Hub Book Displays

Posted by: Sarah Towne


If you’ve passed by The Hub in the recent weeks, you might have noticed something a little different has come to Snell: book displays! Twice a month, Snell will have a small book display that highlights our Hub materials. The Hub is home to our magazines, newspapers, Writing Center materials, and so much more. The Hub is where a lot of our new releases or popular works are, including many newly released movie titles. If you’re looking for a fun read or a new movie to watch, The Hub is the place to look.

We began in January by picking fun or interesting topics to highlight our wide range of materials. In February we displayed works by or about black authors to celebrate Black History Month. In March, we’re showcasing women of color. Such works will include The Veil by Rafia Zakaria, Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth, and Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon. We will have books, e-books, and movies so there’s a something for everyone’s taste. So please come on by and check out these amazing works by women of color!


Posted in: Library News and Events, Serendipity


Celebrating Frederick Douglass’ Birthday With a Transcribe-a-Thon

Posted by: Caroline Klibanoff


On February 14, the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, the Women Writers Project, the Digital Scholarship Group and Snell Library’s Open Access programming teamed up for a special Valentine’s Day celebration—a transcribe-a-thon and birthday party for Frederick Douglass.

Faculty, staff and students from various disciplines across Northeastern gathered in the Digital Media Commons to help transcribe documents from the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers. Fueled by pizza, snacks and a birthday cake with Douglass’ photo on it, the transcribers assisted each other with difficult-to-read script and unknown abbreviations.

The transcribe-a-thon was part of a national celebration for Douglass’ birthday, organized by the Colored Conventions Project in association with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Northeastern participated in the inaugural transcribe-a-thon last year as one of nine institutions hosting local events — this year, the Northeastern group joined 64 other campuses and organizations for the event. We live-streamed the program from the Colored Conventions Project, connecting with others across the nation working on transcribing these important documents.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate and help transcribe. Hope to see you for next year’s celebration!


Posted in: Information and Society, Library News and Events


Neighborhood Matters, Spring 2018

Posted by: Giordana Mecagni

Neighborhood Matters’ Spring 2018 will focus on transportation in Boston. We will discuss how transportation has changed the fabric of the city by focusing on several key flashpoints: “I-695,” a highway rejected by community activists in the 1970s; the “Big Dig”, one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects ever completed (1980s-1990s); and the “Silver Line,” (Phase 1 2000s) including current plans for expansion and improvement.

All events are free and open to the public, lunch will be served.


2/3: Equal or Better: The Story of The Silver Line

12 PM, Snell Library, Room 90 (Film runtime 53 minutes)

Featuring Special Guests Kris Carter and Scott Hamwey

In 1987 the Washington Street Elevated train was torn down and the Washington Street corridor to Dudley Square was left without rapid transit for the first time since 1901.

Equal or Better follows the story of a misstated promise to three Boston communities and the issues of equality still present in our country’s transportation priorities.

Scott Hamwey leads the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Transit Planning team and oversaw the planning phase of the Silver Line Gateway Project. The Silver Line Gateway Project encompasses four new bus stations and connects Chelsea and East Boston (via the Blue Line’s Airport Station) with the Red Line’s South Station and the Seaport District.

Kris Carter is the Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. He is a non-practicing engineer, an optimistic urban planner, and a self-taught filmmaker. He has a not so secret love for Boston (his adopted home) and working through challenging human-centered urban problems. Kris has been nationally recognized by the APA for his blending of storytelling and urban planning and the Federal Labs Consortium for his innovation in transportation work.

3/15: People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making

12PM Snell Library, Room 422 (Book talk)

A book talk featuring special guest Karilyn Crockett, who is the author of People Before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, and a New Movement for City Making. Dr. Crockett is director of Economic Policy & Research for the City of Boston. She holds a Ph.D. in American studies from Yale University.

Linking archival research, (including in Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections), ethnographic fieldwork, and oral history, Karilyn Crockett in People before Highways offers ground-level analysis of the social, political, and environmental significance of a local anti-highway protest and its lasting national implications. The story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop an interstate highway is one full of suspenseful twists and surprises, including for the actors themselves.

4/3: Great Projects: The Building of America ‘The Big Dig’” (WGBH, 2003)

12PM Snell Library, Room 90 (Film runtime 56 minutes)

Featuring Special Guest Fred Salvucci, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation.

In the post World War II years, urban highways divided neighborhoods; nothing stood in the way of their construction. In Boston, the Central Artery cut through downtown Boston and the city was left with an ugly green monster, an elevated highway in the heart of its historic and business districts. By the 1970s, city planners wanted to tear it down but the existing highway was so vital to the city’s transportation that closing it down for any length of time was unfeasible.

The solution to this dilemma became known as the Big Dig. A local engineer named Fred Salvucci, (whose own grandmother had been displaced by the Mass Pike years earlier), championed a complex plan that resulted in a transportation renaissance in Boston and a renewal of much of the city’s infrastructure.

 About Neighborhood Matters

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 curated by Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections with the assistance of Library Communications and Events.

Neighborhood Matters is co-sponsored by Northeastern University City and Community Affairs and Northeastern University Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion.

Archives and Special Collections at Northeastern University Libraries

The Archives and Special Collections at Northeastern University Libraries houses and carefully curates a diverse collection of historical records relating to Boston’s fight for social justice; preserving the history of Boston’s social movements, including civil & political rights, immigrants rights, homelessness and urban and environmental justice. They focus on the history of Boston’s African American, Asian American, LGBTQ, Latino and other communities, as well as Boston’s public infrastructure, neighborhoods, and natural environments.

The primary source materials they collect and make available are used by the community members, students, faculty, scholars, journalists, and others from across the world as evidence on which histories are built. An understanding of the past can help inspire the next generation of leaders to fight for economic, political, and social rights.

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


Archival Collections in the Classroom: A Conversation with CAMD’s Kara Braciale

Posted by: Regina Pagani


Last semester, students in Professor Kara Braciale’s “5D Experience/Drawing” class did a deep dive in the University’s archival collections, specifically exploring artifacts, stories, and documents related to the culture and history of the neighborhoods surrounding Northeastern University.

Students began their introduction to these archival materials by listening to oral histories from the Lower Roxbury Black History Project. After listening to the oral histories, each student was asked to identify an area of interest — a person, place, a theme — on which they would conduct further research and eventually develop a digital exhibition.

Connecting students to these archival collections provided them an opportunity to engage with varied primary sources and historical objects, to connect with their larger Boston community through place-based learning, and to create projects that are meaningful and accessible to both the Northeastern community and its neighbors.

I had a conversation with Kara Braciale about her experience with collaborating with the library and archives for this project, and about her decision to use Northeastern’s archival collections as a central resource in her course.  

Can you give us a little background on your course and about how this project came to be?

5D Fundamentals Experience/Drawing is a foundational course in Art + Design that considers experience, interaction, behavior and context through a lens of cultural production. For the past few semesters I have incorporated Service-Learning – the classes do project-based work that fills a need for our community partner (in this case Northeastern Crossing) while reinforcing connections to our course content. In my discussions with Derek Lumpkins (Director of Neighborhood Partnerships and Programs) and Marissa Luse (Campus Engagement Coordinator) at Northeastern Crossing, they were interested in projects relating to the Lower Roxbury Black History Project. Since the Lower Roxbury Black History Project is an online archive and the final project of 5D is screen-based, the idea of student designed websites connected to that archive coalesced from our conversations.

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts: A Retrospective (1950-1985) by Samantha Borri, E/AMD’19, and Melina Paulli, AMD’19

Can you tell me a little more about your course’s project? What were your expectations around the web project?

The assignment evolved over the course of the semester since the content of the Lower Roxbury Black History Project was new to both me and to the students. We knew that we would be making websites and that they would come out of research relating to that archive but beyond that we didn’t know the shape of them. Our orientation in the archives with you, Regina, and Giordana Mecagni helped crystallize our process. After we learned how to navigate the physical collections, students went back into the Lower Roxbury Black History Project and listened to the histories and shared summaries and moments of interest with each other. Some students realized that they wanted to pursue what initially interested them during our orientation where we looked at the United South End Settlements records. Because Northeastern Crossing connects to all of the neighborhoods that surround Northeastern, it felt like fair game. Using the Lower Roxbury Black History Project as a model, our goal was to surface documents and materials relating to local people and institutions thereby increasing access to local histories.

Dana Chandler by Kevin Cannon and Greg Hackel-Johnson, AMD’19

What learning objectives were you hoping students would accomplish by the end of the project? Do you feel students achieved those objectives?

Students were tasked with researching and producing a screen-based experience that situated archival material in the context of the Northeastern Crossing website (their final home). This demanded a sustained research effort in the Archives as well as particular knowledge of our partner organization which students gained through firsthand experience of its programming as well through conversation and interaction with the staff. In 5D, students are pressed to be very specific about audience and context and the layering of spaces engaged in this project: web/virtual; archival/historic; local/community provided a fertile, if complex, environment in which to develop their work.

In a very concrete sense I wanted students to consider translating the physical materials found in the archives into a compelling experience on a screen. I also wanted them to consider the final home of their small websites as a framing device: who will be using their site and to what end? How is the purpose of their site influenced by the context in which it will be placed? From a skills-based perspective I wanted them to be able to design, construct and deploy a simple html/css based website. And finally I wanted them to have the experience of identifying and researching a subject that interested them personally.

One of the most gratifying aspects of the project development was seeing how deeply students were willing to dive into areas that fascinated them. Listening to interviews in the Lower Roxbury Black History project might have gotten them thinking about the art scene in Roxbury which led them to discover particular artists or ask questions about art education based on what they encountered in the archives. Some students were led to ask questions about the origins of organizations that are still active or about the built environment of our neighborhood. Every person or partnership produced a site that achieved the fundamental objectives for the project. More than that, students were able to uncover materials that otherwise live out of view and situate them as part of a local history. In the critique, we had an amazing moment where Derek Lumpkins was able to point to a picture of a young girl in a dance class in the 1950’s who still lives in Roxbury!

Consideration & Community Planning Techniques in Lower Roxbury 1970-2000 by Ralph Perricelli, AMD’18

Do you have any comments you’d like to add about what it’s like collaborating with the library & archives for teaching and learning?

Working with the staff of Archives and Special Collections was a highlight of my semester. The depth of expertise and facility and thoughtfulness with which it is shared by the staff is such a wonderful resource. Certainly these projects would never have happened without the aid of Regina and Giordana! I can see the value of orientation in the Archives for students in any discipline.


Explore a few of the students’ website projects below:

Consideration & Community Planning Techniques in Lower Roxbury 1970-2000 by Ralph Perricelli, AMD’18

Dana Chandler by Kevin Cannon and Greg Hackel-Johnson, AMD’19

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts: A Retrospective (1950-1985) by Samantha Borri, E/AMD’19, and Melina Paulli, AMD’19

“WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED FROM PARCEL 19”: The Story of Villa Victoria by Nick Salerno, E’18


Interested in integrating Northeastern’s archives and special collections into your course? Fill out the library session form to request an archives workshop for your students or contact your subject librarian to discuss how to build an assignment based on the Archive’s primary source materials.


Posted in: Serendipity


Boston Public Schools collection project complete

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.

The beginning of a multi-archival scanning project that would result in the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection occurred in 2014 after a collaboration with the Boston Public Schools on school desegregation curricula. Now, in 2018, six archives’ materials totaling in over 4,500 items have been unified through an effort of selection, scanning, and cataloging.

As of February 1, the collection is now available for public research through a portal created by the Northeastern University Archives & Special Collections: https://bpsdesegregation.library.northeastern.edu. The portal includes guides on how to use the collection, materials for educators, and other resources including timelines, exhibits, and links to other school desegregation collections.

You are invited you to explore the collection as you see fit, by browsing materials contextualized through the portal or by searching using the Digital Public Library of America widget on the home page. Materials narrating the experiences of students, teachers, parents, and other community members in the midst of school desegregation in Boston await you.

This project was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston, Boston College Libraries, the Moakley Archive and Institute at Suffolk University, the Boston City Archives, and the National Archives and Records Administration in Boston and the support of Digital Commonwealth and the Digital Public Library of America. Along with collaborative partnerships, this project received financial and administrative support from the Boston Library Consortium.

Posted in: Archives and Special Collections, Serendipity