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

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

15
Sep16

The Media and Boston Public Schools Desegregation

Posted by: Jessica Bennett

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Unpublished photograph by Clif Garboden September 1974

Unpublished photograph by Clif Garboden
September 1974

When the court-ordered desegregation of the Boston Public School system led to controversial practice of busing in the 1970s, the local and national media covered it prolifically. Pictures of protests and school buses flanked by police officers made for eye-catching footage. But as Phase II of Busing approached in September of 1975, some residents felt they were being unfairly represented.  Citizens of Charlestown complained that “the national media is always throwing up that we’re a violent people” as Newsweek reporters camped out to see “the second act of Boston’s national spectacle.” To some extent, the Boston Phoenix, did the same.[1] However, very few pictures of anti-busing protests appear in the paper. Those that do create an impact; one chilling example however shows a group of young white men standing around a burning effigy captioned with a racial slur published on September 16th.

The Boston Phoenix, September 16, 1975

The Boston Phoenix, September 16, 1975

The Boston Phoenix instead chose to focus on individuals, a piece on Judge Wendell Garrity, the federal judge who ordered the desegregation, ran on September 9, 1975 and an article written by Tom Sheehan, ran on September 16, 1975, titled “Three Families in the Midst of Busing” which profiled three families dealing with busing in different ways. The Hollis family, an African-American family being bused from Jamaica Plain to Charlestown, the McDonoughs, a white family being bused who supported the endeavor, and the Wrenns, a white family who opposed the decision. Even the articles regarding the protests focused on police officers and how they dealt with the protester’s attitudes towards them rather than the protesters themselves.

Alongside these articles Boston Phoenix readers looked into the faces of those taking part in the drama; school committee members, police officers, parents, and most all, the children. One of the most prolific of these photographers, capturing the faces of these players was Clif Garboden.

The Boston Phoenix, September 16, 1975

The Boston Phoenix, September 16, 1975

Clif Garboden began working for the Boston Phoenix as a freelancer in the late 1960s, eventually coming on the staff full-time. Garboden rose  to the position of Senior Editor by the time he left the Boston Phoenix in 2009. During the turbulent years of the sixties and seventies, Garboden took his share of photographs of events but many times he focused on the individuals involved. While he was still a college student at Boston University, his photographs captured speakers, musicians, and professors for BU News. Even at that early point in his career, his photographs show the events occurring without losing the individuality of the people in the crowd.

His work during Busing is no different. The September 9th article on Judge Garrity includes not only a photograph by Garboden of the school committee in session which gives a sense of their work environment but the next page also provides close-ups of the members, their large name plagues dominating the foreground and their expressions betraying their thoughts and emotions of the subject matter. In the article “Three Families in the Midst of Busing”, Garboden photographed the pro-busing family the McDonoughs. While the photographers of the other two families chose to portray their subjects in the midst of action, Garboden’s shots are portraits, leaving it up to the reader to make their own judgement. This is not simply an editing choice, the Garboden Negative Collection, now available at Northeastern University’s Archives, shows that every shot he took was framed in this manner.

Anti-Busing Rally, Charlestown, August 1975 Unpublished Photo by Clif Garboden

Anti-Busing Rally, Charlestown, August 1975
Unpublished Photo by Clif Garboden

The Garboden Negative Collection offers a peak into the editorial practices of the Boston Phoenix.  Garboden did take photographs of an anti-busing rally in Charleston but none of them ever made it to the paper. He took pictures of the reporting being done by the television news stations, possibly for an article regarding how the rest of the media was portraying the events. Instead, one of the most beautiful pictures he contributed to the Busing articles shows a lines of children, mostly Asian-American lined up at a bus stop in Chinatown accompanying an article by Nancy Pomerene. Although only one was published, the negatives show the amount of time Garboden took trying to preserve the sweet smiles of children who just wanted to go to school.

In the midst of the hullabaloo Garboden and the Boston Phoenix tried to highlight the stories of those overshadowed by the rest of the media and their collections allow those narratives to remain for future generations.

 

 

 


 

[1] Dumanoski, Dianne. “Charlestown – ‘My Town” – Braces for Busing.” The Boston Phoenix, September 02, 1975.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Collections, Serendipity

7
Sep16

Recently digitized video collection shares highlights from Northeastern’s history

Posted by: Joey Heinen

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One of the Library’s Digital Publishing program’s main goals is to digitize and disseminate high-interest, Northeastern-produced materials in the Archives and elsewhere on campus. The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections collects, preserves, and provides access to significant moments from the University’s history as well as the history of underrepresented communities in the Boston area. Preserving some of the prized video assets from both the social justice and Northeastern collections has been a particular focus lately, and some recently digitized hidden gems from the University Photography and Media Collection happens to showcase both vital Northeastern history and social issues affecting the community around it.

One particular highlight is a video of a speech which Jesse Jackson gave on campus in 1987. In it, Jackson, well-known as an advocate for the African-American community, speaks mainly about the AIDS crisis; specifically addressing the unwillingness of the Reagan administration to combat the epidemic (16,908 people died that year). Jackson highlights the economic, racial, and social disparities that were so deeply embedded in the AIDS epidemic, and calls on local and national leaders to do what they can. You can view this video and others like it in the University Photography and Media Collection.

Jesse Jackson speaking at Northeastern, 1987

Jesse Jackson speaking at Northeastern, 1987

Posted in: African-American Studies, Archives and Special Collections, Biology, Health Sciences, Online Collections, Political Science, Serendipity

14
Jul16

A Proud Past

Posted by: Sarah Sweeney

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A Proud Past Website

Located in Snell Library, Northeastern’s Archives and Special Collections department collects the University’s history, as well as the history of social movements in Boston. Their goal is to secure and make accessible important and at-risk historical records. One of the special collections that lives in the Digital Repository Service (DRS) is the Boston-Bouvé College collection. Featuring photographs and records ranging from the college’s founding in 1913 until 1981, this archive helps trace the complex history of how the Boston School of Physical Education became Boston-Bouvé College.

The collection was first made into a website in 2003. After over a decade, the site was becoming outdated and hard to maintain. With the pilot program of the DRS Project Toolkit (now known as CERES: Exhibit Toolkit), there was an opportunity to breathe new life into the old website.

The Toolkit works on a repository-based architecture. First, groups like the archives load items into the DRS. Then, they are cataloged. For this project, cataloging is still ongoing due to the large amount of digital items in the collection. Then, once a collection is in the DRS, the Toolkit can help users easily create WordPress-based website filled with exhibits. In this case, Aubrey Butts, a Public History Master’s Student, used CERES: Exhibit Toolkit to re-create the old website with a fresh face, fresh metadata, and an explorable, searchable digital archive.

At the new website, users can learn about the history of the school, its curriculum, its leaders, and student life. In addition to the curated exhibits, the archive holds 128 images and 7 documents that users can explore and interact with.

To view the new website, go to aproudpast.library.northeastern.edu.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections