Collection Policy

The mission of University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston is to collect, preserve, and provide access to archival materials of enduring historical value to support the teaching, research, and service activities of UMass Boston’s diverse community and the general public.

To carry out our mission, University Archives and Special Collections (UASC) developed this Collection Policy to guide our collecting practices.

The factors informing our Collection Policy include:

  • the mission, programs, and research activities of the University of Massachusetts Boston;
  • a responsibility to our neighbors in Dorchester and Greater Boston;
  • a commitment to community partnerships and collaboration; and
  • our interest in contributing to scholarly conversations.

UASC collects materials that reflect UMass Boston’s urban mission and strong support of community service, as well as the university’s identity as Boston’s only public research university. Collecting areas include social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, war and social consequences, and local history related to neighboring communities. 

UASC also collects and preserves the history of the University of Massachusetts Boston, as well as historical information about Boston State College and its preceding institutions, including the Boston Normal School and the Teachers College of the City of Boston.

The community-engaged mission of UASC is further fueled and exemplified by the department’s Mass. Memories Road Show program and by our demonstrated commitment to working with, promoting, and assisting community archives in the Greater Boston area through facilitating cross-organization collaboration and access to informational, educational, and practical resources relevant to archival procedures and best practices.

The Mass. Memories Road Show is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving project that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. UASC collaborates with local planning teams and volunteers to organize free public events where individuals bring photographs to be copied and included in a digital archive. Contributors are invited to describe the photographs in their own words. In addition, they may choose to share “the story behind the photos” on video, have their own “keepsake photo” taken, receive advice from professional archivists and historians on caring for their family photos, and learn from one another about the history of their community.


Rather than provide an exhaustive listing of all subject areas covered in the department’s holdings, the collecting areas listed below are intended to serve as a general guide to the collecting priorities and core collecting areas of University Archives and Special Collections. Many of the collecting areas reflect and build upon existing and core collection strengths, while others outline more recent acquisition initiatives and areas of the existing collection that require renewed attention and active development. 

The collections in UASC primarily fit into seven categories.

  • Social Welfare Agencies. The records of local 19th and early 20th century private social welfare and charitable organizations provide us with a history of the work of these agencies and of the people they served. The agencies include orphanages, settlement houses, and social welfare institutions in the Boston area. Also available in the department is a resource guide that lists more than four hundred such agencies and indicates the location of any extant records.
  • Community Organizations, Social Action, and Alternative Movements. In Boston, as in other urban centers, people often respond to the social issues and conditions of the day by organizing into voluntary community-based organizations. The community can be defined as either a geographical community (responding to an issue in a neighborhood, for instance) or as a community of shared interest responding to contemporary social issues. The collections in this area document these aspects of the recent and contemporary history of Boston, its citizens and its neighborhoods, with a current emphasis on building collections related to urban planning and the history of the labor movement in Greater Boston.
  • State and Local History. University Archives and Special Collections holds an extensive collection of books, publications, ephemera, and organizational records and family papers that document the history of Boston and the city’s impact on the region, with a particular focus on materials documenting the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, where UMass Boston is located, and the Boston Harbor Islands. The collections related to Dorchester document the history of the neighborhood as an urban community. In addition, University Archives and Special Collections produces the Mass. Memories Road Show, which is a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. 
  • University of Massachusetts Boston. University Archives and Special Collections provides printed, digital, and archival material for the study of the history, policies, and programs of UMass Boston, dating back to its founding in 1964. In addition to official records transferred from administrative, educational, and programmatic units on campus, the collection includes photographs, course catalogs, yearbooks, student publications, doctoral dissertations and masters theses, and reports and monographs published by many departments, programs, centers, and institutes of the University. 
  • Boston State College and preceding institutions. Boston State College merged with UMass Boston in 1982. University Archives and Special Collection has a collection of college records, photographs, and publications relating to the history of Boston State and its preceding institutions (including the Boston Normal School and the Teachers College of the City of Boston). The department’s holdings related to the history of Boston State College include course catalogs, yearbooks, publications, and newspapers.  
  • War and Social Consequences. University Archives and Special Collections has extensive holdings related to war and social consequences, particularly the Vietnam War. In addition to having curatorial responsibility for materials acquired in the 1980s and 1990s by UMass Boston’s William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences, University Archives and Special Collections has built a significant collection that documents veterans’ issues and experiences, the personal impacts of war, and activism and social responses to war
  • Rare Books. University Archives and Special Collections maintains a collection of first editions, finely printed books, and books on fine arts. The collection includes a large number of volumes printed in Spanish, French, and German.


In addition to ongoing efforts to build collections that align generally with the collecting areas outlined above, and to guide collecting decisions and identified collection gaps, University Archives and Special Collections is currently focused on materials in the following sub-categories.

  • Bicycling: In 2015, University Archives and Special Collections began acquiring materials related to the history of bicycling in Boston, Massachusetts, and, to a lesser extent, the United States. Since that time, the collection has grown to include a range of unique archival materials related to the history and development of bicycling. University Archives and Special Collections is particularly interested in collecting original and unique materials from and about diverse and under-represented communities and about women in cycling.
  • Boston school desegregation: From the chambers papers of Judge W. Arthur Garrity and the Center for Law and Education’s Morgan v. Hennigan case records, to the records of Massachusetts Rock Against Racism and the papers of Ione Malloy, University Archives and Special Collections has a range of resources that detail the histories and controversies surrounding the school desegregation process in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Cuban Activists Archive: While this collecting initiative is in the early stages of development, University Archives and Special Collections has acquired several collections related broadly to movements in support of Cuba by members of the Cuban diaspora.
  • Hip-Hop: In 2016, University Archives and Special Collections launched the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive following a donation of recordings from the Lecco’s Lemma radio program. The department is currently focusing on donations of original and unique archival materials from musicians, DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, producers, promoters, and fans that help document the rich heritage and legacy of hip-hop culture in Boston and Massachusetts.
  • Small Press Poetry Archive: Over the years, University Archives and Special Collections has developed a strong collection of rare volumes of post-WWII poetry, with a particular emphasis on poets and small poetry presses with connections to Greater Boston. The Cid Corman Boston Small Poetry Press Archive, named in honor of American poet (and Dorchester native) Cid Corman, was launched in 2016 with the goal to preserve the history of the Boston literary community. Mention Stone Soup?

We welcome donations that align with our Collection Policy, and we reserve the right to decline collections that do not align with our policy. For more information about donating materials to University Archives and Special Collections, click here or email


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