Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive: Lecco’s Lemma collection processed and open for research

Artist tapes and inserts from the Lecco’s Lemma collection.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the materials in the Magnus Johnstone and Willie Alexander: Lecco’s Lemma collection, 1984-2001, have been processed and are available for research. View the finding aid for this collection here.

This collection contains nearly 500 audiocassettes consisting of artist demo tapes and home recordings of Magnus Johnstone’s Lecco’s Lemma radio show, which aired on MIT’s WMBR (88.1 FM) and, later, on Boston College’s WZBC (90.3 FM) from 1985 to 1988. In addition to exposing listeners to mainstream hip-hop artists, the Lecco’s Lemma radio show provided Boston’s underground hip-hop community an outlet through which to be heard. Johnstone, the show’s eclectic host, encouraged area artists to send in their own recordings to play on air. The first series in the Lecco’s Lemma collection includes nearly 300 demo tapes by local hip-hop artists.

The Lecco’s Lemma collection includes nearly 300 artist tapes, including a number of early works from Guru and the original Gang Starr lineup. This is a j-card from a recording featuring the track “Fresh Avenue.”

The second series in this collection consists of nearly 200 recordings of Lecco’s Lemma broadcasts recorded by Boston’s “Godfather of Punk,” Willie “Loco” Alexander, on his home boom box. Read more about the process of making these recordings available here.

Cassette images and audio for both series (the artist tapes and the show tapes) have been digitized and are available on our digital collections site here.

Read more about the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive here and keep visiting blogs.umb.edu/archives for future updates.

View the finding aid for the Lecco’s Lemma collection here.

For questions about this collection or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


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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Bicycling tours, AIDS rides, and scrapbooks: Explore the history of bicycling in these newly-processed collections

The Wheelmen (first issue), volume 1, number 1, summer 1970

The Wheelmen (first issue cover), volume 1, number 1, summer 1970.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that a number of our collections related to the history of bicycling have been processed and are now available for research. This is the first of several planned posts on Open Archives News that will highlight some of the recently-processed collections in University Archives & Special Collections related to the history of bicycling.

One recently-processed collection is related to The Wheelmen, an organization founded in 1967 at Hoopes Reservoir in Wilmington, Delaware. The organization’s mission is to promote the restoration and riding of antique bicycles produced before 1918 and encourage bicycling. Members receive a subscription to the biannual magazine The Wheelmen as part of their dues. The Wheelmen publication includes research articles, stories, book reviews, and pictures from the past and present. The back cover of the publication contains a list of The Wheelmen National Officers and Captains at the time of that issue’s publication. University Archives & Special Collections holds a full run of The Wheelman from 1970 through 2015. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Read more about the generous donation of The Wheelmen and view a video of the magazine’s Publications Chair, Stephen Hartson, riding a replica of a late nineteenth-century high wheeler on the UMass Boston campus in our April 2016 story “High Wheelin’ around the UMass Boston campus.”

Sharon's Bicentennial Bicycle Tour: Re-enactment of the Historic "Wheel Around the Hub," flyer, 1965

Sharon’s Bicentennial Bicycle Tour: Re-enactment of the Historic “Wheel Around the Hub” flyer, 1965.

The Stuart Bradford Nova Scotia Bicycling Tour collection documents the Nova Scotia bicycling tour that followed the League of American Wheelmen Round-up event in Rockport, Massachusetts, in 1969. The Rockport Rally was led by Dr. Paul Dudley White and included trick bicycle riders, unicyclists, and high wheelers. The day after the rally, cyclists participating in the Nova Scotia Tour continued on to Bar Harbor, Maine, where they took a ferry to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, for a week of cycling. Cyclists came from as far as Chicago, ranged in age from 11 to 61, and included members of the League of American Wheelmen, the Charles River Wheelmen of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Cyclists Touring Club. Materials in this collection include the National League of American Wheelmen Bulletin, maps, and information on the Nova Scotia post-roundup tour in 1969. View the finding aid for this collection here.

The Charles River Wheelmen, Post-Roundup tours of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, 1969

The Charles River Wheelmen, Post-Roundup tours of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, 1969.

The Chet Johnson bicycling collection documents the October 12, 1965, re-enactment of the annual bicycle tour “Wheel Around the Hub” by the Boston Bicycle Club in 1879, as described in a February 1880 issue of the popular magazine Scribner’s Monthly. The original tour traveled one hundred miles around Greater Boston, with bicyclists from a number of bicycling clubs riding high wheelers. The re-enactment in 1965 followed the original route, which included Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, Brook Farm, First Canal, Fairbanks House, Dedham, Readville, Blue Hill, Ponkapoag, Canton, and Sharon’s Cobb Tavern. Materials in the Chet Johnson collection include newspaper clippings, a flyer, Chet Johnson’s Safety League Membership Card, a decal, and a pamphlet from the Bicycle Institute of America. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Daily Ride Guide, Massachusetts Red Ribbon Ride, 2005.

The Andi Genser AIDS bicycle rides collection (2005 to 2010) documents Genser’s participation in AIDS rides, including the Red Ribbon Ride of 2005. The Red Ribbon Ride raises funds and awareness to support AIDS organizations. Genser was a manager at the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts from 2006 to 2010 and organizer of the Red Ribbon Ride since the 1990s. Materials in this collection consist of a Red Ribbon Ride binder, which includes a pamphlet, photocopied photographs, Daily Ride Guide, and flyers. View the finding aid for the collection here.

“A Tramp on Wheels” “Kid” St. Onge, 1898.

The Fred St. Onge scrapbooks, circa 1896-1922, outline St. Onge’s multiple careers as a Boston bicycle racer during the 1890s, an international vaudeville trick rider from 1900 to 1915, and a traveling salesman and cycling extravaganza man (circa 1915-1930). The bulk of the scrapbooks consist of newspaper clippings. Other items include correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, newsletters, and photographs. View the finding aid for the collection here.

Read more about the various bicycling-related collections in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston here. And learn more about researching the history of bicycling here.

For questions about these collections or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.


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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Tales from the Tapes: Processing the Lecco’s Lemma collection

Guest post by Gayle Schechter

Show tapes from the Lecco’s Lemma show (writing by Willie Alexander).

Not many people are required to listen to hip-hop at their jobs, but for the past few months as a University Archives and Special Collections intern in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston, listening to hours of freestyles and beatboxing has all been part of a typical day’s work. Tasked with processing recordings of radio broadcasts from the Lecco’s Lemma collection, part of the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive, I’ve not only gained valuable experience with digital collections, but also gotten a crash course in the history of Boston hip-hop. The Lecco’s Lemma collection chronicles an era when hip-hop in Boston was still in its infancy, and when you would record your favorite songs off of the radio instead of searching for them on YouTube.

The Lecco’s Lemma collection contains recordings of radio broadcasts of Lecco’s Lemma, a local hip-hop program hosted by Magnus Johnstone from 1985-1986 on MIT’s WMBR and from 1986-1988 on Boston College’s WZBC. Along with nearly 200 audiocassettes of Lecco’s Lemma broadcasts, the collection also contains more than 200 demo tapes from area hip-hop artists sent to Johnstone to be played on air. In addition to airing local artists, those familiar with old school hip-hop would recognize many of the artists played on broadcasts of Lecco’s Lemma, from Boston-bred Gang Starr to New York City’s Run D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys. The digitized recordings are available online here.

Show tapes from the Lecco’s Lemma show (writing by Willie Alexander).

While the Lecco’s Lemma collection provides a window into Boston’s underground hip-hop scene of the 1980s, the unique nature of the recordings created a number of issues to be considered by University Archives and Special Collections staff. Many of the recordings contain explicit language, necessitating content warnings for our digital collection. The do-it-yourself nature of recording demo tapes often meant artists would take commercially-released cassettes and dub their recordings over the originals. While one side of the tape may contain original beatboxes and rhymes from a Boston crew, the other side could contain half of a Donny Osmond album.

Cassette recordings of the Lecco’s Lemma radio program are not official recordings, but rather were created at home by Boston punk rocker Willie “Loco” Alexander, who recorded them off the radio on his boom box. One broadcast of the show can span a number of cassettes, and many cassettes contain portions of episodes recorded on different days creating instances where one object has more than one date associated with it.

Despite the challenges that the Lecco’s Lemma collection has presented, it’s been an honor to help preserve the history of hip-hop. Though the story of hop-hop in Boston has in many ways remained a well-kept secret, the Lecco’s Lemma collection shows that hip-hop artistry was very much alive and thriving in Boston during the 1980s.

Explore the Lecco’s Lemma digital collection online here.

Read more about the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive here and keep visiting blogs.umb.edu/archives for future updates.

Gayle Schechter is an M.S. candidate from Simmons School of Library and Information Science.


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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Announcing Mass. Memories Road Show events for 2017

Join us on the road!

University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston is excited to announce that the Mass. Memories Road Show will be visiting four communities in Massachusetts in 2017 to collect family photographs and stories from individuals in those communities.

  • Nahant              Nahant Town Hall                           Saturday, April 1
  • Eastham           Eastham Public Library                 Sunday, May 7
  • Wilmington    Wilmington High School               Saturday, September 30
  • Marshfield      Ventress Memorial Library           Saturday, October 28
2016-11-01-mmrs-poster-and-handout-final

Click the image to download a copy of this flyer.

Keep visiting blogs.umb.edu/archives for updates about these events.

Browse the Mass. Memories Road Show collection here.


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 9,000 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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“Decent Places to Live”: Joe Corcoran and the development of mixed-income housing in Dorchester

Aerial view of Columbia Point in Dorchester, the Columbia Point Housing Project and the Calf Pasture Pumping Station

Aerial view of Columbia Point in Dorchester, the Columbia Point Housing Project and the Calf Pasture Pumping Station, 1960s.

The mission of University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston includes documenting the history of Columbia Point, the university’s home since 1974. Columbia Point has a long and storied history: it was a farm and calf pasture before and during much of the 19th century; it became the site of a pumping station that was vital to the city’s new sewerage system; it housed Italian prisoners of war during World War II; and, later still, it became the site of the 1,132 unit Columbia Point housing development. (You can learn more about the complex histories of Columbia Point by visiting our research guide and this blog about Columbia Point.)

joe_corcoran

Joseph Corcoran. Courtesy Corcoran Jennison, Inc.

Joseph Corcoran, a pioneer in developing mixed-income housing, has been a transformative influence in the development of the Point, and recently contributed several items of historic and scholarly interest to our Special Collections, including two videos and the digitization rights to the publication A Decent Place to Live. Through these archival contributions, Corcoran continues his strong support of the university. He is a member of the William H. J. Kennedy Society of the UMass Boston Founders Circle and, through the Joseph E. Corcoran Endowed Excellence Fund, provides an annual award to a faculty member in the College of Management who has exhibited excellence in teaching, curriculum development and/or research.

Joe Corcoran grew up in a mixed-income neighborhood in Dorchester, the youngest of eight children born to Irish immigrant parents. As he describes in his memoir Wasn’t That a Time! A Corcoran Family Memoir, 1925-1950the benefits of growing up in a mixed-income neighborhood have inspired his life’s work.

Harbor Point Apartments, ca. 2012

Harbor Point Apartments, ca. 2012. Courtesy Corcoran Jennison, Inc.

In the late 1980s, Corcoran Jennison Companies, the Boston-based development firm he co-founded, undertook the process of converting the failed Columbia Point housing project into a mixed-income community called Harbor Point, which has become a national model for the federal HOPE VI Program. The HOPE VI Program, through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is described as “a National Action Plan to eradicate severely distressed public housing.” Corcoran’s approach to housing development has always been to focus on working from the very beginning with the primary stakeholders in any new development – those who will occupy or otherwise be affected by the construction of housing or business real estate. When developers Corcoran, Mullins, Jennison, Inc., forged a partnership with the residents to redevelop the Columbia Point projects, only 350 units were occupied, with the rest boarded-up and condemned. Thirty years later, Harbor Point on the Bay is a 1,283-unit mixed-income community still managed by this unique developer/resident partnership and is viewed as a model of mixed-income housing.

Corcoran recently donated two historic films to University Archives & Special Collections, both of which describe the development of Harbor Point, and both of which have now been digitized and are available to all online. The first, Harbor Point, Boston is a five-minute video commissioned by Corcoran Jennison and produced by Cambridge Studios.  |  Harbor Point, Boston from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

A second film, Point of Change (21’52”) was produced and directed by Deborah Dorsey of Cambridge Studios in 1990, and includes more extensive footage from around Boston, as well as interviews with residents, government agency officials, and others.  |  Point of Change from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

In addition to the above films, Corcoran recently shared the digitization rights for the book A Decent Place to Live: From Columbia Point to Harbor Point (2000, Northeastern University Press) with University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston. A Decent Place to Live, written by Jane Roessner, who also freely shared her rights in the book, is the redevelopment story of Boston’s Columbia Point, America’s first federal public housing project to be converted into private mixed-income housing in a 50/50 partnership with the existing residents and a private developer. The book chronicles the redevelopment process from its inception to completion, and navigates the long road of redevelopment.

A Decent Place to Live is an account of an historic transformation as well as a reference point for those involved in community redevelopment today and into the future. Thanks to the support of Joe Corcoran, University Archives & Special Collections was able to digitize A Decent Place to Live and to make the work openly available to researchers, students, scholars, journalists and the general public.

For more information about collections related to the history of Columbia Point in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston, click here.


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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