High Wheelin’ around the UMass Boston campus

University Archives & Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston recently accepted a donation of the complete run of The Wheelmen magazine (1970-2015) from donor Stephen Hartson, the magazine’s Publications Chair, and his father, Robert Hartson.

After signing the donation forms, Stephen Hartson treated us by taking a spin around the plaza outside the Healey Library on his replica of a late 19th century high wheeler, or “ordinary” bicycle. Stephen made it look effortless, gliding smoothly over the stone and concrete of the plaza (see video below).

Stephen Hartson rides a high wheeler, or ordinary, bicycle outside the Healey Library at UMass Boston from UMass Boston Archives on Vimeo.

For more information about researching the history of bicycling, visit umb.libguides.com/bicycling. To read more about bicycling collections in University Archives & Special Collections, 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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Happy holidays from University Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston!

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From a scrapbook compiled by Roland Geist, a bicycle historian and collector, 1930s – 1950s, donated to the Archives’ bicycling history collections by Lorenz Finison, October, 2015. The Roland Geist collection is currently being processed. Subscribe to OPEN ARCHIVES NEWS (in the sidebar) to be notified when this collection is open for research.

We want to take this moment to acknowledge those who have collected, located, or donated the many documents and artifacts that are helping us build the bicycling history research collections at UMass Boston: John Allen, Cathy Buckley, Nelson Dionne, John Dowlin, Harriet Fell, Lorenz Finison, Tom Fortmann, Richard Fries, Ralph Galen, Roland Geist, Phyllis Harmon, Tom Helm, Thomas McDuffee, Melanie Morris, Richard St. Onge, Gary Sanderson, and many others!

To learn more about the bicycling history collections in University Archives & Special Collections, click here.

To learn more about researching bicycling history, visit our Research Guide for bicycling 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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Healey Library exhibit explores history of bicycling in the U.S. and beyond

2015-11-13 -- BIKES Exhibit Poster -- 18 x 24 -- FINALUniversity Archives & Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston opened a new exhibit, “Bicycling: Highlights from University Archives & Special Collections,” featuring selected materials from the department’s bicycling collections. The exhibit—developed by Sara Davis, a graduate student from the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College—showcases photographs, brochures, newsletters, postcards, publications, memorabilia, and ephemera related to cyclists, as well as materials related to bicycling inventions, innovations, and history from a number of bicycling-related collections currently held at UASC. And though modest in size (encompassing two display cases in the Healey Library’s Grossmann Gallery), the display offers a glimpse into the range of collections and materials related to bicycling and bicycling history in the department.

Browse the gallery below for a selection of items displayed in the exhibit.

The objects on display demonstrate America’s love of bicycling and bicycling’s place in American culture, as well as on the international level, from the late 19th century through to the present day. The exhibit reveals how bicycling shaped society and society has shaped the bicycling world by highlighting women in bicycling, inventions, social innovations, and ephemera and memorabilia from popular culture. In the advent of its popularity, socializing became a major component of bicycle culture, with social events such as scheduled bicycle rides, rallies, and competitions, as well as the creation of cycling groups such as the League of American Wheelmen and the Charles River Wheelmen.

Cycling enthusiasts also emerged as activists for change, especially for the greater good of communities. Women such as Kittie Knox, Phyllis Harmon, and Eva M. Bindrim tested society’s norms since bicycling’s height of popularity in the U.S. by introducing new fashions for women cyclists, participating in bicycle races and clubs despite gender, race, and age constraints, and holding key positions within national and local organizations. As a result, bicycle enthusiasts created and continue to create inventions to make bicycling safer and more enjoyable. Browse the gallery below for a selection of items on display.

This exhibit offers only a sampling of the types of archival materials readily available for research. To view all the images from this exhibit, click here.

Some of the department’s bicycling-related collections are still being processed. To view our research guide for an updated list of collections available, click here.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston holds a substantial amount of information for bicycling research and aspires to expand upon these collections and to become a national resource on bicycling history. For questions about these collections or to schedule a research appointment, please contact library.archives@umb.edu or 617-287-5469.

The exhibit is on display in the fifth floor flat exhibit cases in the Healey Library at UMass Boston from November 2015 through June of 2016. The exhibit is free and open to the public during library operating hours. For a complete and up-to-date list of hours, visit www.umb.edu/library/about/hours.

Announcement prepared by Sara Davis.


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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League of American Wheelmen collection comes to the Healey Library at UMass Boston

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John Allen, part of the Board of Directors for the Charles River Wheelmen, unloads one of 200 boxes donated to University Archives and Special Collections on Tuesday. Photo credit: Colleen Locke/UMass Boston

On Tuesday, September 22, University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston received a large donation of material (approximately 200 boxes) from the League of American Wheelmen.

The League of American Wheelmen (now called the League of American Bicyclists) is a national bicycling organization founded in 1880 that played and continues to play an important role around issues of bicycle safety, design standards, promoting bicycling and the rights of bicyclists, and (early in the organization’s existence) advocating for paved roads before the presence of automobiles.

A number of individuals and organizations were involved in the acquisition of the LAW records, including the Charles River Wheelmen (CRW) and member John Allen; Cycling Through History, the Massachusetts African American Heritage Bike Network; and Lorenz Finison, the author of Boston’s Cycling Craze, 1880-1900: A Story of Race, Sport, and Society, which was published in 2014 by the University of Massachusetts Press.

Prior to the donation to the Archives at UMass Boston, Tom Helm, a League member and former board member, stored the collection in his Pennsylvania home for many years, after the League moved to smaller offices and could no longer accommodate the large collection. The transfer of this collection from Helm’s home to UMass Boston has been a real labor of love for those involved, and the financial commitments made by some to secure the safe arrival of these materials at UMass Boston is worth noting. For example, Cycling Through History received a grant from the CRW earlier this year that funded the transportation of these materials to UMass Boston.

The Healey Library at UMass Boston is fast becoming a national resource on bicycling history. We’ve taken in a total of eleven collections over the past few years that tell the stories of bicycling in Boston and around the country. Materials related to the League can be found among the department’s existing collections, as well – notably in the papers of Ralph Galen and Phyllis Harmon. Read more about these collections here.

The extensive records of the League will make a great addition to these existing collections and plans for an exhibition are in progress. We’re currently working with an intern, Sara Davis, a graduate students from Simmons School of Library and Information Science. The exhibit will be on display in 2016.

Keep visiting this site to stay informed about our work with these collections.


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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Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection – Now open for research

Guest post by Lindsay Sprechman

Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection

Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston is happy to announce that the Phyllis Harmon: League of American Wheelmen (LAW) Collection is now open and available for research. This collection documents Phyllis Harmon’s work in the bicycling community, especially her work with the League of American Wheelmen, a prominent bicycling organization.

The League of American Wheelmen was founded in 1880 to address bicyclists’ needs. In their early days, they advocated for bicyclists’ access to roads at a time when many laws and ordinances were written keeping them off the road. LAW was also instrumental in the Good Roads Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which advocated for improved road conditions. The League became inactive twice during periods from 1924 to 1939 and from 1955 to 1964, but reorganized in 1964 and still continues to advocate for bicyclists today. LAW was renamed the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) in 1997.

League of American Wheelmen newsletter, June 1940

League of American Wheelmen newsletter, June 1940

Phyllis Harmon is known as the “Grande Dame of American Bicycling” for her work with LAW and other bicycling organizations. Harmon became a member of LAW in 1939 and served numerous roles in the organization, including treasurer, executive vice president, historian, office manager, executive director and honorary director. However, her most prominent position was her role as writer and editor of LAW’s magazine, LAW Bulletin. Harmon volunteered to publish the magazine from her home and edited it from 1939 to 1945 and again from 1964 until 1979. For her contribution to the bicycling world in Chicago and around the country, Harmon was inducted into the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation’s Hall of Fame in 2006 and the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2009.

This collection includes many of LAW’s organizational records, including Board meeting minutes, constitutions, by-laws, correspondence and memos. It also includes materials on LAW’s conventions and rallies, membership directories and surveys, collected research and articles about bicycling, and more than 30 years of issues of the LAW Bulletin, and its successor, Bicycle USA.

View the finding aid for this collection.

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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