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.


Empowering Our Communities Through History: Join us at the 2019 Mass History Conference

Photograph of Lawrence, Mass., strikers.What: 2019 Mass History Conference

When: Monday, June 24, 2019 | 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Where: Hogan Campus Center, College of Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass.

Click here for directions.

The 2019 Mass History Conference will focus on empowering our communities and organizations in preserving and telling the many stories of the towns and people of Massachusetts. Learn more about the conference here.

Staff from University Archives & Special Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston will be presenting as part of two sessions at the 2019 Mass History Conference:

ENGAGING COMMUNITIES WITH PARTICIPATORY RESEARCH: The 1919 Police Strike and Lawrence World War I Memory Projects
Presenters: Jessica Holden, University Archives & Special Collections, Healey Library, UMass Boston, and Marc Laplante, Lawrence WW1 Project Lawrence History CenterModerator: Caroline Littlewood, University Archives & Special Collections, Healey Library, UMass Boston

Learn how communities are engaging residents in their local history through crowd-fueled research and innovative technology. Presenters will share their research models, training MOOC software, and other technology to help others create community-based research projects. The 1919 Boston Police Strike Project documents and preserves the stories of the more than 1,100 police officers who were involved in this highly influential labor strike which had lasting effects in the City of Boston and across the United States. Project team members will provide an overview of the history, structure, and current status of the project; speak to how they have recruited, trained, and retained volunteers; discuss challenges and successes; and examine how this project may serve as a model for other crowd-fueled local history projects. Through his passion and creativity, Marc Laplante tells the stories, and brings to life, the 35 Lawrence residents who received official recognition with a bridge, park, pool, street corner or buildings for their deaths in World War I.

: Meghan Bailey, University Archives & Special Collections, Healey Library, UMass Boston

Help improve access to important archival collections at your repositories. Learn to create custom enclosures, also known as phase boxes, for items in manuscript collections. This is a unique, hands-on opportunity to learn a skill and be exposed to interesting, historic materials from University Archives and Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston. The types of materials and resulting enclosures will vary greatly in size, age, and format. Training will be provided to participants, and no prior experience is needed. UASC will provide a limited* amount of books in need of enclosures. Instructions will be provided so you may create the enclosures at your institution.

View the full program for the Mass History Conference and register here.


Presented by
Massachusetts History Alliance
Mass Humanities

Supported by
Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board (MA SHRAB)
University of Massachusetts Amherst Program in Public History
University of Massachusetts Boston Public History and Archives Tracks
Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston

Supporters: Daedalus, Inc., Museum Textiles Services, Boston Rare Maps

Supporting Members: Dorchester Historical Society, Northeast Document Conservation Services

Supporting Associates: Robert Forrant, Mike Potaski

Contributing Members: Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area, House of the Seven Gables, Waterworks Museum, Digital Commonwealth, Tsongas Industrial History Center, Massachusetts Historical Society

Friends: Epsilon Associates, Inc.; Roberts Consulting; Swift River Press: Public History & Communications by Pleun Bouricius; Lynne Zacek Bassett, Costume & Textile Historian; D.P. Autio, Ornamental Plastering and Plastering of all Types; William G. Pomery Foundation

Donors: University Products

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