Launching the Boston Teachers Union Collection

Author: Maci Mark, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the Public History MA Program at UMass Boston

The Boston Teachers Union (BTU) has an essential place in Boston’s history. It was formed in 1945 and today has over 10,000 members. With this long history comes a lot to explore, especially when considering that the BTU had an important role in school desegregation and fought against affirmative action after the firing of 710 teachers. The BTU does not shy away from its history, both positive and negative. UMass Boston graduate students getting their Masters in Public History explored this legacy with Professor Nick Juravich in his spring 2022 course HIST 682: Digital Public History.

Screenshot showing 12 separate BTU contract booklets
Screenshot of HIST 682’s digital exhibit on the Boston Teachers Union contract timeline

Over the course of the semester this class (this author being a member of it) met with numerous digital public historians from across the country, studied the ethics and best practices of digital public history projects, and met with BTU members to gain insight about what these members wanted to learn more about. Students then jumped into creating digital exhibits using the recently donated materials in the Boston Teachers Union collection to look at various aspects of the BTU’s history. Digital exhibits range from looking at the year 1981, Kathy Kelley vs. Kevin White, the changes in the BTU contract, and more. My own exhibit looking at solidarity within the BTU also draws from other archival collections from UMass Boston like the Tess Ewing collection and its run of Hazard Lights, the school bus drivers union (USWA Local 8744) newsletter. 

The Boston Teachers Union collection is made up of three parts: digitized copies of The Boston Union Teacher from its 1963 through 2010 run, an oral history project run by Professor Juravich and retired BTU Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Drinan, and items collected from the Boston Teachers Union Digitizing Day in 2018 which kicked off the beginning of this relationship and hinted at what was to come. This collection also contains a complete run of the BTU contracts which have not yet been digitized.

Image of 1970 Issue of the Boston Union Teacher that includes a headline reading "School Committee Tactics Leading to Crisis"
The Boston Union Teacher, March 1970

This collection was launched on May 3, 2022. Students from HIST 682, leadership from the BTU, many active and retired BTU members, and families gathered to have a celebration of this monumental collection. This celebration included speeches from the BTU leadership, Professor Juravich, and Betsy Drinan commemorating the work that went into this project and the significance of interrogating one’s own legacy, including the good and the bad. Students presented their exhibits, discussing their inspiration and personal connections. This also allowed students a chance to meet the people we had been writing about, as many people who had been interviewed in the oral histories attended the launch event, and former president of the BTU Richard Stutman paid a virtual visit as well. 

The author Maci Mark stands at a podium in front of a screen projecting an exhibit about the BTU
HIST 682 student Maci Mark presenting at the BTU collection launch event, May 3, 2022

Overall as a student it was an incredible experience to get to be one of the first people to have hands-on experience working with these materials and to do so alongside the BTU. The type of partnership that is created here is a unique one that will hopefully benefit many students and the BTU down the line.


Explore the Boston Teachers Union digital collection. Contact library.archives@umb.edu for research assistance.

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Exploring Connemara, New England, and the Irish Language

Flyer listing information about this event.On Saturday, April 17, the Healey Library at UMass Boston hosted the virtual event “Connemara, New England, and the Irish Language: Living Stories that Connect Us” celebrating the “Boston and the Irish Language” oral history project.

The event featured Máirtín Ó Catháin from the Emigrants Commemorative Centre Carna, Michael Connolly from the Maine Irish Heritage Center, and Seán Ó Coistealbha from Muintearas, together with panelists Natasha Sumner, Gregory Darwin, and Brian Frykenberg. The event was made possible by Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston), Mass Humanities, the Éire Society of Boston, and the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland.

Event Recording

 

Additional Resources and Links

Download the participant chat from the virtual event.

Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston) offers online language classes. For more information and to register, visit cumann-na-gaeilge.org/class-registration/

Ár dTeanga Féin out of Worcester, Massachusetts, offers Zoom classes for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students if numbers allow. Email info@adtf.org or visit adtf.org/ for more information.

The South Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library has a small collection of books in Irish donated by Údaras na Gaeltachta. While they’re not open for browsing currently, please contact Jane or Kathleen at 617-268-0180 or email Branch Librarian Jane Bickford at southboston@bpl.org for assistance.

Nuacht TG4 ran a news piece about the event. Click here to view the piece on Facebook.

Máirtín Ó Catháin wrote this article about the event and collection for an Irish-language blog: “Glórtha agus Gaeilge mhuintir Chonamara curtha i dtaisce in Ollscoil Massachusetts.”

Learn More and Connect

If you have questions about getting involved or taking part in an oral history interview, email Project Coordinator Brian Frykenberg: frykenberg@comcast.net.

The Boston and the Irish Language project investigates the unique importance of Irish in forming persistent bonds among and between Connemara emigrants living in Boston with their families and communities in Ireland through recorded personal interviews. The project is sponsored by Cumann na Gaeilge i mBoston (The Irish Language Society of Boston) and supported by a Mass Humanities project grant and the Emigrant Support Programme of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland. Topics explored include: upbringing through the Irish language, economic and social conditions in Ireland, reasons for emigration or return, adaptation to and participation in life within the United States, changes experienced since arrival, and current use of Irish. The oral histories collected as part of this project are part of the digital collections of University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston. Explore the collection.


University Archives and 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 and 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 and Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show images and stories available for research

Authors: Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager and Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

My three at the Cranberry Festival

My three at the Cranberry Festival, 2015. ‘My kids love this event. We went for several years. I love this photo because it is just so quintessential Southeastern Massachusetts. Pictured, from left to right: Zachary Burrey, Olivia Burrey, and Eliza Burrey. Location: A.D. Makepeace Company.’ Contributor: Julie Burrey.

 

Hosted by the Plymouth Public Library on Saturday, November 9, 2019, the event was coordinated by the library in cooperation with the Plymouth County Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Plymouth County Commissioners. Additional partners included the Plymouth Antiquarian Society, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Town of Plymouth Archivist, Destination Plymouth, Plymouth 400, and Plymouth Access TV. More than two dozen local volunteers—many from Plymouth 400—joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome over 100 adults and children with connections to the coastal town located south of Boston.

 

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard

First woman worker, Quincy shipyard, early 1940s. ‘Verna May Harding was born in 1905 on the Herring Pond Tribal Reservation lands in what is now called Bournedale and Cedarville in Plymouth. She lived there her entire life of 89 years. Along with her sister Phyllis and other female Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribal cousins, she was one of the first women to even work at the Quincy shipyard, right alongside the men. This is her Quincy shipyard photograph. Pictured: Verna May Harding.’ Contributor: Melissa Ferretti.

 

Contributors shared photographs and stories from the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, the original inhabitants of modern-day Plymouth, as well as from families descended from colonial settlers who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  A number of community members contributed photographs and stories chronicling their immigrant heritage, including accounts of personal and family connections to Italy, Russia, and the Azores among other countries. Many of these materials provide evidence of religious and cultural organizations established by these cultural groups in Plymouth beginning in the late 19th century.

Columbus Day 1934

Columbus Day parade, 1934. ‘During the depths of the Great Depression the community tried to present events which would help morale and keep up spirits. This parade, as far as I know, was the only time it was organized for this holiday. Much of the planning and execution were undertaken under the auspices of the Italian social clubs which were based in North Plymouth. The picture shows the submission from the appropriately-named Cristoforo Colombo Club.’ Contributor: Enzo Monti.

 

Several contributors shared memories of their experiences at work in Plymouth and the surrounding area. They submitted photographs and stories of themselves and their ancestors on the job on farms, in family businesses such as butcher shops and restaurants, in libraries and historical societies and even in the local Quincy shipyard.

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth

Cordage Terrace 1941 Plymouth. ‘They are my grandfather and grandmother Santos. They are from the island of San Miguel in the Azores. Manuel was a butcher, farmer, and mailman. He had a butcher shop in Plymouth with his cousin Red Wing. They made Portuguese sausages—linguica, chorizo, blood sausage, and head cheese. My grandmother’s father was chief of police on the island. Pictured, from left to right: my grandmother Mary Santos and my grandfather Manuel Santos.’ Contributor: Dennis Soares.

 

To document connections to the public memory of the arrival of Pilgrims from England in 1620, many contributors brought photographs of visits to landmarks such as Plymouth Rock or attendance at commemorative events such as the arrival of the Mayflower II in 1957 and the annual Pilgrim Progress reenactment. Still other participants recounted participation in the town’s emergence as a famous tourist attraction in the late 20th century including interpreting and learning about 17th-century life at the Plimoth Plantation museum (now Plimoth Patuxet) and planning the 400th anniversary of the pilgrim landing.

The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957

‘The crew that rowed the Shallop ashore, 1957. After weeks of training, my father along with friends and six of his family members rowed out to meet the Mayflower II when she sailed from Plymouth, England and arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Pictured, from back to front, left to right: Benjamin Brewster, Lothrop Withington, Jr., Paul Withington, William Stearns, Jr., United States Vice President Richard Nixon, George Davis, Russell Fry, Jr., Russell Coffin, Robert Briggs, and Spencer Brewster.’ Contributor: Russell Fry.

 

Colonial camp at Harlow House

‘Colonial camp at Harlow House, 1990s. I’ve been a history nerd since the beginning. While other kids dreamed about space camp, I was thrilled to attend “Colonial Camp.” I churned butter, learned how to work a loom, and made my own tussie mussie. Plymouth is a wonderful place for a history-lover to grow up!’ Contributor: Sarah (Mathews) Collins.

 

Event participants also shared memories of enjoying the natural environment in Plymouth and the surrounding area with family and friends, contributing photographs and stories of such favorite local places as beaches, parks, and cranberry bogs. Still other individuals aimed to remember their families and communities with images of weddings, anniversaries, family gatherings and trips, school activities, local organizations, and everyday life in the town.

Backyard chicken coop

Backyard chicken coop, 2009. ‘An experiment one summer—we helped a neighbor raise the little peeps to become hearty. Pictured, from left to right: my children Anna Bishop, Madeleine Bishop, and Charles Bishop. Location: Ellisville.’ Contributor: Maria Bishop.

Browse the Plymouth Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

 

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Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show materials available online now

Author: Kayla Allen, Graduate Assistant

The photographs, stories, and videos gathered at the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show are available online now for research.

Halloween at Fotomat, 1970. ‘In college, I worked at Fotomat, a drive-through film developing store. In this picture, Connie who worked in the morning is dressed as Minnie Mouse and I am a pirate for Halloween. Pictured: Connie Tucker and Paula Jones.’ Contributor: Paula Jones.

 

Hosted by the Brockton Public Library on Saturday, May 18, 2019, the event was organized by the library in partnership with the Brockton Historical Society, the Brockton Area Branch National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Haitian American Citizens Aid, and the Brockton City Council. More than two dozen local volunteers joined a team of UMass Boston staff members, graduate students in public history and archives, and “Roadies” to welcome nearly 100 adults and children with connections to the large city located south of Boston.

Participants shared memories of important personal and family moments, including experiences immigrating to Brockton from places all over the world such as Haiti, Cape Verde, and Greece. The stories that they shared were full of love, loss, success, and hardship.

High school days, 1980. ‘My Brockton High School graduation photo from 1980. “Mo” was easier to pronounce than Moises. I emigrated from Cape Verde and had to assimilate into a massive high school. My first challenge was to learn English. It was a scary time for immigrants as there were not many services to help with blending into American culture. I didn’t even know what a prom was. 1200 students graduated in my class that year. I was the first in my family to graduate from high school. Pictured: Moises Rodrigues.’

 

Many individuals contributed stories about participation in activities at local schools such as Brockton High School, Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School, and Massasoit Community College. They shared senior and graduation photos, team photos, biographies, and images of technical projects.

Flute section of Brockton High marching band

Flute section of Brockton High marching band, 2018. Contributor: Francesca DiMare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several contributors brought in images of the city’s civic, fraternal, and community organizations such as the local lodge for the Order of the Sons of Italy, the Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association, the Brockton Visiting Nurse Association, and the Brockton Public Library.

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street

Nursing visits on Winthrop Street, 1920. ‘The Brockton Visiting Nurse Association (BVNA) nurses are being transported by sleds to make their visits. Photo taken in front of the family home of our State Senator Thomas Kennedy.’ Contributor: Margaret Mane.

 

Additional photographs and stories document the deep involvement that many Brockton residents have in their religious communities. Some of the many houses of worship that were documented during the event include the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, the Messiah Baptist Church, Our Lady of Ostrobrama, St. Theresa’s Maranite Catholic Church, and Central United Methodist Church.


Construction of the new sanctuary of Messiah Baptist, 1984. ‘Messiah is building a new church that will be connected to the old church that was built in 1897. Pictured: Reverend Michael Walker and Paulette Walker. Location: Downtown.’ Contributor: Miles Jackson.

 

Browse the Brockton Mass. Memories Road Show collection.


The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. In partnership with teams of local volunteers, we organize public events to scan family and community photographs and videotape “the stories behind the photos.” The images and videos are indexed and incorporated into an online educational database. Since its launch, the project has gathered more than 12,000 photographs and stories from across the state. It is supported in part by the Patricia C. Flaherty ’81 Endowed Fund at UMass Boston.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston was established in 1981 as a repository to collect archival material in subject areas of interest to the university, as well as the records of the university itself. The mission and history of UMass Boston guide the collection policies of University Archives & Special Collections, with the university’s urban mission and strong support of community service reflected in the records of and related to urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequence, and local history related to neighboring communities. To learn more, visit blogs.umb.edu/archives.

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Grossmann Gallery hosts exhibition of student photographs

Exhibit flyer on a blue background titled, “Living in the Urban Ocean,” Student Photo Essay Exhibition, October 16, 2019- January 22, 2020 in the Grossmann Gallery, 5th floor - Joseph P. Healey Library

Flyer for the Student Photo Essay Exhibition, “Living in the Urban Ocean”

The photograph essay contest exhibition Living in the Urban Ocean is now on display through January 22, 2020, in the Grossmann Gallery on the 5th floor of the Joseph P. Healey Library. The exhibition has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the English Department, the Environmental Studies Department, and University Archives and Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston.

Throughout the Spring 2019 semester, students enrolled in Intermediate Seminar: Writing and the Environment (English 270G/Environmental Studies 270G) investigated the social, cultural and historical locale of Boston Harbor through archival and library resources. In addition, students developed their own urban ocean relationships through creative writing, walking, and reflection. In the era of the smartphone, creating a photo essay provided students with an opportunity to share their semester’s work through a visual language which they already use daily.

Students were asked to situate themselves in their urban ocean environment and tell an eco-story through photography. Students used iPhones and personal cameras to complete their photo essays. The winners of the photograph essay contest were selected through an online poll for best story told without words.

The Grossmann Gallery is open during library hours (posted here).


University Archives and 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 and 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 and Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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