For nearly 50 years, The Boston Phoenix was Boston’s alternative newspaper of record. The first word on social justice, politics, and arts ceased publication in March 2013. Fortunately, the entire Phoenix collection, over 775 cubic feet, is now well-preserved at Northeastern University thanks to media mogul and owner Stephen M. Mindich. Northeastern University Libraries provide online and in-person access to materials from the Phoenix Media/Communications Group including The Phoenix, The Portland Phoenix, The Providence Phoenix, The Worcester Phoenix, Stuff Magazine, and WFNX 101.7 FM. Mindich, who passed away on May 23rd, thoughtfully provided Snell Library with the newspapers, and audiovisual materials which are now a part of the Archives & Special Collections, leaving Boston, and beyond, with an important resource legacy that will continue for generations. Head of Special Collections and University Archivist, Giordana Mecagni notes “Although no longer in publication, its archives will continue to inspire new thought, scholarship, and questioning the status quo. We are very grateful to Steve and the Mindich family for gifting this significant resource.” Known for its edgy coverage of arts, entertainment, lifestyle and politics, The Phoenix will be part of the foundation of information housed at Northeastern University’s new Boston Research Center. The collection can be accessed at phoenix.library.northeastern.edu [caption id="attachment_274537" align="alignleft" width="596"] Nov. 23, 2015 - BOSTON, MA. The Boston Phoenix archives inside Snell Library at Northeastern University on Nov. 23, 2015. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University[/caption]
This Spring, students coordinated an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of Northeastern’s only Medieval manuscript, the Dragon Prayer Book through a collaboration with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. This is what they had to say about the experience. By Professor Erika Boeckeler (Faculty Project Head), Laura Packard (Student Project Head), and Zakary Ganhadeiro (Project Member) on behalf of the Dragon Prayer Book Project Team. Interviewed by Jon Reed (Snell Library) What inspired you to take a closer look at Dragon Prayer Book? We were inspired by the mystery of the manuscript; very little was known about it before we began our research. The Dragon Prayer Book is beautiful and intriguing, and so multi-dimensional in terms of the questions we can ask of it, e.g. sociological, literary, religious, material, etc. As Northeastern’s only medieval manuscript, the book is an original object which has become a hub of interdisciplinary research. The book has provided a sort of bridge between departments, and each new experiment or test proves this connection to be stronger. With each new discovery we make the book reveals more of itself to us, and with each revelation come new surprises and twists in terms of our research path. While much is known about the book, there is still plenty that can be discovered, or even already known information that can be confirmed. How did you determine that XRF analysis was the next way forward? When looking for new ways to interact with and study the Dragon Prayer Book we came across X-ray fluorescence (XRF), a very simple and noninvasive test that produces decisive results. We attended several lectures on the latest developments in biobibliography and other ways that science is being brought to bear on book history and Humanistic questions, and were eager to take advantage of our interdisciplinary expertise and local resources. When Zakary Ganhadeiro joined the project last fall, we were excited by his interest in spearheading the bioanalysis of the Dragon Prayer Book, and by the prospect of gaining a new understanding of the prayer book through the field of bioarchaeology. What did you discover about the Dragon Prayer Book via XRF analysis? The analysis mostly confirmed what we suspected about the inks-- that they were fairly typical for a southern German late medieval manuscript. However, we did learn that the black ink has an unusual amount of zinc in it, which led us to consider investigating the geologic composition of the mines around Regensburg, Germany, where we think the manuscript may have originated. Why is collaboration important when doing research in 2018? There are so many different kinds of scholarly questions we have about this manuscript, and no one person or tool will ever be adequate to the understanding the complexity of its world. We need a diverse team of experts and different tools of varying sophistication in order to piece together this knowledge puzzle: experts on bindings, on late fifteenth century music cultures and on their Latin, on ink composition, on tests to determine what kind of animal was used in making the parchment, on manuscript scripts, on early modern paper and watermarks, on websites that best display our findings, on conservation, to name even just a few. You can see some of what we’ve investigated at www.dragonprayerbook.northeastern.edu. Cross communication also allows for the better sharing of ideas, and the better publicizing of research. While this was only a small test, on a larger scale, more collaboration can lead to larger discoveries on all fronts. How did the Library impact you/your research? Giordana Mecagni, NU’s archivist has promoted student research on this manuscript from our first expression of interest in it. She found the funds to digitize it, sent it to restoration, and has granted permission to perform non-invasive scientific analysis. She has supported our efforts by facilitating access to the manuscript, including at the public events we have organized. The Library staff has been incredibly supportive and easy to reach throughout this whole process, and they truly made the collaboration with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum possible. We recognize that not every archive supports student research in this way, and we are very fortunate to have a Library that promotes our learning to such a degree.
For the past two years, Northeastern University Library's Archives and Special Collections have been working with the Race Equity Working Group of the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Race Equity. The MORRE Office’s primary mission is to help build resilience for all Bostonians by addressing and challenging social and racial inequities. The Racial Equity working group (an advisory group for the office) consisted of incredible warriors– smart, experienced, passionate people who do battle every day but still are able to laugh, breathe, and do it all over again the next day. The Chief Resilience Officer leading the charge to create Boston’s Resiliency Plan, Atyia Martin, and her staff allowed The Archives to assist the effort by convening a group of historians and archivists (‘history holders’) and Race Equity Working Group members to strategize how lesser known/understood aspects of Boston’s history across race and ethnicity, including immigrants, could be showcased from a personal and policy perspective. As Donna Bivens and co. write in the Boston Busing/Desegregation Project’s 7 Lessons “Access to a more complete picture of this history is access to knowledge about how power works to enable and limit us. That access allows us to focus our individual and collective efforts to make real social change.” One of the results of this convening was POLICY, PLACE, and POWER in an evolving city: BOSTON’S RACIAL EQUITY HISTORY PROJECT, a map and timeline that describes flashpoints, battlegrounds, and structures of inequity in the City of Boston. You can view that timeline at http://socialjustice.library.northeastern.edu/
Finals. The most glorious time of the year. Your friends at Snell Library and at Curry Student Center know that it is an incredibly stressful time. That’s why we’ve got some Finals Week activities for you at Snell and Curry. Firstly, we’ll have a coloring table beginning on Reading Day and all through finals week set up in Snell's Lobby. Coloring is a fantastic, proven way to reduce stress and focus on something other than college. We'll also have positive post-it notes for inspiration and some bubble wrap to pop your stress away! On Reading Day, we'll have massage chairs with professional masseuses as well as energy filled snacks to hand out from 12-4 PM. A big thanks to our friends at Fit University for making this happen. Feeling stressed about last minute citations, bibliographies, or research? We have Walk-In Research Help throughout finals and 24/7 chat service for any last minute help you may need. We love that you love to study in Snell but we understand that sometimes more space is needed. So, our friends at Curry have reserved some rooms for you for finals week study. From 6PM to 2AM, rooms 342 and 342 will be open for quiet study and room 440 will be open for collaborative study in Curry. There will also be study breaks with coffee and positive vibes in Campus Crossroads on 4/20 from 10-11AM and 4/23 fro m4-3PM. Drop by and say hi! Throughout all of Finals Week, be on the lookout for goodie bag giveaways, free coffee study breaks, and positive sentiments from library staff. From all of us here at Snell Library and Curry Student Center, we wish you the best of luck on your finals!