Serendipity

31
Mar16

A Room Full of Sisters: The Boston Coalition of Black Women and Female Empowerment from the Ground Up

Posted by: Jessica Bennett

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A Room Full of Sisters, 1993

A Room Full of Sisters, 1993
By Paul Goodnight
4’x5′ Mixed Media
Commissioned by the Boston Coalition Of Black Women
Inspired by Mona Lake Jones’s poem of the same name.

The celebration of Women’s History Month in America has only been around since 1987 (between 1981 and 1986, there was a Women’s History Week, before that…well it’s History). Despite this, women have been making history long before the 1980s and will continue to do so. Some in ways that garner national or international attention, and some that are closer to home but no less amazing.

The Boston Coalition of Black Women began in 1991 as the Boston Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and became formally independent in 1998 with a mission to “provide leadership and resources that empower our members to advance our community through education, social, economic and civic action.”

The Coalition achieved this goal through its various sponsored programs, talks and events. Its mentoring program “Sister-to-Sister” saw itself as a networking group to help Black women at every stage of the job market, from helping a woman get her GED to connecting them to the all-too-few black female c-level executives.  “Succeeding Sisters” was a program designed to help acclimate women returning to the workforce after a long absence.

When those Sisters did succeed there was always a place and community for them to celebrate with. The Coalition’s “Rites of Passage” program celebrated those in the “Sister-to-Sister” program who graduated and events like the “Salute to Boston Police Women of Color.”

The list of members reads like a who’s who of Female Black Excellence in Boston — Vivian Beard, a Massachusetts policy maker for 20 years; Joan Wallace Benjamin, CEO of The Home for Little Wanderers; Callie Crossley, journalist; Carolyn Golden Hebsgaard, Executive Director of Boston Lawyers Group; Karen Holmes Ward, WCVB Director of Public Affairs and Producer of CityLine; Deborah Jackson, Former CEO of Red Cross of Massachusetts and Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries; and Sarah Ann Shaw, the first African-American TV journalist in Boston — and that is just to name a few.

The Boston Coalition of Black Women provided the kind of networking important for women in the workplace, not just for employment success, but for the community. As Roxane Gay says, “If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this, without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome.” While the Coalition is no longer active, the women who were involved are still out there changing the world, one life at a time creating a chain that cannot be broken.

The Boston Coalition of Black Women Collection is just one of several archival collections Northeastern University holds that preserve the history of small organizations in the Boston area that made a huge impact in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. As the quote from Margaret Mead, that appears on the Coalition’s annual reports, reminds us, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Serendipity

31
Mar16

BPS Desegregation Project: Busing and Beyond: Creating a Holistic Approach to Undergraduate Teaching and Learning with Archival Collections

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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The following is a series written by archivists, academics, activists, and educators making available primary source material, providing pedagogical support, and furthering the understanding of Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Desegregation history.

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Maokley pictureProject Overview

Suffolk University faculty, archivists, and librarians formed a collaborative team in 2015 to develop and disseminate open educational resources (OERS) based on the research collections held by Suffolk University.  Archivists and librarians provided reference assistance, bibliographic instruction, research guides, technological support, and digitization services. The curricula were designed to develop students’ information literacy skills and allow them to take advantage of – and navigate the challenges of — a complex and sometimes overwhelming information landscape. In the next phase of the project, the team will develop and test additional OERs, evaluate the effects of student and faculty engagement with OERs, and create guidelines and recommendations for further OER use, expansion, and development at Suffolk and beyond.

Sample OERS (Open Educational Resources)

Using historical documents from Congressman Joe Moakley’s papers related to court-ordered busing in Boston,  Professor Reeve created a variety of assignments and classroom exercises for her undergraduate history methods course, “Gateway to the Past: The Historian’s Practice.” Supplemented by lectures, readings, and discussion, Reeve used the assignments sequentially to ensure that students mastered historical thinking skills and then directly applied them to a capstone project. (See the course’s developmental sequence chart below.)

  • What History Matters, and Who Decides? Introduction to Archival Research: students examined course catalogs at the Archives to document and explain changes in the history curriculum over time (.pdf)
  • Document Analysis Assignment: students analyzed a historical news clipping (.pdf)
  • Mapping Data: Creating and Interpreting Historical Maps: students studied population change over time in Boston and its effects on the school desegregation debates (.pdf)
  • Digital Exhibit Project: capstone project in which students developed and narrated a historical argument on the OMEKA exhibit platform, example Boston Massacre Exhibit
  • HST 200 LibGuide: compilation of relevant research resources (link)

Why OERs?

The team wanted to create open source tools that would be available for use or re-use by instructors within –and external to– Suffolk University. Ideally, the assignments could be adapted for use by faculty in other fields.

Some of the benefits of creating and using OERS:

  • Fosters innovations in teaching and learning, many of which are more collaborative & participatory;
  • Reduces overall cost of books and materials for students;
  • Provides access to education for students who otherwise could not afford or access learning materials.

Incorporating primary sources in the developmental instruction of historical literacy

Overview: The following charts illustrate the process of integrating primary sources into an undergraduate-level historical methods course. The overall goal is to teach and engage students in the “procedural and cognitive action relevant to the use of primary sources” so that they develop a predisposition to inquiry and can frame and “solve historical problems and elaborate their own narrative.”[1]  Foundational to the design and delivery of the course is the idea that students seeking to investigate and explain the past must be historically and information literate. Thus HST 200 integrates the instruction of competencies listed in charts 1 and 2.

[1] Stéphanie Demers, David Lefrançois, and Marc-André Ethier, “Understanding agency and developing historical thinking through labour history in elementary school: A local history learning experience,” Historical Encounters. Open Access Journal. http://hej.hermes-history.net/index.php/HEJ/ article/ download/42/30. Accessed March 11, 2016, 36.

chart2.1

chart2.3

 

 

–This post was written by Professor Pat Reeve, History Department and Julia Howington, Director, Moakley Archive and Institute, Suffolk University, http://moakleyarchive.omeka.net/hst200

 

 

 

[1] Historical Thinking Project. http://historicalthinking.ca/historical-thinking-concepts. Accessed December 31, 2014.

[2] Association of College and Research Libraries, “Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.” (May 26, 2015) http://www.ala.org/ acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency. Accessed March 1, 2016.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Serendipity

28
Mar16

BPS Desegregation Project: Pedagogical Exhibits

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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The following is a series written by archivists, academics, activists, and educators making available primary source material, providing pedagogical support, and furthering the understanding of Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) Desegregation history.

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BPS Desegregation Project would like to highlight two wonderful exhibits built by students from Desegregation related collections.

Screen Shot of Stark and Subtle Divisions exhibit

Screen Shot of Stark and Subtle Divisions exhibit

Stark & Subtle Divisions: A Collaborative History of Segregation in Boston
http://bosdesca.omeka.net/

Created by graduate students in the History and American Studies departments at UMass Boston, this site showcases letters, photographs, legal documents, artifacts, and interviews that explore de facto segregation in Boston and the federally-mandated desegregation of Boston Public Schools. Students unearthed materials from various collections in separate Boston archives, selected a representative sampling, and presented them here, together, in new collaborative context.

 

 

Screen shot of Boston Before Bussing Exhibit

Screen shot of Boston Before Bussing Exhibit

Boston Before Busing
http://dsgsites.neu.edu/desegregation/

Activism for educational civil rights in Boston began well before 1974, when the “Garrity” decision mandated busing to fix de facto segregation in Boston schools. This exhibit introduces key people, groups, and events in Boston from 1964–1974, describing the community effort that led to the desegregation decision that still affect s Boston today.

This not a complete portrait—many narratives, including Latino and Chinese voices, are lacking. All exhibit materials are from the Northeastern Archives and Special Collections, supplemented by research at the Suffolk, UMass Boston, and Harvard Schlesinger Library Archives.

Common historical narrative has painted the busing crisis in Boston in the mid-1970s as an inevitable but spontaneous change in Northern race relations. After exploring this exhibit, think about whether that’s a true portrait of events.

This exhibit was created for Martha Pearson’s public history fieldwork for HIST 4901/4902 at Northeastern University in collaboration with adviser William Fowler.

— Giordana Mecagni is Head of Special Collections and University Archivist at Northeastern University

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Serendipity

28
Mar16

BPS Desegregation Project: Using metadata to support collaborative collections

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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The following is a series written by archivists, academics, activists, and educators making available primary source material, providing pedagogical support, and furthering the understanding of Boston Public School’s Desegregation history. This post explains the technical underpinnings of the BPS Desegregation Project’s collaborative collection.

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Subject headings

The simplest way to collocate our materials in a shared portal like Digital Commonwealth or DPLA is to consistently apply an agreed upon subject heading. There are numerous Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Thesaurus of Graphic Materials (TGM) topical terms that could be applied to desegregation materials, including:

  • Busing for school integration [LCSH]
  • Busing (School integration) [TGM]
  • Segregation in education [LCSH]
  • School integration [LCSH and TGM]
  • Segregation [LCSH and TGM]

Working in a vacuum, one institution could decide to apply the term “Segregation in education” to all desegregation materials, while another could decide to apply “School integration,” making it more difficult to connect these materials in a shared system. As a collaborative, we chose to apply “Segregation in education — Massachusetts — Boston — History” as an umbrella heading that can be used to collocate items related to desegregation and busing across institutions.

Recognizing that relying on a single subject heading may be too simplistic an approach for some collaborative collections, we’re also planning to explore the possibility of creating a DPLA App that would allow us to pull together a result set that combines multiple subject terms, which DPLA’s search functionality does not currently support.

Locally controlled list of names

Participating libraries agreed to apply name authorities from LCNAF whenever possible; however, many of the key local players in the desegregation movement do not have authority files with the Library of Congress. To ensure that we are expressing these names consistently, we created a shared document where we can list new non-LCNAF names used in our digital collections as they come up. In these cases, names are formed according to RDA rules.

Geographic data

Desegregation in the city of Boston is a particularly place-oriented topic; the issues, experiences, and reactions to busing differed greatly from one neighborhood to another. For this reason, we felt that adding geographic information, at least at the neighborhood-level, would be an especially valuable enhancement to our metadata records. We chose to express geographic data using TGN codes because it easily allowed us to apply values at the neighborhood level that would be automatically displayed in a linked, hierarchical form in Digital Commonwealth.

For example, applying the TGN code for the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston (7015008) to this record results in the following linked, hierarchical display on the user end:

Places:  Massachusetts > Suffolk (county) > Boston > West Roxbury

This geographic data will also allow users to visually explore items plotted on a map.
— Written by Jessica Sedgwick, Metadata Project Manager at the Boston Library Consortium

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Serendipity

23
Mar16

Women’s History Month Recommended Reading

Posted by: Kaley Bachelder

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In honor of Women’s History Month, check out these global, talented women and their stories.

Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

A novel by Chilean-American author Isabele Allende, Eva Luna follows the titular character, a gifted storyteller. Living in post-WWII Latin America, Eva narrates her own life of brothels, lovers, and guerrilla warfare, weaving an enchanting tale of one woman’s arduous but beautiful journey. As a beautiful and feminine figure, Eva epitomizes that which women surviving in post-war Latin America are expected to be. Yet at the same time, she acts of her own accord, making autonomous decisions that highlight the gender disparity still present in society. Find this captivating read here.

Beautiful Things by Sonia Faleiro

This nonfiction work by Mumbai-based writer Sonia Faleiro sheds light on the veiled and illicit sex industry of Bombay (now known as Mumbai), India. Reading more like a novel than a news report, the book follows Leela, a proud bar dancer, as she squares up against gangsters, other bar dancers, and the sudden sweep of morality that decimates her trade. Providing a look into the yet-unseen underbelly of Bombay, Faleiro rightfully humanizes sex workers, who are often looked down upon by much of society. Find it here.

The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde

Audre Lorde, famed advocate for black, women, and LGBTQ communities, pens her frustration with the treatment of marginalized communities in this collection of poetry. Much of her work focuses on exploring identity, as can be seen in “Portrait.” Other highlights from the collection include “A Woman Speaks,” “Coping,” and “But What Can You Teach My Daughter.” Find this collection and other work by Audre Lorde here.

The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women by Jessica Valenti

In The Purity Myth, Valenti argues that the notion of virginity is given harmful emphasis in American culture, defining women’s worth by nothing more than their chastity. Using her own research on various aspects of American society, such as abstinence-only sex education programs, she examines virginity as a social construct and the ubiquitousness of the term itself. Demonstrating what many suspected but few could put to words, The Purity Myth explains the negative effects of our culture’s fixation on women’s virginity. Download the e-book here.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

Arguing that the international oppression of women is “the paramount moral challenge,” authors Kristof and WuDunn take to Africa and Asia to report on women around the world. They highlight individual stories, such as a Cambodian girl sold into sex slavery, to advocate the importance of unlocking feminine potential both economically and culturally. Half the Sky is not just a report but a call to arms, inciting readers and activists to take on this challenge. Kristof and WuDunn have inspired a movement of the same name, dedicated to raising money for the liberation of women through cross-platform initiatives, creating websites, games, and educational tools that raise awareness. Find the book here and check out the Half the Sky movement here.

The Beauty Myth: The Culture of Beauty, Psychology, and the Self with Naomi Wolfe

In this TED Talk-esque adaptation of her book of the same name, Naomi Wolfe discusses the prevalence of “beauty” in our culture, and what that definition of beauty means for women. Addressing gendered expectations from both psychological and anthropological perspectives, Wolfe breaks down what it means to be “beautiful” in America, and the harm that standard can have on individuals. Watch the presentation here through Kanopy, a streaming collection available through Northeastern University Libraries.

Posted in: Serendipity