UMass Boston Interim Dean of Libraries Joanne Riley receives 2019 Bay State Legacy Award

Portrait photograph of Joanne RileyUniversity Archives & Special Collections in the Healey Library is so proud to announce that the Massachusetts History Alliance‘s 2019 Bay State Legacy Award is being presented to our colleague Joanne Riley, Interim Dean of University Libraries at UMass Boston, for her dedication to preserving and interpreting Massachusetts history through her early and ground-breaking involvement in digital humanities work. The Bay State Legacy Award goes to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the interpretation and presentation of Massachusetts history.

Joanne’s efforts to preserve Massachusetts history began in 1998 when she joined the Massachusetts Studies Project, founded by her mentor Barbara (Bobby) Robinson to empower educators to help their students situate themselves within their local communities. Joanne went on to develop the Massachusetts Studies Network in 2007, which provided an “online social network specifically for those who are involved in local studies in Massachusetts” – several years before platforms like Facebook became widely used by the general public.

Joanne is most-frequently associated with the Mass. Memories Road Show, an event-based public history project she launched in 2004 that digitizes family photos and memories shared by the people of Massachusetts. The Road Show, which has been recognized as a trailblazer in participatory and community archiving, has preserved 11,000 photographs and stories from more than 75 Massachusetts communities and has engaged hundreds of volunteers and contributors across the Commonwealth.

Currently, Joanne leads the 1919 Boston Police Strike Project, working with the Boston Police Department Archives, UMass Boston colleagues and community volunteers to research the 1,100+ policemen who participated in that historic event. Joanne is training volunteers to research the strikers’ lives and is developing a publicly-accessible database to store and share the researched data. She co-developed a free, online course on how to conduct accurate biographical research using open resources, and for the strike’s centennial this year, she is spearheading the coordination of a community celebration honoring the strikers, their descendants, and the project volunteers.

As University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections at UMass Boston (2011-2017), Joanne oversaw unprecedented growth of the department, bolstering the department’s mission to document the social and cultural history of Boston. In her current role as Interim Dean of University Libraries, she serves as a teacher, mentor, and leader to 25+ staff.

The award will be formally presented on Monday, June 24 at the Massachusetts History Conference at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Click here to learn more about the conference.

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Learn more about the Massachusetts History Alliance.

About the Bay State Legacy Award

For many years, the Bay State Historical League presented the John F. Ayer Award in recognition of an individual’s contributions to the interpretation and presentation of Massachusetts history. After 101 years of service, the BSHL dissolved in 2005, at which time the Massachusetts History Conference planning committee decided to continue this recognition of an individual’s contribution to Massachusetts history by inaugurating the Bay State Legacy Award.


  1. Joanne! Congratulations! Well deserved.
    from one of your earliest fans
    Ron Adams
    Broad Meadows Middle School
    Quincy, MA
    (a Road Show community thanks to you!)

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