This Saturday the Jamaica Plain Historical Society is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Emily Greene Balch, JP's only Nobel Peace Prize winner. January 8th will also be designated Emily Greene Balch Day in Jamaica Plain from a declaration and proclamation by City Councilor Matt O'Malley.
Emily Greene Balch was born on January 8th, 1867 in Jamaica Plain. Balch's grandparents moved to JP in the 1820's and for more than 100 years and four generations, the Balch family were leading members of the First Church of Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist, said Balch biographer, Dr. Kristen Gwinn-Becker.
In 1946, Balch became the second American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her visionary work with the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Balch credited the church's Rev. Charles Fletcher Dole as a key inspiration in her work for peace and social justice, said Gwinn-Becker.
Gwinn-Becker, who authored "Emily Greene Balch: The Long Road to Internationalism," will speak and lead a discussion about Balch at the First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian Universalist (6 Eliot St.) on January 8th from 2 to 4 pm. George Wardle, the historian of the First Church, will be presenting the windows dedicated to Balch's parents and also to Emily Greene, who was Balch's mother's best friend and was Emily Greene Balch's namesake. The event is free and open to the public.
In celebration of Balch's 150th birthday, O’Malley is designating January 8 as Emily Greene Balch Day in Jamaica Plain for her long-standing family ties to the JP community and church, and her significant contributions toward peace and social reform in the world .
"The history of Jamaica Plain is full of reformers and progressives, but Emily Greene Balch may be our most prominent star in this area. So far, she's the only person from JP to win the Nobel Peace Prize! We are so excited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of her birth on January 8th," said Gretchen Grozier, president of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society.