The Norman H. Read Charitable Trust was created to benefit the city of Salem, especially in the area of science education. The Read Fund, also set up in the city of Newton, provided for an "annual sleigh ride or picnic to the children, free lectures on scientific subjects, and books for the public library." In 1883, $40,000 was received from the estate of Charles A. Read of Newton. Charles had an affection for Salem because his family first lived here. Before he died, has asked his son Norman to remember the city in his will.When Read died he had no heirs. He bequeathed his fortune to the trust that has since given more than $3 million to the Salem Public Schools. Another stipulation for the funds was that portraits of Norman Read's father and grandfather (Charles and John) were to hang in the mayor's office at City hall.
Since 1884 the fund has paid for the Read Fund Picnics held at the Salem Willows for all Salem's school children. Children were welcome to all the entertainments at the Willows for the day and were provided a lunch as well.
Educated at Yale University in geology and chemistry, Norman Read was intrigued with science all his life. He believed we should encourage the advancement of science. A resident of Manchester-by-the-sea and New York, he was an avid mountaineer and skiier. He died at age 101 on Jan. 23, 1992, after making a fortune in oil and natural gas.
One of the programs funded was a Salem Educator's night at the Museum of Science, which highlighted the resources at the museum for teachers of science in the elementary grades. More recently,in 2009, the fund paid for all Salem residents to get one free admittance to the Museum of Science in the month of September and it funded a new aquaculture and hydroponics lab at the Salem High School. In 2011, the Read fund paid for a large salt-water aquarium sited at the front entrance of Salem High School. In 2013, the Read Fund paid for the renovations to the Science Discovery Center at Saltonstall School. When the school became a K-8 school there was a need for more science/technology equipment to be used by the upper grades.
At a recent Board of Trust Fund Committee meeting, it was decided due to low attendance and diminishing funds that the annual picnic at the Willows would be cancelled. The board will still fund educational initiatives in the Salem Schools.
- Vertical File in Salem Collection - Read Fund
- "New Read Fund to finance model science curriculum" Salem Evening News, Nov. 4, 1993, p. 13
- "Obituary, Norman H. Read, 101: Mountaineer, pilot in his 90's" Boston Globe, Jan. 28, 1992, p. 21
- "Texas oilman left fortune to boost science education in Salem"Salem News, May 13, 2009, p. 1
- "Live in Salem? Visit Museum of Science free" Salem News, Aug. 21, 2009, p. 1
- "Despite past aquarium problems, the Salem School says 'Tanks a lot' Salem News, June 8th, 2011, p.?
"Free end-of-school picnic in Salem is a thing of the past" Boston Sunday Globe, July 2, 2017, p. N5