The Wisdom of Immigrant Women

Lecture Series Explores How Female Immigrants Adapted to Life in Newton More than 100 Years Ago

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, female immigrants came to Newton on their own or with their families. All faced challenges as they adapted to their new country. Historic Newton presents talks that explore the lives of women from three areas: Eastern Europe, Ireland, and Italy. All programs are free; donations to support our educational programming are appreciated. For information, please call 617-796-1450.

Thursday, February 22, 7:00 pm, Newton Free Library
How did the patriarchal culture of Eastern Europe clash with the new freedoms that America offered Jewish women? Historian Herb Belkin will talk about this culture clash in a lecture that describes how Jewish girls and women adapted to life in America and went on to become leaders in the labor, suffragette and feminist movements while preserving the traditions of Jewish life.
A complementary exhibit at the Newton Free Library continues throughout February.

Sunday, March 4, 2:30 pm, Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds
Learn how Irish serving women formed the core of Irish-American communities by demonstrating supreme adaptability, grit, and fortitude in the most difficult of circumstances. Traveling to America to take positions in domestic service from even before the Great Hunger, they both provided a foundation for other family members to arrive and supported family back home, but they also helped upper and middle class Americans come to accept Irish presence in the U.S. Historic Newton educator Cynthia Cowan explains how their struggle and triumph played out in the larger context of world immigration and how Newton fell right in the middle of this multigenerational story.

Sunday, March 11, 3:00 pm, Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds
Actress Marianne Leone describes her larger-than-life mother, who emigrated from Italy to raise a family in Nonantum and signs copies of her memoir, Ma Speaks Up and A First-Generation Daughter Talks Back. Though Marianne’s girlhood is flooded with shame about growing up on the wrong side of the tracks, it’s equally packed with adventure, love, great cooking, and, above all, humor. Learn more about local history from someone who lived it.