“Bless you for guaranteeing survival / Of poem after poem. In a home archival”: Remembering Duncan Nelson

Professor Duncan Nelson sits with a bunch of light pink carnations, holding one in his hand.

Professor Duncan Nelson handing out carnations at the 1996 Commencement.

Describing his career in 2015, UMass Boston’s Professor Duncan Nelson said: “I’m in the English department. I’ve been here since 1967. I came from two years at Harvard, three years at MIT, and then came home. This is the greatest school I could ever want to teach at.” Professor Nelson earned his BA at Wesleyan University in 1952 and his PhD at Harvard University in 1964. One of UMass Boston’s earliest faculty members, he taught at the university until his retirement in 2016. Professor Nelson passed away on December 20, 2018.

Known as UMass Boston’s “Poet Laureate,” Professor Nelson wrote more than 1,000 odes commemorating university events, such as building groundbreakings and openings, commencement breakfasts, chancellor farewell parties, and Years of Service galas, which he often wrote and delivered on the spot. Professor Nelson appeared on the cover of Lux, UMass Boston’s student magazine, in 2008. In 2010, he received the university’s Shining Beacon Award.

In 2015, Professor Nelson participated in the UMass Boston Mass. Memories Road Show, where he delivered one of his most well-loved pieces, “Butterfly Poem”:

Duncan Nelson at the UMass Boston Mass. Memories Road Show: Video Interview from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

In 2017, Professor Nelson and his family began the process of transferring his large body of odes to University Archives and Special Collections, where they will be preserved and made available for research. He even wrote an ode in honor of the transfer:

Bless you for guaranteeing survival
Of poem after poem. In a home archival
We’ll amass hordes of odes — full of adjectival
And adverbial tropes — that I trust have no rival
In terms of both volume and traces of wit
That match with what Swift, Pope, and Dryden hath writ!

Professor Duncan Nelson stands on a chair and recites an ode at the 1999 Years of Service event.

Professor Duncan Nelson reciting a poem at the 1999 Years of Service event.

Contact library.archives@umb.edu for more information about Professor Nelson’s collection. View digitized historic university photographs of Professor Nelson, his contributions to the Mass. Memories Road Show, or a video of his ode “UMass Boston Runs on Duncan (Nelson).” You can also listen to and read a transcription of a 1998 oral history interview with Professor Nelson.

An integral part of UMass Boston’s history, Professor Nelson was beloved on this campus for many years. He will be greatly missed.


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.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Videos from “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” Mass. Memories Road Show available online now

The 42 videos collected at the “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” Mass. Memories Road Show: The Hip-Hop Edition are available online now.

Held at the Boston Public Library in May, the event was a collaboration between UMass Boston’s Healey Library and the Boston Public Library. It was part of a larger project called “Local Rappers, DJs, B-Boys, and Graff: Documenting the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Community from the 1970s to the present” and was supported by a Common Heritage grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor and the UMass President’s Creative Economy Initiatives Fund. Learn more about this project here.

Contributors shared memories of their roots in the Boston hip-hop scene and launching a wide range of careers as visual artists, dancers, musicians, and producers. Many artists described their experiences creating original music and choreography, touring local, national and international stages, and producing events. Local success stories include major performing and record contracts which brought widespread recognition to Boston hip-hop and inspired up-and-coming artists.

The videos in the collection also testify to the significant contributions of Boston hip-hop artists in the development of innovative MCing, DJing, engineering and production techniques and technologies. This pioneering work led to cutting-edge recordings and the founding of independent Boston-based hip-hop record labels, which gained global audiences and recognition. Contributors described the importance of historic albums and recent discs to the hip-hop legacy.

Additionally, the video collection documents contributors’ stories about launching a number of Boston-area radio programs such as Hip-Hope Nation and TV shows such as The Somerville Line, which shared local hip-hop music and culture with wider regional and national audiences.

A few of the videos in the collection further highlight contributors’ experiences launching projects and founding organizations to use music as a vehicle for social change.  For example, the Loop Lab engages Boston youth-at-risk in training programs that address the opportunity gap, by teaching audio and video production skills. Other contributors have started peace-building initiatives to end violence through hip-hop and produced hip-hop performances that explore social justice and other current political issues. All of these initiatives illustrate how members of Boston’s hip-hop community have shaped a local music scene that communicates messages of hope for future generations.

Note to contributors: We need your help to finish processing this collection! If you see something incorrect or misspelled–names and spellings of individuals and performing groups, for example–we want to fix it.  Please email carolyn.goldstein@umb.edu with the details and our team will make the corrections as soon as we can. Thank you!

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Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this program do not necessarily express those of the National Endowment of the Humanities.

If you have questions about the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive, please contact an archivist at UMass Boston, connect with the project on Facebook, or click here to explore the collections and learn how you can contribute materials.


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.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Cutz Beatz & Blendz: Free event at the Boston Public Library this Saturday about the art of DJing and making beats

Flyer for hip-hop event at the Boston Public Library, graphic shows outline of DJ as sound board.What: Cutz Beatz & Blendz: Beat Makers, Producers, and DJs!

When: Saturday, November 10, 2018 | 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Where: Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, Teen Central

Boston Public Library and UMass Boston invite hip-hop enthusiasts of all ages to attend a free hip-hop event in Teen Central at the BPL’s Central Library on Saturday, November 10, from 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Spend the afternoon with Dane “DanejaZone” Bradley and fellow DJs learning the art of DJing and making beats. Enjoy live performances, special guests and more. Participants will wear headphones that allow them to switch to different channels and hear everything going on at the individual DJ stations. Participants will also have a chance to explore Teen Central’s Digital Maker Lab and learn how to use the music software. In addition, Michael Jeffries, Associate Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College, will share a documentary entitled “Scratch” as well as insights about DJ history.

Since 2016, Boston Public Library and the Healey Library at UMass Boston have been working together to preserve and share the history of hip-hop in Boston and Massachusetts. They continued their collaboration to expand awareness and access to the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. As part of this grant, UMass Boston and the BPL hosted the “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” hip-hop digitization event in May 2019 at the Central Library, which was attended by more than 200 members of the local hip-hop community. View the digital collection here and learn about other grant-related events here.

The Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive at UMass Boston includes a collection of almost 300 demo tapes featuring the biggest artists from Boston’s early hip-hop scene, which were digitized thanks to the support of the Boston Public Library. University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston is currently working to expand the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and welcomes donations of archival materials from musicians, DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, producers, promoters, and fans that will help document the rich heritage and legacy of hip-hop culture in Boston and Massachusetts. Click here to learn more about what we collect.

Download and share the flyer for this event.

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Special thanks to Dane “DanejaZone” Bradley for helping to make this event possible. Cutz Beatz & Blendz is presented in partnership through Boston Public Library and the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this program do not necessarily express those of the National Endowment of the Humanities.


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.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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“I EMCEE What You Did There”: Join the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive for a free event this Saturday

"I Emcee What You Did There" Hip Hop Event flyerWhat: “I EMCEE What You Did There” Hip-Hop Event

When: Saturday, September 15, 2018 | 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.

Where: Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square, 700 Boylston Street, McKim Courtyard

Boston Public Library and UMass Boston invite hip-hop enthusiasts of all ages to attend a free hip-hop event in the courtyard of the Central Library on Saturday, September 15, from 1-4 p.m.

“I EMCEE What You Did There” is the first in a series of hip-hop programs to take place at the Central Library and branches. Courtney Boston will host the event, with music by DJ Drew and performances by Red Shaydez, Mark Merren, First Lady Sarita, Sondro Castro, BYTC, Dasan Ahanu, and The Hangaz.  The event includes a live hip-hop Jeopardy game.

Additional hip-hop programs are scheduled for Saturday, November 10, at Teen Central at the Central Library, and at the Codman Square and Grove Hall branches in spring 2019.

“Boston Public Library welcomes artists and hip-hop enthusiasts to one of the Central Library’s most beautiful and inspiring spaces to celebrate Boston’s hip hop legacy and gather as a community to share experiences, both new and old,” said David Leonard, President of Boston Public Library. “I am grateful to UMass Boston, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Hip Hop & The Bostonians curating committee for their commitment to promote Boston’s intergenerational hip hop presence locally and beyond, while also preserving this important piece of living history.”

“As we continue to build a collection at UMass Boston related to the history of hip-hop in Boston and Massachusetts,” said Carolyn Goldstein, “we are pleased that this grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities is providing opportunities for Boston’s hip-hop artists to share the legacy of these four hip-hop elements—music, dance, DJs, and graffiti—with a broad citywide audience at the Boston Public Library’s Central and branch libraries.” Goldstein is the grant’s principal investigator and Public History and Community Archives Program Manager in the Healey Library at UMass Boston.

Since 2016, Boston Public Library and UMass Boston have been working together to preserve and share the history of hip-hop in Boston and Massachusetts. They continued their collaboration to expand awareness and access to the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and hosted the “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” hip-hop digitization event on Saturday, May 19, at the Central Library. Attended by more than 200 members of the local hip-hop community, items collected for digitization included photos, clothing, videos interviews, and more, and will be available to view this month via openarchives.umb.edu. [Update: This collection is now online. Read more and view the digital collection here.]

The Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive is a collective of creatives, hip-hop enthusiasts, innovators, and community and state organizations united by a common passion and purpose to provide resources and opportunities to Boston’s urban arts community. The Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive includes a collection of almost 300 demo tapes featuring the biggest artists from Boston’s early hip-hop scene, which were digitized thanks to the support of the Boston Public Library. University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston is currently working to expand the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and welcomes donations of archival materials from musicians, DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, producers, promoters, and fans that will help document the rich heritage and legacy of hip-hop culture in Boston and Massachusetts. Download this flyer to learn more about what we collect.

Logo for National Endownment for the Humanities

This event is presented in partnership through Boston Public Library and the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this program do not necessarily express those of the National Endowment of the Humanities.


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.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Marshfield Mass. Memories Road Show materials available for research

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Marshfield Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

'Farmer at heart, 2015. It was a tomato contest at our farmer's market. I grew these on the last colonial farm in town (Truant).' Contributor: William R. Frugoli.

‘Farmer at heart, 2015. It was a tomato contest at our farmer’s market. I grew these on the last colonial farm in town (Truant).’ Contributor: William R. Frugoli.

 

Hosted and organized by the Ventress Memorial Library on Saturday, October 28, 2017, the event was the result of a collaboration with numerous community organizations including the Marshfield Historical Society, the 1699 Isaac Winslow House and Cultural Center, and the Marshfield Council on Aging. Over twenty local volunteers joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, public history graduate students, and “Roadies” to welcome nearly 100 adults and children with connections to the town on Boston’s South Shore.

The Kiley girls and friends at Ocean Bluff Beach.

‘The Kiley girls and friends at Ocean Bluff Beach.  A fun day swimming at Ocean Bluff Beach, c. 1910s. Pictured, from left to right: Edith Dow, Mary M. Kiley, Evelyn W. Kiley, Katherine (Kittie) Driscoll Kiley, (in Kittie’s arms) my mother Marguerite Kiley Driscoll, and Marion Rogers.’ Contributor: Marguerite Krupp.

 

Participants contributed images of everyday life in the seashore community in the 20th and 21st centuries. Family gatherings swimming at the beach and exploring the town’s natural beauty are well documented in the collection.

Little Rams, 1973. Friends in high school cheering on girls' Powder Puff football game. Pictured, from left to right: myself Ned Bangs, Contributor: Ned Bangs.

Little Rams, 1973. Friends in high school cheering on girls’ Powder Puff football game. Pictured, from left to right: Donny Roche, myself Ned Bangs,  John Taylor, Matt Harris, Tom Sousa, Joe Kelly, and Mike Robinson.’ Contributor: Ned Bangs.

 

Many contributors chose to share images of casual times at school, as well as formal class photographs. Other images feature Marshfield residents coming together for community service projects and at work in the Police Department, the Fire Department, and in family businesses.

'When we arrived, 2016. The first day we arrived in Marshfield from Puerto Rico. We loved to be near the ocean since we came from an island. Pictured: my husband Edward Sanchez and myself Ana Delgado. Location: Green Harbor."

‘When we arrived, 2016. The first day we arrived in Marshfield from Puerto Rico. We loved to be near the ocean since we came from an island. Pictured: my husband Edward Sanchez and myself Ana Delgado. Location: Green Harbor.”

 

Browse the Marshfield Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide digital history project that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 10,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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