History of the Town of Carlisle, MA, 1754-1920
The earliest history of Carlisle, History of the Town of Carlisle, Massachusetts, 1754-1920, was written by Sidney A. Bull and published in 1920. Mr. Bull was a prominent Carlisle citizen, serving at different times as selectman, auditor, tax collector, library trustee, postmaster, and proprietor of the town’s only store. Thus, his history is full of detail, especially his biographies of certain families, including his own. Moreover, his history is a meticulous work, reflecting the personality of its author, who evidently took all of his undertakings very seriously, as revealed from the tone of his writing.
Old Houses and Old Families of Carlisle, MA
The second history of Carlisle to appear was called Old Houses and Old Families of Carlisle, Massachusetts. The history comprises 25 (!) loose-leaf binders compiled by Martha Fifield Wilkins and donated to the Gleason Library in 1941. The entire collection has been copied in digital form and is now available on the Gleason Library’s website. During the 1930s, Ms. Wilkins, wife of a minister of the Carlisle Congregational Church, took as her starting point Carlisle houses built before 1830. For each house, she traced the histories of the families that had occupied them since earliest times. Not only do we have her handwritten compositions but also 495 photographs of houses and people, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia from the last two centuries. It is a rich and warm account of local history, including colorful descriptions of events and traditions, and interesting tales and anecdotes.
Carlisle, Composite Community: Historical Facts concerning the Settlers in Present Carlisle, MA, in the Colonial Period
In 1974 Donald A. Lapham, a lifelong resident of Carlisle, published a small book called Carlisle Composite Community: Historical Facts concerning the Settlers in Present Carlisle, Massachusetts, in the Colonial Period. His point with this ponderous title was that in colonial times Carlisle did not exist – it was only created later when surrounding towns agreed that what had formerly been a district of Concord could be incorporated as a separate town. Mr. Lapham’s book contains a most informative map showing the home sites of many (he does not assert all) of the early settlers. He traces ownership of the lots, indicating the succession of owners as they evolved over the decades.
Carlisle: Its History and Heritage
Not long afterward, in 1976, the year of America’s bicentennial celebration, Ruth Chamberlain Wilkins, another lifelong resident, completed Carlisle: Its History and Heritage, which was published by the Carlisle Historical Society. (The book was revised and republished in 2002.) It surveys Carlisle’s history from the early settlements until the mid-1970s, including the town’s government, economy, religions, community institutions, and involvement in the Revolution, Civil War, and World Wars. Spanning such a long period, the book makes vivid Carlisle’s transition from a farming community to the thriving suburb we live in today.
Images of America: Carlisle
Finally, there is Images of America: Carlisle, compiled by the Carlisle Historical Society for the series published by Arcadia Publishing Company (2005). It is chiefly a book of photographs from the Society and Gleason Public Library, as well as from private collections, and it recounts Carlisle’s history with the vividness that only images can convey.