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West End House (Boston, Mass.) Records

 Collection
Identifier: I-285

Scope and Content Note

Materials in this collection include an edition of the West End House Forum from 1909, Vol. 1, Nos. 5-6. This contains editorials, House news, and other writings pertaining to or of interest to The West End House and its members. Also in the collection is an Ad Book from the organization’s 75th Anniversary in 1981. Among the ads are letters of congratulations from numerous leading figures that include Edward Kennedy and Paul Tsongas. It is arranged chronologically.

Dates

  • 1909, 1981

Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for researcher use. Please contact us to request access or to make an appointment to view this collection at jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of this collection. For more information contact jhcreference@nehgs.org.

Historical Note

The West End House of Boston was a Boys and Girls Club that provided services and programs to help urban and immigrant youth in the city of Boston to better their own lives through numerous and varied channels. The organization was founded in 1903 by children of Eastern European Jews, most of whom left Europe to escape the pogroms. The group of thirty-five boys named their club the Excelsior Club. The group met in whatever open spaces they could find and worked to enrich their lives through “moral, mental, and physical advancement” and to prepare for a productive and meaningful future.

The club sought aid and assistance from the Jewish Federation of Boston. They were given Mitchell Freiman as a temporary advisor as well as use of a room at the Federation’s premises. In 1906, after seeing a production of Hamlet performed by the club, philanthropist James J. Storrow and his wife Helen funded the club by paying for rent and maintenance for a meeting place and to keep Mitchell Freiman on as a full time director for the newly reformed West End House.

While the club was never explicitly open only to Jewish boys, it wasn’t until WWII that membership was represented by a broader demographic including non-Jews and women. Dramatic changes of the West End neighborhood during the urban renewal of the 1950s led to its closing. The West End House moved to Allston-Brighton where it continued to serve the large and diverse population of the children of immigrants present there. In 1976, it became the West End House Boys and Girls Club where it continues today.

References

  1. Materials from the collection.
  2. The West End House Boys and Girls Club. “History”. http://westendhouse.org/history.html> 26 July 2012.
  3. Ross, Michael A. Boston Walks’ the Jewish Friendship Trail Guidebook: Jewish Boston History. Boston Walks Publishing: Belmont, MA. 2003. p. 49-50.

Chronology

1903
The Excelsior Club is established by thirty-five Eastern European Jewish boys.
1906
The club is reconstituted as the West End House following funding from James and Helen Storrow.
1940s
The West End House’s membership opens up to a wider demographic.
1971
The West End House moves to Allston-Brighton.
1976
Becomes the West End House Boys and Girls Club.

Extent

0.25 linear feet (1 manuscript box)

Abstract

The West End House is a Boys and Girls Club that was established in 1906 by a group of thirty-five boys who were the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. Their aim was to provide a place where they could meet and work to improve their lives through mental, physical, and moral advancement. The club began in 1903, but was officially established in 1906 following aid received from the Jewish Federation, as well as James and Helen Storrow. From the 1940s-1971 the West End House under went numerous changes that included a more broad and diverse membership, change in location, and becoming part of the Boys and Girls Club. In 1971, it moved to Allston-Brighton where it continues to serve urban and immigrant youth.

Physical Location

Located in Boston, Mass.

Acquisition Information

Acquisition information is unknown.

Processing Information

Processed by Kelsey Sawyer, 2012
Title
Guide to the West End House of Boston Records, I-285
Author
Processed by Kelsey Sawyer
Date
2012
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society Repository

Contact:
99-101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116 United States
617-226-1245