All posts by Judith Lucey

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About Judith Lucey

Judy Lucey joined the staff in 2003. She received a B.S. in Education from Northeastern University and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. Her genealogical interests include Irish genealogy, Newfoundland, 19th and 20th century genealogy, Beginning genealogy, Italian genealogy, and the history of Cambridge and Somerville, Mass. A native of the Boston area, she currently resides in Somerville, Mass.

‘Decidedly frosty’

Researchers unfamiliar with the history of the New England Historic Genealogical Society may assume women have been members since the organization’s founding in 1845. In fact, for the first fifty years, women were denied membership. In 1894, some members began to propose opening membership to women: “The reaction was haughty and dignified, if not decidedly frosty.” Women quietly persisted in submitting their applications to male members courageous enough to offer women’s names for election. When a woman’s name was read, though, it was greeted by silence. Several men went so far as to argue that “membership was limited to persons,” and women could not join because they were not “persons.” In early 1897 the issue was put to a vote by special ballot and passed, 451 in favor and fifty opposed, with thirteen offering qualified approval. On 2 February 1898, thirty-six women were nominated, twenty-nine accepted membership — and a new chapter began at NEHGS.[1] Continue reading ‘Decidedly frosty’