Ralph Galen, the Mass. Bicycle Coalition, and the Charles River Wheelmen: Explore the history of bicycling in these newly-processed collections

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 second of several planned posts on Open Archives News that will highlight collections related to the history of bicycling.

Documents from the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) records, 1971-2010, bulk 1976-1998

Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike) records, 1971-2010, bulk 1976-1998: These records document the activities of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition (MassBike), as well as the preceding organization, the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition (the name changed in 1994). Materials consist of files kept by Doug Mink and regular staff and include board agendas and minutes, reports, correspondence, by-laws, articles, newsletters, flyers, clippings, and maps. View the finding aid for this collection here.

WheelPeople published by the Charles River Wheelmen, volume 7, number 7, 1981 July

Michael Hanauer: Charles River Wheelmen collection 1980-2012, bulk 1980-1990: This collection documents the activities of the Charles River Wheelmen Board of Directors during the 1980s, as well as the activities of Mike Hanauer, who acted as secretary, vice president, president, and LAW/CRW Area Rep for the Charles River Wheelmen. Materials include board minutes, correspondence, notes, by-laws, reports, and brochures, including an incomplete run of WheelPeople, a monthly newsletter of the Charles River Wheelmen from 1982 through 2012. Electronic copies after 2012 are available from the Charles River Wheelmen. This collection also contains personal materials, including the articles Hanauer wrote for WheelPeople and other publications, brochures of various bicycle tours, various newsletters of other bicycle clubs, and ephemera. View the finding aid for this collection here.

Ralph Galen papers, 1959-2012: Dr. Ralph W. Galen, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, resided for many years in Lexington and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Galen completed his graduate work in orthodontics at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in 1954 and practiced orthodontia in Cambridge for around forty years.

21 June 1969. The parade at Rockport, MA. Dr. Ralph Galen in front. Dr. Paul Dudley White behind.

In 1967, Galen co-founded the Charles River Wheelmen bicycle club with his friend Fred Chafee, and later became president of the League of American Wheelmen, a national bicycling organization established in 1880. Learn more about the records of the League of American Wheelmen here. In his early years with these organizations, Galen rode to Expo 67, part of Canada’s Centennial celebration in 1967, and across the United States. Later, he rode through thirteen countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, and authored a book about his journey entitled 2 Wheels 2 Years & 3 Continents: A Bicyclist’s Dream Fulfilled. Over the course of his lifetime he rode “boneshakers,” “high wheelers,” tandems, fixed gear, and road bicycles. He amassed a collection of antique bicycles, which he later donated to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts. Galen received two patents along with fellow inventor John Vanderpoel, one for a bicycle safety flag apparatus, in 1997, and another for a bicycle rack, in 1976. He also invented a side mirror, which clamps onto the front fork next to the front wheel of the bicycle. He applied for a patent but it is unclear if it was granted. Galen passed away on July 27, 2013, at the age of 88 at his home in Woburn, Massachusetts. (paraphrased from Galen obituary)

This collection documents the activities of Ralph Galen as co-founder of the Charles River Wheelmen, including the activities of the Charles River Wheelmen Board of Directors dating from the early 1970s. Formats include minutes, notes, and agendas. The collection also contains personal materials, including records of Galen’s inventions for bicycles, correspondence with friends and family, and Galen’s notes and writings pertaining to articles and his book, as well as photographs and slides of Galen’s bicycle trips with friends. Included in the collection is an incomplete run of Charles River Wheelmen newsletters, which later became known as WheelPeople. View the finding aid for this 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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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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Mass. Memories Road Show heads to Eastham on Sunday, May 7

When: Sunday, May 7, 2017 | 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Location: Eastham Public Library | 190 Samoset Road | Eastham, Mass. | Click here for directions.

Do you have a connection to Eastham, Massachusetts? Do you live or work in Eastham? Are your roots in Eastham? Share your memories and take your place in Massachusetts history at this free, public event.

Please bring 2-3 photographs in their original format (digital or print photographs) and your stories to be recorded. We will scan unframed pictures and copy digital images and return the pictures back to you. All images will be added to the online collection at openarchives.umb.edu.

Local support for the Eastham Mass. Memories Road Show is provided by the Eastham Public Library.

For more information about the Eastham Mass. Memories Road Show, contact Debra DeJonker-Berry at ddejonkerberry@clamsnet.org or by calling 508-240-5950 (ext. 3137).

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. It is produced by the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston and is co-sponsored by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund.

Download the flyer for the Eastham Mass. Memories Road Show and remember to share it with your friends and family members!

Questions? Email carolyn.goldstein@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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