Forty years past: Remembering the Blizzard of ’78

On February 5, 1978, a storm of historic proportion hit the northeastern United States. The Blizzard of ’78 slammed into Massachusetts, stranding thousands and inflicting millions of dollars in damage. The snow brought the state to a week-long standstill as residents banded together to take stock of the damage and clear debris.

Many citizens from across the state have vivid memories of the storm, and Mass. Memories Road Show events over the past decade provided individuals with a chance to preserve their experiences and stories.

Washington Street near Lake Street, Brighton, week of the blizzard of '78. 'During the blizzard of 1978, not only was there an epic amount of snow, but it was unique for the near shutdown of the Boston region for a week. A few days after the storm I took a walk with my camera along the streets of the neighborhood, where no cars were allowed, only people.' Contributor: Charlie Vasiliades

Washington Street near Lake Street, Brighton, week of the blizzard of ’78. ‘During the blizzard of 1978, not only was there an epic amount of snow, but it was unique for the near shutdown of the Boston region for a week. A few days after the storm I took a walk with my camera along the streets of the neighborhood, where no cars were allowed, only people.’ Contributor: Charlie Vasiliades.

 

Photographs in the Mass. Memories Road Show collection commemorate personal losses and sacrifice brought about by the storm.

High tide February 1978 blizzard. 'High tide brought the water level to the edge of MacMillan Wharf, boats almost floating to the pier. My husband (deceased 2011) Anthony Jackett was the owner of the 'Plymouth Belle,' a commercial dragger rigged with top mast for swordfishing. This was the weekend the 'Capt. Bill' was lost at sea. Captain Ralph Andrews and all his crew were lost. Location: MacMillan Wharf.' Contributor: Priscilla Jackett

High tide February 1978 blizzard. ‘High tide brought the water level to the edge of MacMillan Wharf, boats almost floating to the pier. My husband (deceased 2011) Anthony Jackett was the owner of the ‘Plymouth Belle,’ a commercial dragger rigged with top mast for swordfishing. This was the weekend the ‘Capt. Bill’ was lost at sea. Captain Ralph Andrews and all his crew were lost. Location: MacMillan Wharf.’ Contributor: Priscilla Jackett.

 

Other images and stories record residents at work and at play after the blizzard, as community members got back on their feet.

Fighting fire through the Blizzard of 1978. 'My father-in-law, Eugene H. Lorden, Jr.: Deputy Chief, coming up to a home to put out a fire in a stove. Deputy Eugene Lorden would fight through anything to help anyone. That's what impressed me about him.' Contributor: Bill Neville

Fighting fire through the Blizzard of 1978. ‘My father-in-law, Eugene H. Lorden, Jr.: Deputy Chief, coming up to a home to put out a fire in a stove. Deputy Eugene Lorden would fight through anything to help anyone. That’s what impressed me about him.’ Contributor: Bill Neville.

 

See more photos of the Blizzard of ’78 from the Mass. Memories Road Show here.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide digital history project that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 10,000 photographs, videos, and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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