Michael Perna Jr
Shrewsbury Town Historian
In the early 1980s, I became interested in Civil War history, which was a natural progression due to an interest in all things military starting at a young age. After a number of years spent researching and collecting Civil War material, I began to wonder what part Shrewsbury and its residents played in the war. A few years later, the Civil War Round Table of Central MA published my research in a booklet entitled “Shrewsbury in the Civil War” (1986). Within a few more years, I had become very involved in the Shrewsbury Historical Society. At that time, the society hosted an annual antique show and sale, with society members helping to sell tickets, set up vendor’s booths and so on.
At one of these sales, I stopped by the booth of society member Harry Cutting. He had a single antique postcard for sale, showing the “old” Town Hall on it. I had never seen anything like this! I inquired about it and he said, “Oh, there are lots of those type postcards around. You should talk to (another society member) Warren Higgins – he collects them and knows where to get them.”
The rest, as the saying goes… is history! That one card led to 30+ years of collecting Shrewsbury and Lake Quinsigamond artifacts and associated research, which continues to this day.
Michael Perna Jr. is a life-long resident of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and a 1968 graduate of Shrewsbury High School. He retired from the Massachusetts Air National Guard in July 2004 as a Senior Master Sergeant with thirty-six years of service. He was a member of the 212th Engineering Installation Squadron, based in Worcester and later Milford, serving as the unit’s First Sergeant for twelve years.
Since 2004, he has served as the Chief of the Military Records Branch for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which is located in Milford, MA where he is responsible for oversight and processing of all Massachusetts veteran’s records from World War II to the present.
Michael is an avid historian, researching material dealing with both Shrewsbury and Lake Quinsigamond. He has written five books: “Shrewsbury in the Civil War” (1986), “Remembering Lake Quinsigamond – From Steamboats to White City,” (Chandler House Press, Worcester, MA – 1998) and the Arcadia books “Shrewsbury” (2001), “Lake Quinsigamond and White City Park” (2005) and “Shrewsbury Through Time” (2014).
He is married and has two children and four grandchildren. Michael is a past president, director, and assistant curator of the Shrewsbury Historical Society. He was a member of the town of Shrewsbury’s Historic District Commission for 20 years and is currently a member of the Shrewsbury Historical Commission. He was appointed as Shrewsbury Town Historian in 2017, and is currently completing work on a sixth book – “Shrewsbury Through Time – Volume II” – along with his grandchildren, which should be published in the Fall of 2019.