Dorchester Atheneum
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
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Grace Lonergan Lorch
Grace Lonergan and Lee Lorch
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 The historical marker at the Charles Taylor School on Morton honors the memory of a woman who changed the teaching profession in the 20th century. Grace married her husband Lee in 1943 when he was about to leave for military service in the Second World War. Although Grace Lonergan Lorch had been teaching in Boston for some years, her marriage resulted in her being fired. Lorch, a union leader, fought the School Committee's 1880s ban on teachers marrying, and, although the Boston School Committee upheld the rule in 1944, she began a campaign for state legislation to do away with the prohibition. At the same time, she won a legal battle for the right to continue to teach by working as a substitute - albeit at about a third of a regular teacher's pay - at the Taylor School. Lorch and others who worked with her saw victory in 1953 when the Legislature passed a law ending the prohibition on married women teachers.

A lifelong activist for education and civil rights, Lorch later moved to Tennessee with her family. She received national attention in 1957, when she rescued a young girl from an angry crowd protesting the desegregation of public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas.

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Created: September 14, 2003   Modified: May 12, 2009