Is your surname Shaw?

Research the Shaw family

Pauline Shaw's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Pauline Shaw (Agassiz)

Birthdate: (76)
Birthplace: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Death: 1917 (76)
Boston, MA, USA (2,000 celebrated her life at her memorial service)
Place of Burial: Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Louis Agassiz and Cècile Braun
Wife of Quincy Adams Shaw
Mother of Louis Agassiz Shaw; Marian Shaw; Quincy Adams Shaw, Jr.; Pauline Shaw; Robert Gould Shaw, II and 1 other
Sister of Alexander Emanuel Agassiz and Ida Olympe Frederika Higginson

Occupation: Social reformer, philanthropist
Managed by: Amos Eagle Elliston
Last Updated:

About Pauline Shaw

Pauline Agassiz Shaw (1841 – 1917) was an American philanthropist and social reformer who opened day nurseries, settlement houses, and other establishments in Boston to help new immigrants and the poor. She introduced kindergartens to Boston's public schools, and co-founded America's first trade school, the North Bennet Street School. She was also a vocal advocate for women's rights.


In 1881, when Pauline Agassiz Shaw (1841-1917) founded the North Bennet Street School to train primarily European Jewish and Italian immigrants in skilled trades, Boston’s North End was home to thousands of recent immigrants who crowded into the neighborhood’s tenement houses in search of a better life.

The once fashionable neighborhood of the 1600s and 1700s had by the mid-1800s become an over-crowded place for mariners and those employed in the maritime trades. In the following century, the promise of jobs in the newly industrialized America brought the Irish, Portuguese, Polish, Armenians, European Jews, and Italians to the North End. Philanthropists and social reformers like Pauline Agassiz Shaw, Helen Osborne Storrow (Paul Revere Pottery), and Lina Hecht (Hebrew Industrial School) responded by establishing organizations where immigrants could receive education, training, and services. The North Bennet Street School—America’s first trade school— today holds an international reputation for courses in fine furniture, architectural restoration, violin making, furniture, and carpentry.

Pauline Agassiz Shaw’s memorial service was held on Easter Sunday, 1917, at Faneuil Hall in Boston. An estimated 2,000 people attended, including David Walsh, the Governor of Massachusetts, and Charles W. Eliot, the former president of Harvard, to pay tribute to a pioneering woman whose “expectation of good from the untried, social work, kindergartens, day nurseries, manual training, prevocational and industrial classes now enrich and broaden the lives of our young people,” George Greener eulogized. “Life to her was large and broad and her ideas have spread across the country … she never regarded her work as completed.”

view all

Pauline Shaw's Timeline

Neuchâtel, Switzerland
September 18, 1861
Age 20
Boston, MA, USA
July 28, 1863
Age 22
February 21, 1866
Age 25
Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France
July 30, 1869
Age 28
Boston, MA, USA
June 16, 1872
Age 31
Boston, MA, USA
Age 76
Boston, MA, USA
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States