~ In 1920, Boston women registered to vote in the thousands after the passage of the 19th Amendment. The Mary Eliza Project, named after African American nurse, civil rights activist, and Boston voter Mary Eliza Mahoney, is now transcribing these valuable handwritten records into an easily searchable and sortable dataset. Recently, the Ward 4 registers have been added to this dataset.

Ward 4 covered the eastern part of Charlestown in 1920 and over 1400 women living in this area registered to vote in the summer and fall of that year. Almost one third of these women were born outside of the United States with most being born in Ireland. However, other countries such as Russia, Canada, Germany, Sweden, England and New Zealand were also represented.

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Forty-five year old Agnes McAuliffe was one of these women who registered to vote on October 4th. Although she gave her place of birth as New Zealand, her father was born in Ireland and was naturalized in the Boston US Circuit Court in 1878. As a single woman with a naturalized father, Agnes had to produce his naturalization papers to claim her right to vote. Similarly Hannah Barry provided her husband Edward's naturalization papers due to a 1907 law linking a woman's citizenship status to her husband's nationality.

Over half of these women worked outside of their homes with occupations ranging from domestic service and factories to bookbinders, artists and accountants. There was even a "goldleaf layer"! Many women were employed at the Charlestown Navy Yard including Alice G Driscoll who enlisted as a Yeomen (F) on September 19th 1918 at the age of 20 but was discharged when World War I ended two months later.

The Mary Eliza Project is uncovering many stories from this dataset which can be explored further by anyone interested in learning more about this period in history.

Filed Under: Government, City

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