22 Bedford Road
Carlisle, MA 01741

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For a century, what is now the Hollis Room was the home of the collections of the Carlisle Historical Society and the Gleason Public Library. When the library renovation was completed in the summer of 2000, the collections were separated. The Carlisle Historical Society now houses their object and document collections in their headquarters, the Heald Homestead.

In 2002 the materials in the Gleason Public Library's archives were processed and arranged. A finding aid is available to assist researchers in locating materials. The collection contains documents and records unique to Carlisle that are of interest to researchers and genealogists.


Civil War Flag

Collection History
In 1916, W. Irving Heald, formerly of Carlisle, gifted the Town of Carlisle under management of the Gleason Public Library, with a valuable collection of approximately one hundred Civil War artifacts, the majority of which may have been salvaged from the fields of the Battle of Gettysburg. Heald had purchased the collection in 1890 from Joel Danner, a resident and museum/shop owner located in Gettysburg, PA. Additional pieces owned by Joel Danner were subsequently sold and now comprise a large part of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center collections.

Since 1916, the Gleason Public Library has been responsible for the collection on behalf of the Town of Carlisle. For many years the collection was displayed in the Library’s Reading Room and stored in the Library’s attic. When the Library’s renovation began in 1999, the collection was put into offsite storage. In 2001, the Library gave the Carlisle Historical Society temporary custody of the collection to house in Heald House.

Over the years, the collection has deteriorated, due in large part to the passage of time, but also due to poor storage and handling conditions. In 2013 the Library began a yearlong investigation into the best options available for the long-term preservation of the collection. In 2015, thanks to the generosity of the residents of Carlisle through the Community Preservation Act, the Library received a grant to conserve items in the collection, including the flag. The following has been completed to help bring the collection into archival quality:

  • Textile conservator was hired to preserve three textiles, including the Civil War flag
  • Arms conservator was hired to preserve thirty-four non-textile and non-leather items
  • Leather conservator was hired to preserve seven leather objects
  • Museum software was purchased to catalog the collection
  • Photographer was hired to photograph the collection for digitization
  • Off-site archival quality storage space was purchased to store items safely

The collection will be safely stored in environmentally stable conditions (with proper temperature and humidity controls) within an archival storage facility. The library director and project manager of the collection, in consultation with the Carlisle Historical Society, will rotate artifacts out of the storage facility every 3 to 4 months to put on exhibit at Heald House or the Gleason Library. Exhibiting only a handful of artifacts at a time will allow the library to highlight the background of individual objects through research and display, and use them relationally to connect with Carlisle’s own history. The collection will remain in stable condition for Carlisleans to discover and learn from for years to come.

Wilkins Notebooks

WILKINS NOTEBOOKS (Old Houses and Families of Carlisle): NOW ONLINE

The core of the Gleason's local history collection is the 25 volumes of the Wilkins' Notebooks (Old Houses and Families of Carlisle), researched, written, and assembled by Martha Fifield Wilkins during her tenure in Carlisle as the wife of the minister of the Congregational Church. The result of over a decade of research, the Notebooks contain local history and lore, genealogies, photographs, poems and drawings, and a wealth of information illustrating the history of Carlisle.

In 2012, the Wilkins Notebooks were digitized through the Internet Archive in cooperation with the Boston Public Library, supported by a grant the BPL received from the MBLC (Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners) and funded by the LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act). You can flip through the notebooks online, or download a copy to your computer.


Town Histories

Military Histories

Vital Records to 1850 for Carlisle and surrounding towns

The Wilkins Notebooks and the History of the First Parish Church - now available in full online at the Internet Archive:

Photograph Collection

Lewis French Collection

Old Home Day Collection

Numerous small local history document collections

Carlisle Mosquito: print and microfilm

Carlisle Journal/Concord Journal Scrapbooks


This guide provides a list of print resources at the Gleason Public Library for researching Carlisle's history. The guide is in pdf format. Carlisle History Guide


A listing of maps housed in special collections.
In pdf format Map Collection


Subject Date Available Formats
Cal Adrian 1987 audiocassette
Herb Bates 1987 audiocassette
Father James Byrne 1987 audiocassette, transcript
Guy Clark 1995 videocassette, audiocassette, transcript, DVD copy (request)
Kathy Coyle2010DVD (request)
Cutter Home 1998 videocassette, DVD copy (request)
James (Jim) Davis 2002 audiocassette, transcript
Rachel Page Elliott 1997 videocassette, audiocassette, DVD copy (request)
Garthe Family 1985 audiocassette & genealogy
Great Brook Farm 1998 audiocassette, transcript, DVD copy (request)
Anna P. Johnson 1996 videocassette, audiocassette, transcript, DVD copy (request)
Inga MacRae 1996 videocassette, audiocassette, transcript, DVD copy (request)
Sharing stories: an oral history about Ellen Miller2010DVD (request)
Al Peckham 1986 audiocassette
Beulah Swanson 1996 videocassette, transcript, DVD copy (request)
Helen L. Wilkie 1996 videocassette, audiocassette, DVD copy (request)


Mary Green in Hollis Room

Gleason Public Library Special Collections is located in the Hollis Room.


Click here for our special collections policy, including mission statement, image reproductions, loans, and more.