Archives and Special Collections

5
Jun18

Celebrating The Phoenix: New England’s alternative newspaper of record

Posted by: Jon Reed

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For nearly 50 years, The Boston Phoenix was Boston’s alternative newspaper of recordThe 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

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

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections

23
May18

Investigating Northeastern’s Only Medieval Manuscript

Posted by: Jon Reed

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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.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections

18
May18

Frieda Garcia to be Simmons College honorary degree recipient

Posted by: Molly Brown

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On Friday, May 18 Simmons College honored Dominican-born activist Frieda Garcia with a Doctorate of Humane Letters for her community organizing in Boston. Garcia’s personal papers reside in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections alongside the records of other organizations in which she was instrumental, including: La Alianza Hispana, United South End Settlements, and the Roxbury Multi-Service Center.

Garcia’s activism changed Boston’s landscape both physically and organizationally. As the first director of La Alianza Hispana Garcia provided resources, space, and advocacy for Spanish-speaking residents of Boston. Her work with the Roxbury Multi-Service Center and the United South End Settlements advocating for housing, mentorship, and training resources for diverse residents of Boston.  She shaped the South End with her involvement in the establishment and restoration of the South End’s Harriet Tubman Park, and years later Frieda Garcia’s Children’s Park was honored with her name. It is difficult to find a part of Boston’s history that Garcia has not touched. Garcia received this honor from Simmons because of the immense impact of her work.

Boston mayor, Kevin White, holds a small garden spade at the groundbreaking ceremony for La Alianza Hispana’s community center. Orlando del Valle holds a construction hard hat, marking the beginning of renovations and construction.

For more information on where to find materials related to Frieda Garcia’s work as an activist in Boston visit the links for the following collections at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections:

La Alianza Hispana

United South End Settlements

Roxbury Multi-Service Center

Frieda Garcia Papers

 

 

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections

30
Apr18

Northeastern’s Archives Featured in City of Boston’s Racial Equity History Project

Posted by: Jon Reed

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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/

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events

12
Feb18

Neighborhood Matters, Spring 2018

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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Neighborhood Matters’ Spring 2018 will focus on transportation in Boston. We will discuss how transportation has changed the fabric of the city by focusing on several key flashpoints: “I-695,” a highway rejected by community activists in the 1970s; the “Big Dig”, one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects ever completed (1980s-1990s); and the “Silver Line,” (Phase 1 2000s) including current plans for expansion and improvement.

All events are free and open to the public, lunch will be served.

 

2/3: Equal or Better: The Story of The Silver Line

12 PM, Snell Library, Room 90 (Film runtime 53 minutes)

Featuring Special Guests Kris Carter and Scott Hamwey

In 1987 the Washington Street Elevated train was torn down and the Washington Street corridor to Dudley Square was left without rapid transit for the first time since 1901.

Equal or Better follows the story of a misstated promise to three Boston communities and the issues of equality still present in our country’s transportation priorities.

Scott Hamwey leads the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Transit Planning team and oversaw the planning phase of the Silver Line Gateway Project. The Silver Line Gateway Project encompasses four new bus stations and connects Chelsea and East Boston (via the Blue Line’s Airport Station) with the Red Line’s South Station and the Seaport District.

Kris Carter is the Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. He is a non-practicing engineer, an optimistic urban planner, and a self-taught filmmaker. He has a not so secret love for Boston (his adopted home) and working through challenging human-centered urban problems. Kris has been nationally recognized by the APA for his blending of storytelling and urban planning and the Federal Labs Consortium for his innovation in transportation work.

3/15: People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making

12PM Snell Library, Room 422 (Book talk)

A book talk featuring special guest Karilyn Crockett, who is the author of People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making. Dr. Crockett is director of Economic Policy & Research for the City of Boston. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University.

Linking archival research, (including in Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections), ethnographic fieldwork, and oral history, Karilyn Crockett in People before Highways offers ground-level analysis of the social, political, and environmental significance of a local anti-highway protest and its lasting national implications. The story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop an interstate highway is one full of suspenseful twists and surprises, including for the actors themselves.

4/3: Great Projects: The Building of America ‘The Big Dig’” (WGBH, 2003)

12PM Snell Library, Room 90 (Film runtime 56 minutes)

Featuring Special Guest Fred Salvucci, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation.

In the post World War II years, urban highways divided neighborhoods; nothing stood in the way of their construction. In Boston, the Central Artery cut through downtown Boston and the city was left with an ugly green monster, an elevated highway in the heart of its historic and business districts. By the 1970s, city planners wanted to tear it down but the existing highway was so vital to the city’s transportation that closing it down for any length of time was unfeasible.

The solution to this dilemma became known as the Big Dig. A local engineer named Fred Salvucci, (whose own grandmother had been displaced by the Mass Pike years earlier), championed a complex plan that resulted in a transportation renaissance in Boston and a renewal of much of the city’s infrastructure.

 About Neighborhood Matters

Neighborhood Matters is a lunchtime series that celebrates the ways in which community groups have shaped the neighborhoods surrounding the Northeastern campus. This series is curated by Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections with the assistance of Library Communications and Events.

Neighborhood Matters is co-sponsored by Northeastern University City and Community Affairs and Northeastern University Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

Archives and Special Collections at Northeastern University Libraries

The Archives and Special Collections at Northeastern University Libraries houses and carefully curates a diverse collection of historical records relating to Boston’s fight for social justice; preserving the history of Boston’s social movements, including civil & political rights, immigrants rights, homelessness and urban and environmental justice. They focus on the history of Boston’s African American, Asian American, LGBTQ, Latino and other communities, as well as Boston’s public infrastructure, neighborhoods, and natural environments.

The primary source materials they collect and make available are used by the community members, students, faculty, scholars, journalists, and others from across the world as evidence on which histories are built. An understanding of the past can help inspire the next generation of leaders to fight for economic, political, and social rights.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events, Serendipity