Archives and Special Collections

Archives, Historical Records, Special Collections

The Archives and Special Collections finding aids have a new look!

The Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections has over 300 processed collections, so it can be an understandably overwhelming place to know where and how to search through all of these materials. Luckily, each collection comes with a finding aid that provides historical and biographical information on the collection and an inventory of materials in the collection. These finding aids have recently moved to a new platform that allows for a more efficient and user-friendly way for both old and new patrons of the archives to find what they are looking for. To begin your search, visit the Archives Catalog homepage at https://archivesspace.library.northeastern.edu/. If you know what you are looking for, you can put it in the search bar and begin your search. If you are unsure of where to start, there are links that allow you to browse the collections.*Search tip* When searching by a person's name or by a phrase, use quotation marks around the terms in order to find that specific phrase. You will then be redirected to the page with the results of your search. From this page, you can add filters such as type, subject, names, and year in order to find exactly what you are looking for. When you find a collection that you are interested in, you can click on the collection name to look further into the collection. Each collection has a description on either the person or organization, as well as the types of materials within the collection. On the right side is a menu with the series and sub-series and a full folder inventory of materials. If you need to do another search, you can click on the magnifying glass at the top of the page, or on the Archives and Special Collections link in the top right corner and you will be able to start your search process over. If you are already on the Archives and Special Collections homepage, you can use the search bar in the middle of the page. Simply type in your search term and you will be redirected to the Archives Catalog page. So take a look and see what we have to offer and we look forward to seeing you down in the archives! If you have any questions, email us at archives@northeastern.edu and we will be happy to help in any way we can!  

IBA’s Festival Betances Celebration: July 21 & 22

 
This weekend, July 21 and 22, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA, the Puerto Rican Tenants Association), whose papers reside in Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections, will host their annual Festival Betances. This festival was named for Puerto Rican patriot Ramón Emeterio Betances, who was both a leader in political and medical developments in Puerto Rico, and is considered one of the leaders of the Puerto Rican independence movement. The festival takes place in the Betances plaza which is also dedicated to him. The festival celebrates the great diversity Latino/a culture and includes events and activities such as a parade, a greased pole competition, traditional food, music and art. [caption id="" align="alignleft" width="429"] Girls performing a dance at the Festival Betances.[/caption] [caption id="" align="alignright" width="422"] Ceramic tile mural on the Plaza Betances.[/caption]
 
                An important component of this year’s Festival Betances is lifting up the 50 years of activism and development accomplished by the residents and organizers within IBA. IBA was formed in 1968 by South End residents and activists in response to the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s (BRA) South End Urban Renewal plan. This plan which intended to tear down existing housing with newer, more expensive housing, and would have displaced over 2,000 Puerto Rican residents of the South End. IBA developed their own collaborative plan for renewal which would create affordable housing plan for affordable housing and services for their neighborhood. Villa Victoria, or Victory Village is the resulting development of this plan. Since the development, planning, and building of Villa Victoria IBA and residents have established Areyto, an arts and culture program, Escuelita Agüeybana, the first bilingual daycare of Massachusetts, and their community center, now named the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center. For more information on the history of Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción and Villa Victoria visit the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collection’s portal for Latino/a history: https://latinohistory.library.northeastern.edu/home/about For more information on attending Festival Betances visit: http://www.ibaboston.org/festivalbetances/

FayFoto archive acquired by Northeastern University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections

A leading provider of commercial photography in the greater Boston area for over 80 years, FayFoto Boston provides photographs on assignment for corporate, business, and non-profit clients. The archive consists of over 7.5 million negatives from 1963 to 2006.   [caption id="attachment_274581" align="alignleft" width="260"] Daniel Lavoie, Collections Archivist, inspects the FayFoto archive before its move to Snell Library.[/caption] Steve Nelson, Partner at FayFoto Boston is excited that Northeastern University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections agreed to preserve the collection. “FayFoto amassed tens of thousands of images over the course of many decades of providing photography to Boston's business and political communities” states Nelson. “As current owners of the business, we were acutely aware of two things: we weren't going to be able to care for the archive properly, and we lacked the resources and training to make this collection available to historians and other interested parties.”  

The photographs in the collection cover a wide range of subjects, including business head shots, architectural interiors and exteriors, corporate event coverage, industrial photography, and product still life. Though the collection primarily consists of historical Boston business photography, it also has a broader local and national historical significance including celebrities, politicians, events, and aerial photography.

 

[caption id="attachment_274582" align="alignleft" width="167"] John and Jackie Kennedy at a Hyannis Legislature party. From the FayFoto collection.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_274579" align="alignleft" width="167"] Aerial photograph of Boston, 1960. From the FayFoto collection.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_274580" align="alignleft" width="166"] Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. From the FayFoto collection.[/caption]             “The FayFoto collection is an amazing pictorial ‘who’s who’ of Greater Boston businesses and government" notes Daniel Lavoie, Collections Archivist at Northeastern University. “The addition of this collection and the Boston Globe archive positions Northeastern as a leading repository for the photographic history of Greater Boston.” Northeastern University Libraries’ Archives and Special Collections plan on digitizing the collection, making it a valuable asset for the Boston Research Center at Snell Library.                            

“We at FayFoto are proud of the part we have played in documenting Boston's history, but the value of this time capsule would be lost if it stayed in boxes in our studio” Nelson remarks. “We are grateful that the conservators at Northeastern's Snell Library agreed to undertake the significant effort required to preserve this unique resource and make it accessible to others.”

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

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 [caption id="attachment_274537" align="alignleft" width="596"] 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[/caption]

Investigating Northeastern’s Only Medieval Manuscript

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.