When you look in the Boston Globe Library Collection folder labeled “Valentines,” you might be surprised to find a photo of a Valentine whose central feature is former Governor Michael Dukakis. The reason the Globe had this Dukakis Valentine from 1978? In 1978, Valentine’s Day was four days long.
The year of 1978 is infamous in Boston history due primarily to a blizzard bringing over 27 inches of snow on February 6. With a week-long driving ban imposed by Governor Dukakis, along with families and businesses navigating the damage of the blizzard, the incredible amount of snow over such a short period of time deeply impacted and impeded the city economically and socially. This all happened leading up to Valentine’s Day, worrying businesses who heavily relied on the holiday’s sales of flowers, cards, and candies. Governor Dukakis had a creative solution.
In a February 1978 State House Press Conference, Dukakis said that “for spiritual as well as economic reasons,” the Valentine’s Day holiday would not only be observed on Tuesday, February 14th, but also February 15th, 16th, and 17th, and it would culminate with a Valentine’s party on Friday afternoon at the State House.
Thanks to Dukakis’ Valentine’s decree, sweethearts across Boston had ample time to secure flowers and chocolates for their loved ones, and stores furnishing those gifts wouldn’t be stuck with an abundance of Valentine’s stock.
The Boston Globe printed this Valentine dedicated to Dukakis in their February 14, 1978, paper, beginning their documentation of Valentine’s observances throughout the four-day-long celebration.
Nortonsmith was originally hired as a Project Archivist for the CRRJ, tasked with compiling anti-Black homicide case records from the Jim Crow era into a collection to allow for accessibility and trend study by researchers. In the article, she discusses her work and the overarching goals of both representing the work of the CRRJ while also maintaining “the dignity and respect for victims and their families.”
To do this, Nortonsmith and the rest of the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive team centralized the victims’ lives and stories, not just the crime that was committed against them. In her article, she discusses approaching each record as referring to a real person and not an abstract notion. Often that included discovering and using victims’ real names, instead of alternate names or misspellings that are common in the records.
“We wanted to build an archive which illuminated CRRJ’s work and that led us to put the victim and their story foremost in arrangement, description, and access,” Nortonsmith wrote.
The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archives contains investigative records from federal and local entities as well as records from advocacy groups and letters from family and community members advocating for justice. They also included death certificates, newspaper articles, photos, and more. Taken together, these records provide a complete story of the prevalence of anti-Black violence and murder in the Jim Crow South from 1930-1954 and the failures of the justice system to solve these crimes and punish the perpetrators.
As archivists, Nortonsmith and her team made sure these records were catalogued and organized in a way that included and highlighted all parts of the victims’ life and story. Working with such subject matter was difficult, but “knowing that we were helping to bring these stories forward once again went a long way toward keeping us moving forward,” Nortonsmith wrote.
Congratulations to Alex Kane, who won the January prize drawing and has been awarded a digital gift card to Bookshop.org! And a huge thank you to everyone who read a book and told us about it. You still have eleven more chances to win, so keep reading!
What You Read This Month
January’s theme was “a book you read years ago that you may feel differently about now,” and we had so much fun hearing from students, faculty, and staff about their re-reading adventures. Did that childhood fave live up to the memories? Is that classic still a classic? Was that high school snoozer better the second time around? Here are just a few of the books you read this month, and what you thought about them!
“I’m really enjoying re-reading all the Hunger Games books ever since I saw the new movie (The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes) that came out. I’m about halfway through Mockingjay right now and all 3 books are truly so captivating and well written. There’s never a dull moment.” — Kylie
I read [The Hunger Games] in middle school, so reading the first book again in college, I was able to see it in a very different light. Suzanne Collins wrote a series that is a great commentary on today’s society towards human inequality and consumerism as well.” — Amy
“I don’t read YA anymore, but I love reading sci-fi and speculative fiction, so The Hunger Games still fits in with somethingI would read/enjoy today. I can happily say I think it still holds up! I loved all the foreshadowing Suzanne Collins includes in this book, revisiting the story, and seeing how much I remembered.” — Emily
“I hated [The Sun Also Rises] when I first read it in high school a few years ago. I hated the pace and didn’t find it to be stimulating or enjoyable to read at all. My second reading made me realize there was a beauty in the mundaneness this book is representing. I feel more connected to the novel knowing that many of the characters and plot points are inspired by Hemingway’s own experiences! I found much more value in my second reading than my initial one!” — Meg
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is “still great! 👏” — Michal
“I first read [The Perks of Being a Wallflower] when I was in grade 7. It is a coming-of-age young fiction novel which I really resonated with back then and still do. I found the protagonist’s lifestyle and mindset very similar to my own and have read this book more than 30 times. I feel that when I read it now, I can much better understand the motivations and behaviors of the protagonist rather than just feeling them. It all makes much more sense now. I feel the emotional parts of the book more heavily as well now.” — Anish
“When i was reading [Percy Jackson and the Olympians] at the age of 12, all the things Percy did in the book were very cool. Now that I’m older than that, I think he’s way too young to do any of the things he did!” — Ross
“When I was younger, I was obsessed with [the Percy Jackson and the Olympians] series, reading it now as an adult is a really weird experience. I still like the books very much but it feels harder to relate to the characters. It was a really nice experience to re-read this book as I felt like I haven’t read something so fun and full of myth in a while.”— Arianna
“It was great to re-read a book I haven’t read since I was in grade school. Getting to read [Percy Jackson and the Olympians] again as an adult meant I was able to pick up on new things, and it was nice to have a simple and easy read for after work. Reading books that I’ve read as a child gives me a new perspective, and also makes me proud of how far I’ve come in my reading journey from a young child to a young adult. While I didn’t think differently about the story itself, it was great to relive the memories of reading as a kid.”— Alex
“I read Dune a long time ago when the intricacies of politics and human interaction escaped my then-immature brain! But reading it again now, since the movie came out to pique my interest, I am absolutely absorbed by the story.” — Sudhavna
And What to Read Next Month
February’s theme is “a book with a color in the title,” which offers so many possibilities:
Since October, Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections processing assistants have been inventorying the records of Stull & Lee, a Boston-based architectural and urban design firm founded by Donald Stull in 1966. The firm is still active today, under the leadership of David Lee. The records held by Northeastern date from the 1960s to the early 2000s, spanning over 400 boxes and 700 tubes, and they document hundreds of projects, including the Southwest Corridor, Ruggles Station, and Roxbury Community College. Meet our processing assistants as they go through the collection, box by box.
I’m Samuel Edwards (he/him). I just completed my Master of Arts degree in Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives Management at Simmons University, and I have a Bachelor of Arts in History and Playwriting from Hampshire College in western Massachusetts. Some of my interests in archives include the history of social movements, LGBTQ+ history, local history, and anti-racist archival work. Outside of my archival work, I enjoy creative writing, theater, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with my friends.
Working on the Stull & Lee records has been an enlightening experience. I didn’t have a lot of familiarity with architecture or architectural records prior to working on this collection, but it’s fascinating to realize how much goes into creating just one building. You don’t just have the architects, but also electricians, plumbers, and other trades that help create the building. I have a newfound appreciation for buildings that previously just blended into the background, especially the buildings I walk by daily on my way to Northeastern which were designed by Stull & Lee, such as Ruggles Station.
I’m Julia Lee (she/her). I recently graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre, and my final co-op was as a digital assistant for the Massachusetts Archives. My archival interests include early American history, including the Revolutionary War, Asian-American history, and the history of Boston.
For me, working with the Stull & Lee records started with inventorying boxes of files belonging to several architects, including the firm’s namesakes Donald Stull and David Lee. It turns out that the two men had quite distinct organizational styles. While several of Lee’s folders included colorful titles patterned after the T’s Orange Line signs, Stull favored concise alphabetization for his files. I’ve enjoyed the greater understanding I’ve gained of Boston’s architecture, transit, and public works through working with the collection, especially about the area around Northeastern, where I’ve lived for over four years now. This is my second time working in an archive, and it has served to solidify my goal of obtaining a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science in the coming years.
I’m Aleks Renerts (he/him). I am a current graduate student at Simmons University in the dual Master of Arts degree program in History and Library and Information Science, with a concentration in Archives Management. My academic background is in history, with a focus on the Hispanic world and histories of class, gender, and colonialism. I received my Bachelor of Arts in History from McGill University, and have since partially redirected my focus to archives and archival research.
Something I’ve found interesting in the Stull & Lee records is the massive degree of collaboration that every architectural project depends on. Memos, notes, letters, logs, and drawings are sent back and forth with revisions, showing the complex process that goes into completing a project. There’s an incredible level of detail for all the parts of a completed structure, from steel framing and floor tiles to the mechanics of a door lock. Working on Stull & Lee has given me an appreciation of just how much detailed work goes into every part of constructing a building.
Read a book! The Mass. Center for the Book has chosen a reading theme for each month of 2024. To participate in the challenge, read at least one book each month that fits the theme.
Not sure what to read? Northeastern librarians have put together a handy suggested reading list in OverDrive (yes, ebooks and audiobooks count, too!). If you’re on the Boston campus, you can also stop by our monthly tabling events in the Snell Library lobby to check out a selection of on-theme print books—and pick up some great Reading Challenge swag!
Here are the themes for the year:
January: A book you read years ago that you may feel differently about now
February: A book with a color in the title
March: A book whose protagonist has a different culture or lifestyle from you
April: A book about nature, the environment, or climate change
May: A graphic novel
June: A book that inspired a film or television series
July: A book by an author born outside the United States
August: A book whose title starts with the same letter as your birthday month
September: A debut book by a Massachusetts author
October: A book about a time in history you’d like to know more about
November: A relaxing, soul-soothing book
December: A well-reviewed book in your least favorite genre
Tell us about it! Once you’ve read your book, just fill out a quick questionnaire on the library website. Library staff will draw one name each month to win a prize!
Want more chances to win? Make sure you also complete the submission form on the Mass. Center for the Book website! They’ll be doing monthly drawings and prize giveaways all year.
From Northeastern University Library Prizes for Northeastern students, faculty, and staff will vary by month, but may include:
gift cards to local bookstores
a stocked study room during finals week for Boston campus students
finals week care packages for students at global campuses
Northeastern University Library swag
All Northeastern students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to participate in the challenge, even if you’re not based at the Boston campus.
From Mass. Center for the Book Readers who log their reading on the Mass. Center for the Book website also have the opportunity to win additional prizes! From the MBC website:
Dedicated readers will be invited to a year-end celebration hosted by Mass. Center for the Book.
If you read a book in each of the 12 months, you will be entered in a drawing to win 1 of 2 totes filled with books.
New this year! We will be drawing two names on the last day of each month to win a free book! Make sure you get those entries in before the end of the month!