Library News

Ready to Research: The Newly Processed Boston Gay Men’s Chorus Records and the Frieda Garcia Papers

Introducing the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus records finding aid
By Dominique Medal

A group of men in tuxedos and dress clothes stand informally smiling and chatting. Two men in the center pose for the camera hugging and making kiss faces.
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus members talking pre-performance, 1990.

Records of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, who have been singing in Boston and beyond for more than 40 years, have been processed and are open for research in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections. A guide to the collection is available and Series 2 doubles as a chronology of the Chorus’ performances, special appearances, and international tours since its founding in 1982.

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus was part of a wave of gay choruses established in the wake of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus national tour in 1981. Since then, the Boston Chorus has grown to more than 200 singing members and has toured Europe, the Middle East, and South Africa. It is one of the largest community-based choral groups in New England.

The collection documents the Chorus’ live performances through audio and video recordings, photographs, concert programs, posters and marketing materials, and planning and logistics files. Also included are studio recordings and materials pertaining to the Chorus’ membership in the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses, which hosts the triennial GALA Festival for LGBTQ choruses. The collection also documents the Chorus’ advocacy work, internal administration, and fundraising efforts.

A selection of photographs and promotional materials have already been digitized and uploaded to the Digital Repository Service.

Introducing the Frieda Garcia papers finding aid
By Irene Gates

Black and white image of a smiling woman sitting behind a desk
Frieda Garcia, undated

Since starting as Processing Archivist at Northeastern University earlier this year, I’ve been lucky enough to work on the papers of Frieda Garcia, a beloved Boston-based community leader and activist. Garcia received her B.A. from The New School, where I previously worked, a coincidence that made processing her collection a welcome bridge between my past and present positions.

Throughout her career, Garcia advocated for Hispanic and Black communities in Boston, bilingual education, women’s rights, and multicultural media. Her papers, which she donated in 2015, document her work on these themes with community organizations La Alianza Hispana, United South End Settlements (USES), and the Roxbury Multi-Service Center. It also covers her service on several mayoral commissions and boards of organizations such as The Boston Foundation and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and other initiatives and conferences in which she participated. Annual reports to the USES Board of Directors, reports documenting Boston’s South End and Roxbury neighborhoods, and correspondence with individuals across the city are examples of materials in the collection.

To learn more about Frieda Garcia’s papers, explore the finding aid, as well as several born-digital files and digitized analog content from the collection, available in the Digital Repository Service.

Snell Library Reopens Renovated 4th Floor; 3rd Floor Closes

A major stage was completed in the Snell Library Renovation Project on Monday, Nov. 13, when the brand new fourth floor was opened for Northeastern University community use.

Students using the renovated 4th floor of Snell Library
Students study on the newly renovated 4th floor of Snell Library on Nov. 13, 2023.
Photos by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
Students study in the renovated 4th floor of Snell Library

The floor, which closed in January, now features a variety of study spaces and furniture styles to appeal to all types of users. It also includes:

  • reservable group and individual study rooms
  • a large glass-walled silent study space
  • individual soundproof pods for phone or video calls

Acoustic ceiling panels have been added to improve the noise levels and many pieces of furniture are embedded with outlets, both features that have been regularly requested by student users.

With the completion of the fourth floor, renovation work has now moved to the 3rd floor, which closed on Nov. 13. When it reopens, that floor will contain:

  • reservable group and individual study rooms
  • an enhanced graduate study room
  • a digital scholarship research hub
  • expanded research data consultation space
  • additional study space
A student sits behind a laptop wearing headphones on the newly renovated 4th floor of Snell Library

Work on the third floor is expected to be completed in summer 2024. In the meantime, staff offices previously located on that floor, including the Dean of the Library suite, have been moved to the second floor.

The next stage of the renovation project is expected to be completed in the coming days, as work is just finishing up on that lower (basement) level. Stay tuned here or visit the Snell Library Renovation page for the latest information.

Happy Homecoming: 125 Years of Northeastern

A column on the Northeastern Boston campus. It reads 1900s in large lettering on one side and features photos and information about the Automotive School on another side

Automobiles, the World Series, and the Iditarod all have at least one thing in common: Northeastern.

This year, the Archives and Special Collections staff have been doing research and digitizing records to support the observance of the university’s 125th anniversary.

Around the Boston campus, you can still see the signs installed on Founders Day detailing Northeastern’s development and the Boston campus history.

As we approach Homecoming Weekend, here are some features of Husky history to brush up on:

Northeastern’s Automotive School
The Automotive School was established in 1903 as a part of the Evening Institute. Franklin Palmer Speare anticipated that with the rise of automobiles in America, there would be need for related education. Classes offered included automotive engineering, driving lessons, upholstery, and auto repair. It was a high-enrolling school until the 1920s and it officially closed in 1926. The Automotive School even had a jingle written for it: “The Auto-mo-billie-beel.”

Cover of a songbook titled "The Auto-mo-billie-beel: A Song of the Motor Car"

King Husky I
King Husky I was trained by Leonhard Seppala. When Vice President Carl Ell sought out Seppala in 1927, he did so not only because Northeastern needed a mascot, but also because Seppala had already inspired one great tradition: the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. In 1925, Nome, Alaska, experienced an infamous diphtheria epidemic. Teams of sled dogs played an important role in bringing diphtheria serum through extremely harsh conditions. Leonhard Seppala and his team of Siberian huskies carried the serum over 91 miles of the treacherous relay before passing the cargo to the more famous Gunnar Kaasen, driver of the famous Balto, who covered the final stretch of trail and delivered the serum to Nome. The effort made by Seppala and the other teams have since been commemorated yearly by the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Black and white image of a husky dog. Kneeling next to him is a man wearing a fur jacket and a student in a winter coat
King Husky I on the day of his arrival at Northeastern on March 5, 1927. He poses with Leonhard Seppala and Ray Todd, member of the Northeastern Student Council.

King Husky was beloved by the students, and Seppala even provided feeding instructions for the care and keeping of King Husky I.

Northeastern and the World Series
Northeastern’s Cabot Physical Education Center now occupies what were the grounds for the first World Series, which took place in 1903 between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Americans. The Americans became the first-ever World Series champions and the event is commemorated with a statue of Americans pitcher Cy Young located between Cabot Center and Churchill Hall.

A bronze statue of Cy Young leaning forward, ready to throw a pitch
Cy Young Statue on the Boston campus. Craig Bailey/Northeastern University
Black and white image of people crowding the field of the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds
People crowd the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds at the first-ever World Series game in October 1903.

Boston Globe Archival Advisory: Highlighting the Dairy Festival

This blog post is the first in a series by members of the Northeastern University Library’s Digital Production Services and Archives and Special Collections teams sharing their favorite images and their role in the Boston Globe Library Collection digitization project.

My name is Kim Kennedy and I’m the Digital Production Librarian in the Northeastern University Library. In our recent push to digitize Boston photographs from the Boston Globe Library photo morgue, I coordinated the work with our vendor Picturae. In four months, they digitized 59 boxes of material. I developed a workflow to perform quality control checks on the digitized items and helped prepare them for upload to our Digital Repository. Most of these images are limited to the Northeastern community while we determine the rights status of the photographs, but a subset has been reviewed and is available to the public.

Some of my favorite images are of the Boston Common Dairy Festival, an annual event in which cows returned to the Boston Common (in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Common was used as a cow pasture by colonists).

Black and white image of three children posing next to a fake cow with a sign that says Milk Products
Roy Magnussen, Greg Gannon, and David Bruno pose with the Dutch Cow, a paper mache cow made by a third-grade class in Raynham, June 6, 1973. Photo by Ed Farrand, Boston Globe Library Collection
Black and white image of two girls feeding hay to a cow
Sandra Lee Nickerson and Vicky Lynn Nickerson of Rockland feed hay to a cow at the 15th annual Dairy Festival on May 30, 1970. Photo by Charles Carey, Boston Globe Library Collection
Black and white image of a girl looking at a bull
The Dairy Festival on June 5, 1967. Photo by Joe Dennehy, Boston Globe Library Collection

Here are some resources to learn more about the Boston Common Dairy Festival:

Boston’s Uncommon Park; Common and Garden Provide Togetherness in 75-Acre Refuge, September 27, 1964, New York Times

An Uncommon Common, August 28. 1994, Boston Globe

The Singing Cowsills to Sing Out for “Cowes” During Boston Common Dairy Festival, June 1969, Vermont Farm Bureau News