Jack Hauck grew up in Bloomfield, N.J., near a factory that produced Bakelite, one of the earliest forms of plastic.
His interest in that material and its production led to a 30-year career reporting on the plastics industry for trade magazines.
“I wrote an article about the first plastic heart back in the 1960s,” he said.
After retiring 12 years ago, at which point he was working as a publicist, Hauck again applied his curiosity to his surroundings. He started by researching and writing about The Maples, the senior residence in Wenham where he was living, then continued to explore local history.
The result, “Treasures of Wenham History,” numbers 900 pages and is posted at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library’s website, www.hwlibrary.org.
There are 33 chapters, five of which have yet to be written, on topics ranging from the first settlers to the Claflin-Richards House.
Hauck also profiled several notable individuals from Wenham’s history, including Adeline Cole, Helen Frick and Albert Dodge, who will be 100 years old next May.
“He helped get the regional high school started, was the tree warden for many years and a selectman for many years,” he said.
Hauck decided the length would make the book too expensive to print, and people often look online for information nowadays, so he donated his work to the library.
His primary sources of information were the library’s archive, Wenham Museum, historic documents in Town Hall and the Internet.
“I picked up little bits here and there, and the next thing I realized I had a gold mine of information,” said Hauck, who moved from Wenham to Hamilton in 2012.
Each chapter is illustrated with numerous photos and historic documents, and closes with an extensive bibliography of source materials.