Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Grandfather Charles Joseph McIntyre was hired as a City of Boston "military substitute" patrolman in June 1941 by September of that year he was hired permanantly and retired from the force in 1976. In the 1950's he worked a lot of details outside bars and nightclubs in Boston's South End. By the time he retired he was working a desk job.
A couple of years ago I had a bit of a "brain fart" and sent and email requesting his employment records from the City of Boston. (to the best of my knowledge, I didn't have to pay anything for this service)
What I got in the mail a few weeks later was a documented almost month by month history of his life from the time he was about 30 til very near his death.
His medical records as well as employment records were all included in the 100 some odd pages (some hand written) that were sent to me.
My Mother listened to me talk about these documents with a sort of quiet patience that parents reserve for kids who get all excited about something the parents find hopelessly dull.
Then I read from a medical examiner's letter that detailed a night when my Grandfather was:
"struck on the head with a glass by a prisioner he had arrested outside the G&N Restaurant, 518 Tremont Street, City."
At that point my snapped her head around and with a very surprised look on her face said,
"I remember that night!"
When her Father came home the night of this incident she was sent to her room. Having no real reason to remember it, she had almost forgotten it.
As any kid would remember thier father coming home injured, she remembered the night but being only about 11 at the time, and a girl as well, she was not told what happened at the time and the memory kind of slipped away to the back files of her mind.
Charles Joseph McIntyre's employment record turned out to be such a wealth of information to me. Not only did it contain interesting glimpses into his day to day life but it records time off he took for his parents deaths and his children's births and childhood injuries. It also is a priceless record of his medical history.
We got a bit lucky that he worked for one employer for so long but I often wonder if other "companies" still in business would still hold records of former employees and what hidden genological/historical gems may be out there just waiting for some interested party to dig them up and blow the dust off....


  1. Hmm. You know, both my mom's grandfathers worked for the City of Boston but about 30 years earlier than your grandfather.
    I wonder if they have any record of them as well? I'm going to have to ask you where you wrote to for them when I see you at work!

  2. After we spoke yesterday Bill, I went back into my records. I know I found Donna Wells Records Manager and Archivist of the BPD (wellsd.bpd@ci.boston.ma.us) through the City of Botson main web site, that's as good a place to start as any.
    My Father always told me that finding records could be time consuming, expensive and tedious. This treasure trove of my Grandfather's history fell into my lap with no expense after just one email. Sometimes you get lucky. I hope you do search the site and get a contact for your ancestors records. I mean my Grandfather was just a regular working class "Joe", I would ahve figured that some 30 some odd years after his retirement that his records would have been just tossed. What other great files of Americana are out there waiting to be found by regular folks like you and me? It just boggles the mind...

  3. Laura, did you check the Police Archives, too? They were very helpful for me researching an ancestor who served at Field's Corner Police Station in the 1800s. They also told me to check newspapers. My ancestor was too early to be found in any newspaper accounts, but I'd bet the Globe and Herald covered some of your grandfather's stories. The archivist at the Boston Police gave an interesting talk at NEHGS two years ago, and she loves to work with family historians.

  4. Thanks for the tip Heather! I can't believe I didn't think of that, thank you so much for the suggestion! : )