While Daisie was living in Boston, a number of events may have influenced her daily life.
From 1880 and 1920, the number of women in Boston classified as engaged in “trade” increased by 248% (Subcommittee, 633). This was especially apparent in two fields: dentistry and professional nursing. The emergence of women’s education, at schools like Simmons, also led to the increase in women’s employment.
Early twentieth-century Boston was defined by a series of strains between groups and individuals. Some of these issues include evolving civil liberties, minorities’ and women’s rights, the rights of labor, and the issues of occupation and social class.
Other defining traits of Boston in the early 20th century were urbanization and a successful economy. There was a rise in Canadian and European immigration, along with a great movement of rural populations to urban centers. In turn, this led to an increase in the size of the labor force that helped the economy by keeping wages low. Although the Great Depression and World War II would affect the economy negatively, in the early 20th century the Boston economy was still one of the major economies in the United States. The Boston port was the 2nd most important in the country and leading in the fish trade. One historian noted “the simple fact that Massachusetts industry was established early and therefore enjoyed the economic advantages of priority in important markets and the political advantages of a vested interest” (Brown, 243). Under the pressures of large populations moving into new areas and the competitive economy, ethnic tensions rose within the Boston area. This state of affairs resulted in a few cases of gang warfare, especially within Charlestown and South Boston.
Some events that occurred in Boston while Daisie was there were:
- Suffolk University Founded
- A Typhoid fever outbreak between March and May
- Harry Houdini jumped off the Harvard Bridge into the Charles River
- The Great Chelsea Fire that destroyed a large portion of the city
- New Museum of Fine Arts building opened on Huntington Avenue
- Boston Opera Company founded
- “Christmas Storm” on December 26th caused an estimated 5 million dollars in damage
- Edward Filene opens the “Automatic Bargin Basement,” otherwise known as the popular “Filene’s Basement.”
- Columbus Day made a legal holiday
- The state population was 2.8 million in 1900 and jumped to 3.5 million by 1915 (Brown, 2000)
- By 1920, Massachusetts was relatively urbanized: 95% of the population lived in urban areas
- The Mayor of Boston during this time period was: John F. Fitzgerald from 1906 – 1907 and again in 1910, and George A. Hibbard from 1908 – 1909.
Allison, R. J. (2004). A Short History of Boston. Beverley, MA: Commonwealth Editions.
Brown, R. D. & Tager, J. (2000). Massachusetts: A Concise History. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
Subcommittee on Memorial History (1932). Forty Years of Boston: A Memorial Volume. Boston.