Meet The Noonan’s, An Uncommon Family Of 15 Living In 1920’s Massachusetts

The 1920’s were a fascinating time in American history! Jazz, flappers, prohibition, gangsters… The decade was rich with fantastic headlines and characters. On the less glamorous side of things, America’s family culture saw a major shift during this period. Families began to shrink, and the nuclear family rose to popularity. But one family– the Noonan family of Lawrence, Massachusetts– apparently didn’t get the “2.5 kids” memo.

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Maurice Noonan, an Irish immigrant and pub owner, and his wife Mabel were Dad and Mom to 13 children during this period. THIRTEEN! The Noonan family was 1920’s version of the Gilbreth family! (Remember the Gilbreth’s? Cheaper By The Dozen?)

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Their massive family was so unusual, that photographer Leslie Jones from the Boston-Herald Traveler visited their home to document scenes of the family. Her photographs are still amazing today!

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There were 10 girls, 2 boys, and one baby (gender unknown) at the time Jones photographed the Noonans. Can you imagine being a little boy in that family and growing up with 10 sisters?

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Recently, Maralin Manning and John Noonan– grand-children of Maurice and Mabel– stepped forward and identified their family photos when they saw the photos online. They shared the tragic news that Mabel and the youngest child, the baby in these photos, passed away about 4 years after Jones took these photos. Maurice was left to raise 12 children on his own.

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Despite the sadness in Mabel and the baby’s untimely passing, there is still joy in knowing that the Noonan legacy continues today, almost a century later!

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Share these incredible, nostalgic photos today!

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