The Fitchburg Historical Society honors two of its own – Sentinel and Enterprise



FITCHBURG – Two residents of the city were recently honored by the Massachusetts Historical Alliance for their accomplishments in local history and their outstanding contributions to the research and understanding of history within their community.

Joy Contois of the Fitchburg Historical Society, posthumously received the MHA Star Award for her significant contribution to the teaching of public history in Fitchburg and about Fitchburg. She died in 2016.

George Mirijanian also received the MHA Star Award for his public research work and broad sharing of his encyclopedic knowledge of Fitchburg history and former residents.

The mission of the Massachusetts History Alliance and its annual conference is to support and defend all public history organizations and their work in Massachusetts.

“Joy Contois was nominated by the Fitchburg Historical Society for creating hands-on, experiential learning projects that are popular for all elementary school children in Fitchburg,†said Susan Navarre, Executive Director of the Historical Society.

For many years, every fifth year of Fitchburg learned archeology by helping with a true historical dig, under the direction of Contois, she said.

“Perhaps the best known was the archaeological dig at the site of the remains of the Coggshall House in Fitchburg,†Navarre added.

“We are proud of the educational program that Joy created at the Fitchburg Historical Society, which has helped children learn by doing,†said Amy Green, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Fitchburg Historical Society.

Contois also led walking and historic streetcar tours throughout the city of Fitchburg for the Historical Society, according to Green.

She was well known to Fitchburg seniors for her classes in the ALFA program at Fitchburg State University. The most recent was offered only five years ago and introduced participants to historical research using primary sources at the Fitchburg Historical Society, according to Navarre.

Contois also created a television show on the history of Fitchburg which aired on Fitchburg Access Television.

“She was also one of the authors of the book ‘Legendary Locals of Fitchburg’, published by the Fitchburg Historical Society in 2014,†Navarre said. “Finally, she helped the board of directors envision the educational resources that the Historical Society would develop in its new headquarters in the Phoenix building on Main Street, at a time when the building was still in the process of being acquired and developed. update.”

George Mirijanian received the MHA Star Award for his public work in researching and sharing his encyclopedic knowledge of Fitchburg history and former residents.

Writer / researcher George Mirijanian received an MHA Star Award for his extraordinary research skills and generosity in sharing his enthusiasm for Fitchburg with the public.

“In recent years, and especially since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, he has spent countless hours sharing his historical and genealogical research online via the Historical Society’s discussion group on Facebook,” he said. declared Navarre.

He is the veteran director of the Wachusett Chess Club and a member of the board of directors of FATV, where he hosts the popular chess show “Chess Chat”.

A long-time chess journalist, Mirijanian was the editor of the Sentinel and Enterprise obituaries from 1993 to 2002. During this time he prepared over 20,000 obituaries for local and regional populations. , as well as for well-known national and international personalities. .

“He is an invaluable researcher of the history of Fitchburg for the social media sites of the Fitchburg Historical Society,†added Navarre.

“My interest in history dates back to my elementary school years and has always continued,†said Mirijanian. “I have always been a firm believer that local history should be taught in public schools and should be part of the school curriculum.”

Mirijanian believes that thousands of people in Fitchburg have contributed to its successful development and progress, by setting up businesses, serving in the public sphere, or defending the arts, culture, and social organizations.

“The history of these people should be taught,†he said. “There is a lot to learn from knowing who they were and what they did.”

The mission of the Fitchburg Historical Society is to preserve, protect and interpret the history of Fitchburg.

“The Fitchburg Historical Society can better serve the community when we have the help of enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers like George and Joy,†Navarre said. “Fitchburg has had a particularly varied and cosmopolitan history. There is no way to keep track of all of this except by working together as a team.

The Fitchburg Historical Society is located at 781 Main Street. For more information, visit or call 978-345-1157.


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