Boston Harbor Cleanup Case comes to a close: Records and stories from University Archives and Special Collections

Judge A. David Mazzone speaks at the 2001 Honorary Degree Dinner. Judge Mazzone donated his papers related to the Boston Harbor Cleanup Case to the university in 2001 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree as part of that year's commencement exercises.

Judge A. David Mazzone speaks at the 2001 Honorary Degree Dinner. Judge Mazzone donated his papers related to the Boston Harbor Cleanup Case to UMass Boston in 2001 and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree as part of that year’s commencement exercises.

Boston’s harbor is clean. Or at least it’s a lot cleaner than it used to be.

According to a recent Boston Globe article, the “US District Judge Richard G. Stearns last month issued the 239th compliance order in the 1985 lawsuit that led to the Boston Harbor cleanup project, declaring an end to the construction phase of the massive combined sewer overflow project.” The Globe also notes that this is the “oldest active case in the federal court system in Massachusetts.”

The Boston Harbor Cleanup Case set into play one of the largest public works projects ever undertaken in New England, resulting in the construction of a new primary wastewater treatment center at Deer Island, facilities at Fore River Shipyard in Quincy to process sewage sludge, a tunnel from Nut Island to Deer Island, and a 9.5 mile outfall tunnel to discharge treated effluent offshore in Massachusetts Bay. These four major construction projects were designed to deal with the problem of untreated sewage water which had been dumped into Boston Harbor for decades. The Boston Harbor Cleanup Case was originally filed in three separate lawsuits, including a case that landed on the desk of Judge Paul Garrity of the Massachusetts Superior Court (University Archives and Special Collections holds the chambers papers related to another of Judge Paul Garrity’s cases, on the receivership of the Boston Housing Authority in the 1970s and 1980s). These separate lawsuits culminated in Federal District Judge A. David Mazzone’s 1985 ruling that made the cleanup of the Boston Harbor a non-voluntary, court-ordered mandate.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston holds a range of materials related to the Boston Harbor and the Boston Harbor cleanup case, including the extensive chambers papers of Judge Mazzone, who had jurisdiction over the cleanup case from 1985 to 2004 and who passed away in October 2004.

Included among Judge Mazzone’s chambers papers are a total of 193 compliance orders (as the Globe notes, there would ultimately be 239 compliance orders) issued by Judge Mazzone between 1985 and 2004, as well as reports, audio-visual materials, and interviews with key figures in the cleanup case.

Interested in learning more about the environmental and polluted conditions of the Boston Harbor prior to the cleanup case? University Archives and Special Collections recently digitized this 1969 film from the records of the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, Inc. titled “Boston – Harbor/City/Islands” which explores the connections between the city and the harbor, including activities and histories of the Boston Harbor Islands.

The finding aid for the Judge Mazzone papers is available here and the finding aid for the records of the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, Inc. is 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 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.

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Boston – Harbor/City/Islands (1969): Film highlights Boston Harbor and islands before cleanup

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the film Boston – Harbor/City/Islands (1969), part of the records of the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, has been digitized and is available for viewing. This rare footage gives viewers a close-up look of the city and of the Boston Harbor and islands before the cleanup efforts of the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. The film is by Derek Lamb and Lawrence Rosenblum, and was produced by Stanley Jacks and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969.

The Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, Inc., is a non-profit environmental and educational organization that encourages public use of the islands, balanced with the need to protect their fragile ecosystem and historic environment. The Friends provides services to the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area through volunteer programs, public education, and advocacy efforts. The records of the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands document the organization’s various activities and includes files kept by staff, as well as by-laws, conference planning materials, correspondence, notes, publications, and ephemera.

View the finding aid for the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands records here. And view the film Boston – Harbor/City/Islands 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 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.

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Salted, Pickled, and Smoked: New Bedford Fishing Heritage images available

James Costakes. 'This is Jimmy Costakes, called Jimmy the Greek. He was engineer and part owner with Gary Earl of the 'Stephen R." Jimmy lived on Oxford Street in Fairhaven.' Contributor: Dawn Costakes.

James Costakes. ‘This is Jimmy Costakes, called Jimmy the Greek. He was engineer and part owner with Gary Earl of the ‘Stephen R.’ Jimmy lived on Oxford Street in Fairhaven.” Contributor: Dawn Costakes.

The photographs and stories collected at the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center’s Digitizing Day are available for research at openarchives.umb.edu, the digital collections site for University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston. The May 21, 2016, event was part of a year-long effort of the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center to digitize the cultural heritage of New Bedford’s fishing community.

The event was a collaboration involving the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center (NBFHC), New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the New Bedford Free Public Library, MIT Sea Grant, and the Claire T. Carney Library at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Funding for this project was provided to NBFHC through a Common Heritage grant program from the National Endowment for the Humanities and included support for technical assistance from the Joseph P. Healey Library at University of Massachusetts Boston.

Home at last. Manuel F. Sylvia, cook on the 'Moonlight' arriving at State Pier in New Bedford after being lost at sea, without power, for 36 hours. Contributor: David A. Sylvia.

Home at last. “Manuel F. Sylvia, cook on the ‘Moonlight’ arriving at State Pier in New Bedford after being lost at sea, without power, for 36 hours in December 1962.” Contributor: David A. Sylvia.

Thirty-five individuals shared over 75 photographs and other documents related to New Bedford’s fishing industry from the 1950s to the present. Many of the images depict men at work on fishing vessels at sea over the years. Other photographs document the many family enterprises that make up the city’s fishing industry, including processing plants and marine electronics services. Contributors shared documents describing the work, compensation, and union organization of fish lumpers as well as other commercial fishing jobs.

Staff from University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston and volunteers from the department’s Mass. Memories Road Show program trained volunteers, registered contributors, scanned images, and recorded stories at the event.

The New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center will continue to collect digital copies of images and stories from individuals and families connected to the city’s fishing industry. Anyone interested should contact the center at 508-993-8894 or by email at info@fishingheritagecenter.org.

Lost of lobster. Lobster tow on the 'Lillian B.' All in one tow, normally you get only a few baskets, maybe two. Pictured:

Lots of lobster. “Lobster tow on the ‘Lillian B.’ All in one tow, normally you get only a few baskets, maybe two. Pictured, from left to right: Karluf Bendiksen, Bjarne Bendiksen, and Chet Emery.” Contributor: Reidar Bendiksen.

Browse the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Digitizing Day collection.


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 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.

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Eastern Massachusetts Older Women’s League (OWL) records now available for research

Older Women’s League (OWL) records

Eastern Massachusetts Older Women’s League (OWL) records

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the records of the Eastern Massachusetts Older Women’s League (OWL), 1988-2015, have been processed and are available for research.

This collection documents the activities of the Eastern Massachusetts Older Women’s League. Materials consist of files kept by staff and include by-laws, conference planning, correspondence, notes, publications, and ephemera.

Founded in 1980, the Eastern Massachusetts Older Women’s League (OWL) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts research, education, and advocacy activities to improve the status and quality of life of midlife and older women. Many of these improvements were aimed towards women’s access to high-quality, affordable health care, ensuring that all women have the tools necessary to build personal economic security, while advocating for the right of all people to maintain control of decisions affecting their well-being through the end of life.

The finding aid for this collection is available 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 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.

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Boston Urban Gardeners records: Documenting community gardening and urban agriculture

BUG SC-043-B009-F577-001Post by Corinne Bermon, Archives Assistant

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that the records of Boston Urban Gardeners (or BUG) have been reprocessed and newer accessions have been added to the collection. This collection documents a range of activities, projects, and publications from 1891 to 2004, with the bulk of the records spanning 1976 (when BUG was founded) to 1989. The finding aid for this collection has been updated and is available here.

The City of Boston has a number of well-established community gardens, with over 50 acres that have helped urban dwellers feed themselves and their neighborhoods since the early nineteenth century. These dedicated urban green areas furnish residents with fresh produce, plants, and flowers. The original community gardens founded around the city provided food supplements for low-income families and senior citizens and offered space for community organizing and gatherings.

Boston Urban Gardeners, founded in 1976, began as a project in the modern urban agriculture movement, especially in making the connections between urban food access, land use, affordable housing, desegregation, and other issues. Founders Charlotte Kahn and Wagner and Ed Cooper understood that “because urban gardening is so empowering, it is inherently political.” BUG was launched by people who lived in inner-city neighborhoods and most board members were residents and gardeners themselves.

Almost immediately, BUG’s activities began to broaden beyond gardening to the larger social, economic, and political issues that reflected the concerns of its founders, staff, and board members in their surrounding neighborhoods. The list of projects sponsored by BUG is impressive in its scope: community gardens, play-lots, wildflower meadows, a job training program in landscape contracting and management, studies for the landscape of public housing, low maintenance landscapes for highway rights-of-way, and an open space study for Roxbury.

Cover from BUG SC-043-B009-F566-001

Lead in the Soil pamphlet. Click to view a PDF.

Among the projects BUG instituted were Lead in the Soil and Project HUMUS (Help Us Make Urban Soil). Both of these initiatives focused on helping communities learn about their immediate environments. Lead in the Soil educated citizens on the risks of heavy metals in both indoor and outdoor environments through pamphlets, articles, and newsletters. The collection in University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston offers a first-person view into this project, with BUG’s staff files documenting their work on the task force. In tandem with the Lead in the Soil project, Project HUMUS (see image above) worked with the Division of Land Use of the Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture to attempt to create a large-scale urban composting site to provide rich soil to urban gardens and a clean waste disposal facility. This series in the collection contains BUG’s compost project staff’s files which document the project from 1978 to 1982.

In 1990, BUG conveyed its funds and properties to the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), which is now an Affiliate of The Trustees of Reservations.

The BUG records consist of files kept by project and regular staff and include annual reports and other reports, proposals, correspondence, by-laws, minutes, articles, newsletters, photographs, and leaflets/pamphlets, material published by BUG, flyers, clippings, contracts, maps, plans and drawings.

View a map of Boston’s Community Gardens here.

View the finding aid for the Boston Urban Gardeners Records 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 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.

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