The Marine Biological Laboratory - Woods Hole Community

Oral History Project

As a part of the MBL History Project, oral histories have been collected from individuals working at the MBL and Woods Hole community members. These videos can be found by clicking here.

Children's School of Science

The Children’s School of Science was founded in 1913 by Frances Lillie (the wife of the MBL’s second director, Frank R. Lillie) and Dr. Lilian Morgan (the esteemed scientist and wife of Nobel Prize winner, Thomas Hunt Morgan) as a place for the children of summer scientists and residents of Woods Hole. The school continues to offer courses which adhere to the mantra of 19th century zoologist Louis Agassiz that was foundational to the formation of the MBL: “Study nature, not books”. Children today, much like at the start of the school, experience the natural world around Woods Hole through field trips, dynamic and interactive classes, and direct observations of specimens. The school is open to all children, ages 7 to 16, and provides 3- and 6-week course options throughout the summer. More information about the Children's School of Science can be found here.

Social Scene

The MBL Club hosted events like mixers that were considered the place to be. In 1927 the Collecting Net (an MBL publication of local and course news) says of one of these mixers that it started the season off “auspiciously” (Collecting Net 1927, p. 1). In days past, the mixer at the MBL club was the start of the social season in Woods Hole, as can be seen across many issues of the Collecting Net. Other local spots have provided other gathering spaces for MBL scientists and Woods Hole community members, including the Church of the Messiah, an Episcopal church in Woods Hole (Collecting Net 1927, p. 4).

In addition to mixers and social gatherings, there have been many events and organized groups that have joined MBL science with the Woods Hole community. In 1928 the University Players Guild was established. This theatre troupe was a collaboration between the Harvard Dramatic Club and the Princeton Theatre. The University Players Guild produced plays at the Elizabeth Theatre in Falmouth. The players were a mix of students from Universities in the North East. There were other theater events through the summer, and there were music groups as well. The Woods Hole Choral Club included MBL scientists and local Woods Hole community members. There was also a Summer Stock in Woods Hole with theatre and music in Woods Hole and Falmouth. The Woods Hole Cantata Concert was established in Woods Hole with representatives from the MBL taking part. In 1973 Ezra Laderman, a Yale music professor, worked with instrumentalists in the Woods Hole area to put on Bach’s Branderburg Concerto #4. The group was officially founded by Elizabeth Davis and Phyllis Goldstein. According the Cantata history “the Woods Hole Cantata Consort was for thirty years a featured part of an annual series of summer concerts, under the aegis of the Marine Biological Laboratory at the MBL Club” (Woods Hole Cantata ND). Every year, Woods Hole boasts one of the most colorful and amusing parades for the 4th of July. Course participants put together rousing costumes and coordinated dances to show off their favorite branch of the biological sciences, and then march down Water Street where they are both joined by and cheered on by members of the Woods Hole community.

For more information on the social history of the MBL and the Woods Hole community, delve into some of the Collecting Net Issues by clicking here.