The Somerville Museum’s ‘Union Square at Work’ wins award

On September 7, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

The Somerville Museum and Charan Devereaux’s project “Union Square at Work: Photographs, Stories and Music from Somerville’s Oldest Commercial District” has been honored by The American Association for State and Local History.

By Rebecca Danvers

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) has announced that the Somerville Museum and Charan Devereaux are recipients of an Award of Merit for the special project Union Square at Work: Photographs, Stories and Music from Somerville’s Oldest Commercial District.

The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 72nd year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. Union Square at Work is a revealing, visually stunning exhibit of photographs of the oldest commercial district in Somerville, paired with histories of local businesses and historic photographs.

In conjunction with the exhibit at the Somerville Museum, the project also orchestrated a series of local economic history lectures and panel discussions across the community, as well as concerts by Union Square’s working musicians. In addition, the project released the Union Square Somerville Playlist, a collection of 20 songs by 20 Union Square bands and musicians in October 2016, now sold at retail locations around Union Square.

Presented at the Somerville Museum and later at the Massachusetts State House, the exhibition was critically acclaimed as historically important, not only for documenting a section of Somerville that is undergoing vast change, but also for its powerful stories about family businesses, immigration and economic transitions in neighborhoods.

A photographer, writer and producer, Devereaux utilized the Somerville Museum’s collections along with the collections of Historic New England, the DeCordova Museum, the American Textile History Museum, Boston Public Library, Somerville Library, Harvard University and the Library of Congress to place the stories and images of Union Square in the context of over 200 years of economic development.

The Museum and Devereaux wish to thank all of the participating Union Square business owners and employees, non-profit staff members, artists, volunteers and supporters for their contributions in bringing this project to reality. Special thanks to support from Mass Humanities, the Somerville Arts Council/Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Club Passim Iguana Fund, State Representative Denise Provost, the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Gavin Kleespies, and the members of the Somerville Museum.

For more information, visit To view a selection of photographs from Union Square at Work, visit For more information on the Union Square Playlist and events visit

This year, AASLH is proud to confer 48 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history. Presentation of the awards will be made at a special banquet during the 2017 AASLH Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on Friday, September 8. The banquet is supported by a generous contribution from the History Channel.


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