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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