UMass Boston Dean of University Libraries Joanne Riley, Boston Police Department Archivist Margaret Sullivan, and dedicated volunteer researchers Maryellen McDonagh and Maureen Egan spoke with Edgar B. Herwick III of WGBH’s Curiosity Desk about the 1919 Boston Police Strike Project.
The segment described the development of the Project, from Sullivan’s discovery of records in a Boston attic to UMass Boston’s development of an online course on doing biographical research. McDonagh and Egan shared their experiences as volunteers with the Project:
“I was especially interested because one of my great uncles was one of the strikers,” said volunteer Maryellen McDonagh, who got so hooked learning about her great uncle she’s now completed nearly 50 profiles. What drives her to keep at it? “The joy of the hunt,” she explained. “I’m determined that I’m going to find that missing piece.”
Another volunteer, Maureen Egan says she’s found the research equal parts illuminating- and moving. “After you’ve known so much about this person — who they were married to, what their kids names were — you start to feel like they’re almost real to you,” she explained.
Earlier this summer, Margaret Sullivan was interviewed about the history of the strike in a Boston Globe article “Chronicling ‘the most significant event’ in the history of Boston police”. Descendants of Boston police officers recounted how their own families understood and experienced the strike.
Both media pieces noted that volunteers are still welcome to join in this “crowd-fueled” project to research 1,100+ officers before the strike centennial in September, 2019.
Listen to the full WGBH piece, “How a Team of Citizen Researchers Are Finding New Layers in the Story of the 1919 Boston Police Strike“, or check out “Chronicling ‘the most significant event’ in the history of Boston police” at bostonglobe.com.