendees. In 2016 we had 136 people attend discussions. That number increased to 225 people in 2017.


Developments included

  • approval of the roles and responsibilities of trustees
  • process for inviting/vetting new trustees
  • approval of the description of the advisor’s role and establishment of staggered terms
  • goals established in 2014 and succeeding years
    • calendar for planning Charter Day events
    • alternate day and evening meetings
    • annual reports in 2015 and 2016 and report in 2016 and 2017 to The Winthrop Society, our major donor
    • growth in Members from a handful in 2014 to dozens this year
    • committees for Member development, communications, reading group, and tours
    • new 2015 look of the website, which is constantly updated
    • social media outreach on Facebook and Twitter exceeded goals
    • continuing work with Boston, Lincolnshire
    • 22 contacts with other historic organizations in 2014 grew to over 70
    • wholesale and retail cook booklet sales have a bright future




Will Holton, Founding President  --  September 2014


During my two weeks in Boston, Lincolnshire in the summer of 1998 I met with local people interested in local history and tourism.  Those meetings educated me about the original Boston and its historical ties to our Boston.  Alan Day, a Blue Badge Guide and the Mayor of Boston at the time, attended all four meetings and began to plan a visit to Boston, Massachusetts in August.  Before my visit there Mayor Day suggested making the two Boston’s “Sister Cities.”


Mayor Day met Mayor Menino, and we learned that our Mayor felt he already had too many Sister Cities with which to deal.  Discussions with people here led John Sears of Beacon Hill to say, “You can have many sisters, but only one mother!”   Plans went forward, and in the fall of 1999 the Mayors of both Bostons signed an agreement between the Mother Town and Daughter City.  The Partnership in Lincolnshire is led by Judy Cammack, a former Mayor of the town.  In our Boston the organizational meetings were at the Four Seasons Hotel because the Manager, Robin Brown, had grown up in Boston, England.   Early on, participants included John Sears, Leo Collins, Charles and Miriam Butts, Ralph Buonopane, Rose Doherty, Chris Peterson, and others. 


The Boston Charter Day tradition was started by the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Rappaport Foundation in about 2000, with the Partnership playing a minor role for three years.  Then the original founders lost interest, and our Partnership took over, expanding the Boston Charter Day celebration each September.  We select a new theme each year relating to the early colonial period and include all of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  Highlights include “We Are the Massachuset” on Native American legacies in 2008, and the celebrations for the past three years::”Women in Early Massachusetts,” “Crime and Punishment in early Massachusetts,” and “Survival: Boston 1630.”


From our beginning with Boston Charter Day we developed partnerships with larger organizations sharing similar interests that provide cosponsored programs, venues, speakers, and exhibits on our themes.  We owe thanks to the First Church Boston, The Bostonian Society, the Commonwealth Museum, the Congregational Library, the Boston Public Library, and other nonprofits.  This allows us to mount impressive programs on small budgets.  In 2008 and 2012, Rose Doherty wrote grant proposals that brought us vital small grants from MassHumanities.


In 2001, when Mayor George Danby from Lincolnshire visited our Boston and signed an agreement with Mayor Menino, we produced a travelling exhibit called “St. Botolph’s Town” that has been displayed in many libraries, museums, schools, and other locations in Eastern Massachusetts.  A committee planned the “kiosk” that stands seven feet tall, a technician at Northeastern University, did the computer work and printing, and Vice President Ralph Buonopane built the fine wooden frame in his basement.  There are now permanent installations in our Boston Latin School and St, Botolph’s Church in Lincolnshire. Large and table-top versions of the kiosk are now available for use to educate the public.


In recent years our Partnership has an excellent website and Facebook page, managed by Ralph Buopnopane and Rose Doherty, respectively.  Our Charter Day audiences are larger, younger, and more diverse ethnically because we have hired Karin Turer of Tugboat 23 to do our publicity.  She has used social media and linked us with the e-mail newsletters of several organizations, and used a free reservation system that also allows people to make on-line donations.


Our Board is very active with monthly meetings.  A new member in 2013, Sarah Stewart, has contributed greatly to the creation of two new and successful walking tours.  With Rose Doherty willing to serve as our President, now is the time for me to take on other roles with The Partnership of the Historic Bostons.  I know that it has a very hopeful future.

Tribute to the Founding President  

Whereas Wilfred E. Holton is a founding member of the Partnership of the Historic Bostons, Inc.

Whereas he served as founding president and guiding light for fifteen years.

Whereas he is responsible for the enduring relationship between Boston, England and Boston, Massachusetts.

Whereas he championed the Puritan Path, which is now a reality at St. Botolph’s.

Whereas he spearheaded the creation of three walking tours of seventeenth–century Boston.

Whereas he established and wrote the Partnership newsletter and contributed to The Boston Bulletin.

Whereas he has developed relationships with multiple institutions in both Bostons to further and promote knowledge of both seventeenth–century Bostons.

Whereas he has given generously of his time, and energy, and resources.


The Board of the Partnership of the Historic Bostons, Inc. extends its heartfelt gratitude and admiration on this 22nd day of September, 2014.  The Board expresses its gratitude for his friendship and welcomes his continuing contributions. 

Follow Us On: