Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain High School,  Elm St., Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA. <br />

Jamaica Plain High School, circa 1920-1960. 

Jamaica Plain, also known as "J.P.,” began as part of the town of Roxbury in 1630, then seceded to become part of the new town of West Roxbury in 1851. Boston annexed West Roxbury in 1874, making J.P. part of Boston proper. By 1960, the neighborhood had a population of 53,000. It was ninety-five percent white, but economically diverse. Middle-class residents resided in single- and two-family homes, while working class families lived in two-family homes, three-deckers, and public housing. According to author Jim Vrabel in his book, A People's History of the New Boston, Jamaica Plain “had long been home to residents known for supporting liberal causes--- among them John Eliot…. Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the feminist Margaret Fuller.”

What were the experiences and opinions of Jamaica Plain residents?

The following items showcase two different opinions on busing, shaped by different life experiences. The first item is a letter to Judge W. Arthur Garrity, the federal judge who ordered that Boston's public schools be desegregated, from a resident who had been mugged. This experience left her strongly opposed to desegregation. The second item is an interview with a former resident, whose family supported desegregation. Their experience of having a black son shaped their support for busing. These two items are random samples of the diverse opinions found in Jamaica Plain. 


"They (the colored people) made a hell-hole of Mission Hill, so let them stay there. It was fine before they came." 

"Well, they certainly felt it was important to have racially mixed schools."


Vrabel, Jim. A People’s History of the New Boston. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2014.

W. Arthur Garrity Jr. Papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case, 1972-1997. Series LXVII. Correspondence, 1973-1994. University Archives & Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Boston.



Jamaica Plain