Through the Eye of the Camera

Irene Shwachman and other professional photographers helped promote Freedom House in the media. In doing so, they created lasting evidence of times and tenor of 1950s and 1960s Roxbury and the early programs of the Freedom House.

Freedom House served as the focal point for encouraging a growing sense of community responsibility among Upper Roxbury residents. Programs were designed to inspire neighborhood morale and pride. Operating until 1962, the Play School was one of the only integrated preschools in the city. Teenagers met and socialized in after school and evening programs at Freedom House. They learned from each other by sponsoring discussion groups, forums, and seminars on issues of brotherhood and juvenile delinquency. A Community Coffee Hour provided an opportunity for participants to meet speakers from all over the world and keep abreast of current events. Often these Coffee Hour meetings lead to new activities like the Urban-Suburban Garden Club Project for beautifying the community.

In a letter to the Urban League that accompanied a series of photographs, Irene Shwachman wrote:

Cold, cruel, impersonal, detached — these are the words constantly used to describe life as it is lived in American cities. That urban living can be
warm, friendly, and productive is that story that this series of photographs purports to show.

The activities pictured are those of the Freedom House Civic Center Association, an organization of people of varying racial and religious backgrounds,
who came together originally in 1949 in an attempt to stem the spread of blight in the Roxbury section of Boston, Mass.

May 31, 1960.

Meeting of Roxbury Garden Project.
Shwachman, Irene
Members of the Roxbury Garden project; Viola Minor second from right.
Shwachman, Irene
Freedom House Play School.
Shwachman, Irene
Three men hang decorations.
Fitzgerald, Ed.
Freedom House Play School.
Fitzgerald, Ed.
Children playing, Regent and Alpine Streets.
Shwachman, Irene
Freedom House Play School.
Fitzgerald, Ed.
Muriel Snowden (r) and unidentified woman at Freedom House Coffee Hour.
Shwachman, Irene
Children walking on Monroe Street.
Shwachman, Irene
Freedom House Play School.
Grant, Arnold.
Clique Club members in rehearsal for Scholarship Benefit Review.
Fitzgerald, Ed.