Description: New England folklorist John Horrigan presents an overview of the temblors that shook New England from 1638 through 1800. The slide show presentation and lecture focuses on the impact of earthquakes on New England and its early settlers. Discussion will include the temblors of the 16th century (as relayed to Roger Williams by Native Inhabitants), the earthquakes felt in Boston in 1638 and 1663, the Concord/Bulkeley earthquake of 1653, the Littleton Shaker of 1668, the Brockton Earthquake of 1697, the Great Cape Ann Earthquakes of 1727, 1744 and 1755 and the Harvard Earthquake Riot of 1768. The talk will conclude with a brief interlude on the "Boston Rattle of 1800". Some poems related to the events will be recited and Horrigan will digress about the limited impact on Boston from the New Madrid Seismic Events of 1811 and 1812.
1755 Earthquake in Cape Ann, Massachusetts (Image courtesy of Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California at Berkeley).
1744 Earthquake in Boston (Image courtesy of Earthquake Engineering Research Center, University of California at Berkeley).
The epicenters of major earthquakes in New England.
Active seismic regions of New England.
Roger Williams learned of several earthquakes that struck New England in the 16th century while conversing with American Native tribes such as the Wampanoag.
Recorded on May 9th, 2007 at Stricom Productions in Franklin, Massachusetts. John teams up with producer Steve Russo to make an audio track about an earthquake in the late 17th century in Boston, Massachusetts. Listen for Cotton Mather as he pleads for God's mercy.
Recorded on January 1st, 2007 in Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads from a diary written by Dr. Nathaniel Ames about an "Earthquake Riot" at Harvard College in 1761 whereby some underclassmen ran about the streets yelling "earthquake!!!" and were subsequently punished and demoted.
Recorded on January 2nd, 2008 in Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads a 1729 letter from Rev. Stephen Hosmer about "fearful and dreadful sounds that unnerve locals" in Moodus, Connecticut. Time is 4:21, Size 4 MB