UMass Boston Archives staff give presentation at Society of American Archivists annual meeting

Joanne Riley, University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston (left) and an SAA conference attendee discuss the department's poster.

Joanne Riley, University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston (left), and SAA conference attendee discuss the department’s poster.

Last week, archivists from University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston headed to Washington, D.C., for the joint annual meeting of the Council of State Archivists (CoSA), the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators (NAGARA), and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). On Thursday and Friday of this year’s conference, called ARCHIVES*RECORDS: Ensuring Access, Andrew Elder, Jessica Holden, and Joanne Riley presented as part of the professional poster session on our efforts to establish successful ongoing relationships with community archives and organizations.

SAA PosterOur poster, titled “University Archives and Community Organizations: Ensuring Access through Collaboration,” looks closely at our ongoing relationship with The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) and our collaborative efforts to preserve and provide access to 79,000 mortuary records from the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters. Elements of the collaboration included shifting stewardship of the records from the Foresters to TIARA to UMass Boston, integrating TIARA’s efforts in processing and indexing the records into the Archives’ workflow, providing in-person and electronic access to the records, and hosting public events that celebrate the partnership and educate the public about the records. This poster illustrates the lessons learned during the records’ journey from an active business to a community organization to an archives and special collections department at a large, public research university.

View the poster and handout 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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Library establishes Community Archives Award with event, launches exhibition

From left to right: University Librarian Daniel Ortiz, TIARA presidents and past-presidents Judy Barrett, Janis Duffy, Kathy Roscoe, and Mary Choppa, with University Archivist Joanne Riley

On March 14, 2012, the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston presented the first annual Joseph P. Healey Library Community Archives Award to The Irish Ancestral Research Association, or TIARA, for their work rescuing and preserving the historic records of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters. On the significance of these records, Joanne Riley, University Archivist for UMass Boston, notes that “for many genealogists, history buffs, and Irish families, the Foresters records are a treasure trove of ancestral information.”

Several members of TIARA and the Catholic Association of Foresters were in attendance, as were members of the general public and representatives from programs at UMass Boston. The Award was presented at a reception featuring music and storytelling by Nora Dooley and Susan Miron, and a presentation by TIARA member Susan Steele on what the Foresters records reveal about Massachusetts and U.S. history. In one example, Steele discussed the 1919 death of Foresters member James Lennon who, according to his death certificate, died as a result of the “bursting of molasses tank” in the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, an event that resulted in the deaths of 21 people and injured 150.

The evening also featured the opening of an exhibition by Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston. “Calling the Heart Back Home: Irish-American Stories from the Archives” features images and information about the history of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters (now called the Catholic Association of Foresters) and the genealogically and historically significant information contained within the Foresters records, as well as a range of Irish-American stories as seen through archival images and documents from Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston.

In 2011, TIARA donated the records of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters to Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston and with the acquisition of these records, the department formally launched their Community Archives initiative, with the intention of, said University Archivist Riley, “creating a space where community-based history and archives groups can engage with, learn from, and preserve materials of historical value to their own organizational missions and objectives.”

Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston collects materials that reflect the University’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, including the Boston Harbor Islands.

This event was sponsored by the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, with the financial assistance of the Catholic Association of Foresters.

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