The Shirley Industrial School for Boys was a part of this town from 1909 - 1972 and was the topic of the Shirley Historical Society meeting on Friday, May 11, 2001.  Ray Farrar who worked at the school and Joe Landry whose father worked there attended the meeting and were video taped sharing their stories.  Other former workers and State School "boys" have contacted the Museum and we have added their memories to our files.

In 1908, the Shirley Shaker Community had only three Shaker sisters, 900 acres of land and twenty-six buildings.  The Shaker Central Ministry decided to close the community, sell the property, and have the sisters move to the Harvard Shaker Village.  The state of Massachusetts bought the Shaker property for an Industrial School for Boys, what we now call a reform school.  This industrial school was to take boys ages 15 - 20 and give them a house mother and a house father, give them academic schooling, and teach them manners and a trade.  The farmland and large old Shaker buildings were well suited to these purposes and were promptly fitted out with modern conveniences.

The Shirley Historical Society has census records for 1920, 1930, and 1940 listing the names of people who lived on the state property. It gives their ages and marital status, place of birth, and parents' places of birth, but not much else. The records of the boys would have been kept private by the state of Massachusetts.

As the boys came to live at Shirley, the teachers, craftsman, office workers, and officials came to work here.  Many of them lived right on the property and later bought homes in the town of Shirley.  Following are the workers' names that we have gathered at this time.

Superintendent                  Asst. Superintendent                  Social Director
Herbert F. Taylor                Henry Kelly                                    Brown
Robert T. Grey                    Clarence R. Day
Jerome Miller

Supervisor of Training and Education
John  W. Hastings

Assistant to Mr. Hastings
Thomas J O’Hare

Senior Boys Supervisor                Psychologist
Joseph McNabb                             Dr. Joseph Perry

Purchasing Agent          Book Keeper                  Office Manager
Eddy Nodigian               Beatrice Landry                  Sam Johnson

Carpentry                  Electrician                          Machine Shop
Bob Hippler                Ray Farrar                               Don Sargent
Joe Deering                John Pelletier
Eli Lanteigne              Athanace Landry
Ed (Fred) Small

Painter                      Blacksmith                   Masonry
John Strubel               Fred Herald                   Archie Paterson

Forestry                   Cooks & Bakers                 Auto Shop
Fred Sanderson          Bill Fisher                           John Sullivan
Paul Berjivan                                                         Joseph R. Lemieux
John Coleman
Bill Means

Farm                       Printing                           General Classes
Dick Trombly           Norbert Whittemore        Dan Keady
Alf Tracy                                                           Bill Kerrigan
Mr. Berry                                                           Al Yesue
Paul Griffin
Harold Madigan
Mr. Taylor

Discipline                  Nurse                       Barbershop
Mahoney                    Hazel McNabb         Paul Badagleacca
Paul Dickhout            Mary Madigan
Mike O'Malley
Mike Taylor
Bill Dunn

Power Plant              Sewing/Tailor                  Laundry
Ray Farrar                  John Linch                       Harold Madigan
Barrett                        Guy Caziano                     Vernon Griffin
Nelson Wambolt

Secretaries                   Paymaster                   Chaplains
Stenographers,            Parsons                        Rev. Fohlin
Clerks                                                               Father Rene Bergeron
Blanche Burrows
Margaret Staples
Marie Gionet                        Doctor
Agnes O'Malley                    Bill Stecher
Bev Johnson
Lorraine Gionet                  House Mother and party organizer
Delores Gionet                   Mrs. Fieldings
Rosamund Johnson
Marion Smith
Lillian Sullivan

Visiting Music Teacher
John T. Finnerty

                                        House Parents
                                        Mr and Mrs Burrows, Cottage #1 1933
Meredith Marcinkewicz, curator at the Shirley Historical Society, is trying to gather additional information on the Industrial School.  She has photos of ISB buildings and many news articles about the Industrial School.  She has a sign, a chair, and candle sticks which were made at the school. She would love to hear from other people who lived and worked there. 
She will be at the Historical Society Museum (978-425-9328) at #182 Center Road, Shirley, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. most Saturdays and Mondays and invites anyone with pictures or stories to share to stop by.   Or - they may write her at Shirley Historical Society, PO Box 217, Shirley, MA 01464, or email her at

Go to Shirley Historical Society Home Page
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