Archives and Special Collections joins New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC)

Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections, housed in Snell Library, has joined the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC). The NERFC is a collaboration of 30 cultural institutions and repositories across New England whose collections reflect the long and diverse history of the region.

The Archives and Special Collections will host stipended two-week residencies for NERFC fellows starting in 2020. Their research will make use of the University’s unique resources on Boston’s history of social justice activism, neighborhoods and public infrastructure, as well as records from individuals and organizations part of the city’s African American, Asian American, LGBTQA, Latinx and other communities.

The consortium’s fellowship program is designed to promote research across a variety of institutions and metropolitan areas in New England. To that end, the NERFC grants two dozen awards every year. Fellows receive a stipend of $5,000 with the requirement that they conduct their research in at least three of the participating institutions for periods of two weeks each.

The diverse group of institutions in the NERFC offer research opportunities in collections that span the region’s time period, from pre–European contact to the present day. Past awards have funded research on a wide array of topics conducted by scholars and independent researchers from across the US.

The Archives and Special Collections encourages researchers in the Northeastern community and beyond to apply to NERFC’s fellowship program by the February 1, 2020 deadline.

To learn more about the application requirements and other participating institutions, please visit the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium website.

Boston Research Center Receives $650,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Library is pleased to announce that it has received a $650,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to implement the next phase of the Boston Research Center (BRC). The Boston Research Center is based in the Northeastern University Library and is dedicated to the study of Boston, enabling researchers from around the world to shed light on the city’s past, present, and future. The BRC serves as a place for students and scholars, Boston residents, and anyone interested in the history and culture of Boston to work together to combine special collections and contemporary data in an effort to better understand the past and envision the future.

This next phase of the BRC’s growth will, through partnerships with Boston community organizations, focus on the development of new digital collections and technological systems to empower these organizations to tell the story of their work and their neighborhoods. This builds on the strengths of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, a frequent partner with organizations in Boston and a trusted steward of local community archives, and will allow the BRC to serve as a digital community history lab where the creation of new collections and technology is driven by the needs of the people whose histories are represented in those collections. It also serves as a further iteration of the Library’s work to build inclusive information systems for cultural heritage.

The BRC is also now entering into a new partnership with the Boston Public Library. The Boston Public Library will play a key role in community outreach and technology development by drawing upon its extensive history of technological innovation and active partnerships with neighborhood communities served by its library branches. David Leonard, President of the Boston Public Library, said, “We are thrilled to take our relationship with Northeastern to a whole new level and collaborate on preserving and extending the reach of local neighborhood history and culture across Boston.”

“We deeply appreciate The Mellon Foundation’s generous support for this critical next phase of the Boston Research Center and how it forges strong connections with communities around Boston and with the Boston Public Library,” said Dan Cohen, the Dean of the Library at Northeastern. “And we look forward to helping to reveal new insights about our city through the BRC’s network of individuals and institutions.”

Queer (In)Time: Student Curated Exhibit Using Archives and Special Collections Opens

On October 1, in celebration of “OUTTober” on Northeastern’s campus, an exhibit made in collaboration with the LGBTQA Resource Center and the Archives and Special Collections will open in the Center for Intercultural Engagement at 5:00pm.

The exhibit, titled “Queer (In)Time,” explores the array of Boston LGBTQA history housed in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections. Student curators, Jess Bardio and Nate Brown, who also work at the LGBTQA Resource Center, selected material for display focusing on four themes: Northeastern University LGBTQA Organizations, AIDS Activism in Boston, Existing LGBTQA organizations in Boston, and Intersectionality in Boston LGBTQA history.

Jess Bardio, who curated the AIDS Activism and Northeastern University LGBTQA Organizations portions of the exhibit, reflected on her curation:

"As an engineering student, I don't often get to work on projects relating to history or culture. Getting the opportunity to go through Snell Library's archives and experience Boston's queer history for myself was really inspiring, and getting to curate an exhibit that I get to share with my community feels really powerful.

This work came at an especially important time in my life—this weekend I attended the Out for Undergrad Engineering conference. Having the time and space to reflect on the progress made by the queer community really helped me put this weekend in perspective and make the most of my time with fellow 'engiqueers'!"

[caption id="attachment_275277" align="alignnone" width="232"] “Ally Card” business card handed out by Northeastern University Bisexual, Lesbian, and Gay Alliance for the Ally Project (1998)[/caption]

Nate Brown, who curated the Existing LGBTQA Organizations and Intersectionality in Boston LGBTQA portions of the exhibit reflected on their work:

"I felt responsible to use this source material carefully, to present the past without erasing anyone's contributions to it, in order to tell a story that could resonate with all queer people and not just the most visible. I spent a lot of time wondering about the people who wrote the articles or were pictured in the photos, and where they had gone since then, or if they were even still around today.

It struck me that the queer community in Boston and across the country used to be much tighter knit and more communal, and over the years (through the AIDS crisis, gentrification, lopsided social acceptance) we've grown apart. It's my hope that examining the past can help us grow back together in the future, and promote a sense of unity and responsibility to lift each other up."

[caption id="attachment_275281" align="alignnone" width="236"] Mass Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus flyer regarding gay & lesbian civil rights bill, 1989[/caption]

Come to the Center for Intercultural Engagement on October 1 at 5pm to celebrate the opening of the exhibit. Find more about the event on the LGBTQA Resource Center site. The exhibit was generously funded through a grant from the Northeastern Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

Learn more about our LGBTQA Special Collections by visiting lgbtqahistory.library.northeastern.edu.

Design for Diversity Project Releases Toolkit for Inclusive Information Systems

Design for Diversity logo The Design for Diversity project team is excited to announce the Design for Diversity Toolkit. The Design for Diversity initiative, supported by an IMLS National Forums Grant, is based in the Digital Scholarship Group at the Northeastern University Library. It focuses on the ways in which information systems embody and reinforce cultural norms, and asks how we might design systems that account for diverse cultural materials and ways of knowing. Both the Toolkit and the final grant report (forthcoming) provide samples of the different kinds of information, actions, and next steps that can help achieve more equitable information systems in libraries, museums, and archives.

The Toolkit itself is a prototype collection of learning resources and strategies, designed to explore methods for empowering cultural heritage practitioners advocating for more inclusive information systems. These resources, gathered between 2016 and 2018, can be used in a classroom, professional development workshop, or workplace task force or study group. The Toolkit serves as an example of how libraries, archives, and museums might educate and organize for change.

The grant team commissioned two forms of original writing for the Toolkit: case studies and study paths. (We are deeply grateful to our case study and study path authors.) Case studies are specific analyses of information and computer systems, using inclusivity as a frame. Study paths combine those case studies with readings and a learning activity to animate the Toolkit, giving learners a way to engage with the ideas; for example, through performing a detailed analysis of systems at their workplace. These case studies and study paths are brought together with a selection of impactful readings and videos focused on inclusive information systems and categorized into major topics.

The members of the grant team are eager to receive feedback, which may be provided via Twitter, email, or the Toolkit website. Over the coming weeks and months the team will be promoting the Toolkit on Twitter; follow @Des4Div for the latest updates.

The Design for Diversity Team, 2016-2019: Des Alaniz, Mattie Clear, Julia Flanders, Nancy Loi, Cara Marta Messina, Amanda Rust, Sarah Sweeney

This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [LG-73-16-0126-16]. The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

100,000 public items available in the DRS!

The 100,000th publicly available file in the Digital Repository Service was deposited in July: a dissertation from the English Department titled Women Writing Racelessness: Performativity And Racial Absence In Twentieth Century Women's Writing, by Sarah Payne. This milestone was achieved through the library's and the university's commitment to supporting open access to the scholarly output of the university, as well as to the archival artifacts that document the university's history.

Many of the 100,000 public files are discoverable through Google and other search engines, as well as portals like the Digital Commonwealth and the Digital Public Library of America, which are designed to bring together digitized materials from various sources. Thanks to the openness of these materials, the DRS averages more than 2,000 unique visitors and more than 3,600 file interactions each day. Public materials stored in the DRS have been cited by regional and national news organizations, including the New York Times and WBUR, as well as in Reddit discussions and Wikipedia articles.

Here are a few digital collections for you to explore:

The DRS will continue to grow as Northeastern faculty, staff, and students continue to produce articles, images, research, and artifacts that represent the tremendous work happening at the university. Faculty and staff are welcome to sign in to the DRS and upload their own research publications, presentations, monographs, and datasets at their leisure. To get started uploading lots of materials for large projects, contact your subject librarian or the library's Repository Team: Library-Repository-Team[@]neu.edu.