Rosa Marie Finocchietti Levis, 1878 – 1959
Rosa Marie Finocchietti Levis was born March 17, 1878 on Hull Street in the North End of Boston. Her parents had emigrated from Genoa, Italy and would eventually have a family of nine children.
Hull Street in the North end of Boston is now recognized as an historic district on the Women’s Heritage Trail, a path through the city that highlights the lives and accomplishments of many of Boston’s remarkable women. Although she did not know them, Rosa might have been influenced by the fact that such forward-thinking activists as Lucy Stone, Abigail Adams and Sarah Josepha Hale had lived in the district near her home. The Paul Revere Pottery Center was located on Hull Street, and offered employment for local Italian and Jewish women. Even as a young girl Rosa felt the responsibility to civic service, volunteering to translate for doctors at Hull Street Medical Center, becoming intrinsically involved in the activities in her community.
In 1897 Rosa married Albert Warren Levis, a sculptor who had emigrated from Florence, principally to design a bronze door for the Chicago Exposition of 1893. The young couple settled in the North End where they raised their family of six children, three boys and three girls.
Despite the work of raising a large family Rosa began her suffrage activities in 1910. The headquarters for the Massachusetts Women’s Suffrage Association was located within easy reach of her home, so it was relatively easy for her to attend meetings and listen to speeches. During World War I the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) decided to continue their suffrage activities while helping with the war effort. Rosa joined with other members of the association to roll bandages and create kits for Italian-American soldiers fighting in the war. She took part in food conservation efforts and sold War Bonds. While she was proud of her Italian-American heritage she worked to better the lives of her fellow citizens through insuring that both men and women enjoyed political equality. After suffrage was attained she continued to be involved in the social, political, and religious women’s organizations of Boston’s Italian community, while taking pride in her belief that she was the very first Italian-American suffragist. She died in 1959 at the age of 82.
Happy Birthday, Rosa Marie Finocchietti Levis!
The banner is from the Rosa Marie Finocchietti Levis papers, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.