Archives and Special Collections


Freedom House Collections featured in The Scout Report

Posted by: Nina Shah


Established in 1949 by two African American social workers, Muriel S. and Otto P. Snowden, Freedom House was created to centralize community activism in Roxbury, MA, a middle-class, racially mixed neighborhood. The hope of its founders was to link community members to existing services and to create new services in areas that were lacking by focusing on neighborhood improvement, good schools, and harmony among racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

Eventually, archives from the Freedom House came to Northeastern University and were digitized creating the Northeastern University Libraries’ Freedom House Collection consisting of 2,265 photographs, negatives, and slides. These images document a variety of topics including the organization’s early activities to create an integrated Roxbury, to initiate citizen participation in the urban renewal of Roxbury, and the early oversight of Boston Public Schools desegregation.  The images also include representations of well-known figures like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Senator John F. Kennedy.

More recently, on March 18, 2011, the The Scout Report listed NU Libraries’ Freedom House Collection as a featured research and education source. The article can be found here. The The Scout Report is a weekly publication that provides information on new or newly discovered online resources of interest to researchers and educators. To sign up to receive the The Scout Report in text or HTML format go to:

To find out more about Northeastern University’s Digital Collections go to

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events, Serendipity


Cambridge Eviction Free Zone records available for historical research

Posted by: G. Karen Merguerian


We are pleased to announce that the historical records of the Cambridge Eviction Free Zone are now available in the NU Archives, located on the lower level of the Snell Library.

This collection is part of the local history collections in the NU Libraries Archives and Special Collections. Many people do not realize that, in addition to collecting historical records of Northeastern, we also collect local history records and documents, focusing especially on Boston-area social justice organizations that serve under-represented communities.

Founded in 1988, the Cambridge Eviction Free Zone (EFZ) was an independent, tenant-run community organization that worked for social and economic justice in the areas of housing and tenants’ rights, rent control, and immigrant voting rights.

The collection includes meeting minutes, reports, newsletters, newspaper clippings, promotional materials such as flyers, photographs, signs, and memorabilia. View a guide to the collection and read a complete press release about the collection.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, History, Library News and Events


Papers of African American Architects Now at Northeastern

Posted by: damong


If you are like me and think the Southwest Corridor Park is one of the great hidden treasures of Boston, then you should read this article from the Globe about Donald Stull and David Lee, two great African American architects from the 1960′s whose achievements include the design of the Southwest Corridor, along with numerous other buildings in the Roxbury neighborhood.

Snell Library’s Archives and Special Collections department has acquired the designs, drawings, and sketches of both men, now in their 60′s and 70′s. The Archives is in the process of applying for a grant that will allow them to hire new staff to sort through the 1,400 tubes and boxes containing Lee and Stull’s documents.

Stull and Lee have connections with Northeastern dating back to 1966. Chuck Turner, who was a Northeastern administrator at that time, turned to both men to create the Southwest Corridor and re-vamp the surrounding neighborhood in order to make a better space for the mostly poor residents who lived nearby. The plan to build the park included the renovation of nine Orange Line stops that we all find so convenient today. It came as a welcome alternative to a proposed highway extension that was to be built in the same spot.

Both architects empathized with the ideas behind the project because they had grown up poor, though they managed to graduate from the Harvard School of Design. In the Globe article, Stull said, “We were very much active in social change. We wanted people to have the opportunity to create their own destiny.”

Today, the Southwest Corridor officially stretches from Dartmouth Street to Forest Hills, though the bulk of it runs through Roxbury. Today, Northeastern is no longer the mostly white commuter school it was in the 60′s, but a racially diverse boarding college located at the heart of the park. Most people, including most Northeastern students, probably do not realize how frequently they use the Southwest Corridor. But with this new acquisition of Stull and Lee’s archives, perhaps the beauty of this part of the city can be acknowledged once again.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events, Serendipity


Shades of Greatness: The Art of Negro League Baseball

Posted by: damong


In gallery 360, an travelling art exhibit on the Negro League baseball teams of the 20′s, 30′s and 40′s is currently on display. The display, titled “Shades of Greatness,” is a combination of oils, mixed media, photography and sculpture. The works highlight the importance of the Negro Leagues in African American culture.

This exhibit may be considered a larger extension of the small display that can be seen on the first floor of the library. (See the blog post on that display here).

The exhibit has been up since May 17th and will close on July 23rd. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 10am to 7pm. If you would like to schedule a group tour with LSCC, please contact or call 617-373-5845.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events


About The Arthur S. Goldberg Art Collection

Posted by: damong


The Arthur S. Goldberg art collection lives on the fourth floor. I am not an art critic. But I still found a few things to appreciate in this collection. What struck me about the artworks in general was not so much the  diversity of style and subject matter, but they way in which they utilized, echoed and sometimes paid direct homage to artists and artistic styles throughout history. Below I will write about two that I particularly liked.

Take DeWitt Hardy’s Woman and Chair.  This painting oddly depicts a woman sitting on the floor beside a wooden chair, rather than in it. This deliberate non-conformity to the standards of portraiture is interesting  because it suggests that portraits can possibly be of two things at once, or draw relationships between objects first and people second, rather than the other way around. Purely in terms of subject, the painting can be seen as being about the ideal non-conformist; this pale, thin, spacey-looking woman smoking a cigarette, refusing to sit in the chair inches away from her, or to look beautiful for her portrait. This subject matter along makes the painting DeWitt’s own, but the first– an perhaps most superficial– thing that I thought of when looking at the painting, was the work of Andrew Wyeth. I guarantee everybody that they have seen an Andrew Wyeth painting; Christine’s World, of a girl lying in the middle of a wheat field, gazing at a farmhouse, is his most famous. With its faded colors and lines that emphasize sketching, as well as the subject of a girl, I feel Hardy was consciously influenced by Wyeth in this piece.

Another painting with its foot firmly in the history of American painting styles is Robert Cottingham’s series of Barrera- Rosa’s. Each of the three paintings is a nearly photographic (just what Goldberg was looking for, apparently) reproduction of a city block of stores, including a restaurant called Barrera Rosa’s. The first painting, on the left, is a black and white sketch of the scene, giving the impression of a photograph from the late 19th or early 20th century. The second is a sketch of the same scene in brown tones, giving the impression of a negative image. The third and final scene is in color, and suddenly both the scene looks stunningly modern; this “photograph” could have been taken yesterday. In fact, not a single object has changed, and there are only two objects that suggest this could not have  been envisioned prior to the 1990′s; a digital crosswalk signal and a store advertising a payphone outside. The intention, though, is to give an impression of progressing through both photographic history and real history, even though neither history exists in the context of Cottingham’s work. It is a clever trick to play, and  in its repetition and deceptive blandness reminds me of Andy Warhol’s various art experiments. But I’ll take this one over anything he created.

(Robert Cottingham’s Barrera-Rosa)

These works and many others can be found on the fourth floor of the library. It is my hope that Arthur Goldberg someday donates more works; his collection is impressive and a pleasure to have here.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Library News and Events, Serendipity