East Boston was created by connecting five islands using landfill. Noddle Island served as grazing land for cattle. Hog Island was renamed Breed’s Island. Governor’s Island, Bird Island and Apple Island became part of the expansion of Logan International Airport. East Boston has long provided a foothold for the latest wave of immigrants. Today East Boston is the home of more than 40,000 people.
Begins: At 45 Lamson Street
Annie Frasier Norton (1893-1918)
45 Lamson Street
When Norton joined the Navy, she was one of thousands of women entering military service. She was assigned to the Portsmouth Naval Yard, a vital location during World War I. Norton fell ill and eventually died from the Spanish flu at the age of twenty-five. She was given full military honors.
Maverick Street Mothers
Between 268 & 276 Maverick Street
In 1968, a new activism erupted on the streets of East Boston due to the expansion of Logan Airport. Women began to block the movement of trucks along Maverick Street. The Maverick Street Mothers staged protests that resulted in an alternate truck route. They scored a victory, but their beloved Frederick Law Olmstead-designed Wood Island Park had disappeared.
Dr. Marion Corleto Sabia (1909-1992)
241 Maverick Street
Sabia was the daughter of Italian immigrants. She attended Tufts College and in 1933, was one of two women who graduated from Tufts Medical School. She served an internship at New England Hospital for Women and Children from 1933-1935. As a general practitioner and obstetrician, she delivered thousands of East Boston babies.
Harriot Curtis (1881-1974) and Margaret Curtis (1883-1965)
22 Chelsea Street
Harriot and Margaret Curtis were social activists. In 1909, they opened the East Boston Dispensary, an outpatient clinic to provide for the mostly Italian-American patients. By the mid-1930s, 40,000 patient visits were being recorded annually. In 1932, the sisters, both national golf champions, founded the Curtis Cup, the best-known team trophy for amateur women golfers.
Bridget Murphy Kennedy (1821-1888) and Mary Augusta Hickey Kennedy (1857-1923)
151 Meridian Street
Bridget Murphy Kennedy, the great grandmother of President John F. Kennedy, met her husband, Patrick, on the boat immigrating to Boston in 1849. The Kennedys had five children. After Patrick’s death, Kennedy became a successful businesswoman, opening a small stationery and notions store in East Boston. This paved the way for the future success of her son Patrick “PJ” Kennedy
Mary August Hickey Kennedy, grandmother of President John F. Kennedy, was a member of East Boston’s Irish elite. “Mame” married Patrick Joseph “PJ” Kennedy and had three children. Her son Joseph, President Kennedy’s father, was groomed to fit into Yankee society. She sent him to Boston Latin School and Harvard College. Mary Kennedy was active in politics, including women’s suffrage.
Armeda Gibbs (1807-1884), Isabel Hyams (1865-1932), and
Sarah Hyams (1867-1942)
Gibbs was an abolitionist who helped escaped slaves. In 1850, she moved to East Boston, joined the Maverick Church, and worked as a missionary for the City Missionary Society. During the Civil War, Gibbs became the first female nurse for the Union. After the war, she returned home to continue her work for another twenty-two years.
The Hyams sisters, along with their brother, Geoffrey, supported a settlement house and social service activities in East Boston for many years. In 1937, they established the Fresh Air Camps for local children suffering with tuberculosis. Isabel Hyams, an 1888 graduate of MIT, began the experimental Penny Lunch Club to provide Boston students with nutritious lunches for one or two cents.
Raquel Eidelman Cohen (1922-2020)
14 Porter Street
Growing up in Peru as the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Raquel Eidelman Cohen studied public health and medicine in Boston. She was admitted to Harvard Medical School’s first class that admitted women. Graduating in 1949, she worked as a psychiatrist in several Boston mental health centers including the North Suffolk Mental Health Clinic. Her field was studying the social & psychological consequences for survivors of disasters and designing treatments & interviewing techniques. These events included hurricanes, the Mariel boatlift (Cuba in 1980), and the September 11 attacks. She stated that “I have always worked for opening doors to women and minorities at every level.”
Eleanor Prentiss Creesy (1814-1900) and Mary Ann Brown Patten (1837-1861)
406 Border Street
Creesy’s father taught her the mathematics of navigation at an early age. She married Captain Josiah Creesy and together they sailed around the world. In 1851, they decided to race several other ships sailing from New York to San Francisco aboard the clipper Flying Cloud. They broke the previous record by eleven days.
At age sixteen, Mary Ann Brown married Captain Joshua Adams Patten, accompanying him on two voyages aboard his ship, Neptune’s Car. When he became ill, she was pregnant with their first child. She bravely took command of the 1,600-ton clipper ship and navigated it through dangerous waters and brought it safely around Cape Horn to San Francisco.
Frances E. Brown Rowan (1936-2015)
408 Meridian Street
Rowan was a tireless community leader who advocated for youth, the arts, and neighbors in need. She was instrumental in the founding of Meridian House, a residential substance abuse treatment program for men and women. The Don Orione Home honored her with “Fran’s Wall of Hope” which contained works of art by local artists.
Caroline “Orrie” Orr (1910-1982) and Grace Flynn (1918-2012)
406 Meridian Street
Orr became the director of an early settlement house, Trinity Neighborhood House. The children had a variety of experiences in nature, arts and crafts, music, dancing, reading, and field trips. “Orrie” and her staff inspired leadership skills and volunteer spirit. A room at Trinity House is named in her honor.
For many decades, Flynn was a dedicated receptionist at Trinity House. She inspired many young children and taught them to love all creatures “great and small” as the Nature Counselor at Trinity Camp. Flynn and “Orrie” were Girl Scout Leaders, mentors, and exemplary role models. Flynn was a tireless volunteer in her community.
Ethel Rowland Flynn (1888-1970)
396 Meridian Street
Flynn was a talented milliner who created stylish hats for East Boston’s wealthiest ladies in the 1920s. She was a generous contributor to many religious activities and holiday fairs. She was selected to restore the tattered flags in the Hall of Flags in the State House along with other seamstresses.
Edith DeAngelis (1929 – 2021)
388 Meridian Street
Edith “Edie” DeAngelis was the driving force behind the completion of the East Boston Women’s Trail. Edith G. DeAngelis D.Ed, Doctor Emeritus, was born in East Boston, attended East Boston’s schools and carried the spirit of the town with her throughout her life. Dr. DeAngelis was an unmatched activist and community organizer. The East Boston community and its history were part of her soul and spirit. Whether the issues were recognizing the Battle of Chelsea Creek, the reinstallation of the veteran’s memorial of Wood Island, or highlighting the women who helped make East Boston the community it is today, Dr. Edith never gave up.
Helen Johns Carroll (1914-2014)
50 Falcon Street
Carroll was taught swimming by her father and trained primarily in the ocean. She was formally coached for one year before she qualified for the Olympics. At the age of seventeen, she represented the United States at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. She won a gold medal in the women’s 4×100-meter freestyle relay.
Pauline Bromberg (1888-1981)
86 White Street – East Boston High School
Bromberg was a prominent community leader and a Boston teacher. She headed the BPS Department of Physical Education for thirty-six years. She was also actively involved in the design of East Boston High School. The Business and Professional Group of Boston’s Hadassah named her “Woman of the Year” shortly before her death.
Albenia Martha Boole (1815-1848)
78-80 White Street
Boole married her childhood friend, Donald McKay, who with her help became one of the premier shipbuilders of his era. She was his mentor and teacher. As a team, they designed some of the fastest clipper ships in the world at their shipyard on Border Street.
Judith Winsor Smith (1821-1921)
76 White Street
Smith was an abolitionist who devoted her life to local and national social reforms. She was the founder of the Home Club of East Boston and president of East Boston Woman Suffrage League. Her parents were descendants of Mayflower passengers. At the age of 93, she attended the suffragist “Victory “ parade in Boston. She became known as “the world’s oldest suffrage orator” and cast her first vote in the election of 1920 when she was 99 years old.
Thanks to: Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, BWHT.org, Dr. Edith De Angelis, Florence D’Avella, Mary Cahalane, Dr. Regina Marchi, Michael A. Laurano, Mary Smoyer, Cathy Licence, Marvin Pave, Hyams Foundation, Winthrop Library, Theresa Malionek, Suffolk University.
Rachel Barouch, Brochure Designer
Joseph Porzio, Flag Designer
Harvard-Kent Elementary School
Jason Gallagher, Principal
Mary Rudder, Maria D’Itria, Teachers