The word is getting out!

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

Thomas J. Fallon, former Boston police officer, about 7 years after the strike

This photograph of Thomas J. Fallon and the accompanying text were recently shared with the project by his grandson, Christopher Fallon:

Thomas J Fallon around 1926 outside his home at 60 Weld Hill Street, Jamaica Plain, MA.  At the time, I have been told, Thomas Fallon worked as a guard for the MBTA, Boston Elevated.

This photo, and many more, will be included in the biographical encyclopedia that is being created by UMass Boston staff and a small army of volunteers. To get involved, visit the project website.

Reading List

For more materials, see the research guide
Selected Resources Documenting the 1919 Boston Police Strike


“Boston Police Vote to Unionize, Precipitating Riots,” Mass Moments website.

Brecher, Jeremy. “Nineteen Nineteen.” Strike! (Boston: South End Press, 1972).

Burpo, John H. The Police Labor Movement: Problems and Perspectives. (Springfield, Ill: Thomas, 1971).

Capozzola, Christopher. Uncle Sam Wants You: World War I and the Making of the Modern American Citizen. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Green, James R. and Hugh Carter Donahue. Boston’s Workers: A Labor History. (Boston: Boston Public Library, 1979).

Koss, Frederick Manual. “The Boston Police Strike of 1919.” Ph.D. Dissertation, Boston University, 1960.

Murray, Robert K. “When Policemen Strike.” Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria, 1919-1920. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955): 122-134.

Police Commissioner for the City of Boston, Citizens’ Committee to Consider the Police Situation. The Boston Police Strike: Two reports, 1919. (New York: Arno Press, 1971).

Russell, Francis. A City in Terror: Calvin Coolidge and the 1919 Boston Police Strike. (New York: Viking Press, 1975).

Slater, Joseph E. “The Boston Police Strike of 1919.” Public Workers: Government Employee Unions, the Law, and the State, 1900-1962 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), pp. 13-38.

Tager, Jack. Boston Riots: Three Centuries of Social Violence. (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000).

Wells, Donna M. Boston Police Department. (Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2003).

White, Jonathan R. “Violence during the 1919 Boston Police Strike: An Analysis of the Crime Control Myth.” Criminal Justice Review. 13:2 1988: 61-68.


Lehane, Dennis. The Given Day. (New York: William Morrow, 2008).

Redfearn, James G. The Rising at Roxbury Crossing. (Wrentham, MA: Olde Stoney Brook Publishing, 2012).