Keeper of the Flame: Boston Phoenix owner gifts archives to Northeastern

Posted by: Jennie Robbiano


Boston Phoenix owner Stephen Mindich decided in September to donate the paper’s archives to Snell Library. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Originally Published in News@Northeastern on November 24, 2015

By Noelle Shough

For nearly 50 years, The Boston Phoenix was Boston’s alter­na­tive newspaper of record, the first word on social jus­tice, pol­i­tics, as well as the arts and music scene. Its intrepid jour­nal­ists tackled issues from safe sex and AIDS aware­ness to gay rights, mar­riage equality, and the legal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana. Ads for room­mates, romantic mates, and band mates—one could find all these and more in the newspaper’s probing, irreverent, enter­taining pages.

It ceased pub­li­ca­tion in March 2013, but the Phoenix will be pre­served for posterity—thanks to owner Stephen Mindich’s deci­sion in Sep­tember to donate the paper’s archives to Northeastern’s Snell Library.

Snell’s Archives and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions already houses an impres­sive array of his­tor­ical records of Boston’s social move­ments, including civil and polit­ical rights, immi­grant rights, home­less­ness, and envi­ron­mental justice.

The Phoenix never shied away from cov­ering topics of neigh­bor­hood interest, sup­porting the rights of indi­vid­uals and groups,” says Will Wakeling, dean of Uni­ver­sity Libraries. “So it will form a per­fect complement to this growing collection.”


The Boston Phoenix will be preserved in Snell Library’s Archives and Special Collections. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The Boston Phoenix will be pre­served in Snell Library’s Archives and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions. Photo by Matthew Modoono/​Northeastern University


Mindich’s gift encom­passes much more than The Boston Phoenix. The archives include sister pub­li­ca­tions in Worcester, Mass­a­chu­setts, Port­land, Maine, and Prov­i­dence; Boston After Dark; The Real Paper; the alter­na­tive pro­gram­ming of WFNX FM; and Stuff and Stuff at Night mag­a­zines. These sources, including a full Web archive of mate­rial not included in the print edi­tions, pro­vide a richly nuanced per­spec­tive on how people thought and put ideas into action when it came to social issues and social jus­tice from the 1960s to the near-​​present day. They are doc­u­men­ta­tion of the ways social change happens.

Our vision for the archives is dig­i­tizing all the print and making it fully text-​​searchable, so all that his­tory lives on,” says Dan Kennedy, asso­ciate pro­fessor at Northeastern’s School of Jour­nalism and a former Phoenix media colum­nist and nationally-​​known media commentator.

Adds Wakeling, “As the library works on the com­plex dig­i­tizing strategy, the archives will be made avail­able to the public.”

The Boston Phoenix not only reported on the news, it made the news. In 1987, during the height of the AIDS crisis, it dis­trib­uted 150,000 con­doms to readers. In 2001, Phoenix reporter Kristen Lom­bardi described trou­bling pat­terns in how Catholic Church leaders were trans­fer­ring priests accused of sex­u­ally abusing chil­dren to new parishes. The alter­na­tive weekly also fol­lowed the evolving rights of the LGBTQ community.

A great strength of the paper was also its arts cov­erage, which is also Stephen’s pas­sion,” notes Kennedy. In 1994, writer Lloyd Schwartz won the Pulitzer Prize for Crit­i­cism for his cov­erage of clas­sical music. Many former Phoenix writers—Susan Orlean, David Denby, Mark Lei­bovich, and Michael Rezendes among them—went on to illus­trious careers at top U.S. news­pa­pers and magazines.

Though Boston’s anti-​​establishment spirit has faded some­what over the years, Mindich’s dona­tion ensures that its his­tory never will. “Scholars and researchers in this area will be licking their lips in antic­i­pa­tion,” says Wakeling.

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


This database is far out! The Sixties now at Snell Library

Posted by: Jamie Dendy



Chances are that you, your parents, or your grandparents experienced the 60s. Whether you did or didn’t, The Sixties: Primary Documents and Personal Narratives: 1960-1974 is a fascinating glimpse into the cultural, political, and social upheavals that shook the nation and the world during that tumultuous period. You’ll enjoy exploring the database’s primary source materials, which include oral histories, diaries, letters, and alternative or underground publications. It’s groovy, man!

Posted in: Collections, Serendipity


Neurology: Now full-text online, 1951-present

Posted by: Jen Ferguson


We’ve expanded our subscription to the journal Neurology. Accessed nearly 1,000 times by Northeastern users in the past year alone, NU faculty, staff, and students now have full-text online access to all Neurology issues from 1951-present.

Neurology is the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The journal aims to advance the field of neurology by presenting new basic and clinical research with emphasis on knowledge that will influence the way neurology is practiced.

Neurology content includes:

  • Articles
  • Clinical/Scientific notes
  • Views & Reviews (including Medical Hypothesis papers)
  • Issues of Neurological Practice
  • Historical Neurology
  • NeuroImages
  • Humanities
  • WriteClick® Editor’s Choice
  • Position papers from the American Academy of Neurology
  • Resident and Fellow section
  • Patient Page
  • CME Quizzes
  • Podcasts
  • Supplementary data (including video) for specific articles

Posted in: Biology, Collections, Health Sciences, Online Collections, Pharmacology, Pharmacy and Toxicology, Psychology, Research Online, Serendipity


“Neighborhood Matters” Fall 2015 lunchtime movies announced

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni


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 co-curated by the Northeastern Center for the Arts and the Archives and Special Collections at the Northeastern University Library.

 The Series’ fall series includes three films about the North End, Chinatown, and the impacts of the City’s 1974 school desegregation efforts.

Boston’s North End: America’s Italian Neighborhood

Tue, Oct 13, 2015
12:00 pm, Snell Library 90, Free Lunch

Special Guest:

Maureen McNamara; Filmmaker
Nancy Caruso, Co-founder, North End Waterfront Central Artery Committee

From 1870-1900, more than 4 million southern Italians left their home country, fleeing violence, social chaos, and widespread poverty. Boston’s North End tells the story of the individuals and families who found their way their way to Boston and settled in what became one of America’s oldest “Little Italy” communities.

The Struggle Over Parcel C: How Boston’s Chinatown Won a Victory in the Fight Against Institutional Expansionism and Environmental Racism

Tue, Oct 27, 2015
12:00 pm, Snell Library 90, Free Lunch

Special Guests:

Giles Li, Executive Director of Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCMC)
Tunney Lee, Chief Architect in Chinatown’s development and professor emeritus at MIT

The Struggle Over Parcel C was created by Mike Blockenstein with the Asian Community Development Corporation and Boston-area high school students and is part of A Chinatown Banquet. This series of short documentaries explores the history, culture, and politics that shaped Boston’s most densely populated residential neighborhood, Chinatown.

Tue, Nov 10, 2015
12:00 pm, Snell Library 90, Free Lunch

Special Guests
Donna Bivens, Director Boston Busing/Desegregation Project at the Union of Minority Neighborhoods (UMN)
Dr. Polly F. Attwood, Northeastern University’s Department of Education

Can We Talk? Learning from Boston’s Busing/Desegregation is a film that provides an intimate look at how people’s lives and the Boston community were changed by the 1970’s educational and racial crisis that garnered national attention.

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


Boston Public School Desegregation project commences

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni


Freedom SchoolThe 2014-2015 school year marked the 40th anniversary of Boston Public School (BPS)’s court-ordered school desegregation.  To commemorate this event, BPS is building a multi-grade curricular unit for students to study the city’s school desegregation and “busing” crisis.  Before this unit was created, students learned about integration efforts only through the case study of Little Rock, AK.  Neglecting to address, understand, and own Boston’s own civil rights struggles perpetuates the notion that the Civil Rights Movement targeted injustice and segregation only in the South, when in truth, Boston’s struggles were equally important and difficult.

To assist this effort, Northeastern’s University Archives and Special Collections is coordinating a multi-archive scanning project whose goal is to make available archival material that relates to what how and why busing happened in Boston, as well as the after effects it had on the community.  The goal is to create a digital library of material that can be widely disseminated for both curricular and scholarly use.

This effort has been made possible by a gift from the Boston Library Consortium (BLC), whose leadership has been essential to this project.

This School Desegregation and ”Busing”  Digital Library is a lightweight, nimble project that attempts to lay the technical and descriptive groundwork for cross-institutional collaboration through the technical infrastructure of the DPLA and Digital Commonwealth.  It also serves as the kernel of what all hope becomes a long-standing collaboration between BPS and local archives.   In an ideal world, all 57,000 BPS students visit an archive during their K-12 years.  Realistically, digitizing this material allows teachers unfettered access to a deep pool of primary source material which can inspire students to learn more about the history of their own city and become emerging leaders.

The BLC members initiating this effort are University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston, the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, The State Library of Massachusetts’ Special Collections, and Boston College’s John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections.  Additional archival partners include The Moakley Archive and Institute at Suffolk University and the Boston City Archives.

Partner institutions are scanning material that illuminate the complexity of state- and city-wide politics, community activism and advocacy, and all parties’ reactions to national and local legislation.  The time frame covered originates with the Brown v. Board of Education decision (1954), works through the Civil Rights Act (1964), into and past the Morgan v. Hennigan case (1974), and the resulting citywide unrest.  The collection aims to illustrate the reaction of politicians, school staff and administrators, parents and community members to desegregation by busing.

To watch the growing collection of items that is Northeastern’s contribution to this effort, please visit the University’s Digital Repository.


Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Serendipity