Research Sources

Useful sources for researching the strike and strikers.

Some subscription sites are available for in-library use. Check your local library for free access to these resources.

General Resources

  • Boston Public Library “E-CARD” for Massachusetts Residents. Allows access to dozens of high-quality online resources including many of those listed on this page.
  • Free. For census records and vital records.
  • Subscription. Many libraries offer in-library use. Includes census, vital records, Draft Registration cards.
  • Mass. Catholic Order of Foresters. Free. life insurance policy applications for approximately 30,000 individuals, most of Irish birth or ancestry, most in Massachusetts.  At least some of the strikers would have belonged to this fraternal organization. There is typically a $10 reproduction fee for copies of Foresters records. That fee will be waived for any registered researcher working on this project.
  • American Ancestors. Subscription. MA Vital records and other e-books and records.
  • Newspaper Archive. Subscription. Searchable newspaper database.
  • Free. Searchable online database of gravestones.

City of Boston and Boston Police Department Resources

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

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  1. I’m doing family research on Francis Patrick Shea. He is my great grandmother’s brother-in-law, my great-great uncle. He was involved in the BP strike of 1919, and as a result of the strike, became a Belmont police officer. Is there anything you can share with me about his experience/involvement with the strike?

    • Hi Pam! Thanks very much for writing. Your relative Francis Patrick Shea will indeed be one of the officers to be researched for this project over the coming months. Do you have information about him that you can share with us for the biographical encyclopedia we’re developing? We’re especially interested in photographs of the striking officers. His duty roster card may be viewed here: We’ve also determined that his address at the time of the strike was 6 Cygnet St. in Boston. More information will emerge as the project progresses. We look forward to hearing from you!

  2. im attempting to wright a research paper concerning the boston police strike of 1919, but im having a horribly difficult time finding any first hand accounts of the mayhem that accrued during the strike. Can anyone help me find some primary sources, eye witness resluts to the criminal behavior that ensued after the strike?

  3. My great Grandfather James Aloysius Wallace was a Patrolman involved in the strike.
    My Grandmother Margaret Wallace Viau told my father David Viau that her father James loved working for the Boston Police, was fired after the strike and was never the same. From I learned James was born 1876 in Boston (father from Halifax NS Canada & mother from Ireland). At the time of the strike he was 43 and was supporting a wife and 7 children (ages 4-19) and lived in East Boston. The following year, the Federal Census of 1920 says he was employed as a Steam Fitter, his occupation before he became a Patrolman. The Census of 1940 names his last known occupation as Watchman for the Railroad. If you’ve learned anything about him, I’d appreciate it if you’d share the details with me. Thanks, Eileen

    • Hi Eileen – I’m one of the volunteers researching individual strikers and have just completed my research on your great-grandfather. I don’t have much to add beyond what you’ve already found via I see that he lived on Havre Street in East Boston with his family before he was married. His father James was a cabinet maker. James A. later lived at various addresses on Chelsea Street and then on Saratoga Street, all in East Boston, before moving to Winthrop in the early 1920s. I did find one incident that occurred when he was a policeman. In December 1912 he missed some time at work after having a hand broken while subduing a prisoner who was resisting arrest. I also see that the actress and director Elizabeth Banks is his great-great granddaughter, descended from your grandmother’s brother Richard. (You probably already know that.) – Ken

  4. My grandfather, Thomas J. Fallon was one of the strikers. I would like to know if there is a picture of him in uniform on file. I know he was appointed March 29,1915 as a RESERVE in Div 13 , under G.O. No 944. He was promoted on January 27, 1917 to PATROL GO 1106, and transferred Feb 27,1917 to patrol in Div 3 which I have been advised was on Joy Street , Beacon Hill. I would like to find out additional information on Thomas J. Fallon. After being fired as a striker, he went to work for the MBTA, first as a Guard I believe and then as a laborer. He died December 1943 while at work, I have been told. We found an old style police helmet similar to those in the photos. I am not sure if this was the helmet he wore as a Boston police officer or as a guard with the MBTA/ Boston Elevated. The Badge No on the helmet is “1362” Does this seem to be a helmet of a Patrolman of this period ? I have a photograph of Thomas Fallon taken I believe in 1926 or so, which I can send along.

    • Christopher – The helmet numbers first had the station or division number and then the officer’s number, so a helmet with “1362” would be from Jamaica Plain station on Seaverns Avenue, Yes, a scan of the photo would be much appreciated.

  5. My grandfather, Angus J. MacPhee, was a 1919 police officer during the strike. I have his family history, if you would like to include it in your research project. Joseph F. McPhee, Jr.

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