Archives and Special Collections


BPS Desegregation Project: Using metadata to support collaborative collections

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni


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


Congratulations to the 2016 Hockey East Men’s Champions, our Northeastern Huskies!

Posted by: Daniel Lavoie


On Saturday night the Northeastern Huskies, led by head coach and alum Jim Madigan, won the Hockey East Championship by beating the UMass Lowell River Hawks in a 3-2 thriller at TD Garden.  The winning goal was scored on a 3rd period power play by junior forward Zach Aston-Reese.  Sophomore forward Nolan Stevens and freshman forward Adam Gaudette contributed the other two Husky goals.

The win ended a 28-year drought since the Northeastern men’s last Hockey East Championship in 1988, when they beat the Maine Black Bears 4-3.  That year Northeastern goaltender Bruce Racine was named the tournament’s MVP.  Racine and head coach Ferny Flaman were later inducted into the NU Athletics Varsity Club Hall of Fame (2001 and 1989, respectively).  One of the assistant coaches for that championship team?  Jim Madigan!

1988 MVP_lo

MVP Bruce Racine makes the save for the 1988 Hockey East Men’s Champions!

The current season marks 87 years of hockey at Northeastern.  The Huskies have been playing in Matthews Arena since their inaugural 1929-1930 season.  At that time the arena was known as Boston Arena, and also served as home ice for other Hockey East teams Boston College and Boston University.  In fact, until the year before the Boston Arena had been home to the Boston Bruins, whose current home, TD Garden, is the site of Saturday’s triumph.


Northeastern’s first hockey team (1929-1930 season), led by coach H. Nelson Raymond.

Now on to the NCAA’s Final 16, where we play No. 1 North Dakota (30-6-4) on March 25!

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


The Boston Phoenix: St. Patrick’s Day, Busing, and a Divided City

Posted by: Daniel Lavoie


For many, St. Patrick’s Day is undoubtedly one of the most important dates in the Boston calendar, highlighted by the annual South Boston parade. But in 1974, St. Patrick’s Day occurred at the beginning of the Boston busing crisis, a controversial solution to court-ordered citywide school desegregation. From 1971-1976, The Boston Phoenix covered the crisis with over 70 in depth articles. On March 26, Phoenix journalist Michael Ryan penned “Where was everybody on St. Patrick’s Day?” addressing the conspicuous absence of politicians at parties and the parade.




At the center was State Senator William “Billy” Bulger’s, brother of mob boss Whitey Bulger, cancellation of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day party at Dorgan’s restaurant in South Boston. Bulger canceled “to draw attention to his contention that South Boston would be irreparably damaged as a neighborhood, its cohesion destroyed and its spirit shattered, if the forced busing plan for school integration were to go into effect as scheduled for September.” Instead, he held an open house after the parade which was only attended by one political figure, Father Sean McManus.

In response, State Representative Royal Bolling held his own party, “Roxbury’s Salute to St. Patrick’s Day.” Bolling, unlike Bulger, was a supporter of the court-ordered desegregation as author of the Racial Imbalance Act of 1965. He also secured funding for METCO (Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity) which assisted with school desegregation. However, his party also garnered very little attendance from politicians.

Were the politicians at the South Boston parade, which normally drew 200,000 spectators annually in the 1970s? Yes, and no. Billy Bulger attended before his party. Mayor Kevin White, who in 1967 ran a tough campaign against anti-desegregation Boston School Committee member Louise Day Hicks, decided at the last minute to attend the parade. More importantly, Hicks—by then a Boston City Council member—and fellow member Albert Leo “Dapper” O’Neil, both ardently anti-busing, were in attendance and received cheers from the crowd. The busing crisis clearly had divided the city. The Phoenix’s Ryan concluded that “the political leadership of the state, so conspicuous on the busing issue, had done it again.”

The Boston Phoenix Collection and METCO records can be viewed at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections. In addition, Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections is coordinating a multi-archive scanning project whose goal is to make available archival material that relates to how and why busing happened in Boston, as well as the after effects it had on the community. The project announcement is available on Snell Snippets.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


Happy 50th to the Boston Phoenix!

Posted by: Daniel Lavoie


March 2, 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the birth of the Boston Phoenix! In 1965, the paper began as “Boston After Dark,” a four-page insert in the Harvard Business School’s newspaper The Harbus News. On March 2, 1966, Boston After Dark became a free, independent newspaper – “Boston’s only complete entertainment weekly.”   The paper featured event, music, theatre, and film listings and reviews. Theatre reviews were penned by Larry Stark, a prominent local journalist who later was nicknamed “Boston’s dean of theatre critics.” The first issue features a review of “The Subject Was Roses” at the Wilbur Theatre in which he writes about its long run as “perhaps the cast is a little tired by now, but the script was a little tired to start with.”

BAD 19660302_1

In 1972, Boston After Dark acquired the Cambridge Phoenix and was reborn the Boston Phoenix. It became an invaluable source of reporting on not just Boston’s arts and culture but major local subjects—from school desegregation to LGBTQ issues to Occupy Boston. Over its 47 year run, the paper received multiple awards in journalism from the New England Press Association, the Penny-Missouri Newspaper Awards, and the American Bar Association Gavel Awards.

The Boston Phoenix Collection can be viewed at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections. The first issue can be viewed or downloaded in Northeastern University’s Digital Repository Service.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections


Spring 2016 Neighborhood Matters film and lecture series

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni


Spring 2016 Neighborhood Matters Film and lecture series announced!

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.

Redlining: stories from the The Boston TV News Digital Library: 1960-2000

Tue, Mar 22, 2016 12:00 pm Snell Library 90

Free & Open to the Public.  Lunch served.
In the United States, redlining is the practice of denying services, either directly or through selectively raising prices, to residents of certain areas based on the racial or ethnic makeups of those areas. The term “redlining” was coined in the late 1960s by John McKnight, a sociologist and community activist. It refers to the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest. As a consequence of redlining, neighborhoods that banks deemed unfit for investment were left underdeveloped or in disrepair. Join us for a conversation about the history of redlining in Boston, and the community organizing that forced Democratic candidate Michael S. Dukakis to order statewide disclosure of mortgage-lending patterns by zip code, which revealed suspected the discrimination in Boston and lead to the passage in 1977 of the Community Reinvestment Act.


Special Guest: Mossik Hacobian


For 33 years Mossik Hacobian worked at Urban Edge and he now is Executive Director of Higher Ground Boston. Mr. Hacobian recognized leader in building and maintaining affordable housing in Boston.


La Defensa De La Tierra and Villa Victoria (film)
Wed, Apr 06, 2016 12:00 pm Snell Library 90
Free & Open to the Public.  Lunch Served.

In 1968, the city of Boston introduced an urban renewal initiative tht would diplace residents to create new urban spaces. La Defensa De La Tierra and Villa Victoria tells the history of Parcel 19, a plot in the South End. Gathering by the hundreds, Puerto Rican residents protested and won, creating an affordable housing community and social organization for residents.

Special Guest: Jovita Fontanez

Long time South End activist Jovita Fontanez helped found the South End Community Health Center and was the first Latina elected to the Electoral College of Massachusetts

A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts

Tue, Apr 19, 2016 12:00 pm Snell Library 90

Free & Open to the Public.  Lunch Served

One of the largest civic engineering projects in Boston’s history, the Big Dig uncovered gems illuminating the city’s archeological history. From cannon balls to chinaware, A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts places each artifact found at the site in geographical and historical context, offering a new and enriching look at Boston.

Special Guest: Joe Bagley Author and City Archeologist

As the City of Boston’s Archeologist since 2011, Joe Bagley is responsible for the below-ground cultural resources in the city.  He is also the Author of “A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts”

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Serendipity