On the Freedom Trail, One Woman Finds Fun in History

Katie Tingle, 26, points across the Boston Common during an afternoon tour. Tingle has worked for The Freedom Trail Foundation giving historical tours of Boston for nearly a year. Jan. 27, 2018. Photo by Taylor Kocher / BU News Service.

By Taylor Kocher
BU News Service

BOSTON — Hannah Mather Crocker was born in June of 1752 in the North End of Boston, later becoming a champion for women’s rights and a spy during the American Revolution.

But in 2018, Crocker is portrayed by Katie Tingle, 26 — a Brighton resident and a Freedom Trail Tour Guide.

When people approach Tingle for the tour, she asks where they are from, why they are in Boston and what they have done so far. Often, she will ask for one interesting fact about where they are from.

On the approximately 90-minute walking tour, Tingle guides groups along 11 of the 15-point Freedom Trail and gives tour-goers a history lesson the best way she knows how — with a mix of humor and wit.

“I’m pretty silly and it took me a while to accept that’s OK,” Tingle said. “People, when going on a walking tour, they want that. Most people don’t want a history lesson; they want to have a good time while learning.”

Originally from Sahuarita, Arizona, Tingle moved to Boston to study psychology and religion at Wellesley College.

After graduating in 2014, she spent over three years working for law firms before she applied to be a Freedom Trail tour guide. She also does ghost tours and works at a scavenger hunt company.

Tingle said she hates the typical nine-to-five job.

“I didn’t want to be a lawyer and I didn’t want to be a career paralegal,” Tingle said. “Both of those are great career choices, but not for me. So when I quit my job, I didn’t know what I was going to do. All I knew is that I didn’t want to do this.”

On her tours, Tingle delivers fact after fact on Boston history, appearing at ease and confident. But it took her some time to learn her craft.

“One tour, I was just feeling really hyper that day and I laughed a lot. I made some dumb jokes that just came to me, and it went really well and people told me how much they loved it,” Tingle said. “That was the tour where I didn’t talk about some things that I’d always been talking about because … I was like, ‘This is boring, I don’t want to talk about it.’”

Tingle, with her love of history combined with her fun-loving attitude, doesn’t let the cold of winter affect her. In fact, she praises people who join her on these days.

“You could have been inside under a blanket but instead you are outside on the streets in Boston, learning about history, which means you are my kind of people!” Tingle tells them.

Her best friend, Rachel Wehr, can attest to Tingle being the perfect guide for the Freedom Trail.

“Katie loves history and stories, and I think she really loves the idea of making history come to life for someone,” Wehr said. “I think that she really likes to engage other people. She’s not having a good time unless everyone else is having a good time too.”

Tingle’s older sister, Emily Tingle, saw her grow and learn over the years. She said her sister likes attention only when she feels it is earned.

“She’s pretty commanding,” Emily Tingle said. “She likes the attention. She likes to do a good job. She likes people to listen to her and I think that’s pretty evident.”

The older Tingle spoke of her sister’s confidence, something she said hasn’t changed since they were kids. She said her sister would rather do something she wanted to do alone than something she didn’t want to do with friends.

“Even if she is afraid to do things, she often doesn’t show it and she’s not afraid to do things by herself, which is something that I really admire about her,” Emily Tingle said. “What makes her her is the total comfort with independence.”

Tingle’s confidence shines through in her tours and her love for her work.

“It doesn’t matter that you don’t know anything right now because I’m going to tell you as much as I can and we’re going to have a good time today,” Tingle tells her tours. “Then [the tourists] leave and even if they don’t remember everything, as long as they remember one thing, I’ll be like,‘Yeah, we had a good time today.’”

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