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Ursuline Convent (Charlestown, Boston, Mass.)


Historical Note

Opened in 1820, the Ursuline Convent Academy was the first Roman Catholic school for girls in Massachusetts. On August 11, 1834, spurred on by a revival of anti-Catholic nativism, townspeople ransacked and burned the convent, forcing the students and sisters to flee to nearby farms. Though attempts were made to revive their ministry after the fire, the Bostonian Ursulines were officially disbanded in 1840. In February 1878, former Ursuline Academy student Elizabeth Williams Hayward decided to commemorate the thirty-fourth anniversary of Mount Benedict's destruction by reuniting the former convent girls who were present on the night of the riot. She held a reunion at her home on Pinckney Street in Boston on February 27, 1878. Ann Babson, the wife of state senator John J. Babson of Gloucester, Massachusetts, could not attend the reunion, but she did provide the names of other convent girls and a sketch of her own remembrances of the convent fire, one of the few surviving firsthand accounts.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Elizabeth Hayward collection of Ursuline Academy materials


This collection was compiled by Elizabeth W. Hayward, a former Ursuline Academy student. It contains correspondence, notes, clippings, and printed material relating to the Ursuline Academy convent fire in 1834 and a reunion of Ursuline Academy graduates in 1878. The correspondence series is the largest and includes unpublished firsthand accounts of the convent fire and riots. Materials date from 1830 to 1985, the bulk from 1878.

Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research; digital version avialable.

Dates: circa 1830-1985; Majority of material found in 1878 - 1878