Molly Brown

Beyond the Reading Room: Access the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Online

It’s easy to think of an archives as being bound to one space: a reading room. However the organizational, descriptive, and educational work of the archivists at the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections goes well beyond the reading room. There are many resources available so that your archival goals can be met no matter where you are.

Even though we cannot take you through a physical tour of the Archives, we have a series of webinars that introduce you to the Archives and how to work with us, highlight our Asian American and African American digital collections, and teach you how to navigate a finding aid. Find our recorded webinars here and watch the library calendar for more webinars coming this summer!

Experiential learning with the Archives and Special Collections doesn’t stop when you can’t visit the reading room. Instead it shifts to engaged digital pedagogy with our over 64,000 digitized archival records. We are able to hold remote class sessions introducing you to Latinx history in Boston, using archival visual resources, telling stories informed by archival material, and more. Learn how to schedule a class session or workshop and view some of our class examples on our newly published Teaching with Archives Program page.

Want to learn more about our variety of digitized collections? Visit some of our CERES exhibit portals where you can view online exhibits and browse collections’ records in context. Find our collection sites with exhibits and contextual resources below: 

Have a question about Boston history or using Archives? Our reference services are still open and available by contacting archives@northeastern.edu or filling out this form to contact us here.

We look forward to working with you beyond the reading room to continue activating the history of Greater Boston and Northeastern through the use of our records. 

 

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.

Getting to Know the Boston Globe Library Collection: Inside the Box

The Boston Globe Library Collection has significantly expanded the Northeastern University Library's Boston-focused social justice and community collections in its Archives and Special Collections. 4,376 boxes comprise over a million photographs, over five million negatives of unprinted photographs, and 119 years of newspaper clippings from the Globe, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, and other area and national newspapers. Today, this vast collection of visual and textual resources is open to all researchers, whose interests may range widely—from Red Sox scores and legislative debates to Melnea Cass’s relentless pursuit of racial and economic justice.

The collection of the Boston Globe Library is broken down into four parts: Newspaper Clippings, Microfilm, Print Photographs, and Negative Photographs. While researchers can access each part individually, all components of the collection can complement the different approaches to a research question. For instance, those interested in the history of school desegregation can use the print photographs study to how the first day of bussing was covered visually in the Boston Globe; the negatives to see all of the shots the photographers took, including the ones that were published; and the newspaper clippings to research the range of reporting on Boston Public Schools, desegregation, and the Boston School Committee.

Front and back of a photograph from the Print Photographs collection:

Researching with our Special Collections and the Boston Globe Library collection in tandem will enrich any telling of the history of Boston. In a series of upcoming posts we’ll share the many ways that research and rich experiential learning can be accomplished using the Boston Globe Library Collection. To find out more in the meantime, visit the finding aid here.

If you have any questions or would like to begin researching in the Boston Globe Library Collection please contact us at archives@northeastern.edu or 617-373-2351.

Honoring East Boston Activist Mary Ellen Welch

Last week, East Boston activist Mary Ellen Welch passed away. Welch, whose work and legacy are preserved in the Northeastern University Library’s Archives and Special Collections, was a vibrant and prolific activist in East Boston. Her advocacy centered around civil rights, education, environmental issues, open space creation and preservation, social justice, and transportation issues. [caption id="attachment_275058" align="aligncenter" width="357"]Photo of Mary Ellen Welch, a white woman of Irish descent in black and white. She is smiling with her mouth closed and looking straight on into the camera. Photo by Gilbert E. Friedberg, Boston Globe[/caption] Welch’s work founded and affected many facets of East Boston’s neighborhood. Since the 1960s, she advocated for East Boston residents on issues surrounding waterfront development, affordable housing, public schools, and the expansion of the Massachusetts Port Authority's Logan International Airport. She was a former teacher at Hugh R. O’Donnell Elementary School in East Boston and served on the board of directors for Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), an organization which supports East Boston residents and communities with affordable housing strategies, environmental justice, community planning, leadership development, and economic development opportunities. She is also former head of the Friends of the East Boston Greenway and founding member of the group's predecessor the East Boston Greenway Council. In addition, Welch worked with Airport Impact Relief, the East Boston Neighborhood Council, and the East Boston Area Planning Action Council. In 2000, Welch was awarded the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Merit Award. whitespace [caption id="attachment_275059" align="aligncenter" width="295"]Photo of Mary Ellen Welch, a white woman, pointing to a spot on what looks to be a neighborhood map. She is in a room with two other men seated watching her presentation. Photo by Charles Dixon, Boston Globe[/caption] Welch’s friend and colleague, James Aloisi, offered a poignant tribute to Welch and her impact in Commonwealth Magazine. A portion is quoted below:
“Mary Ellen’s brand of advocacy was tough and determined but she could open her arms wide and embrace the joy in every moment that she was making a difference. She was a happy warrior in the fight for housing and mobility equity and social justice. In an interview, she summarized her approach to advocacy this way: ‘People who are activists don’t give up. Usually their activism involves something that’s deeply inbred and people are committed to principles of justice that they want to achieve. The joy of creating a better neighborhood is very satisfying. There is a joy in making where you live a happy place, a sustainable place for others.’”
You can find further records of Welch’s determined activism in the East Boston Community News, held at Northeastern’s Archives and digitized and available in Northeastern’s Digital Repository Service. The name “Mary Ellen Welch” shows up in nearly every issue, evidencing her wide array of organizing for social justice and her vital role in East Boston.  Mary Ellen Welch’s papers are housed in the Northeastern University Library’s Archives and Special Collections. You can view the finding aid here. Come visit her collection to continue to activate the gift of her records for future generations.  

Northeastern Archives and Special Collections Featured in Harvard Graduate School of Design Exhibit

Materials from the Northeastern University Libraries Archives and Special Collections are featured in an exhibit at the Harvard Graduate School of Design’s Druker Design Gallery that is a culmination of a four-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation: “Urban Intermedia: City, Archive, and Narrative.” The exhibit, entitled “Race and Space in Boston Archives” runs until October 14th and features items from the records of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción as well as materials from other Boston area archives and special collections.          The Northeastern University Libraries Archives and Special Collections approached contributing to the call of materials related to “race and space” by curating materials that provided evidence of successful community action against urban renewal in Boston. Our selections emphasized the work of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA, Puerto Rican Tenants in Action) of the South End. They created their own neighborhood renewal plan to avoid developments which would have would have displaced current residents. IBA’s records tell the long story of activism to shift the outcome of urban renewal from displacement to community-based development.   Visitors looking to view Boston archival material featured in the exhibit can find a long tabletop where the archival images are projected. The table is intended for both display and impromptu conversations and engagement. Stools surround the table for seated discussions, and visitors are invited to bring their own laptop to contribute their own material for projected display. For more information on the exhibit visit: https://www.gsd.harvard.edu/exhibition/urban-intermedia-city-archive-narrative/ To read more about the records of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción visit: https://latinohistory.library.northeastern.edu/