Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection Announced

BOSTON, FEBRUARY 1, 2018—In an effort to spark informed, city-wide conversations about Boston’s struggle to integrate Boston Public Schools and the resulting court-ordered desegregation effort commonly known as “busing” (1954-1988), area archives have made a treasure trove of primary sources freely and publicly available for research.

The Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection documents the experience of politicians, parents, students, community members, and school staff beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 through to the Morgan v. Hennigan case in 1974 and the resulting citywide response.

Nearly 4,500 items from Boston’s school desegregation history are now available via a portal to the collection created by project lead Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, and have been made available nationally via the Digital Public Library of America, and Massachusetts’ partner hub, Digital Commonwealth.

The Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection will continue to grow as archival material from participating institutions is continuously being scanned and made available. Project partners would also like to acknowledge that this project received financial and administrative support from the Boston Library Consortium.

The current 4,500 items have been selected, scanned and carefully cataloged from partnering institutions’ archival collections.  Partners include University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston, the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, the State Library of Massachusetts’ Special Collections, Boston College Libraries, the Moakley Archive and Institute at Suffolk University, the Boston City Archives, WGBH Media Library and Archives, and the National Archives and Records Administration in Boston.

The idea to create this collection was sparked by the Boston Public Schools History and Social Studies Department’s decision to create a curriculum that marked the 40th anniversary of the Morgan v. Hennigan decision (1974).  Through this curriculum, the Boston Public Schools seeks to ensure that every student learns about this troubling but important chapter in our city’s history. The creation of these units made it easier to include primary source materials describing school desegregation in Boston, which were not always easily accessible for teachers and students before these units were created.

About the Northeastern University Archives

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. Our charge is to preserve the history of Boston’s social movements, including civil and political rights, immigrant rights, homelessness, and urban and environmental justice. We focus on the history of Boston’s African American, Chinese, LGBTQ, Latino 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.

About the Boston Public Schools History and Social Studies Department
The Department of History and Social Studies aims to provide guidance and curated resources to support best practices in history and social studies instruction incorporating rich content, historical thinking skills, and place-based learning in classrooms across the district.

About the Boston Library Consortium

The Boston Library Consortium (BLC) supports collaboration across academic and research libraries in New England.  Member libraries benefit from a partnership that provides proactive, innovative, and cost-effective access to shared information resources, services, and expertise.  The BLC is focused on ensuring its member libraries best serve the teaching, research, and scholarship needs of their parent institutions.  With 17 Full Members from New Hampshire to Rhode Island, the BLC fosters collaboration and connection. and advocates for its members on issues of importance to the transformation of academic and research libraries in the 21st century.  More information is available at

Materials available on the Digital Public Library of American from the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection can be found through this link:

Curricula on desegregation in Boston created by the Boston Public Schools can be found here:

Source: BLC Announce Listserv, 2/1/18 Press Release