J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

More than Puffy Shirts and Bells

This is a photograph from Hillsborough, New Hampshire’s first New England Town Crier competition, held this past July and promoted by the American Guild of Town Criers. The event was covered by WBUR-FM’s curious sports show, Only a Game, with an online slide show and audio podcast.

I had occasion to look into town criers earlier this year as we were planning the reenactment of the Boston Massacre. Boston had an officially designated crier during the Revolutionary period. But he wasn’t a town employee, like the watchmen, and most of his announcements weren’t official news.

Rather, I concluded that the town crier was a man who’d won the selectmen’s approval to make loud announcements for private clients, and in particular urgent situations. Over the next couple of days I’ll share what I found.

1 comment:

Heather Rojo said...

We attended a very large town crier contest in the very unlikely town of LaConner, Washington. It was a whole weekend affair, with contestants from all over the US and Canada. It seems that some of the contestants made a living of traveling around to these weekends. I had never heard of one of these contests before, and I would have loved to have seen this recent one since I live in New Hampshire.