2015 Partner Institutions: Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections

During November and December, the Boston Summer Seminar (BSS) blog is profiling the four sites at which BSS participants are invited to conduct research during their residency in Boston. We hope these profiles will encourage you in your exploration of each institution’s holdings, and prompt helpful conversations with the Seminar Director and Seminar Archivists in preparing your proposal. This week we take a peek at the Archives & Special Collections at Northeastern University.

Snell Library, Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)

Snell Library, Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)

The Archives and Special Collections at the Northeastern University Libraries houses and carefully curates a diverse and growing collection of historical records relating to Boston’s fight for social justice.  Their charge is to preserve the history of Boston’s social movements, including civil and political rights, immigrant rights, homelessness, and urban and environmental justice.  The Archives focus on the history of Boston’s African American, Chinese, LGBTQ, Latina/o and other communities, as well as Boston’s public infrastructure, neighborhoods, and natural environments. The primary source materials we collect and make available are used by community members, students, faculty, scholars, journalists, and others from across the world as the evidence on which stories, histories, and biographies are built.  The use of these records will lead to a deeper understanding of the past. An understanding of the past can help our society by inspiring the next generation of leaders to continue the fight for equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities.

Through the Archive’s online collections and collection guides, it is possible to gain a sense of the depth and breadth of materials available for research. The Archives’ home page features a search tool to mine the collection guides by keyword search. You may also be interested in browsing the Boston history collections by topic, from “Arts & Architecture” to “Women.” Northeastern University began in 1896 the Evening Institute for Young Men at the nearby Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). The University’s archival collections document its twentieth-century growth, providing a print, manuscript, and visual record of higher education in the heart of Boston’s Back Bay.

Children climb on a jungle gym as adults look on. Freedom House Photographs (M16).

Children climb on a jungle gym as adults look on. Freedom House Photographs (M16).

The online collections featured on the Archives’ website include the 2,300 photographs in the Freedom House Photographs collection, visually documenting the activities of the African American community in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, 1950-1975, and Boston’s Latino Community History collection, featuring the records of two social justice organizations:  Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) (Puerto Rican Tenants in Action) and  La Alianza Hispana (The Spanish Alliance). We encourage you to check out what these, and the rest of Northeastern’s history collections, offer.

~Giordana Mecagni, University Archivist

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