Saturday, March 22, 2008

Boston, MA - Burroughs Newsboys Home

BREAKING NEWS - I couldn’t help but follow up on my previous blog entry with more news about the newsboys in Boston.

After running across this photo Hine took in 1909 in Boston that he captioned “The Newsboys Building. Intended to Counteract the Attractions of the street,” I was hot on the trail to see if it still existed.

Well, does it still exist? No, but it does have an interesting connection to what currently stands at this 10 Somerset Street address.

The full name of the “Newsboys Building” that Hine referred to in his photo caption was “The Burroughs Newsboys Home,” founded by Russian immigrant Harry E. Burroughs, who originally came to the United States at the age of 12 and became a newsboy. Later in life, Burroughs attended Suffolk Law School in Boston, becoming a successful lawyer who dedicated much of his life to helping the plight of inner-city boys in particular. More can be read about The Burroughs Newsboys Foundation by clicking

The Burroughs Newsboys Building on Somerset Street was a safe haven for the newsboys. It was said that for 25 cents per year, a boy could spend his time in this building having fun, meeting new friends and even watching movies, all which helped to offset the other part of their lives that required them to be on the streets early in the morning through late in the evening, hawking newspapers.

Here are some photos Hine shot in October 1909 of newsboys who were enjoying their time inside the Burroughs Newsboys Home -- (The first was captioned “Newsboys Club“ and the second “In the Newsboys Reading Room. Boys seated at tables playing gamers.”):

Today, this space is home to the Nathan R. Miller Residence Hall of Suffolk University. Although it’s unclear to me if Miller himself was ever a newsboy, accounts say that when Miller was a young boy growing up in this Beacon Hill neighborhood, he spent time at the Newsboys Building. Miller received an honorary degree from Suffolk University in 2003, being recognized for starting a small accounting firm which blossomed into a leading Boston area real estate business, Nathan R. Miller Properties, Ltd., which has transacted upon some of Boston’s most prestigious addresses. To read more information on Miller, as well as about the dedication of this residence hall in his honor, click here.

Here’s a picture of what this location looks like today:

Lewis Hine photo credits, listed in order of appearance on this page:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03352

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03351

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, National Child Labor Committee Collection, LC-DIG-nclc-03350


  1. Boston School publications available online reveal that Boston had a separate schooling program available for newsboys and bootblacks. For various reasons, their parents - if they had any - did not send them to school, and it was work or die. The city gave them official cards to show that they were not 'truant' from school during working hours.

    1. Very interesting! Amazing how life has changed in really not too much of a span of time.

    2. Burroughs didn't open the Newsboys Foundation until 1927--see Burroughs, Harry E. Boys in Men's Shoes: A World of Working Children. New York: Macmillan, 1944. HathiTrust Digital Library. Web. 13 May 2013 at;view=plaintext;seq=36;page=root;size=100;orient=0

      "It was in December, 1927—exactly fifteen years after I
      stopped selling papers—that I established the Foundation in the
      very building which had been my first 'corner' and from which,
      as the doors swung open, warm gusts of air had come to play
      over my chapped and frozen cheeks. I became responsible for
      its organization, equipment, and surroundings, its plan and pur-
      pose and philosophy, for everything that we as newsboys had
      needed and craved." (6) The building may have dated from 1908, but not its use for newsboys.

  2. During WWII I used to spend "warming up" time at the Foundation during the freezing winters - I was shining shoes in downtown Boston and the Foundation was an Oasis for many kids like myself. They used to serve hot Corn Chowders and Fish Chowders and Hot Chocolate. I saw the both the Humphrey Bogart films: Sahara and Treasure of Sierra Madre there at the foundation.It was a great blessing for many of us kids who would have probably frozen to death on those streets.