Brattle Street


The History of Boston Immigrants and Restaurants Project seeks to provide a glimpse into the lives of immigrants who settled in Boston and how they remained connected to their countries of origin as they established themselves. This project has gone through numerous stages and will hopefully continue to develop with additional in-depth research and analysis as future groups are able to comb through the data. 

The first goal of the project was to create a map of Boston Ethnic restaurants based off of data from the Boston City Directory from 1895 and 1926. The ethnicity of restaurant owners was determined where possible through digitized records largely from United States Censuses, United States Immigration Records, City Directories from other years, marriage records, and birth records or some combination of multiple of the above. Though as complete as we could get it in a short amount of time, the map is by no means a complete record of all ethnic restaurants in Boston during that period.

The second goal of the project centered on people of various immigrant groups who settled in Boston during the period roughly between 1890 to 1940. Utilizing sources such as advertisements in newspapers and menus preserved in archives in conjunction with the map from the first phase of the project, students honed in on specific sets if immigrants and their restaurants in order to answer questions such as when and where these restaurants began to appear, what was their appeal, how did they change over time, and how do they compare to restaurants from these same groups today.

It is our hope that this project will continue to develop and that people will find the data and analysis provided useful to their own interests and/or historical research. Additionally, we hope that it can be expanded into the periods before and after our focus to gain a more complete understanding of immigration and food within Boston as the city has developed.

Last updated: December 15, 2021