When Jackson Davidow was looking for information on Boston’s gay community in the 1970s, he knew where to go.
“I’ve long been interested in the relationship between queer politics and queer art, particularly in Boston in the 1970s, a point at which the city was a crucial hub of gay discourse, activism, nightlife, and sex,” said Davidow, a postdoctoral fellow in the “Translating Race” Lab at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University. Gay Community News “was grounded in the political, cultural, and social environments of Boston. For that reason, it is an invaluable resource for researchers who study gay and lesbian life and liberation in Boston and beyond.”
Gay Community News (GCN) was started in 1973 by eight Bostonians seeking to create a community voice for gays and lesbians in the Boston area. Originally published as a 2-page mimeographed sheet, the newspaper grew to have a national and international audience by the late 1970s and became one of the longest-running and most progressive national newspapers in the gay community. It was a natural place to start to gather the information Davidow needed. Issues of the GCN and records from its parent organization, the Bromfield Street Educational Foundation were subsequently donated to the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections (NUASC).
While today’s researchers can contact many archives by email and receive scans of collections remotely, there was a time when physically visiting an Archives was only possible for those who lived in or could travel to the area. To provide more access to collections in the 1980s and 1990s, some Archives made arrangements to microfilm high use portions of their collections. In recent years those microfilms have been digitized and are offered via subscription to libraries — usually at a high cost — and then made available to the students and faculty affiliated with that university, a practice commonly described as “paywalling.”
Unfortunately, this means that the many of the volunteers who wrote and edited articles, turned the crank on the mimeograph machine, or paid to advertise a queer night at a local club no longer have access to the content they created. It’s a trend that Giordana Mecagni, Head of the NUASC, knows all too well. Troubled, she recently published “Tear Down This (Pay)wall!: Equality, Equity, and Liberation for Archivists” in the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies. The piece describes the negative effect paywalled archives have on institutions, archives, and researchers, and focuses on the GCN.
“Having the Gay Community News behind a paywall results in uneven access, where affiliates of universities can access the resource but members of marginalized groups within the queer community may not,” Mecagni wrote.
“Paywalls restrict who has access to archival materials. Many scholars are independent and unattached to academic institutions, or attached to academic institutions that do not have the money to subscribe to special historical resources,” Davidow added.
The NUASC recently completed an effort to made the Gay Community News freely available to anyone by re-scanning the GCN with help from the Boston Public Library’s “Library for the Commonwealth” program. This program provides free scanning services to Massachusetts libraries who have unique materials they want to share widely and freely. Now researchers, students, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, writers, and anyone else can browse through 26 years of the GCN to get a glimpse of the gay community in Boston and around the world.
Researchers like Davidow are thrilled.
“The digitization of GCN helps scholars and community members learn about and revisit these important histories,” he said. “During my research for my recent essay in The Baffler, ‘Against Our Vanishing,’ I talked with many people involved in GCN, and everyone was thrilled to learn that the full run is available online.”
Commons Redesign The library is happy to announce that the Northeastern Commons is relaunching with a new look. The Northeastern Commons is an online platform where Northeastern University students, faculty, staff, and the outside community can come together to share ideas, explore common interests, foster creativity, and expand interdisciplinary thinking.
The redesign was led by Northeastern Commons Coordinator Meg McMahon, with help from Web Developer Jeanine Rodriguez and Digital Accessibility and User Experience Assistant Vanessa Lee. As a team, they re-built the platform with a user-first approach and a focus on digital accessibility of the platform.
Using a variety of methods, including stakeholder and user listening sessions, the team focused on how the current platform was functioning. They took the data gathered during those sessions and created an affinity diagram of user needs for the rebuild. From this network of user needs, they turned to considering system requirements for the platform. Rodriguez pitched the idea of using the BuddyBoss Platform as the codebase because of the overlap between user needs and the features of that specific WordPress plugin.
During the build, Lee conducted an accessibility audit of the BuddyBoss platform, including browser checking, screen reader testing, and mobile testing, which Rodriguez then used as a roadmap for changes to the initial codebase. McMahon worked on user testing and internal testing of the platform to ensure users would be able to use the platform easily. Any issues found during the testing were added to the list of changes to make to the codebase.
Currently, the Commons team is still working on accessibility updates to the platform and feature updates and will continue to do so as the work on the Commons continues.
Commons Features The Northeastern Commons runs on profile and group-based networking. That means users will be able to post, share, and create from their own individual profiles and within groups, which are the primary method of collaboration on the Commons.
Users who set up a user profile can share their research interests, publications, projects, talks, and press. Adding this information to a Commons profile makes it easier for other users to find people with similar research interests, which can lead to greater collaboration between Commons users.
Group collaboration on the Commons is unique based on choice and the subsequent use of those features. Furthermore, there is privacy built into the group design. Visibility of the group depends on the privacy setting of the group: public, private, or hidden. Public groups can be joined or viewed by anyone, whether they are signed into the platform or not. Private groups can be seen on the platform, but members must request or be invited to join. Hidden groups are only visible to those invited to join. Every group regardless of privacy status has the same features, which are:
Feed The feed for groups is the activity feed. Activity can be an update from the organizers of the group, a notification when someone joins the group, a document added to the document table, and any action a member does within the group. Members of the group can also comment on the activity, leading to greater collaboration within the feed.
The feed acts as a living record of the progress and conversation the group is having and is searchable by keyword, which leads to greater discoverability of previous conversations.
Members The members tab is a list of all the members of the group. Users will be able to search for members here, message them, and request a Commons connection, which is like friending on the platform.
Documents The documents tab is a place for the group to upload documents that are relevant to the whole group. The file structure uses folders to sort and separate out documents.
Discussions The discussions tab is a place where group members can create discussion board topics and reply to others’ discussion board topics. These can be subscribed to for easy access through a user’s profile.
Send Messages This tab can be used to send a message to all group members using private messaging. It can also be used to send a message to only a few group members the message creator selects.
Subgroups This tab appears if the parent group has subgroups within it. Subgroups function the same way that a parent group does; it is just nested within the parent group and does not show up in the group search.
Zoom This tab is used to keep a running list of Zoom meetings for the group. If the organizers of the group choose to have the meeting recorded in the cloud, the meeting itself is accessible within the group.
Calendar The calendar is a tab where organizers can create a list of group events which can be viewable in many different calendar forms. This feature must be specifically requested for a group using the Northeastern Commons Consultation form.
Static Pages This is where a group can request to have a static HTML page within their group tabs. Group organizers will be able to add whatever they want to that page and continually update it based on their needs. This feature must be specifically requested for a group using the Northeastern Commons Consultation form.
Next Step for the Commons Going forward, the Northeastern Commons will continue to utilize user needs assessments to grow and build further functionalities, leaning on the collective knowledge and desires of current group organizers and users.
DaVinci Resolve is a very powerful open-source video editing program. Its strength lies in its segmented workflow, allowing the user to work on the project in stages from beginning to completion. The variety of different interfaces the program presents you with may be daunting and confusing at first, but it gives you different opportunities to change the interface to suit your needs. In this tutorial, I will show you the different interfaces for each “stage” of post-production; then I will demonstrate how to customize those given interfaces.
If you don’t already have DaVinci Resolve, you can download the program for free here.
The Basics Media Menu
The first stage of post-production is assembling your project files. In the file explorer, it is important to keep all of the files you plan to use in your project in the same directory. From that directory, you can import you files by right-clicking and selecting “Add Into Media Pool” or by dragging it into the media pool (the bottom panel). You can also drag your files from the Windows File Explorer to the Media Pool. In the middle-center of the interface is the preview panel, where you can preview a file before importing it. On the right side is an audio panel, which provides equalizer and waveform representations of audio levels, and the metadata panel, which includes embedded information about the file.
The Cut Menu is an interesting addition to the editing process. While you are able to cut your clips in the next menu (the edit menu), the cut menu has a specific view that allows you to focus in on a specific spot you want to cut. This is set up like an old school film cutting machine where the cutting line is fixed in the center and the clip is moved from left to right. This view is best suited for trimming down your clips to the length you want them to be before moving onto more complicated edits.
The Edit Menu is the menu that is most similar to other video editing programs. The interface has multiple audio and video tracks, and more can be added by right-clicking. By default, the timeline is on the bottom, the timeline preview is on top, and the media library is to the left.
Fusion is Resolve’s interpretation of compositing and effects in the post-production process. In many video editing suites, the composites and effects would be applied directly to the timeline. Here, it’s on its own menu with its own interface and workflow to apply effects. The effects are applied by creating a chart with lines that connect to the in and out video points of the clip. You can add bubbles, called Nodes, to the chain of effects that represent text, noise, and other image transformations. Since this process may be unfamiliar to many, the Recording Studios has a video tutorial that explains how to use Fusion in more detail.
Like the Fusion Menu, the Color Menu also has a chart-and-node-based interface for applying effects. In this menu, the nodes panel is in the right side of the window by default instead of the bottom of the window. The bottom panel on the Color Menu contains several effects related to color correction, including wheels that tweak the values of different light and dark parts of the image, and a center channel that can be changed between multiple different menus, including color curves, windows, and qualifiers. There is a video tutorial on how to use the Color Menu.
The Fairlight Menu is an in-depth sound mixing interface. At the top of the interface is a row of equalizer bars that displays up to 39 audio tracks at once, as well as control room and loudness levels. The bottom half of the interface displays a timeline of all the audio tracks so they can be trimmed and edited, and the right side of the interface has mixers for the output audio.
Deliver is the final stage of post-production, in which you select the settings that best optimize the project for export to a video file. It provides a timeline view to make any last minute changes to the project, as well as a view above that of all the clips that you have added to the timeline. You can click on any of these clips and it will take you to the part of the timeline where that clip is located. On the left side of the Deliver Menu is the export settings. You can choose from a number of different presets that fit commonly used website formats, or make a custom choice of the format, resolution, and directory. After selecting those, you add the project to the render queue on the right side of the window, then select “render all” to start exporting your projects.
Customizing Your Interfaces While it may seem that the multiple interfaces offered by DaVinci Resolve offer little room to change what the interface looks like, there are many ways to customize the windows onscreen and make the view suit your needs. The easiest way to do this is to click on the “workspace” option on the top window bar, and hover over the option “show panel in workspace.” This shows a list of all the available windows in your view that you can turn on or off.
For example, in the media view, I may think I want more space for the timeline, and I am finished with dragging items from the media pool onto the timeline. I can uncheck Media Pool in the list of viewable workspace items, and that makes more room to use the timeline with.
You can also click and drag the margins of each window to scale its size relative to other windows. Unlike Adobe Premiere, Resolve does not offer the ability to pop out a portion of the view into its own window. For this reason, the user experience of DaVinci Resolve is greatly improved by using multiple monitors.
Conclusion The biggest hurdle for new users of DaVinci Resolve to clear is the unfamiliar interfaces and understanding what the new interfaces are used for. Once you understand that each of the new interfaces reflect their own discrete stage of the editing process, you should get used to the workflow of DaVinci Resolve quickly. Hopefully, this tutorial is able to explain what each of the interface views allows you to do in building a cohesive video project.
Listen to the audio version of this tutorial here:
Introduction Part of the digitization process includes the creation of metadata for each record so that people can find an individual item with the sea of documents. Metadata is the identifying information of a record, such as its title, author, creation date, and other components.
Recently, archivists have placed greater emphasis on the subject heading aspect of cataloging records.1 Archivists now recognize that the creation of subjects and descriptions as access points to a record is an inherently biased activity that can influence how one approaches and perceives the record itself and the topics it contains. While these access points are extremely helpful in improving search results, these pathways are created by archivists, i.e. people. Since archivists create metadata, the data reflects our perspectives, thereby making it imperative that we be mindfully aware of our unconscious biases. We must do the necessary self-evaluative work about ourselves, the power dynamics in which we function, and the multifarious impacts of our decisions on various groups.
Records are created within certain settings for certain purposes—whether political or social—and an archivist inserts the meta-narrative layer of collecting and making accessible those records. There is power in that process and traditionally the process has privileged dominant social systems, which then reinforces social inequities. The myth of neutrality in subject cataloging has led to subject headings that can reinforce biases, stereotypes, and offensive representations, as well as misrepresent and alienate marginalized communities. For instance, a reclassification project at GBH recognized the negative false equivalence of police only interacting with criminals in their legacy subject term “Law Enforcement & Crimes,” which they have changed to “Legal System.”2
Recently, many archivists have risen to the challenge of acknowledging the persistency of power dynamics and are actively seeking to infuse their metadata creation with inclusion, diversity, and social justice practices. I myself have recently undertaken the ethical reasoning behind the use of certain subject headings to achieve descriptions that not only increase searchability and accuracy but also are respectful and empowering to subjects previously ignored. It is my hope that by developing cultural competency, the records will be more accessible to the communities reflected in their content, which may be one small step towards actively dismantling oppressive systems.
The Collection and Daniela Saunders As I digitized the Freedom House Inc. Records, I stumbled upon an eye-opening folder about the Police-Community Relations Committee. The records from this folder of items from 1960 to 1966 document a growing awareness in Roxbury of police-community relation issues. At the time, there were community memories of problems and instances a decade prior. Back in 1952, the murder of Rabbi Zuber sparked meetings calling for community action. However, the initial uproar dwindled and while close relations and neighbors continued to fight for change, it was a small endeavor.
Some larger efforts did persist, including a Police-Community Relations Institute Conference held in 1960 that connected with religious organizations to discuss the relations between mass media, social work agencies, the judicial court system, civil rights, legislation, and the police. However, the improvements called for in the decade of discussions did not become sweeping real-world improvements. As a result, over the course of a year between the summers of 1962 and 1963, there were a number of stranglings of women in the greater Boston area.3
On January 5, 1963, 16-year-old Daniela Saunders was murdered in an alleyway between Warren Street and Elm Hill Park, just a few blocks from her home. The next day, 500 members of her community met with Otto P. Snowden and Freedom House to discuss what underlying social problems led to the tragedy. Initiated by a small group of mothers voicing the need to prevent such violence, the meeting expanded to the 500-person turnout. Many individuals voiced their perspectives on the issue:
Dewey Duckett outlined the general disinterest of the Boston Police Department Division 9 towards the community it was supposed to protect. He talked about how “the local police had clearly evidenced an incapacity to understand or respect either the local citizens themselves or their simple desire for minimal adequate protection.”4
Attorney Benjamin Johnson called for the creation of a 100-person auxiliary police of community members.
Mrs. Leona Tynes cited the practical issue of poor lighting facilities.
Mrs. Oswald Jordan recalled the aftermath of Rabbi Zuber’s murder and described the emotional toll of these types of meetings over the last decade since they had not led to any actual change.
At the end of the meeting, the goal was set to create a committee to meet with city officials, namely Commissioner Edmund L. McNamara, Captain Paul Sullivan, and Sergeant Kelly of Division 9. The other four main suggestions were to add foot patrolmen; ensure that police answered complaints with courtesy instead of their current lack of sensitivity; increase the effort to improve problem areas; and fire police that demonstrated bias towards the black community.
Another meeting held January 8, 1962, at the Jeremiah E. Burke School further expanded the four main issues. About 1,500 citizens gathered to demand change. Kenneth Guscott, representing the NAACP, called for a Villante Committee similar to what the Peace Corps created in Harlem. Police Commissioner McNamara personally attended this meeting, although he was met with objections when he attempted to downplay his former neglect by referring to his personal connection with a black member of the police force.
The various efforts aimed to “promote a better understanding between the protected and the protector.”5 The end goal was a positive coordinated action program formulated and carried out by neighborhood associations in affiliation with the local police. Along with Mayor John F. Collins and Commissioner McNamara’s immediate pledges to increase training in criminal investigation and compulsory attendance of courses at Northwest University and the FBI National Academy, the events led to long-term communication between the Roxbury community, city officials, and the police. The Freedom House Inc. Records reflect and display these sustained efforts.
Daniela Saunders’ Impact The events of Daniela Saunders’ murder and the aftermath from Roxbury’s community response are integral components to the larger historic narrative of the police-community relations documented in the Freedom House Inc. Records. Her story may be limited to a folder in this vast collection but her impact disseminates through many boxes. So many activities were initiated by her tragic demise.
However, most metadata elements do not provide space for Daniela. She wasn’t the author or creator of the records, she was not included in the title of the records, and her name was often eliminated in the documents themselves. Within the records of Folder 1015, Daniela was more of a ghost, a whisper, trickled throughout the newspaper articles, letters, meeting minutes, and reports. She may have been the impetus for change, but she didn’t have agency in these metadata components.
Additionally, in the larger historic narrative, Daniela has been forgotten. She is currently not listed as one of the Boston Strangler’s 13 victims despite the connection to the “Phantom Strangler” made in 1963.6
When making the metadata for items in Folder 1015, I wanted to allow Daniela to regain her own agency in being remembered. The power of remembering is enormous—it becomes public memory and informs current events. Therefore, archival records provide an opportunity to bear witness to an event when it has been lost to time. I knew I needed a way to provide a pathway to Daniela and link her to these records. I produced these conditions by making Daniela a Name Subject Heading, a practice that we are not often implementing in the Freedom House Inc. digitization project. Due to the large scope of the collection and the logistical issues of maintaining authorized subject headings over 83 containers, Name Subject Headings for individuals are a rare occurrence.
However, with the addition of this metadata component, Daniela’s story becomes accessible to the public. She is no longer a passive victim, marginalized and obscured, but is now an active agent at the forefront of police-community relations in 1963 Roxbury. People can now find the records related to Daniela and they can situate her contribution within the larger Freedom House and Roxbury narratives.
Additionally, the records can give the public a resource for holding historical agents accountable. The 1960s were fraught with many issues between communities of color and the police nationwide. The events of 1963 in Roxbury become a part of that larger context.
Finally, by recognizing Daniela and the events of 1963, I hope that the records and their metadata have an enduring impact on our current society. Police brutality, racism, abuse, systematic oppression, and unnecessary force are all topics that we see in the news every day. Past calls for better training and systematic changes to the police force are similar to present-day news stories. We are constantly exposed to the reality of this violence and our nation collectively feels an emotional toll possibly similar to the one described by Mrs. Oswald Jordan in January 1963. Maybe these historic records can help inform our present discourse. By knowing what happened in the past, maybe we can make more informed decisions, and ultimately, be the change we strive to see.
1A non-comprehensive list of recent literature includes, Jillian Ewalt, “Toward Inclusive Description: Reparations through Community-Driven Metadata,” NEA Newsletter 46, no. 2 (April 2019): 4-7; Rosale de Mattos, “The Representation of Archival Information in Controlled Vocabularies: The Context of the Archival Institutions in Rio de Janeiro,” Knowledge Organization 47, no. 7 (2019): 548-557; Samuel J. Edge, “A Subject “Queer”-y: A Literature Review on Subject Access to LGBTIQ Materials,” Serials Librarian 75, no. 1-4 (Jul-Dec 2018): 81-90; Gracen Brilmyer, “Archival assemblages: applying disability studies’ political/relational model to archival description,” Archival Science 18, no. 2 (Jun 2018): 95-118. 2Miranda Villesvik and Raananah Sarid-Segal, “Making Metadata Inclusive to Marginalized Voices” (presentation, Archives for a Changing World, NEA Spring Conference, Virtual, March 27, 2021). 3The Boston Strangler continued to murder young women in the Boston area until 1964. For more information, see Ronald Lettieri, “Boston Strangler.” Salem Press Encyclopedia (2019); Jess Bidgood, “50 Years Later, a Break in a Boston Strangler Case,” New York Times, July 11, 2013; Paul Hoblin, Boston Strangler (Unsolved Mysteries). Abdo Publishing, 2012; Susan Kelly, The Boston Stranglers: The Public Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Pub. Group, 1995. 4“Report from special community meeting about police issues, Daniela Saunders and Rabbi Zuber murders, and race relations held January 6, 1096.” January 6, 1963. Freedom House Inc. Records (M16). Northeastern University Library. Archives and Special Collections Department. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. Box 30, Folder 1015. 5“Outline on various phases of police activities.” April 28, 1964. UASC identifier: M16_B030_F1015_005. Freedom House Inc. Series 3: Programs. Sub-Series B: Urban Renewal. Neighborhood Associations. Police-Community Relations Committee, 1960-1966. 6Jack Thomas, “Victims of the Boston Strangler,” The Boston Globe, July 11, 2013. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/07/11/victims-boston-strangler/CwbsZlSNcfwmhSetpqNlhL/story.html
Beginning on June 30, the Northeastern University Library is no longer subscribing to the database Nexis Uni, transitioning instead to a pair of databases – Access World News and Westlaw Campus Research – that together provide even more news and law resources through much easier user interfaces.
Why replace Nexis Uni? Over the years, Nexis Uni has been removing much of its content while steadily increasing its prices. That combination, along with a difficult-to-use interface, has led many libraries and institutions to cancel their subscriptions and put money toward more cost-effective and user-friendly databases and resources.
What new databases should I be using instead? For the cost of Nexis Uni, the Library was able to acquire access to two new databases that, together, provide much of the same content in a far easier-to-use format. Access World News Research Collection from Newsbank includes current and archived news content from more than 12,700 sources, spanning over 200 countries and territories and combining all formats (full-text articles, web-only content, and PDF image collections) in a single interface. You can browse Access’ full list of sources here.
For legal and business content, Westlaw Campus Research contains primary and secondary legal sources including statutes, codes, and case law, as well as the American Jurisprudence legal encyclopedia. On the business side, it contains tools like Hoover’s and the Company Investigator, which provides public and private company information and hard-to-find information on small businesses and partnerships. It also can be used to prepare company reports using visual graphics. This reference guide provides detailed information how to use Westlaw.
Other databases also provide useful news resources, including Factiva (which includes access to business news, including the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s); Pressreader (which covers daily news in more than 100 countries); and ProQuest News and Newspapers(which includes current and archival access to newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and Los Angeles Times, as well as more than 80 local and regional titles).
In addition, Northeastern University students, faculty, and staff can access the Wall Street Journal‘s website by using their NU credentials by going to wsj.com/northeastern.