~ On October 13, 1920, four women from Ward 18 in Boston lined up together to register to vote. This was a momentous occasion for the city, as it marked the first time women were able to exercise their right to vote after the passage of the 19th Amendment. The Mary Eliza Project is now transcribing these valuable handwritten records into an easily searchable and sortable dataset.

The Ward 18 registers document women's names, addresses, places of birth and occupations. In some cases, additional information about their naturalization process is also included. The majority of the women who registered to vote in Ward 18 were born in the United States, but there was also a thriving Eastern European community living in the area. Many of these women were part of Ward 18's Jewish community centered in Grove Hall.

One such woman was Bessie Schlosberg who registered on October 13th. Her family's 1920 census record recorded their first language as Yiddish, confirming that they were Jewish. Bessie gave her birthplace as "Vilna" which likely refers to Vilnius (Vilna, Wilna, Wilno), Lithuania which was part of the Russian Empire from 1795 until the 1910s. It is possible that Bessie and her family moved to their home on Clarkson Street at least in part to be close to other members of the Lithuanian Jewish community and likely worshipped at Congregation Adath Jeshurin on Blue Hill Avenue only a 20 minute walk away from their home on Clarkson Street.

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The occupations listed by women in Ward 18 are varied and include housewives and housekeepers, stenographers and clerks, bookbinders, factory workers, department store saleswomen, dressmakers, dental assistants, nurses, librarians, teachers telephone operators and supervisors among others. Over 30 women from Ward 18 were employed by the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company; most of them listed themselves as operators but a few were clerks managers and supervisors. There were also several women working in bookbinding with occupations such as proofreaders typesetters and compositors listed on the register.

The Mary Eliza Project hopes that this new addition to their dataset will help uncover many stories waiting to be told about these remarkable women who registered to vote in 1920!

Filed Under: Government, City

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