Library News

Mellon Foundation Awards $505,000 Grant to Extend Funding for the Boston Research Center

Boston Research Center logo

The Northeastern University Library has received a $505,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation to support the final developmental phase of the Boston Research Center. This grant builds upon two previous grants from the Mellon Foundation — which helped Northeastern launch the BRC with a $200,000 planning grant in 2017, and a $650,000 implementation grant in 2019.

“We deeply appreciate the Mellon Foundation’s ongoing support of the Boston Research Center and our library’s efforts to work with the communities that surround Northeastern’s campuses,” said Dan Cohen, Dean of the Northeastern University Library. “Along with our partners in the Boston area, we have learned a great deal about how to express our neighbors’ stories, culture, and history.”

The BRC is dedicated to bringing Boston’s neighborhood and community histories to light through the creation and use of new technologies, allowing Boston residents to share underrepresented stories from city’s past. In its most recent phase, the BRC has focused on specific community projects to help share the stories of these neighborhoods and organizations. The Mellon Foundation’s grant will help develop tools and workflows to curate and disseminate these collections, making them accessible to the community and easy to build upon in future work.

By gathering documents, images, and personal narratives, and creating metadata for community resources, the BRC ensures that everything from public art and oral histories to important neighborhood sights are recorded to help disseminate area history and culture. Recent projects include:

  • The Harriet Tubman Memory House Project, which contains photographs, oral histories, flyers, architectural plans, and other digitized materials that tell the interwoven stories of Boston’s South End neighborhood, the United South End Settlements and Harriet Tubman House, gentrification, community action, and resilience.
  • The East Boston Memoir Project, which contains photographs, oral histories, newspapers, and other digitized materials that make available the history of East Boston.
  • The Neighborhood Public Art Project, which contains an interactive map documenting Boston’s rich and diverse history of public art.
  • The Chinatown Collections Project, which contains historical records documenting the people, organizations, and historical collections of Boston’s Chinatown in a bilingual database.

Located in Northeastern University Library, the BRC is managed by the Archives and Special Collections and the Digital Scholarship Group. It works in collaboration with the Boston Public Library along with many community organizations and individuals.

Reading Recommendations for Native American Heritage Month

American Indian activists began working to establish a national “American Indian Day” in the early 20th century. Native advocates like Arthur C. Parker, Sherman Coolidge, and Red Fox James believed that a national day of observation would commemorate the Indigenous community’s history and culture. Various individual states established “American Indian Days” between 1915 and 1920; more recently, some states—including Massachusetts—have changed the second Monday of October, formerly “Columbus Day,” to “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” to focus on the stories of the Native peoples who existed in these lands before European contact, rather than on the oppressors, and to acknowledge the United States’ complicated legacy of colonialism and white violence. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November National Native American Heritage Month (also known as “American Indian Heritage Month”).

Throughout November, visit the Hub on the first floor of Snell Library to explore our print collections featuring Native and Indigenous authors. If you’re not in Boston (and even if you are), make sure to check out the e-books and audiobooks on our virtual bookshelf! Here are some recommended reads from our collection:

Cover of The Only Good Indians


The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (2020): If Halloween didn’t fulfill your cravings for creepy, check out the book Entertainment Weekly called “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels.” The dark past of four American Indian families leave them terrorized by a vindictive entity determined to make them pay for their sins.



Cover of Split Tooth


Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq (2018): This award-winning novel by Inuk throat singer and artist Tanya Tagaq traces a girlhood in 1970s Nunavut, blending myth and memoir. The audiobook is read by Tagaq herself.




Cover of Poet Warrior


Poet Warrior by Joy Harjo (2021): Three-time United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo writes about her ancestry and the tribal stories and traditions that shaped her. She meditates on grief, loss, ritual, memory, music, joy and everything in between.




Cover of This Land is Their Land


This Land is Their Land: The Wompanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving by David J. Silverman (2019): Historian David J. Silverman unmasks the truth behind the simple, cheerful Thanksgiving story still taught in kindergartens around the country, and places the Wampanoag tribe at the center of the narrative.

New policies will impact research data sharing and scholarly communication

We’re monitoring recent changes to policy and legislation that will likely impact the work of Northeastern University faculty, staff, and student researchers. Read on for a brief overview of three of these impending changes, in order of their expected implementation dates.

NIH (National Institutes of Health) Policy for Data Management and Sharing

What is it? The NIH’s new policy on data management and sharing aims to improve the reproducibility and reliability of NIH-funded work by broadening access to research uploads.

When will the changes take place? January 25, 2023

How might this impact researchers?

  • DMSPs: All NIH proposals will require the submission of a data management and sharing plan (DMSP). Previously, only NIH proposals above a certain funding threshold required a DMSP.
  • Data availability: Research data is expected to be made accessible “as soon as possible, and no later than the time of an associated publication, or the end of the award/support period, whichever comes first.” Further, the new policy strongly encourages the use of established repositories to share data.
  • Costs: Reasonable costs related to data management and sharing may be included in NIH budget requests.

Additional resources:

CHIPS and Science Act

What is it? The CHIPS and Science Act is primarily related to semiconductor manufacturing and the STEM workforce pipeline, but also includes some open science directives.

When will the changes take place? One year following enactment (circa September 2023)

How might this impact researchers? Once the act takes effect, applications for National Science Foundation awards will be required to include machine-readable data management plans (DMPs). We do not anticipate that this will significantly impact researchers, as most DMPs are already machine-readable unless they include tables or charts. This requirement will enable more seamless information sharing between systems used by institutions and funders, ultimately reducing the paperwork burden for researchers.

Additional resource:

White House Office of Science & Technology Memorandum: Ensuring Free, Immediate, and Equitable Access to Federally Funded Research

What is it? OSTP’s new memorandum (aka the Nelson memo) builds upon OSTP’s 2013 Holdren memo. The new memo will make research funded by all U.S. government agencies immediately available to the public. This eliminates the current optional 1-year embargo period and applies to both publications and the data underlying peer-reviewed research. Under the new Nelson memo, the definition of publications is widened beyond articles to also apply to peer-reviewed book chapters and conference proceedings.

When will the changes take place? The Nelson memo will first impact funding agencies, which will be expected to fully implement their public access and data sharing plans by the end of 2025.

How might this impact researchers? Once the memo goes into effect, researchers and members of the public will benefit from broader, more immediate access to federally funded research results. The memo urges the use of persistent identifiers (PIDs) to unambiguously identify authors, affiliations, funders, and more, so this would be a great time to acquire and begin using an ORCID iD if you don’t already have one. The U.S. government has also signaled interest in examining current academic incentive structures to better recognize institutions and researchers for their support of public access to research.

Additional resources:

The library is working with campus partners, including Research Administration and Research Computing, to develop guidance and resources to assist researchers as they navigate these changes. As always, if you need assistance with a data management or data management and sharing plan, or if you’re searching for a secure, permanent home for your research outputs, we’re here to help!

Library Staff Work with CRRJ to Investigate and Make Accessible 1,000 Records of Racial Homicides in Jim Crow South in New Burnham-Nobles Archive

Last week’s release of the Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive by the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) was a culmination of years of work by both the Northeastern University School of Law and by the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections.

Black and white image of a Black man wearing a hat and sitting on an old car. Text on the photo reads "Caleb "Picky Pie" Hill 28 Son, Brother, Father, Husband, Irvington Georgia"
Library staff have worked to digitize photos and records of racially motivated homicides in the Jim Crow South, like that of Caleb Hill, Jr., who was murdered by two white men in Georgia in 1949, with the help of local police. The killers were not indicted.

The archive, a comprehensive collection of 1,000 racial homicides that took place in the Jim Crow South between 1930 and 1954, will serve as a tool to shed light on the scope of racial murders during this time frame, their mishandling by local police and authorities, and their effect on the law and politics. It can be found at crrjarchive.org.

The project is the result of 15 years of work, with hundreds of students gathering 20,000 pieces of evidence — items like death certificates, press clippings, law enforcement files, reports from civil rights groups, photographs, and personal stories.

Led by Project Archivist Gina Nortonsmith, staff from the Library’s Archives and Special Collections, Digital Production Services, and Digital Scholarship Group then worked tirelessly to take that raw data and make it searchable, digitizing and cataloging it so that researchers can quickly gather information as they study specific cases or the general trend of anti-Black violence in the Jim Crow south.

“This is one of the most important projects that the Northeastern University Library has been involved with, and I’m proud of the many staff members who have helped to build this essential archive that documents a tragic, unsettling period in America’s history,” said Dan Cohen, Dean of the Library.

The Burnham-Nobles Digital Archive is part of the larger Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project, whose aim is to educate the public about historical anti-Black racial violence and failures of the criminal justice system, as well as to investigate those cases in which proper justice has not been served. It was founded by Northeastern University Law Professor Margaret Burnham, who serves as its director and recently published the book By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners.

Northeastern University Library awarded Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Grant to study collaboration among decentralized research teams

The Northeastern University Library was recently awarded a $892,936 grant by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study and develop effective practices for collaboration and communication by researchers distributed across multiple locations, as is increasingly the case in Northeastern’s expanding global campus network.

The grant will focus on Northeastern University’s “impact engines,” interdisciplinary teams that span two or more of Northeastern’s campuses and research locations throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. It will fund two new library staff positions who will onboard and assist these research groups as they attempt to surmount the challenges associated with working together while physically distant.

The grant will also fund an independent project analyst who will collect data and survey information about the performance of the groups to determine which types of communication technologies and collaborative behaviors improved their work.

“Despite many researchers having to collaborate virtually over the past two years, we’re still figuring out hybrid and remote work on an ad hoc basis,” says Joshua Greenberg, director of the Sloan Foundation’s technology program. “We are excited to see what this focused investment in collaboration support for impact engines can reveal about the tools and best practices that best foster collaboration between staff on different campuses, and how those findings can be used to enable great research.”

The project will eventually produce:

  • A website containing detailed analysis on different communication techniques and collaborative models
  • Recommendations for setting up and supporting decentralized researchers
  • A formal peer-reviewed paper that provides details on the collected data and methodology
  • Multiple presentations of results at major conferences

“The Northeastern University Library is thrilled by how this grant will help us to synthesize research across our campuses, and grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for its generous support of this endeavor,” said Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration and Dean of the Library. “We also expect this project to provide helpful advice to other research teams and universities who seek to support similar distributed work using new technology and staff roles.”

The importance of this project was made evident in recent years, when the COVID-19 pandemic created the need for colleagues to work collaboratively in a highly distributed state. By studying the best ways to navigate these hurdles using technology and library support staff, decentralized research teams will ideally become more cohesive and productively collaborative.