The photographs, stories, and videos collected as part of “Making a History of Columbia Point: A Participatory Exhibition” are now available for research online at openarchives.umb.edu. The event, held at the Harbor Point Clubhouse on Saturday, May 9, 2015, was the culminating practicum project of Professor Jane Becker’s graduate public history seminar (History 625) at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
The students presented an informal temporary display exploring the history of this part of Dorchester, and they invited community members, past and present, to help tell the story. Attendees added events to an historical timeline and defined and identified the locations of important places in the community. Ten participants brought a total of 100 photographs and other documents to be scanned and added to the digital collections at UMass Boston. Together, these materials provide a variety of perspectives on how Columbia Point changed from the 1950s to the 1990s.
Many former residents shared memories of attending St. Christopher’s Church over the years. They contributed photographs of first communions, Easter Sunday, and other religious occasions. Images of parish sports teams and community events organized by the church are also included.
The Sisters of Notre Dame are documented in many of the photographs gathered. Project Care and Concern, an organization dedicated to serving low-income individuals and families, and the Notre Dame Montessori School, which operated for decades in the basement of St. Christopher’s Church, are documented in the collection.In video interviews, contributors shared memories of growing up in the public housing projects. Daily life in the neighborhood is represented in photographs of “gangs” of teenage boys dressed in uniform sweaters and images of older members of the community attending Christmas parties at the Columbia Point Senior Center.
Eleven black-and-white photographs document the early days of the Phillips Brooks House Association summer school on Columbia Point. Through this program, launched in the late 1960s, a number of students from Harvard University lived in the housing project and served as “big brothers” to neighborhood children.
For a reflection on this project by Paige Kinder, one of the students in the class, please visit www.archivespublichistory.org.
Explore the images and stories gathered at this event here.
For more resources on the history and development of Columbia Point, please visit umb.libguides.com/columbia-point.
University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston is actively seeking to build its Dorchester and neighborhood collections. Do you have collections related to the history and development of Columbia Point that you are interested in donating to the Archives? If so, please review our policies and guidelines for collection donations and contact us at email@example.com.
University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more about University Archives & Special Collections, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.