Showing posts from August, 2020

Margaret Foley, Dorchester's Irish Suffrage Leader

Labor organizer and women's rights advocate Margaret Lillian Foley (1873-1957) was born to a working class Irish-American family  at Meeting House Hill in Dorchester, Boston's largest neighborhood.    With only a high school education from Girls' High School in Roxbury, Foley had a daring personality and a "voice like a trumpet."   She worked in a hat factory organizing women workers and was a board member of the Women's Trade Union League, founded in Boston in 1903 by Mary Kenney O'Sullivan as part of the American Federal of Labor.  As equal rights issues moved from the workplace to the political front, Foley became involved with the campaign to let women vote in all government elections, becoming  a member of the Massachusetts Women's Suffrage Association.  During this time, she earned and enjoyed the nickname The Grand Heckler for her willingness to confront male politicians in public settings such as the Boston Stock Exchang

Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, Boston Irish Suffrage Leader

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment (August 26, 1920) giving women the right to vote, here's our shout-out to   Mary Kenney O'Sullivan  (1864-1943) , tireless labor organizer and suffrage leader during her accomplished life.  Born in Missouri to Irish immigrants, Mary worked in Chicago and New York as a union organizer before moving to Boston’s South End in 1893. She organized rubber makers, shoe makers and garment workers, shops where women were paid poorly and suffered bad working conditions.  When her husband John O’Sullivan died, she continued her work, creating the National Women’s Trade Union League and taking part in the Bread and Roses Strike in Lawrence, MA.     She wrote an important broadside, Why the Working Women Need the Vote , that was widely circulated and an influential part of the debate.  The Massachusetts State House has a plaque entitled Hear Us, honoring Kenney and five other women.    Th

Boston Common Signage Tells the Story of the Shaw Memorial, 54th Black Regiment, Colonel Shaw and the Irish-born Sculptor

A corridor of 900 feet of interpretive signs is now encircling a section of Boston Common where the famous Colonel Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, part of a $3 million restoration of the city’s most famous statue. The interpretive signage tell the story of the American Civil War, the 54th Black Infantry, the Shaw Memorial and the immigrant sculptor who created the masterpiece, Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  In addition, the panels include handwritten letters by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, and initial sketches and portraits by Saint-Gaudens. Boston’s most iconic public monument, the Shaw Memorial, was officially unveiled on May 31, 1897.  The homage to the 54th Black Infantry Regiment of Boston is considered one of America’s most significant Civil War memorials.   It was the first public monument to accurately depict black soldiers in military uniform. A group of partners have come together to oversee and fund the restoration, including the National Park Service ,  City of Bos