Who was Elisha Converse?

Elijah Slade Converse. Source: Wikipedia

2020 marks the 200th anniversary year of the birth of Elisha Slade Converse, the first mayor of Malden and a major benefactor to the city. The video, “Who Was Elisha Converse?” (posted below) was produced by youth this past summer as part of the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP). Fengying Guo, Bridget Gately, and Joshua Dube worked at MATV, Malden’s Media Center (soon to be UMA) to co-produce this six-minute video.

“The most interesting thing to me about Elisha Converse was researching and learning about his incredible impact on Malden,” said Gately. “But what stuck out to me was his project on the creation of Fellsmere Pond after the burning of the Boston Rubber Shoe Company and how he paid all of his workers when they were out of work following the fire.”

MSYEP workers at MATV last summer. From left: Joshua Dube, Bridget Gately, and Fengying Guo

“Before we started the Converse project, I knew nothing about our first mayor, but I learned a lot about him as we worked on this project,” said Guo. “We all worked together to do research and we attended two of the Converse 2020 events through the library. Then we spent a few days filming footage and doing the speaking parts. After that, we started doing the editing and picking out the background music. It took about three weeks to complete the project.”

“I liked working on the project because Elisha Converse did so much for our town and I didn’t know about him,” said Dube. “We also learned how to use a camera and edit videos.”

Check out the video created by these three young people and learn more about the man who was so central to the history of Malden. And keep an eye on the library’s calendar and website for upcoming Converse 2020 events.

About annedr 50 Articles
Anne D'Urso-Rose is the Associate Director at Urban Media Arts in Malden. She is the coordinator and a contributing journalist for Neighborhood View.


  1. While the efforts to tell about Mr. Converse are commendable, there are a few moments that require correction, addition or improvement. The name of the first Mayor of Malden was Elisha (not Elijah) Slade Converse. The comments should not be so fast spoken – good documentary deserves good pronunciation. The comments’ intonations (barely suppressed laugh) in the part about the murder of Frank Converse sound strange: when you tell about the tragedy, even if it happened so many years ago, compassion is expected. The Fellsmere Park was open to public in 1899. Mr. Converse also built Malden Auditorium, Home for Aged People, created the Industrial Aid Society, participated in the construction of the First Baptist Church. He and his brother gave money for the New England Baptist hospital, Wellesley College, & Tremont Church. Mr. Converse & his wife also helped the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea.

    • Hi Inna. Thank you so much for your feedback. The name spelling was my (horrifying!) mistake & I just fixed it. It’s correct on the video. The improvements suggested for the video are valid but are not possible to do – thanks for making the written corrections here. Great to have a local historian expert weigh in! The youth did a fabulous job given their starting point and time frame.

      • Elisha Slade Converse was my great great great grandfather. The video taught me things I didn’t know, even though I have researched him, as well. The video was very interesting, and I appreciate all the work that went into its production. Thank you!

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