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 missions, academic programs, research endeavors, and outreach activities of the University of Massachusetts Boston, the city’s only public research university;
  • commitment to documenting historically marginalized people;
  • responsibility to our neighbors in Dorchester and Greater Boston;
  • collaboration and community partnerships; and
  • contributions 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. In the collection appraisal process, UASC works to identify potential academic uses for archival collections in our ongoing efforts to support student learning opportunities at UMass Boston.

The mission and collection policy of UASC is further fueled by the department’s focus on preserving community-generated materials through the Mass. Memories Road Show program and our leadership in the area of participatory archiving at the local, regional, and national level.


The collecting areas listed below serve as a general guide to the collecting priorities and core collecting areas of University Archives and Special Collections (UASC). 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. If you are interested in learning more about the collections, please visit

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.

Urban Planning, 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 residents 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

UASC is committed to building a collection of books, publications, ephemera, organizational records, and family papers that document the people, public life, and institutions that chronicle the history of Boston and the city’s impact on the region. UASC recognizes a particular focus on materials documenting the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston (where UMass Boston is located) and other neighboring communities, including South Boston, Quincy, and the Boston Harbor Islands. In addition, UASC and the Joseph P. Healey Library sponsor the Mass. Memories Road Show, a statewide, event-based participatory archiving program that documents people, places, and events in Massachusetts history through family photographs and stories. With these materials, and with the above-stated commitment, UASC supports the development of local history curricular materials.

University of Massachusetts Boston

UASC collects 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 master’s 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. UASC 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

UMass Boston was established in 1964 within a highly politicized local and national context, and UMass Boston students and faculty were actively engaged in civil rights and peace activism. Additionally, providing educational opportunities for veterans lists among the many early educational advancement activities of the university. As a reflection of this history, UASC holds archival and historical materials acquired in the 1980s and 1990s by the university’s William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences (formerly the William Joiner Center) and is further committed to collecting materials related to war and its social consequences broadly that document veterans’ issues and experiences, the personal impacts of war, and activist and social responses to war.

Rare Books

UASC 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.


  • Bicycling: In 2015, UASC began acquiring materials related to the history of bicycling in Boston, in Massachusetts, and, to a lesser extent, in 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. UASC is particularly interested in collecting original and unique materials from and about diverse and under-represented communities and about women in cycling. Collection areas: Urban Planning; Community Organizations; State and Local History.
  • 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 personal papers of South Boston History School teacher Ione Malloy, UASC has a range of resources that detail the histories and controversies surrounding the school desegregation process in Boston, Massachusetts. Collection areas: Social Welfare Agencies; Urban Planning, Community Organizations, Social Action, and Alternative Movements; State and Local History.
  • Cuban Activists Archive: UASC has acquired several collections related broadly to movements in support of Cuba by members of the Cuban diaspora, and is interested in accepting additional materials in this area. Collection areas: Community Organizations, Social Action, and Alternative Movements.
  • Hip-Hop: In 2016, UASC launched the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive following a donation of recordings from the Lecco’s Lemma radio program. The department accepts donations of original and unique archival materials from musicians, DJs, breakdancers, graffiti artists, producers, promoters, and fans that document the rich heritage and legacy of hip-hop culture in Boston and Massachusetts. Collection areas: Community Organizations, Social Action, and Alternative Movements; State and Local History.
  • Small Press Poetry Archive: Over the years, UASC 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. Collection areas: State and Local History; Rare Books.


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 this collection policy, or for acquisition inquiries, please contact Interim University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections Andrew Elder:

Explore our digital collections by visiting and for research assistance email

(Policy updated: April 2021)