Archives and primary sources

Archives and primary sources are invaluable to your research, whether that research is for a class or your own development as an architect and person. Examples of primary sources in the architectural field include plans, sections, and photographs that document space or buildings. Other examples include oral histories, letters, newsletters, diaries, and more that speak of people's experiences and memories of the built and unbuilt environment.

You might find primary sources published in books or journals, but you can also find them in digital or physical format through archives and special collections. This page outlines some ways to get started with your archival research.

The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections

The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections is committed to documenting the history of Northeastern University and the history of Boston’s social movements, including civil and political rights, immigrant rights, homelessness, and urban and environmental justice. The records document the history of Boston’s African American, Asian American, LGBTQA, Latinx and other communities, as well as Boston’s public infrastructure, neighborhoods, and natural environments.

The Archives and Special Collections is currently closed due to current renovations in Snell Library. Collections will be inaccessible and reference services will be limited to remote correspondence consulting digitized media during this time. Please email with any questions or requests.

In the meantime, please consult the Archives' digitized records in the Digital Repository Service.

Selected collections at the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections

Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción records

This collection documents the organization's efforts to empower the residents of the Villa Victoria community by providing them with affordable housing and creating opportunities to have greater control over it. The records date from 1967 to 2004. Records cover several topics: urban renewal and housing rehabilitation, tenant associations, Puerto Rican social conditions, non-profit social service delivery, and community development.

Chinese Progressive Association records

This collection documents the founding, growth, and development of the Chinese Progressive Association from its inception in 1977 to the early 2000s. The Association helped create the Coalition to Protect Parcel C, a group concerned about proposed land development in Chinatown in the 1990s. The Coalition files reflect the complexity of the project and its successful conclusion when the Parcel C land was granted back to Chinatown for a community center. 

Select archives and archival collections beyond Northeastern

Frederick Law Olmsted

Jane Jacobs

Archives based in Boston and Massachusetts:

Finding archival primary sources

Get started with archival research and finding primary sources online:

Search across archival collection descriptions to find archives on a particular topic, person, or organization:

Search for digitized primary sources across Massachusetts and beyond using these platforms: