We acquired the Boston Globe’s Archives (in 2019)

Northeastern University Archives– Boston Globe

I nabbed my first ‘real’ archives job in 2002, and have done pretty much every aspect of archival labor since– reference, processing, records management, fund raising, accessioning, preservation (digital and analog), outreach, events, and in recent years, managing an amazing team that does all of that work far better than I ever did. In addition to management, my main role since 2008 has largely been acquisitions.

Acquisitions is tricky, finicky work that requires a lot of ‘people’ skills– honesty, empathy, credibility, trustworthiness, persistence, and persuasiveness– and essential for an Archives without a collections budget. But even the most experienced archivist with years of skills, experience, and success can just swing and miss.

I started working with the Boston Globe with advising them on what to do with their Archives in March 2016, and we had a preliminary gift agreement in place by May of 2017. The collection was packed, shipped via trailer truck by June. (This was an intense process, managed excellently by collections archivist, Daniel) After the ink dried on the agreement and the collection was in storage, I started planning a celebration to be as big as the collection– 4376 cubic feet– including a press release sent to listservs, a short video announcement, a lecture series with our Journalism department, etc. Plans, interviews, etc.

The back of the photograph

And then for reasons that had little to do with the Archives, all of the announcing, profile-raising, and celebrating (not to mention the related fundraising opportunities), vanished. Swing and a miss.

In the intervening years, the collection has proven to be a wild success. It is heavily used both for research and for teaching, as well as by the Globe’s own staff. We are thrilled to provide access to this extremely unique slice of Boston and Massachusetts history. The acquisition was, by all accounts, a home run. But if you google “Northeastern Archives and Special Collections acquires Boston Globe Archives” there are no results that mention that this pretty significant event happened. This, is the miss.

This blog is a place for me to put things I don’t want to forget, thoughts not ready for prime-time, and my personal opinions. Somewhere between the three of these is the language we put together about the acquisition. It follows.

____________________________________

Boston Globe Donates Archive to Northeastern University Library

The Northeastern University Library’s Archives and Special Collections is pleased to announce the addition of the Boston Globe library archive to Northeastern’s diverse and growing Boston history collections. The Globe archive is a vast collection comprising more than one million photographs, 5.6 million negatives, and decades of clippings from the Globe and other local and national newspapers. The material was used extensively by Globe staff at the newspaper’s previous iconic location on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.

“It is tremendously exciting to add the Boston Globe to Northeastern’s expansive collections that richly document the city and region. I grew up reading the Boston Globe, and as it was for me, so it was for millions of people an incredible record of Boston’s history and culture,”  said Dan Cohen, Vice Provost of Information Collaboration and Dean of Libraries.

Northeastern is an excellent match for the Globe’s archives. As Northeastern’s Distinguished Professor of History emeritus William M. Fowler, Jr., observed, “Since 1872 the Boston Globe has observed and recorded the history of this community. Its voice has been heard in times of depression and war, its pages have recounted moments of joy and sadness. The Globe archive tells the story of the people and institutions who have created the world in which we live. This collection is a powerful prism through which we can examine and reflect on the past, and by such reflection we can come to a better understanding of our own identity.”  

The Library’s strong record of extensive teaching and research support on campus and in the community through archival outreach initiatives and programming make this collaboration a natural partnership and research opportunity for all Bostonians and those interested in Boston’s history, as well as in the Globe’s outstanding coverage of national and global events, history, and culture. The collection is already available for research; archival class sessions with students from Journalism, English, History, and Landscape Architecture departments, to name a few, have used the Globe’s published photographs and clippings to enrich their studies of Boston’s development and hone their storytelling skills. 

The Archives and Special Collections hold several other news-related collections, including the Gay Community News (1973-1992), the East Boston Community News (1970-1989), and the Boston Phoenix (1965-2013). The department has a decades-long history of collecting and making available the records of Boston-based community based organizations and activists, such as Freedom House, the Chinese Progressive Association, ACT/UP Boston, and Inquilinos Boricuas En Acción. 

With the addition of the Globe, the Northeastern University Library furthers a commitment to building dynamic research collections relating to the city of Boston, its history and development. Head of Special Collections and University Archivist Giordana Mecagni said, “Adding the Globe’s collection to our already existing range of Boston-focused collections marks an exciting new era for the University Archives and Special Collections department. We are already well known for our Boston-based activist collections, and have had visitors from all over the country and abroad coming to Northeastern to research. Adding the Globe brings the Archives to a whole new level. We are now a one-stop shop for researching the Boston experience—its people, places, institutions—from both the Globe’s meticulous and comprehensive city documentation perspective and from the activism of its under-represented groups. Bringing the Globe’s content to a research-focused institution like Northeastern opens up a whole new world of opportunity for scholarship, both on-campus and around the world.”  

For more information about the collection go to this helpful resource put together by Daniel and a team from the Library : https://globe.library.northeastern.edu/using-the-collection/

For more information about how the collection has been used, go to this wonderful blog post by Molly https://librarynews.northeastern.edu/?p=275183

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