Bits & Pieces with Rebecca Lavallee: Population

In 2021, Douglas celebrated its 275th Anniversary. During this anniversary, the idea of providing a supplemental update to the Time and Town: Douglas at 250 came to fruition. While we were unable to provide this supplement during the 275th, it has been decided that we will provide these updates in “Bits Pieces” through the library’s newsletters and website.

To understand where we were and where we are going, the first bit and piece of Douglas history to understand is our population.

Douglas could easily be described as a very large town that houses more trees than people. In 2020, Douglas’s 37.7 square miles ranked 53 out of 352 Massachusetts Municipalities in total square miles. That same year, our population of 8,983* ranked 194th. While some of this can be attributed to the fact that 8.63 square miles is State Forest, it cannot be argued that by today’s standards, Douglas is a sleepy little town.

The first official population statistic for Douglas of 1,878 inhabitants was reported in 1850. By 1970, 120 years later, the population of Douglas had increased by 1,069 inhabitants, an increase of 56.9%. By 2020, just 50 years later, Douglas’s population had increased over 200% since 1970 to 8,892 inhabitants. The majority of this population boom can be attributed to the 1990s, with a population increase of 49.5%. After the 1990s, the population has leveled off.

As we move forward in our exploration of Douglas, it will be interesting to see the impacts that our changes in population have had on our little town.

* The 2020 population was from the United States Census, while the Town of Douglas Annual Report had a population of 8,892.