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The HistoryMakers Digital Archive: An Essential Resource for African-American History

Looking for a primary source for an essay or digital project? Do you want to know more about, say, the Montgomery Bus Boycott from someone who lived through it? Or are you just bored and looking for something educational to watch? Well, dear reader, have I got the archive for you.

I’d like to present to you the HistoryMakers Digital Archive, a video collection of oral history interviews that is available to all Northeastern students, faculty, and staff. With a focus on African-American history, the Digital Archive is a resource that can be both useful and fascinating to everyone in academia, even if they’re not studying history.

A collage of notable African Americans surrounding the HistoryMakers logo

So, what is oral history? It’s certainly not the history of public speaking or how humans dealt with cavities, nor is it simply anecdotes passed by word of mouth. The Oral History Association defines it as “a field of study and a method of gathering, preserving and interpreting the voices and memories of people, communities, and participants in past events.” Besides being the oldest form of history-gathering, oral history holds special significance to African Americans and other groups of the African diaspora: Not only do many African peoples have long, storied traditions—perhaps most famously, that of the West African griot—that venerate the keepers of oral history as professionals who are just as vital to the community as the soldier or the healer. Further, due to historical laws that either made it illegal or difficult for African Americans to be taught how to read and write, oral history has been one of the crucial ways that we can learn about certain events and periods. For example, during the Great Depression, the U.S. government commissioned a collection of oral history interviews from formerly enslaved people across 17 states. The collection of transcribed interviews, which is available online, is an incredibly valuable resource in broadening your understanding of the experiences of Black people during slavery.

The HistoryMakers Digital Archive follows in this honorable tradition. It compiles oral history interviews with nearly 2,700 historically significant Americans of African descent, designated as “HistoryMakers.” They’re significant for a variety of reasons, but all have made some notable contribution to the fields of medicine, art, music, politics, technology, science, literature, journalism, and more.

The archive includes interviews that provide insight into the lives and deeds of some of the most well-known people in the world—John Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte, Barack Obama—as well as many other fascinating folks worth learning about who you might not have known about. For instance, there’s Elma Lewis, a Roxbury native who founded her own art school here in Boston. There’s Ed Bullins, a noted playwright and former professor at Northeastern. And then there’s Sylvester Monroe, a journalist who recounts the perils he faced while covering the desegregation of schools in Boston. Heck, I even found an interview from William Ward, the former mayor of my hometown of Chesapeake, Virginia. And that’s just scratching the surface. You can watch interviews from literally thousands of HistoryMakers, each of which offer their own take on their fields, their lives, and the historical events that shaped them.

Part of the beauty of the Digital Archive is how simple it is to use: after spending just a handful of minutes on the website, you’ll more than likely get the hang of it. But if you’d like a step-by-step guide on how to access, navigate, and utilize it, I’ve created a LibGuide that will hopefully be helpful.

In addition, HistoryMakers is hosting a contest in honor of Black History Month. Learn more and sign up here.

Have any further questions about the Digital Archive? You can contact me directly at moyler.h@northeastern.edu or send a note attached to a carrier pigeon to [redacted] Street in Mission Hill.

A brief overview of machine learning practices for digital collections

Northeastern University Library’s procedure for digitizing physical materials utilizes a few different workflows for processing print documents, photographs, and analog audio and video recordings. Each step in the digitization workflow, from collection review to scanning to metadata description, is performed with thorough attention to detail, and it can take years to completely process a collection. For example, the approximately 1.6 million photographs in The Boston Globe Library collection held by the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections may take several decades to complete!

What if some of these steps could be improved by using artificial intelligence technologies to complete portions of the work, freeing staff to focus more effort on the workflow elements that require human attention? Read on for a very brief overview of artificial intelligence and three potential options for processing The Boston Globe Library collection and other digital collections held by the Library.

A three-part cycle, with "Input" leading to "Model Learns and Predicts" leading to "Response" leading back to "Input"

What is artificial intelligence and machine learning?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad term used for many different technologies that attempt to emulate human reasoning in some way. Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI where a program is taught how to learn and reason on its own. The program learns by using an algorithm to process existing data and find patterns. Every pattern prediction is evaluated and scored according to how accurate the prediction may or may not be until the predictions reach an acceptable level of accuracy.

ML may be supervised or unsupervised, depending on the type of result needed. Supervised learning is when instructions are provided to assist the algorithm to learn how to identify patterns expected to the researcher. Unsupervised learning is when the algorithm is fed data and discovers its own patterns that may be unknown to the researcher.

Ethics
As we undertake this work, it is important to be aware that AI technologies are human-made and therefore human biases are embedded directly within the technology itself. Because AI technologies can be employed at such a large scale, the potential for negative impact caused by these biases is greater than with tools that require standard human effort. Although it is tempting to adopt and employ a useful technology as quickly as possible, this is an area of research where it is imperative that we make sure the work aligns with our institutional ethics and privacy practices before it is implemented.

What AI or ML techniques could be used to help process digital collections?
OCR: The most widely known and used form of AI in digital collections practices may be recognition of printed text using Optical Character Recognition, or OCR. OCR is the process of analyzing printed text and extracting the text objects, like letters, words, sentences. The results may be embedded directly in the file, like a PDF with OCR’d text, or stored separately, like in a METS-ALTO file, or both.

Screenshot of the front page of the Winchester News
Image source: Screenshot of an OCR page of The Winchester News with METS-ALTO encoding opened in AltoViewer.

OCR works rather well for modern text documents, especially those in English, but a particular challenge for OCR is historical documents. For more about this challenge, I recommend A Research Agenda for Historical and Multilingual OCR, a fairly recent report published by NULab.

A screenshot of a search result that reveals the result was returned because the search term matched OCR'd text within the document.

We can already see the benefit of using OCR in the library’s Digital Repository Service, as files with OCR text embedded in the file have the full text extracted and stored alongside the text file. That text is indexed and improves discoverability of text files by retrieving files that match search terms in the file’s metadata or the full text.


The back of a photograph from the Boston Globe Library Collection, featuring difficult-to-read handwritten descriptions.
Digitized back of a photograph from The Boston Globe Library collection.

HTR: Handwritten Text Recognition, or HTR, is like OCR, but for handwritten, not typewritten, text. Handwriting is very unique to an individual and poses a difficult challenge for teaching machines to interpret it. HTR relies heavily on having lots of data to train a model (in this case, lots of digitized images of handwriting), so even once a model is accurately trained on one set of handwriting, it may not be useful for accurately interpreting another set. Transkribus is a project attempting to navigate this challenge by creating training sets for batches of handwriting data. Researchers submit at least 100 transcribed images for a particular handwriting set to Transkribus and Transkribus uses that set as training data to create an HTR model to process the remaining corpus of handwritten text. HTR is appealing for the Boston Globe collection, as the backs of the photographs contain handwritten text describing the image, including the photographer name, date the photograph was taken, classification information, and perhaps a description or an address.

Computer Vision: Computer vision refers to AI technologies that allow machines to work with images and video, essentially training a machine to “see”. This type of AI is particularly challenging because it requires the machine to learn how to observe and analyze a picture and understand the content. Algorithms for computer vision are trained to identify patterns of different objects or people and attempt to accurately sort and identify the patterns. In a picture of the Northeastern campus, for example, a computer vision algorithm may be able to identify building objects or people objects or tree objects.

A black and white photograph of a man being arrested by two police officers next to an analysis of the photo's contents: Footwear (98%); Shoe (96%); Gesture (85%); Style (84%); Military Person (84%); Black-and-white (84%); Military Uniform (80%); Cap (80%); Hat (78%); Street Fashion (75%); Overcoat (75%)
Result of Google Cloud’s Vision API analysis for a black and white photograph.

When used in digital collections workflows, the output produced by computer vision tools will need to be evaluated for its usefulness and accuracy. In the above example, the terms returned to describe the image are technically present in the photo (the subjects are wearing shoes and hats and overcoats), but the terms do not adequately capture the spirit of the image (a person being detained at a demonstration).

There are a lot of ethical concerns about using computer vision, especially for recognizing faces and assigning emotions. If we were to employ this particular technology, it may be able to generate keywords or other descriptive metadata for the Boston Globe collection that may not be present on the back of an image, but we would need to be careful to make sure that the process does not embed problematic assessments into the description, like describing an image of a protest as a riot.

Computer vision is already being employed in some digital collection workflows. Carnegie Mellon University Libraries has developed an internal tool called CAMPI to help archivists enhance metadata. An archivist uses the software to tag selected images, then the program returns other images it identifies as visually similar, regardless of its box and folder, allowing the archivist to easily apply the same tags to those visually similar images without having to manually seek them out.

Many other aspects of AI and ML technologies will need to be researched and evaluated before they can be integrated into our digital collections workflows. We will need to evaluate tools and identify the skills that are needed to train staff to perform the work. We will also continue to watch leaders in this space as they dive deep into the world of artificial intelligence for library work.

Recommended resources:
Machine Learning + Libraries: A Report on the State of the Field / Ryan Cordell : https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2020/07/machine-learning-libraries-a-report-on-the-state-of-the-field/
Digital Libraries, Intelligent Data Analytics, and Augmented Description / University Of Nebraska–Lincoln: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libraryscience/396/

Restoring Agency with Subject Analysis: Daniela Saunders and the Freedom House Inc. Collection

The Freedom House digitization project has been an ongoing effort to make the archival records of the Freedom House Inc. Records available through the Digital Repository Service (DRS). Initially begun as a photograph-focused endeavor in 2007, the project has expanded to the print records of the collection with the aim to make broadly accessible the documentary evidence of Freedom House’s activities in community activism and urban renewal in Roxbury during the mid-to-late 20th century.

Introduction
Part of the digitization process includes the creation of metadata for each record so that people can find an individual item with the sea of documents. Metadata is the identifying information of a record, such as its title, author, creation date, and other components.

Recently, archivists have placed greater emphasis on the subject heading aspect of cataloging records.1 Archivists now recognize that the creation of subjects and descriptions as access points to a record is an inherently biased activity that can influence how one approaches and perceives the record itself and the topics it contains. While these access points are extremely helpful in improving search results, these pathways are created by archivists, i.e. people. Since archivists create metadata, the data reflects our perspectives, thereby making it imperative that we be mindfully aware of our unconscious biases. We must do the necessary self-evaluative work about ourselves, the power dynamics in which we function, and the multifarious impacts of our decisions on various groups.

Records are created within certain settings for certain purposes—whether political or social—and an archivist inserts the meta-narrative layer of collecting and making accessible those records. There is power in that process and traditionally the process has privileged dominant social systems, which then reinforces social inequities. The myth of neutrality in subject cataloging has led to subject headings that can reinforce biases, stereotypes, and offensive representations, as well as misrepresent and alienate marginalized communities. For instance, a reclassification project at GBH recognized the negative false equivalence of police only interacting with criminals in their legacy subject term “Law Enforcement & Crimes,” which they have changed to “Legal System.”2

Recently, many archivists have risen to the challenge of acknowledging the persistency of power dynamics and are actively seeking to infuse their metadata creation with inclusion, diversity, and social justice practices. I myself have recently undertaken the ethical reasoning behind the use of certain subject headings to achieve descriptions that not only increase searchability and accuracy but also are respectful and empowering to subjects previously ignored. It is my hope that by developing cultural competency, the records will be more accessible to the communities reflected in their content, which may be one small step towards actively dismantling oppressive systems.

The Collection and Daniela Saunders
As I digitized the Freedom House Inc. Records, I stumbled upon an eye-opening folder about the Police-Community Relations Committee. The records from this folder of items from 1960 to 1966 document a growing awareness in Roxbury of police-community relation issues. At the time, there were community memories of problems and instances a decade prior. Back in 1952, the murder of Rabbi Zuber sparked meetings calling for community action. However, the initial uproar dwindled and while close relations and neighbors continued to fight for change, it was a small endeavor.

Scanned image of a paper reading: "Co-operating Organizations: International Association of Chiefs of Police, Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association, Massachusetts Department of Probation, Massachusetts Youth Service Board, Massachusetts Department of Correction, Boston College Law School, Northeastern Region, National Conference of Christian and Jews. Purpose: The basic purpose of the Institute is to help improve communication between police and community leaders through the discussion of problems of concern to police, other law enforcement agencies, and public and private community agencies. Specifically, the TALKS AND DISCUSSION WILL BE IN THE AREAS OF HUMAN RELATIONS PROBLEMS, POPULATION CHANGES, JUVENILE-ADULT RELATIONSHIPS, THE POLICE ROLE, THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, AND IN RELATED AREAS.
Mission statement from “Program of Police – Community Relations Institute with notes about National Conference of Christians and Jews police – community relations, March 29 and 30, 1960.” February 29, 1968. Freedom House Inc. records (M16_B030_F1015_004) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015

Some larger efforts did persist, including a Police-Community Relations Institute Conference held in 1960 that connected with religious organizations to discuss the relations between mass media, social work agencies, the judicial court system, civil rights, legislation, and the police. However, the improvements called for in the decade of discussions did not become sweeping real-world improvements. As a result, over the course of a year between the summers of 1962 and 1963, there were a number of stranglings of women in the greater Boston area.3

On January 5, 1963, 16-year-old Daniela Saunders was murdered in an alleyway between Warren Street and Elm Hill Park, just a few blocks from her home. The next day, 500 members of her community met with Otto P. Snowden and Freedom House to discuss what underlying social problems led to the tragedy. Initiated by a small group of mothers voicing the need to prevent such violence, the meeting expanded to the 500-person turnout. Many individuals voiced their perspectives on the issue:

  • Dewey Duckett outlined the general disinterest of the Boston Police Department Division 9 towards the community it was supposed to protect. He talked about how “the local police had clearly evidenced an incapacity to understand or respect either the local citizens themselves or their simple desire for minimal adequate protection.”4
  • Attorney Benjamin Johnson called for the creation of a 100-person auxiliary police of community members.
  • Mrs. Leona Tynes cited the practical issue of poor lighting facilities.
  • Mrs. Oswald Jordan recalled the aftermath of Rabbi Zuber’s murder and described the emotional toll of these types of meetings over the last decade since they had not led to any actual change.

At the end of the meeting, the goal was set to create a committee to meet with city officials, namely Commissioner Edmund L. McNamara, Captain Paul Sullivan, and Sergeant Kelly of Division 9. The other four main suggestions were to add foot patrolmen; ensure that police answered complaints with courtesy instead of their current lack of sensitivity; increase the effort to improve problem areas; and fire police that demonstrated bias towards the black community.

Scanned image of a report that reads: As a result of all of the foregoing, the following suggestions were made: 1. That foot patrolmen be assigned to certain designated trouble spots in the area such as: Warren St., Humboldt Ave., Blue Hill Ave., Grove Hall and Seaver Street. 2. That police take steps to clean up known areas of houses of ill repute and illicit operation. 3. That the police commissioner order policemen to answer citizens' complaints promptly and courteously. 4. No policeman be retained on the force who fails to accord Negroes the same prompt, courteous protection which is due all citizens of Boston. The people were specifically concerned with the attitude of the police toward the Negro citizens of Roxbury and their laxity in the performance of their duty. Four of the many cases presented which graphically illustrate these concerns will be cited now. The meeting adjourned at 11:50 p.m.
Suggestions from “Report from special community meeting about police issues, Daniela Saunders and Rabbi Zuber murders, and race relations held January 6, 1963.” January 6, 1963. Freedom House Inc. records (M16) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015

Another meeting held January 8, 1962, at the Jeremiah E. Burke School further expanded the four main issues. About 1,500 citizens gathered to demand change. Kenneth Guscott, representing the NAACP, called for a Villante Committee similar to what the Peace Corps created in Harlem. Police Commissioner McNamara personally attended this meeting, although he was met with objections when he attempted to downplay his former neglect by referring to his personal connection with a black member of the police force.

The various efforts aimed to “promote a better understanding between the protected and the protector.”5 The end goal was a positive coordinated action program formulated and carried out by neighborhood associations in affiliation with the local police. Along with Mayor John F. Collins and Commissioner McNamara’s immediate pledges to increase training in criminal investigation and compulsory attendance of courses at Northwest University and the FBI National Academy, the events led to long-term communication between the Roxbury community, city officials, and the police. The Freedom House Inc. Records reflect and display these sustained efforts.

Two scanned pages of a document reading: Outline on Various Phases of Police Activities I. REASON - The need for a singular approach to a singular, many faceted problem of law enforcement, calling for the concerted efforts on the part of the many City departments, to bring about a coordinated action program as viewed by the man on the scene. II. PURPOSE - To contribute towards the above-mentioned coordinated action program, in outline form, positive constructive suggestions with an accent on the POSITIVE approach, rather than via negative destructive criticism. III. GOAL - A New Look Program IV. OBJECTIVE - Through a smooth cohesive combined movement of various City Departments in conjunction with the Police Department, to come forth with plans insured of maximum efficiency with a minimum amount of expenditures on the part of those involved. A. Coordination EXAMPLE NO. 1: Fire Dept. with Police Dept. a. Reduce number of false alarms; by pinpointing the trouble areas, operational City costs will be lowered, as each fire alarm, false or otherwise, costs the City approximately $600. EXAMPLE NO. 2: Sanitation Dept. with Police Dept. a. Law enforcement (A tow-way street). Strict enforcement of the sanitation laws; picking up all complaints of littering, improper disposal of trash from windows into lots or backyards and so forth. (In this way, the police will get to know the people he is dealing with; whether poor and law-abiding or poor, without regard for law and order). EXAMPLE NO. 3: Police Dept. with Social Agencies (UCS) a. Referral reports to be made where repeated calls complaining of disorderly conduct, and the like, bring the patrolman into family groups where it is very obvious that the home environment is so out of line as to very definitely evidence its adverse effects in the conduct, attitude, attire and educational status of the numerous children therein. This would also include where there was pointed neglect in the feeding, housing and guidance of these unfortunate youngsters, and where there was physical and mental distress of one kind or another. b. A short Referral form would put this case immediately under investigation of a social agency who will then endeavor to educate and guide the faulty member. c. This kind of follow through between the Police and the Social Agency would, in a definite way, meet the need on the home base, of preventative medicine in areas of juvenile delinquency, tuberculosis, etc. B. Cooperation - People and the Police Dept. a. Volunteer Police 1.) Strengthen the Auxiliary Police Branch, enlist more volunteer police. Recruitment requests to be made under advisement. C. Police Structure a. Expand subordinate levels of command 1.) Form a fine network for all trouble areas, starting right from the blocks to the streets, from the streets to the neighborhood, from there to the areas from areas to districts, from then on up to the precincts. (Auxiliary assistance.) 2.) Inspectors - A systematic step to insure the effectivity of a program of this type is through periodic inspection. If the crime rate has increased in one section, the responsible person, whether on a block level, or street, neighborhood, area, district or precinct, pinpoints the location and troubleshooters give a 24-hour kind of watch--he cleans up, makes his referral reports to said responsible person who does the same right on up to the man in the station under whom he falls. The total summation is then given to the head man--the Captain. This in no way changes the structure as it now stands but rather it puts subordinate authority under certain officers as appointed by the Captain of the station; this delegation of authority gives added strength to police operations, it means a sorting out of the problem that should be in the field of Sanitation Authorities, a Social Agency, Domestic Court, Truancy Dept. and irons out the hopeful method
Pages from “Outline on various phases of police activities.” April 28, 1964. Freedom House Inc. records (M16) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015
Scanned newspaper photo of Daniela Saunders with the caption reading: DANIELA M. SAUNDERS, 16, MURDER VICTIM Suffered Terrifying Death in Dark Roxbury Alley
Photograph from “Photocopy of newspaper article, Neighbors of slain girl hit lack of cops.” (Boston Record American), January 7, 1963. Freedom House Inc. records (M16) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015

Daniela Saunders’ Impact
The events of Daniela Saunders’ murder and the aftermath from Roxbury’s community response are integral components to the larger historic narrative of the police-community relations documented in the Freedom House Inc. Records. Her story may be limited to a folder in this vast collection but her impact disseminates through many boxes. So many activities were initiated by her tragic demise.

However, most metadata elements do not provide space for Daniela. She wasn’t the author or creator of the records, she was not included in the title of the records, and her name was often eliminated in the documents themselves. Within the records of Folder 1015, Daniela was more of a ghost, a whisper, trickled throughout the newspaper articles, letters, meeting minutes, and reports. She may have been the impetus for change, but she didn’t have agency in these metadata components.

Additionally, in the larger historic narrative, Daniela has been forgotten. She is currently not listed as one of the Boston Strangler’s 13 victims despite the connection to the “Phantom Strangler” made in 1963.6

Scanned image of a newspaper article reading: "Responsibility for the death of Daniela Saunders lies on the shoulders of every Roxbury resident. For it can be truly said that she is dead because she lived in Roxbury.
Quote from Kenneth I. Guscott, NAACP in “Photocopy of newspaper article, Peace Corps urged to aid hub police.” 1963. Freedom House Inc. records (M16) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015

When making the metadata for items in Folder 1015, I wanted to allow Daniela to regain her own agency in being remembered. The power of remembering is enormous—it becomes public memory and informs current events. Therefore, archival records provide an opportunity to bear witness to an event when it has been lost to time. I knew I needed a way to provide a pathway to Daniela and link her to these records. I produced these conditions by making Daniela a Name Subject Heading, a practice that we are not often implementing in the Freedom House Inc. digitization project. Due to the large scope of the collection and the logistical issues of maintaining authorized subject headings over 83 containers, Name Subject Headings for individuals are a rare occurrence.

However, with the addition of this metadata component, Daniela’s story becomes accessible to the public. She is no longer a passive victim, marginalized and obscured, but is now an active agent at the forefront of police-community relations in 1963 Roxbury. People can now find the records related to Daniela and they can situate her contribution within the larger Freedom House and Roxbury narratives.

Additionally, the records can give the public a resource for holding historical agents accountable. The 1960s were fraught with many issues between communities of color and the police nationwide. The events of 1963 in Roxbury become a part of that larger context.

Scanned newspaper photograph of Boston Police Commissioner Edmund McNamara leaning forward and listening to a large group of citizens. The caption reads: McNAMARA AND CRITIC - Boston police commissioner listens to complaint of a finger-shaking Roxbury resident while others await their turn.
Image from “Photocopy of Boston Globe article, 1000 in Roxbury jeer McNamara.” (Boston Globe), January 9, 1963. Freedom House Inc. records (M16) Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts Box 30, Folder 1015

Finally, by recognizing Daniela and the events of 1963, I hope that the records and their metadata have an enduring impact on our current society. Police brutality, racism, abuse, systematic oppression, and unnecessary force are all topics that we see in the news every day. Past calls for better training and systematic changes to the police force are similar to present-day news stories. We are constantly exposed to the reality of this violence and our nation collectively feels an emotional toll possibly similar to the one described by Mrs. Oswald Jordan in January 1963. Maybe these historic records can help inform our present discourse. By knowing what happened in the past, maybe we can make more informed decisions, and ultimately, be the change we strive to see.

For more information about police-community relations in the 1960s, you can visit the folders on Police-Community Relations Committee, 1960-1966; Police-Community relations, 1960-1966; and Police-Community Relations Conference of the National Consortium for Continuous Improvement in Higher Education (NCCI), 1966. These folders 1015-1017 are newly available on the DRS website here.

1A non-comprehensive list of recent literature includes, Jillian Ewalt, “Toward Inclusive Description: Reparations through Community-Driven Metadata,” NEA Newsletter 46, no. 2 (April 2019): 4-7; Rosale de Mattos, “The Representation of Archival Information in Controlled Vocabularies: The Context of the Archival Institutions in Rio de Janeiro,” Knowledge Organization 47, no. 7 (2019): 548-557; Samuel J. Edge, “A Subject “Queer”-y: A Literature Review on Subject Access to LGBTIQ Materials,” Serials Librarian 75, no. 1-4 (Jul-Dec 2018): 81-90; Gracen Brilmyer, “Archival assemblages: applying disability studies’ political/relational model to archival description,” Archival Science 18, no. 2 (Jun 2018): 95-118.
2Miranda Villesvik and Raananah Sarid-Segal, “Making Metadata Inclusive to Marginalized Voices” (presentation, Archives for a Changing World, NEA Spring Conference, Virtual, March 27, 2021).
3The Boston Strangler continued to murder young women in the Boston area until 1964. For more information, see Ronald Lettieri, “Boston Strangler.” Salem Press Encyclopedia (2019); Jess Bidgood, “50 Years Later, a Break in a Boston Strangler Case,” New York Times, July 11, 2013; Paul Hoblin, Boston Strangler (Unsolved Mysteries). Abdo Publishing, 2012; Susan Kelly, The Boston Stranglers: The Public Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Pub. Group, 1995.
4“Report from special community meeting about police issues, Daniela Saunders and Rabbi Zuber murders, and race relations held January 6, 1096.” January 6, 1963. Freedom House Inc. Records (M16). Northeastern University Library. Archives and Special Collections Department. Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts. Box 30, Folder 1015.
5“Outline on various phases of police activities.” April 28, 1964. UASC identifier: M16_B030_F1015_005. Freedom House Inc. Series 3: Programs. Sub-Series B: Urban Renewal. Neighborhood Associations. Police-Community Relations Committee, 1960-1966.
6Jack Thomas, “Victims of the Boston Strangler,” The Boston Globe, July 11, 2013. https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/07/11/victims-boston-strangler/CwbsZlSNcfwmhSetpqNlhL/story.html

Library Transitions from Nexis Uni to Access World News and WestLaw Campus Research

Beginning on June 30, the Northeastern University Library is no longer subscribing to the database Nexis Uni, transitioning instead to a pair of databases – Access World News and Westlaw Campus Research – that together provide even more news and law resources through much easier user interfaces.

Why replace Nexis Uni?
Over the years, Nexis Uni has been removing much of its content while steadily increasing its prices. That combination, along with a difficult-to-use interface, has led many libraries and institutions to cancel their subscriptions and put money toward more cost-effective and user-friendly databases and resources.

Access World News database logo

What new databases should I be using instead?
For the cost of Nexis Uni, the Library was able to acquire access to two new databases that, together, provide much of the same content in a far easier-to-use format. Access World News Research Collection from Newsbank includes current and archived news content from more than 12,700 sources, spanning over 200 countries and territories and combining all formats (full-text articles, web-only content, and PDF image collections) in a single interface. You can browse Access’ full list of sources here.

Westlaw logo

For legal and business content, Westlaw Campus Research contains primary and secondary legal sources including statutes, codes, and case law, as well as the American Jurisprudence legal encyclopedia. On the business side, it contains tools like Hoover’s and the Company Investigator, which provides public and private company information and hard-to-find information on small businesses and partnerships. It also can be used to prepare company reports using visual graphics. This reference guide provides detailed information how to use Westlaw.

Other databases also provide useful news resources, including Factiva (which includes access to business news, including the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s); Pressreader (which covers daily news in more than 100 countries); and ProQuest News and Newspapers (which includes current and archival access to newspapers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, and Los Angeles Times, as well as more than 80 local and regional titles).

In addition, Northeastern University students, faculty, and staff can access the Wall Street Journal‘s website by using their NU credentials by going to wsj.com/northeastern.

For more information on available resources, please contact your subject librarian!

Library Adds OverDrive to Digital Collections

The library is thrilled to announce that we are now providing access to OverDrive e-books and audiobooks courtesy of the Massachusetts SAILS network of libraries. OverDrive offers thousands of popular fiction and nonfiction titles that can be accessed on a variety of devices via web browser or app.

OverDrive offers many features that make it a welcome addition to our collection. With this service, we’re now able to offer a much wider range of popular and leisure titles, including magazines and children’s materials. Not sure what you’re in the mood for? OverDrive offers curated reading lists and intuitive searching by keyword, subject, or availability. And if we don’t have what you’re looking for, you can recommend a purchase within the OverDrive app.

Perhaps the best feature of OverDrive is that you can read books or listen to audiobooks on a variety of devices, including Nooks and iPads/iPhones. OverDrive also integrates seamlessly with Amazon for Kindle users. While you can access OverDrive via web browser, your experience is optimized when using either of the OverDrive apps. The Libby app makes it easy to switch between multiple library collections if you are also using e-books and audiobooks at your local public library, while the classic OverDrive app includes some features that are not yet available in the Libby app, such as streaming video and recommendations, as well as compatibility with Kindle Fire, mp3 players, and screen readers. Either app will allow you to read or listen to your loans, as well as manage your account.

OverDrive homepage

It’s important to note that we lease a limited number of copies of each digital title, which means that there may be a wait list for popular titles, just like with print books. Fortunately, OverDrive makes it easy to place holds and build wish lists with just a click of a button, and if a hold becomes available before you’re ready to read it, you can postpone your hold until a later time.

Because titles and availability are subject to change without notice and copies of individual titles are limited, OverDrive is not considered an appropriate resource for course materials. Materials available via OverDrive are also not listed in Scholar OneSearch, as titles are not permanent additions to our collection. Please contact your department’s subject librarian with questions about access to assigned course materials.

When you’re ready to explore our new OverDrive offerings, go to sails.overdrive.com, where you’ll be asked to select Northeastern University as your home library and then provide your MyNEU credentials. For more help, see our e-book reference guide or ask a librarian.

Happy reading!