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Margaret M. Fitzgerald papers

Collection MS-2000-019: Margaret M. Fitzgerald papers


  • Creation: 1901 - 1974
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1914 - 1974

Scope and Contents

The Margaret M. Fitzgerald papers document her work as a social reformer, suffragist, and retail business owner. The papers contain business memos and minutes, correspondence, diaries, financial records, newspaper clippings, school notes, and speeches.

Fitzgerald’s papers begin at the turn of the century with her middle school and college course notes, including a Boston College evening course in philosophy. Her earliest work documents are comprised of minutes and notes from Retail Store Wage Board meetings from 1915 to 1917, as well as memos from Filene’s Department Store from 1918. Her service on the Minimum Wage Commission is further described in her correspondence and collected newspaper clippings. In addition to Wage Commission topics, her correspondence includes both personal letters and materials related to her service on the Catholic and Professional Business Guild in the 1950s and 1960s. Additionally there are speeches from her years working for the National Catholic Community Service in the early 1940s. Fitzgerald’s diaries cover the later years of her professional life and the beginning of her retirement, spanning 1940-1974.

Materials about Fitzgerald include a newspaper clipping and a church newsletter with biographic profiles, as well as a speech given by Fitzgerald’s grandniece, Sue Wachtel.


Restrictions on access

Collection is open for research.

Restrictions on use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note

Margaret Mary Fitzgerald was born into an Irish family in Boston’s South End on March 9, 1891. In 1906, Fitzgerald entered the retail business to work as a cashier at Filene’s Department Store. She started her first executive position as an assistant buyer of petticoats around 1912. By the time she left in 1930, Fitzgerald was a buyer for three combined departments and the overseas buyer of leather goods.

While Fitzgerald was employed with Filene’s she was involved in working for women’s rights as the president of Filene’s Cooperative Association and also served on the Governor’s Council for Women in Industry and War. As a suffragist, Fitzgerald participated in “A Mile of Women” march to the State House in 1919 to support the bill to enfranchise women in Massachusetts. She was also involved in other grassroots suffragist activities. She served as an employee representative on the Retail Store Wage Board of the Minimum Wage Commission.

Fitzgerald worked as an assistant sales manager for a dress manufacturer, travelling throughout New England, New York, New Jersey, and Washington. Her retail career also took her to Gimbel’s Department Store in Philadelphia and Donnelly Garment Company in Kansas City, Missouri.

In 1935, she became director of the girls’ programs with the National Youth Administration, first for the New England states, and later in Washington, D.C. The aim of these programs was to teach workers marketable skills and enable them to adapt their personal budgets to attain a living wage. In 1941, Fitzgerald dedicated her time to the National Catholic Community Service, a branch of the USO (United Service Organization), in which she served as director of programs for servicewomen, women in war and industry, and wives of servicemen.

In the 1950s Fitzgerald opened a chain of maternity shops in Boston called Stork-Time Maternity Shops. Though she officially retired at the age of 70, Fitzgerald still worked two days a week for the company for many years. For much of her life, Fitzgerald shared an apartment on Beacon Hill with her widowed sister, Grace Cahill.

Margaret Fitzgerald died in 1990.


King, Mary Sarah. “Close-up: Margaret M. Fitzgerald, Pioneer Suffragist”. Boston Sunday Globe. October 3, 1971.

Sasserno, Mary. “Our Lady of the Month”.St. Patrick’s Beacon. February 1981. Vol. 2, Issue 2.


1.5 Linear Feet (2 containers)

Language of Materials



The Margaret M. Fitzgerald papers document her work as a twentieth-century social reformer, suffragist, and retail business owner. The papers contain business memos and minutes, correspondence, diaries, financial records, newspaper clippings, school notes, and speeches.


The collection is divided into eight series: I. Correspondence, II. Financial records, III. Journals, IV. Photograph, V. Printed materials, VI. Speeches, VII. Student notes, and VIII. Work-related documents.


Gift of Douglas Doane (2000).

Margaret M. Fitzgerald Papers
1901-1974 (bulk 1914-1974)
Laura M. Hemrika, March 2001; Rachael Young
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States