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.
- 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.
- FamilySearch.org. Free. For census records and vital records.
- Ancestry.com. 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.
- Findagrave.com. Free. Searchable online database of gravestones.
City of Boston and Boston Police Department Resources
- “Map of the City of Boston.” Free. This is a detailed ward map for the year 1920.
- Boston Directories. Free. Complete listing of Boston City Directories available at Internet Archive, Tufts Digital Library, and Boston Athenaeum Digital Collections. Directories available for the years 1875-1900, 1905, 1916, and 1925.
- “The Officers and Men… of the Boston Police”: 1901 Yearbook. Free. Includes photographs of all officers who were with the Boston Police as of 1901.
- 1919 Boston Municipal Employee Directory – Police Department Only. Free. (The full directory is available online through the Internet Archive. We have reduced the directory to just the Police Department entries for the convenience of BPStrike Project researchers.)
- Boston Police Records at Internet Archive. Free. Office of the Police Commissioner. Vol. 56. Jan. 1, 1919 to Dec. 31, 1919; this links to the pages for September, 1919 (pp.1171-1422). This is the official record of all police business that occurred on each day of the the month of September in 1919. Entries include all general police orders and specific information concerning police personnel,including appointments of special police officers and payroll. This report also includes information relating to various City licenses including: handgun, amusement, hackney carriage, wagon, collective musician (i.e. parade), private detective, junk collector, and more. Location of original: Boston Police Department Records Center & Archives.
- Annual Report of the Police Commissioner for the City of Boston for the year ending November 30, 1919 at Internet Archive. Free.
- The Annual Report of the Board of the Police (1885-1905) and the Annual Report of the Office of the Police Commissioner (1906-1930) on the Boston Public Library website. Free.
- Boston Social Club Register. Free. Minutes of the meetings of this fraternal police organization, 1939 – 1970. May include information about death dates for strikers who died within that time frame.
- Boston Police Department Divisions, 2016 (current – these may not match the 1919 divisions. Stay tuned for a list of the divisions in 1919)
- “My Most Thrilling Experience” series, Boston Traveler, 1916. Daily feature that ran in the Boston Traveler from February 14, 1916 to November 9, 1916. Each segment includes a 400-word narrative of a Boston policeman’s favorite “exciting moment” on the job, complete with cartoon illustration of the moment and a portrait of the officer. Over 100 profiles feature future strikers. This newspaper is held on microfilm at the Boston Public Library.
- Browse digital images of Massachusetts tax records for Boston, 1822-1918, provided by the Boston City Archives, in FamilySearch. Records are organized by year and ward.
- Boston Election Department Resident Lists, provided by the Boston Public Library, at Internet Archive.
For more materials, see the research guide
Selected Resources Documenting the 1919 Boston Police Strike
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: http://www.bpstrike1919.org/duty%20cards/125619.jpg. 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!
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?
Hi Matt – try http://umb.libguides.com/bpstrike1919!
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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com. 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
Hi Eileen – you can view all of the material we have researched about James Aloysius Wallace by searching at http://www.bpstrike1919.org! Do you by any chance have a photograph of him that you might contribute to the project?
1919 BPStrike Project Team
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.
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.