By Julia Vogt, Undergraduate student, Simmons College
And Laura R. Prieto, faculty, Simmons College
Christina D. Barbey was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on March 9, 1862. Both of her parents were immigrants: her father Jacob, a baker by trade, was French, and her mother Catherine was Irish. She worked as a teacher, including at the Sargent primary school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On July 15, 1903, she wed Frank Page, 18 years her elder, who had been married twice previously. Page was a prominent physician specializing in mental diseases; he had previously been the resident physician at McLean Asylum, the Adams-Nervine Asylum, and superintendent of the Vermont State Insane Asylum. They did not have children together. They resided on Boston's exclusive Marlborough Street and employed a domestic servant recently emigrated from England. After marriage, Christina gave up teaching but became a public lecturer, remaining an active member of the National Education Association and president of the Parents' and Teachers' Association. Frank died on August 2, 1911.
Christina Page was deeply involved in her community, including in local government. An outspoken women's club member, she lectured regularly on a variety of topics. She canvassed for the construction of playgrounds and lobbied against the mandatory retirement of teachers. Her experience in public speaking served her well in 1912, when she advocated for her friend, Sarah C. Shapley, in front of the Massachusetts Supreme Court. Page denounced Shapley's unfair treatment by her late husband's executor. The Boston Globe praised Page for "show[ing] the energy and oratory of a finished lawyer." Over time, she gained recognition as an expert on vocational education and was nominated for a commission to investigate "educational and industrial conditions in Massachusetts." In 1915 she ran as an independent candidate for school board, declaring, "The women will vote for a woman this year. You know you denied them suffrage and you hurt their feelings."
Page was an active suffragist by then as well, raising money for the Boston Equal Suffrage Association and, according to a Boston Globe article, working for the movement in Maryland. She was 57 years old when she participated in the National Woman’s Party suffrage protest on Boston Common. President Wilson was passing through the city in February 1919, on his return from negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. Page and other suffragists greeted him with the demand that he secure the final votes for the federal suffrage amendment. She is generally listed as one of the women arrested on this date, on the charge of loitering for more than seven minutes. Some articles indicate that she avoided arrest, however. Although she was aware that loitering was against the law, no one had notified her that her seven minutes had expired. She was able to use this fact to be found not guilty. It is unlikely therefore that Page spent any time in jail.
Page's political involvement did not abate after passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In October 1920, she received a certificate for completing a Civics course. Many other local women also took civics classes upon being granted suffrage, the Cambridge Chronicle remarked. At first she was considered for the post of Police Commissioner. Then Mayor Curley appointed her a City Election Department assistant in 1922. Page belonged to the Republican Party, the Massachusetts Progressive League, and the National Independent Political League (also known as the Negro American Political League), calling for the disbarment of a district court judge on behalf of the NIPL. In 1927, she helped derail a bill banning racially mixed marriages in Massachusetts. She died in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1944, and was interred alongside her husband at Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Births Registered in the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts. 1862.
Boston, Massachusetts, Statistics Department. Municipal Register for 1925. Boston: Printing Department, 1925.
"Cambridge People Much Interested in Education." Cambridge Chronicle (30 October 1920), p. 17.
"Central Square Items." Cambridge Tribune (18 July 1903).
Crook, George F., ed. The Cambridge Annual for 1886-1888. 1888.
Index to Deaths in Massachusetts. 1945.
Irwin, Inez Haynes. The Story of the Woman's Party. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921.
"Mrs Christina Page Indorsed." Boston Daily Globe (11 July 1913): 8.
National Education Association. Yearbook and List of Active Members. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Association, 1913.
"Rally at Neponset." Boston Daily Globe (2 Dec 1915): 8.
"Suffragettes on Hunger Strike." Boston Daily Globe (26 Feb 1919): 1.
United States Census Bureau. United States Census-Boston, 1910.
"Woman Acts as Lawyer." Boston Daily Globe (11 Dec 1912): 11..
"Women in Tangle of Politics and Prices." Boston Daily Globe (23 Jan 1920): 12.
"19 Suffragettes Spend Night in Jail." Boston Daily Globe (25 Feb 1919): 1.