Marion Eiseman

b. 1905

Marion (Becker) Eiseman was born in New York City in 1905 but moved to Boston at a young age when her father died of a cerebral hemorrhage. She was raised in an assimilated Jewish family. She lived with her mother and grandparents in the South End of Boston and their summer home in Swampscott. She graduated from Smith College and graduated in 1927. She became active in the community of Temple Israel in Cambridge and several area social service organizations. Marion married Phillip Eiseman, a bank executive, soon afterward. Marion dedicated herself to caring for their daughter, Ann. She also busied herself with volunteering. Marion was the President of the Visiting Nurses Association at one time. She also supported the Boston Symphony, the Cambridge Foundation, and the resettlement of Jews to America during World War II. Marion also remembers volunteering to track American military airplanes during the war. In addition, with a few friends, she started A Call to Action on WBZ Radio, which continues to this day. It is a telephone hotline that people can call to help get their problems or disputes resolved. Although Marion was critical of organized religion, she maintained a very strong Jewish cultural identity. 

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Scope and Content Note

Marion describes her childhood in Boston. Her father died when she was young, and Marion and her mother moved in with her grandparents in South Boston. Marion talks about her time at Smith College, where she met her husband and was married soon after. Marion remembers living through the Great Depression and its impact on her family. She discusses her involvement with and membership at Temple Israel and her frustration with the institution when the rabbi would not officiate Marion's daughter's wedding because she was marrying out of the Jewish faith. During World War II, Marion and her husband Philip were actively involved in the resettlement movement of Jews to America. Marion remembers the Jewish holidays she enjoys celebrating and the traditions, customs, and foods involved. She explains how she and her friends started Call for Action. Marion shares her political views and opinions on the various presidential administrations she has lived through. She also talks about her volunteer work, supporting various non-profits and civic organizations, such as United Jewish Philanthropies, Planned Parenthood, the Boston Symphony, Visiting Nurses, and the Cambridge Foundation. Finally, Marion reflects on the lives of her three grandchildren, traveling with her husband before he died, and how Boston has changed in more than ninety years that she has lived there.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Marion Eiseman. Interviewed by Emily Mehlman. 19 May 1997. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 26, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/eiseman-marion>.

Oral History of Marion Eiseman by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.