Archives and Special Collections

8
Jun17

Find LGBTQA Organizations in the Archives

Posted by: Jennie Robbiano

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Celebrate pride month by checking out digitized documents from some of these Boston LGBTQA organizations.  Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections are home to the records of many Boston Area organizations. Visit library.northeastern.edu/archives-special-collections for more.

Abe Rybeck as Hagai in Pure PolyESTHERThe Theater Offensive

The Theater Offensive was founded in 1989 by Abraham Rybeck “to form and present the diverse realities of queer lives in art so bold it breaks through personal isolation and political orthodoxy to help build an honest, progressive community.” The Theater Offensive mounts and produces festivals and individual productions by national and local queer performers, and also serves as a development environment for new theatrical work. In addition, The Theater Offensive works to build community through education, outreach, and political activism.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Pride Dance at the castle at the Park PlazaAIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts

The AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, Inc. was founded in 1983 by a group of volunteers. Larry Kessler, one of the founders of the AIDS Action Committee, became its first Executive Director in 1983. The AIDS Action Committee began its life as a special committee of the Fenway Community Health Center and in 1986 became an independent entity. It is the oldest and largest organization in New England dedicated to helping persons with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).

 

 

 
 
 
 

Boston Gay Men's Chorus at Boston Pride MarchBoston Gay Men’s Chorus

The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, founded in 1982, is a 175-voice ensemble focusing on creative programming and community outreach. The records document the administrative and concert history of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus and consist of board minutes, committee minutes, programs, newsletters, press materials, financial records, subject files, photographs, and concert banners.

The Speaker: The Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Speakers Bureau of BostonBoston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth

The Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth, Inc. known as BAGLY, Inc., was founded in 1980 as the first youth-run organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in Boston. Headed by Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell, BAGLY is a youth-led, adult-advised social support organization that creates, sustains and advocates for programs, policies and services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth aged 22 and under.

 

 

 

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections

30
Jan17

Catherine Allen and the Early Years of Title IX

Posted by: Jennie Robbiano

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Written by Teresa de Costa, School of Journalism.


Catherine AllenNortheastern’s Archives and Special Collections have compiled the works of Catherine Allen, a prominent Boston educator and professor at Bouvé College. Allen’s collection includes her notes and pictures of life achievements throughout her career in Boston. Authors Diane LeBlanc and Allys Swan published the book “Playing for Equality: Oral Histories of Women Leaders in the Early Years of Title IX.” The bulk of the research which informed this work was done with the help of Northeastern’s Archives. Swan and LeBlanc examine Allen’s life as a musician, coach and teacher. During Allen’s time in Boston, she taught at Bouvé College and spoke all over the world as a coeducational advocate.

According to Michelle Romero, Assistant Archivist, “In 1980 the Boston-Bouvé College merged with Northeastern University’s College of Education to form the Boston-Bouvé College of Human Development Professions. In 1992 the school merged with the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions and continues at Northeastern University as the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.” Allen observed Northeastern students in her notes and called them “Beautifully educated.” Her work with former Northeastern President Asa Knowles created a coeducational program ten years before Title IX. Title IX allowed anyone to be educated without prejudice.

With Allen’s passing in 2002 her legacy still lives in the surviving students from Bouvé College. “They created a sisterhood where they share fond memories.” Said Romero “These women are real go getter’s.” The work of Catherine Allen and Bouvé Exhibit can be viewed at Snell Library.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections

23
Nov16

Dragon Prayer Book Featured on News @ Northeastern

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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Photo cour­tesy of the North­east Doc­u­ment
Con­ser­va­tion Center

Rare book from Northeastern archives selected for ‘illuminated manuscripts’ display
November 15, 2016 by Thea Singer

A palm-​​size 15th-​​century book from Northeastern’s archives at Snell Library was selected to be part of the multi-​​venue exhibit “Beyond Words: Illu­mi­nated Man­u­scripts in Boston Col­lec­tions.” Described by its cura­tors as “the largest exhibit of pre-​​1600 man­u­scripts ever mounted in North America,” “Beyond Words” fea­tures more than 260 items span­ning the 9th to the 17th cen­turies donated by 19 Boston-​​area libraries and museums.

Northeastern’s con­tri­bu­tion is a Dominican Prayer Book of more than 500 pages, with text in Latin hand­written in the Gothic book­hand style. It has just a single illustration—a grotesque inside a large blue “R” on the first page—but red and blue text is sprin­kled throughout. The dec­o­ra­tions are what char­ac­terize it as “illu­mi­nated.” The man­u­script includes com­po­nents of a Book of Hours, prayers that were to be said at spec­i­fied hours of the day, and the prayer cycle Office of the Dead, among other devotions. Tiny tabs extending from the edges of cer­tain pages indi­cate where par­tic­ular sec­tions begin.

[Read the Full Article]

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Serendipity

21
Nov16

New and improved! Portal to Latino/a collections

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

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betances1999

Announcing the Archives and Special Collections new portal to Boston’s latino/a history, http://latinohistory.library.northeastern.edu/!

Boston’s Latino/a Community History Collection contains images, documents, and posters selected from the Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records and the La Alianza Hispana records held in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department. The documents scanned from the collection include organizational charts and histories, committee and taskforce meeting minutes, fact sheets, by-laws, articles of incorporation, annual reports, program descriptions and brochures, newsletters, and organizational reports. The records available in this online collection document public policy formation, community relations, affordable housing, urban planning and housing rehabilitation, cultural and educational programming, violence prevention, and minority rights during the last decades of the 20th century.

The collection was originally scanned and made available in 2009 by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services but has since been completely overhauled.  Each item was given additional item-level metadata allowing users to dig deeper into the collection.  The searching and browsing interfaces were rebuilt using the Library’s Digital Scholarship Group’s CERES: Exhibit Toolkit, giving users immediate and searchable access to the collection.  CERES is a user-friendly platform with which faculty, staff, and student scholars at Northeastern University are building WordPress exhibits incorporating curated digital objects.

To learn more about the Digital Scholarship Group and CERES, go to http://dsg.neu.edu/the-drs-project-toolkit-is-now-ceres-exhibit-toolkit/

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Online Collections, Serendipity

12
Oct16

BPS Desegregation Project: EAC-CPF Records and Access

Posted by: Michelle Romero

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Head and shoulder portrait of Elizabeth Coup.

Guest Post by Elizabeth Coup

Throughout the summer and fall of 2016, I am working with Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections and more specifically their portion of the materials that have been scanned for the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Project, creating EAC-CPF (Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families) records.  I am doing this work as part of an independent study for the Simmons College Library and Information Science master’s program, culminating more than two years of practical and intellectual study with this project, which is supervised by Katherine Wisser, Chair of the Society of American Archivists EAC Working Group.

Coming into the program at Simmons, I had a master’s from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in art and architectural history and several years as a sports journalist, thus an interest in written analysis and description was long engrained. Discovering archival standards for description and encoding description only furthered this focus, and the relationship between entities (who might also be creators) and archival materials or records struck me from the moment I heard of it. In the ensuing years of coursework and as an early professional processing collections at the Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, and at the Center for the History of Medicine, where I am presently a processing assistant, this interest only expanded. How do we think about the records we arrange and describe? How do we make the choices for describing them? And then, on the other hand, how do we describe the entities that are related to the record—but also might be related to one another? How does describing entities and relationships between them improve access to archival materials? It is these final questions that I am exploring with my ongoing project.

In fall 2015, I met with Giordana Mecagni, the Head of Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections, for a project that was part of my regular coursework in the Simmons College Library and Information Sciences master’s program. During our conversation, she told me about the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Project, which immediately struck me for multiple reasons, one of which was that it might be just the project for which encoded description specific to creators, rather than materials, might be extremely useful. It is a significantly sized online collection not just from Northeastern’s archives, but also across multiple local and regional archives, and with a range of creators that spans from national and regional political figures to lesser known activists and neighborhood organizations. Thinking about describing the relationships between these creators—or entities—as well as providing users with access to additional description not of materials, but of entities, became the impetus for this project.

The project began this past summer, when I began working with Giordana Mecagni, Michelle Romero, and Daniel Jergovic to create an EAC-CPF template that could be used not only for entities related to this project, but also for all entities related to Northeastern collections. Furthermore, I established a list of all primary entities associated with the BPS Desegregation Project materials at Northeastern, and then met with Giordana and Michelle to prioritize a group for which records would be created first. The ways to think about prioritizing came from two directions: the importance of the entities within the historical context of BPS Desegregation and relevance to Northeastern’s archival holdings. Considering these concepts, we came to a list of some thirty-two entities, which range from members of government and national social justice organizations to neighborhood groups and local activists, and I stepped into the biographical research portion of the project.

Screenshot of data gathering spreadsheet.

Screenshot of data gathering spreadsheet.

Simultaneously, we began the process of reviewing the EAC-CPF template I created, based on examples from other locations exploring the standard, such as “Connecting the Dots,” a Yale-Harvard collaboration relating to describing lexicographer Samuel Johnson and his circle, and those who collected their materials, as well as the Field Book Project at the Smithsonian Institute Archives. I also looked at the more open and flexible templates being created at present for institution-wide usage at Harvard Libraries, including the Center for the History of Medicine, which is in the process of creating a template and defining guidelines at the present. With these in mind, I created a sample entry, which has then been adapted and edited through email exchanges and meeting with Northeastern staff and Kathy Wisser. We hope to have that template solidified in the coming weeks, so that I can begin producing records for those priority entities.

creenshot of EAC-CPF template.

Screenshot of EAC-CPF template.

Perhaps the most challenging (and interesting) consideration throughout the research and template creation stages is the concept that EAC does not in fact describe archival materials, but the entities themselves. For these reasons, LCSH subject headings make less sense to describe the entities than, say, occupations authorities. When writing biographical or historical notes, the note is not exactly what one might create for a finding aid; it is not related to the materials in the collection but to the entities’ entire biography or history. What we as archivists write for finding aids might be just one chapter of what should appear in an EAC-CPF record. Still, the hope is that EAC records provide better access not just to the entity, but to archival materials, both created by this entity and by entities that might be related to this individual or corporate body, also described in EAC-CPF records. In a blogpost describing the Field Book Project at the Smithsonian, Tammy Peters wrote, “EAC-CPF helps outline an historical social network. Not only can a researcher find links to materials from that one person for whom they started their search, but they can also find resources concerning the organizations and people associated with that person.”[1] Thus, though one is describing an entity—a person, corporate body, or family—one is doing so within the context of archival description.

Screenshot one of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

Screenshot one of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

 

Screenshot two of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

Screenshot two of Citywide Educational Coalition EAC-CPF record.

The challenge, of course, with using a new standard, is to make it work specifically for an institution and its needs, and to understand how best to do that. Within the project, I am working closely with Northeastern staff and Kathy Wisser to ensure that we not only create useful records that provide improved user access to archival materials, but also create best practice guidelines and a template which archivists, student workers and interns can all use going forward. Thus, the project is not just one that lasts a bit longer than a semester, but instead creates practice that will move into the future with Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections.

[1] Peters, Tammy, “Historical Context and Connections,” http://nmnh.typepad.com/fieldbooks/2012/09/historical-context-and-connections.html

Posted in: African-American Studies, Archives and Special Collections, Online Collections, Serendipity