Collections document history of local jazz and the Boston Harbor Islands

University Archives & Special Collections (UASC) in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is pleased to announce that six collections of previously unavailable archival material are now open for research. This is the fourth of a series of posts to announce newly available collections, toward the goal of making all of UASC’s collections, both processed and unprocessed, open for research.

Black and white photograph from 1958 depicting radio announcer James Townsend Fitch standing with jazz musicians Clark Terry and Jimmy Ruching in front if a post with arrowed signs each labeled New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, and New York

John Townsend Fitch and jazz musicians Clark Terry and Jimmy Rushing, 1958

Collections that have not been processed, or that are minimally processed, will be made available upon request to researchers in approximately two to three weeks, depending on the size and complexity of the collection. Contact library.archives@umb.edu for more information.

To learn more about the collections that were made available this week, click the collection title in the list below.

  • Richard Vacca collection, 1939-2012, bulk 1949-1989: Richard Vacca is a writer, independent scholar, researcher, and the owner of Troy Street Publishing, through which he published his book, The Boston Jazz Chronicles: Faces, Places, and Nightlife 1937–1962. These records document the local jazz and blues scene in Boston and beyond. Materials consist of publications such as newsletters, magazines, and books, postcards, one cassette tape, and multiple LP sizes including 12”, 10” (78 RPM) and 7” (45 RPM).
  • John Townsend Fitch papers, 1951-2014, bulk 1951-1961: These records document the life and work of John Townsend Fitch. Fitch obtained a degree in engineering from MIT and went on to work as a radio announcer for WHDH. He became known for his jazz programs under the name of John McLellan from 1950-1961. Materials consist of manuscripts, notes and research, clippings, interviews, publications, certificates, correspondence, sheet music, and photographs of musicians and music during Fitch’s time as a radio and television host for jazz programs in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Suzanne Gall Marsh Boston Harbor Islands collection, 1883-2017, bulk 1990-2017: In 1979, Marsh founded the Boston Harbor Islands Volunteer Corps, later called the Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, and served as a board member. She has worked for the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park as an interpreter and ranger and for Boston Harbor Cruises as a narrator. Marsh also teaches classes through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. This collection documents the Boston Harbor Islands and Suzanne Gall Marsh’s collecting interests around the islands. Materials consist of newspaper articles and clippings, photographs, negatives, contact sheets, reports, correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, newsletters, magazines, books, and maps. Topics related to the Boston Harbor Islands include the waterways, wildlife and other environmental aspects of the islands, native peoples who inhabited the islands, tourism, advocacy, and the history of the islands.
  • Boston Harbor Islands Partnership records, 1998-2017: Created in 1996, the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership is an organization comprised of federal, city, state, and nonprofit agencies that coordinates the management of the Boston Harbor Islands. These records document the activities of the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership and include the management of the Boston Harbor Islands and the duties within the partnership and for the public. Materials consist of by-laws, minutes, reports, correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, newsletters, clippings, and agendas.
  • Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council records, 1997-2016: The Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council began as a planning committee in 1997 and was officially founded in 1998 with the goal to advise and make recommendations to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. These records document the activities of the Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council. Materials consist of by-laws, minutes, reports, plans, correspondence, notes, pamphlets, flyers, clippings, and articles. Topics addressed in the Advisory Council’s records include projects related to the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership, educational and recreational tourism, foundational information, historical and cultural information about the islands, and grant and financial information.
  • Boston Harbor Island and National Park and Recreation Area: National Park Services publications, 1994-2016: Originally established in the 1970s and designated as a National Park unit in 1996, the Boston Harbor Island National Recreation Area has been managed collaboratively by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership with the aim to protect the islands, make them an integral part of the local communities, and improve public knowledge of and access to the islands as a recreational area.

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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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 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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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 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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In the Archives: The People and Animals of Thompson Island

aam_c_0To celebrate Archives Month, I will be posting highlights from our collections throughout October, beginning with this first post about one of our most popular collections, the Thompson Island collection. I hope that this will turn into a regular series. To learn more about Archives Month, visit the Society of American Archivists website.

As the reference archivist in University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston, I get to work with a wide range of interesting historic materials and want to share some of what I find in the archives. One of our most heavily-used collections is the Thompson Island collectionOne of 34 islands in Boston Harbor, Thompson Island has a long history of education and social welfare. The island has been home to several schools since the early nineteenth century: the Boston Farm School Society (1833-1835), the Boston Asylum and Farm School (1835-1907), the Farm and Trades School (1907-1956), and Thompson’s Academy (1956-1975). Learn more about the records of these schools and the history of education on Thompson Island here. The island is currently home to the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, which was established in 1988.

In addition to human residents, Thompson Island has seen a number of animal inhabitants over the years, from dogs and cats to various livestock. Browse the gallery below for a selection of historic critter-related photographs from our Thompson Island collection.

View the finding aid for the Thompson Island collection here, digitized photographs here, and digitized copies of the Thompson Island Beacon, a student-produced newspaper, 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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Call for Collection Donations: Boston Harbor and the Harbor Islands

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library welcomes inquiries from individuals and organizations who are seeking an archival home for materials that may now be riskily stored in basements or old file cabinets but that would serve as valuable research materials for scholars, students, and the general public.

UMass Boston’s Archives and Special Collections collects, preserves and makes accessible materials that document our coastal location, urban mission, and strong support of community service.  This includes systematically expanding our collections related to the history, geography, geology, and cultural heritage of our “neighbors to the east”, the Boston Harbor Islands.

UMass Boston’s existing research collections that document Boston Harbor and the Islands include:

We have begun adding photographs, documents, and oral history interviews collected over the years by the Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands along with the Friends’ own early organizational records, and aim to expand the collection to include many of the partners who have made possible the establishment and stewardship of the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area, as well as individuals who have documents, records, photographs, or stories to contribute.  Please contact library.archives@umb.edu for more information.


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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