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.

Massachusetts History Alliance Logo

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.


Introducing Patricia Bruttomesso, new Archival Collections Project Manager

Patty BruttomessoWe are very pleased to announce that Patricia Bruttomesso has joined University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston as Archival Collections Project Manager.

Patty needs no introduction for many in the local history and cultural heritage communities in Massachusetts and beyond. For more than twenty years, she has worked in local and regional historical organizations in the Northeast and Midwest, most recently with Mass Humanities and, before that, the Bay State Historical League. Her impressive organizational skills and deep commitment to public local history are evident in the annual Massachusetts History Conference, which Patty has coordinated for a number of years, and which attracts hundreds of attendees from scores of organizations throughout the Commonwealth. The conference features panel discussions and workshops on topics of interest to historical organizations and those who work with them.

In her work at UMass Boston, Patty brings her experience and expertise to bear on managing the University Archives & Special Collections department’s physical collections, including overseeing an extensive renovation project to enhance and expand our collection storage, processing and research facilities – no small task!

Patty received her undergraduate degree in history from Brown University, and a Masters in History from the University of Delaware through the Hagley Program in the History of Industrial America. Her doctoral work in U.S. History at the University of Chicago (ABD) focused on the reciprocity of technological and social change in Iowa’s woodworking industry from 1865 through 1925.

Welcome to UASC, Patty!

Patty Griffin recording from University Archives & Special Collections featured in The Atlantic

Screenshot for Patty Griffin Interview and Studio PerformanceMany fine musicians have passed through the studios of WUMB since the radio station was established in 1968. As part of a series highlighting efforts to digitize and make openly available over sixty years of public broadcasting history, Rebecca J. Rosen from The Atlantic has written a piece about a 1994 interview and studio performance for WUMB by Grammy-winning singer Patty Griffin “before anyone had heard of her.” The focus of the series by The Atlantic is the establishment of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a partnership between the Library of Congress and WGBH. UMass Boston’s Joseph P. Healey Library was an enthusiastic and early contributor to this project.

WUMB-FM, a non-commercial radio station licensed to the University of Massachusetts with studios on the UMass Boston campus, has been a public radio affiliate of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) since 1986. University Archives & Special Collections in the Healey Library preserves the historical records, audio, visual and textual documentation of WUMB’s first 35 years and, in 2013, sent approximately 80 hours of recordings from the WUMB archives to be digitized for inclusion in the AAPB. Audio recordings that University Archives & Special Collections contributed include talk radio show recordings such as Black Perspectives, Commonwealth Journal, and From the Source, as well as live in-studio and concert performances by a range of musicians. In her Atlantic article, Rosen features a brief audio excerpt from a 1994 interview and performance by Griffin of her song “Regarding Mary.” Click here to read the story and hear the audio on the Atlantic‘s website.

The digitized recordings are still being processed by the American Archive and University Archives & Special Collections. Keep visiting this blog for more information.

University Archives & 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 & 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 & Special Collections, click here or email

Library establishes Community Archives Award with event, launches exhibition

From left to right: University Librarian Daniel Ortiz, TIARA presidents and past-presidents Judy Barrett, Janis Duffy, Kathy Roscoe, and Mary Choppa, with University Archivist Joanne Riley

On March 14, 2012, the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston presented the first annual Joseph P. Healey Library Community Archives Award to The Irish Ancestral Research Association, or TIARA, for their work rescuing and preserving the historic records of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters. On the significance of these records, Joanne Riley, University Archivist for UMass Boston, notes that “for many genealogists, history buffs, and Irish families, the Foresters records are a treasure trove of ancestral information.”

Several members of TIARA and the Catholic Association of Foresters were in attendance, as were members of the general public and representatives from programs at UMass Boston. The Award was presented at a reception featuring music and storytelling by Nora Dooley and Susan Miron, and a presentation by TIARA member Susan Steele on what the Foresters records reveal about Massachusetts and U.S. history. In one example, Steele discussed the 1919 death of Foresters member James Lennon who, according to his death certificate, died as a result of the “bursting of molasses tank” in the Great Molasses Flood of 1919, an event that resulted in the deaths of 21 people and injured 150.

The evening also featured the opening of an exhibition by Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston. “Calling the Heart Back Home: Irish-American Stories from the Archives” features images and information about the history of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters (now called the Catholic Association of Foresters) and the genealogically and historically significant information contained within the Foresters records, as well as a range of Irish-American stories as seen through archival images and documents from Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston.

In 2011, TIARA donated the records of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters to Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston and with the acquisition of these records, the department formally launched their Community Archives initiative, with the intention of, said University Archivist Riley, “creating a space where community-based history and archives groups can engage with, learn from, and preserve materials of historical value to their own organizational missions and objectives.”

Archives & Special Collections at UMass Boston collects materials that reflect the University’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities, including the Boston Harbor Islands.

This event was sponsored by the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, with the financial assistance of the Catholic Association of Foresters.