In the Archives: Columbia Point and UMass Boston

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Color photograph of the UMass Boston campus as seen from the water

UMass Boston campus on Columbia Point in Dorchester, circa 1974

From the university’s inception in the mid-1960s, UMass Boston trustees started to plan where to put the permanent campus, as Park Square was always intended to be temporary. Originally several sites were considered, including Highland Park in Roxbury, Copley Square, and North Station, but the final choice was Columbia Point. Many students and faculty members disapproved of the decision, while others were pleased and looked forward to the new space. It was a contentious time for all parties involved. Even so, the plan went forward and the construction of our current campus began.

Our University Archives Historic Photographs digital collection consists of more than 3,600 digitized photographs documenting the Columbia Point campus from its creation through 2009. The collection includes aerial shots of the peninsula before, during, and after construction started in 1971. The main structures on the land at the time were the Calf Pasture Pumping Station, Boston College High School, and the Columbia Point Housing Project, all of which are represented in our collection. 

Our photographs also document events that took place at the Columbia Point campus, including festivals, dinners, commencement ceremonies, receptions, lectures, open houses, and many others. The images show us the buildings on campus and give us a peek into the lives of UMass Boston students, faculty, and staff, both in and out of class.

We expect our photograph collections to grow as the campus continues to evolve. Check out our University of Massachusetts Boston, historic photographs, 1964-2009 collection to see the photographs we’ve collected so far, as well as the collection’s finding aid.

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In the Archives: François Sully and the Vietnam War

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Black-and-white photo of Francois Sully standing in a foxhole holding his camera

Sully in foxhole at Binh Gia,  January 9, 1965

One of the largest digital photograph collections we have in the University Archives and Special Collections is that of François Sully. Sully was a soldier with the French Army until he was discharged in Saigon in 1947. After he left the French forces, he became a photojournalist and documented the war for news sources including Time and Newsweek. He took photographs of politicians and officers, soldiers and civilians, and villagers and their villages. Many of his photos show the destruction and violence of the long war, while others show people going about their daily lives as best they could. Some of the subjects include religious figures, the aftermath of battles, celebrations such as Tet, ancient monuments and tombs, student protests, and the lives of Europeans in Vietnam. 

Later on, Sully created two publications about the war and the experiences of those that lived through it: Age of the Guerilla: the New Warfare (New York: Parent’s Magazine Press, 1968; reprinted by Avon, 1970) and We the Vietnamese: Voices from Vietnam (New York: Praeger, 1971).

Our digital collection includes more than 1,000 photographs taken by François Sully and his companions. Check it out here, as well as its finding aid. You can also request access to Sully’s written materials by emailing us at library.archives@umb.edu

If you are interested in learning more about the US experience in the Vietnam War, we have several oral histories recorded and transcribed of Congressional Medal of Honor recipients that served in the Army, the Marine Corps, and the Navy at the time. Interviews were conducted by student veterans in Professor Erin Anderson’s course, “Oral Histories and the Veteran Experience.” Three of the interviews, those of Jack H. Jacobs, Harvey C. Barnum Jr., and Thomas G. Kelley, discuss the war in Vietnam. 

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Theresa-India Young exhibition at the Piano Craft Gallery

University Archives and Special Collections is pleased to highlight an exhibition that features the artwork of Theresa-India Young and other contemporary artists. Legacy: A Continuous Thread will be held at the Piano Craft Gallery from October 1-24, 2021. A reception is scheduled for October 15 from 6:00-9:00 pm.

Postcard for "Legacy: A Continuous Thread" featuring Theresa-India Young and contemporary fiber artists

Postcard for “Legacy: A Continuous Thread” featuring Theresa-India Young and contemporary fiber artists

University Archives and Special Collections holds the Theresa-India Young papers, 1917-2011, bulk 1975-2008. This collection documents the life and work of fiber artist, interdisciplinary arts teacher, and educational consultant Theresa-India Young. The collection also contains personal papers relating to Young’s family, her early years in Harlem, and her education, travel, and genealogical research, particularly into her Gullah heritage. Young’s interest in and advocacy for multiculturalism and diversity in education is well-documented throughout the collection, with a particular focus on unearthing and preserving African and Native American traditions. Her fiber art was informed by her research into African aesthetics and traditions, particularly weaving and hair braiding. Much of her research is preserved in the collection in the form of clippings, handwritten notes, and varied publications. As a longtime resident of the Piano Factory, Young lived and worked within a dynamic local arts scene. The collection documents her relationships with other local artists, like Allan-Rohan Crite, as well as the issues they faced, such as affordable housing.

In the late 1960s Young was a student at the Harlem Youth Arts Program (Haryou Act) and studied with painter Norman Lewis and was an apprentice to Zelda Wynn, Costume Designer for the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She graduated from the High School of Art and Design in 1968 and studied at various institutions, such as Parsons School of Design and SUNY at New Paltz, where she received a degree in Arts Education and African Studies in 1973. In 1972 she studied West African Religion and Art at the University of Legon in Accra, Ghana.

In 1975 she won a scholarship to Boston University’s Program in Artisanry for Textiles. Since that time, she resided in the Boston area and maintained a home and studio at the Piano Factory artists’ building. From 1978-1983 she was Artist-in-Residence at Northeastern University’s African American Master Artist-in-Residency Program (AAMARP).

For more information on Theresa-India Young’s life and work see the finding aid for the Theresa-India Young papers.


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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In the Archives: Massachusetts Rock Against Racism – Antiracism in the ‘80s

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Mass. RAR, Inc.: The First 5 Years, 1985 February 19. This video is an excellent summary of the work that Rock Against Racism did from 1979 to 1985. It shows news clips, different RAR performances, and interviews with RAR leaders, including Reebee Garofalo, Fran Smith, Mackie McLeod, and student leader/producer Trae Myers. Some of the clips also include footage from “But Can You Dance to It?,” recordings from break dance crew performances, and sections from a remake of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” music video.

One of our digital video collections is from a group called Massachusetts Rock Against Racism (RAR). Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, this organization formed in order to address racism in the Boston community. Founders and leaders from RAR felt that popular music could transcend boundaries and bring people together, no matter how different these people were. Adults formed the organization and then brought it to Boston youth, specifically high school students. They held festivals where students and adults performed all kinds of music including rap, reggae, rock, and Latin. The festivals also featured break dancing and speeches from local officials and activists, including Mel King. In addition to these concerts, RAR worked with students to create variety shows at their schools and to script and produce a TV show called Living in a Rainbow World. RAR broadcast all of these shows. The leaders of the organization hoped that not only would students get to express themselves and reach across racial divides in the program, but they could also gain valuable workforce skills by being actively involved in the production and broadcasting of their work.

Footage used in Madison Park Rocks, English High All the Way Live, and the Jeremiah E. Burke Jam, 1984 March 18. Here are clips from three of the Rock Against Racism productions in Boston high schools. These include news clips with people like Donna Summers as well as a diverse group of students dancing, rapping, and singing.

In our collection we have final and unedited footage of these broadcasts, including several episodes of Living in a Rainbow World, three of the RAR Youth Cultural Festivals in Jamaica Plain and elsewhere in Boston, and variety shows from different Boston high schools. In addition, we have digital video of interviews with the leaders of RAR such as Reebee Garofalo, Fran Smith, Dan Richardson, Mackie McLeod, and student leader Trae Myers, as well as footage from professional concerts like the “World of Difference” Rock Against Racism television special, and from a one-time music and dance program called “But Can You Dance to It?” We also have videos featuring related people and organizations, including Project Aries (a similar program in Charlotte, North Carolina) and Karen Hutt (a woman working with the Business Connection, a youth entrepreneurial development program in Cambridge).

World of Difference television special, 1985 July 26. This is a Rock Against Racism concert and television special that aired on WCVB Channel 5 on July 26, 1985. Performers included the Red Rockers (rock), the O’Jays (R&B), the Rainbow Dance Company of Boston (modern/lyrical dance), Livingston Taylor (singer-songwriter/folk), and George Benson (jazz, funk, soul, R&B). The production also includes interviews with people such as Reebee Garofalo, Natalie Cole, The Fools, and Al Jarreau.

To see the rest of this footage, take a look at our digital collection and its finding aid (which includes descriptions of all the other RAR documents we hold in the UASC). To learn more about the Massachusetts Rock Against Racism program both then and now, check out their active Facebook page.

Let me know if you stumble across the footage of five young boys dressed up in matching outfits, singing and dancing to “El Coquí (Merengue)” by Carlos Pizarro (hint: they performed at the second Youth Culture Festival).

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In the Archives: Disappeared Children in Argentina and the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo

Author: Kayla Allen, Archives Assistant and graduate student in the History MA Program at UMass Boston

Black-and-white photograph of a large crowd marching in a street

Manifestación [Demonstration]

Photograph of a grandmother and granddaughter embracing

Argentina Rojo de Pérez y Mariana Pérez, found grandchild and Grandmother

Some of the most fascinating material in our digital collections is a series of interviews and other documents relating to Rita Arditti’s work in Argentina. Rita Arditti spent many years conducting interviews with members of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. These women worked hard (and still work) to advocate for the children and grandchildren that were kidnapped or born captive between 1976 and 1983 during the violent military rule in Argentina. The Grandmothers have worked to create a DNA database so that the children, after being stripped of their identity, can learn who they are even if their family has already passed away. The Grandmothers have also worked with forensic teams and archivists to actively learn more about the kidnappings and captive births, as well as to provide a database for the children to learn more about their families’ histories. A few of the Grandmothers have been reunited with their grandchildren so far, and they hold out hope that more connections will be made.

Black-and-white photo of a street poster of a pregnant woman

‘Embarazada,’ afiche en una calle de Buenos Aires (de la colección de las Abuelas) [‘Pregnant Woman,’ poster in a Buenos Aires street (from the Abuelas’ collection)]

In our collection, we have photographs of the Grandmothers, images from their own photograph collection, interviews and transcripts of the interviews in Spanish, and a fully digitized copy of the Spanish version of Rita Arditti’s book, De por vida: historia de una bu?squeda: las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo y los nin?os desaparecidos (Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina). We also have videos of Grandmothers Estela Barnes de Carlotto and Rosa Tarlovsky de Roisinblit speaking at events in the United States (with an English translator).

To learn more about the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and their work, check out our digital collection. You can find the English translation of Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina in the Healey Library and through UMBrella. There’s also an English article written by Rita Arditti on the Wellesley Centers for Women website, and the Grandmothers have their own website. Learn more about Rita Arditti here.

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