Archives and Special Collections


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


A Unity of Purpose: Physical Therapy Turns 100

Posted by: Aubrey Butts


Seven educated young women at the turn of the twentieth century founded a school to educate future generations of women in the principles of health and body mechanics. Known as a gymnastics school, the concept seems quaint, perhaps even antiquated, to a modern audience. While a concern for proper posture resulted from gendered and classed notions of proper behavior, initiating a capital project aimed at professional development for women transgressed these same norms. By founding the Boston School of Physical Education, these seven pioneering women not only contributed to the future of their profession in Boston but also advanced principles that would shape a new medical discipline – physical therapy. Today, their legacy lives on in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University.

The Founders

Four of the original seven founders of the Boston School of Physical Education. Marjorie Bouvé stands at far left.

The Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences commemorates one hundred years of leadership and innovation this November. As part of the celebrations, the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections created an online exhibit, “A Unity of Purpose.” The line comes from the School’s original alma mater and celebrates the shared attitudes, such as service and civic engagement, which have guided students of all disciplines in their academic and professional pursuits.

Photographs, correspondence, government documents, advertisements, and even uniforms document how the Bouvé program contributed to the development of the physical therapy profession in the United States.

Through wartime service and work in polio clinics, students increased awareness within the medical field of particular rehabilitation therapies. The traditional emphases of movement and holistic bodily treatment supported arguments for greater professional autonomy throughout the later twentieth century, a period marked by increased health consciousness and rapid changes to the delivery of healthcare services.

Physical therapy students practice exercising with crutches and wheelchairs, ca. 1960

Physical therapy students practice exercising with crutches and wheelchairs, ca. 1960

The predecessor of current physical therapy programs at Bouvé received its accreditation from the American Physiotherapy Association in 1929. Northeastern physical therapy students thus can boast of attending one of the three oldest, continuously operating programs in the United States. This November, the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement, and Rehabilitation Sciences celebrates much more than institutional resiliency. Their centennial evokes memories of successive generations of spirited, compassionate, and forward-thinking educators and students.

To learn more about physical therapy education at Bouvé, visit “A Unity of Purpose.” You can also find a companion exhibit, “A Proud Past: Boston-Bouvé College, 1913-1977” on the Archives and Special Collections website as well as a display of historical materials on the fourth floor of the Behrakis Health Sciences Center. All exhibit materials come from collections in the University Archives.

1990 Yearbook

1990 Yearbook

1992 Yearbook

1992 Yearbook














Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


In Memoriam: Julian Bond, Untiring Activist

Posted by: Aubrey Butts


A030588In the late evening of August 15, 2015, civil rights activist Julian Bond passed away. The journalistic coverage surrounding his death testified to his unwavering fight for a more just, socially conscious world. Bond targeted intransigent attitudes of hypocrisy and discrimination through multiple avenues – grassroots activism against Jim Crow as a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and opposition of the Vietnam War during his run for a seat in the Georgia House of Representatives.

The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections preserves the papers of Flora Haas, a Boston activist who brought her experiences from the Civil Rights movement to bear on her advocacy for prisoners’ rights. A 1982 speech attributed to Julian Bond resides within this collection. While the circumstances of its delivery are unclear, the speech draws attention to the death penalty as another site where judgments based on race and class skew fair application of the law. Rather than exposing a history of unjust “premeditated murder by the state,” Bond commanded his audience’s attention with eyewitness testimony of an execution by electrocution. In recounting his father’s chilling encounter with an inmate named Charlie Washington, he reminded listeners then and readers now of the irreversible violence against individuals that occurs behind prison walls. His opinion of the death penalty as a moral wrong, “the product of a fallible system from which there is no appeal,” stems from his tested reading of power relations in the United States that informed all his battles for social justice.

With his compassion and irrepressible energy, Julian Bond served as a model for today’s generation of social justice activists. In sharing his father’s account, he challenged all who would listen to see beyond prejudice, fear, and anger to the vulnerable yet resilient individuals seeking compassion and those protections guaranteed to them by the law. His ideas live on as points of hope for activists and the dispossessed alike.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


DRS Collection Profile: The Boys and Girls Club Photograph Archive

Posted by: Sarah Sweeney


A boy performs a dive at a Boys’ Club swimming championship. The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections’ vast collection of photographs from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston is now available in the DRS. This collection tells an important story of the Boys and Girls Club of Boston (BGCB) and the organization’s rich involvement in the Boston community from 1893 to 2004.

The BGCB DRS collection is the result of a large-scale, two-year digitization and cataloging project undertaken by Snell Library staff. There are more than 6,100 engaging images available in this collection, including photographs, slides, and negatives, and more than 5,000 photographs have been digitized and made available in the DRS. While most of the photographs in the collection were taken between 1940 and 1995, some images date back to 1915, and others are as recent as 2000.

Boston Red Sox Roger Clemens, center, posing with two unidentified men holding a donation check at “Roger’s Rocket Boosters” event.Many people, events, locations, and activities are represented in the collection, and as a whole the collection is a record of the BGCB’s century-long involvement with children in the Boston community. The DRS BGCB photograph collection is a small fraction of the related archival content maintained by University Archives and Special Collections. The full collection contains administrative documents, promotional programs, correspondence, VHS and reel-to-reel tape, scrapbooks, and many other artifacts of the history of the BGCB. For more information about the Archives’ BGCB collection, view the finding aid or visit the Archives.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


“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