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.

Audio Interview with Prof. Jim Green


“First Strike By a Public Employees Union”: From Radio Boston’s website: September 9, 1919 marked a major turning point in the American labor movement: the Boston Police went on strike. It was the first ever strike by a public employees union.  [In this Radio Boston broadcast, host Meghna Chakrabarti and Prof. Jim Green] visit two of the most important sites of the 1919 Police Strike: a pub in the South End and the old Armory on Arlington Street, downtown. This is a rebroadcast of a conversation originally aired back in 2011, amid the ongoing battle between Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the state’s public employee unions. James Green, beloved professor of history and labor studies at University of Massachusetts Boston, passed away in June 2016, from complications of leukemia. He was 71.