Massachusetts: Northeastern University Archives Receives Grant to Digitize Photographs
Documenting Boston’s Roxbury Neighborhood, 1950­-1975

The  Massachusetts Board  of Library Commissioners has awarded  Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and  Special Collections Department $20,336  for a  project to digitize  and make available on the Web 2,265 photographs and negatives, dating from 1950­-1975, from the Freedom House collection.

In 1949, Freedom House was established by African American social workers Muriel S. and Otto P. Snowden to centralize community activism in the fight for neighborhood improvement, good schools, and harmony among racial, ethnic, and religious groups in Roxbury. Early programming focused primarily on  activities for children, youth, and  adults that would strengthen relations between the  African  American and  Jewish residents of Upper  Roxbury. Among  the  earliest projects Freedom House  undertook  was an application preparation workshop  in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee to help minority students and recent graduates in
applying for jobs. One of the few interracial pre­schools in the city at the time operated out of Freedom House,  and throughout the  1950s, social programs for African American and Jewish teenagers focused on fostering brotherhood and good citizenship. Lectures at the popular Coffee Hours and  Teas, and  Sunday­at­8  forums covered  a  variety of current political, cultural, and social topics, including the civil rights movement. Speakers included Bayard Rustin (architect of the  1963  March  on Washington), Louis Lomax  (social critic and  author), and representatives from the Freedom Riders and the Student Non­Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

The images to be digitized document the early activities to create an integrated Roxbury, citizen participation in the  urban renewal of Roxbury, and  early oversight of Boston Public  Schools desegregation. The  photographs include  images of well­known figures (including Rev. Martin Luther  King, Jr., Senators Edward  M. Brooke, John F. Kennedy, and  Edward  Kennedy, Jacqueline  Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Sammy Davis, Jr., Kitty Dukakis, and  Boston mayors John  B. Hynes, John F. Collins and  Kevin  H. White), local community activists (including Melnea Cass, Ellen Jackson, Herbert Tucker, and  Hyman Kaplan), Freedom House  events (including  the  Ebony Fashion Fair, anniversary celebrations, Coffee Hours and  International Teas, and Citizens’ Urban Renewal Action  Committee meetings), and the  Roxbury neighborhood  (including  images of individual buildings, the  Roxbury Garden Project, Pilot House, Marksdale Gardens, Camfield Gardens, Trotter School, and the Roxbury YMCA). This project  continues Northeastern University Libraries’ dedication to preserving  and  making accessible the history of Boston’s African American community.


THE ACADEMIC ARCHIVIST: Newsletter of the College and University Section 
Society of American Archivists
Vol. 25, No. 1, Fall 2007/Winter 2008