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Archives and Special Collections: African-American

A guide to historical materials housed in the Northeastern University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections Department.

African-American Collections

From left to right Otto Snowden, Senator Edward Kennedy, Muriel Snowden, Ellen Jackson, and Bertram Lee at the Snowdens' home, c. 1980. Photograph from the Freedom House Collection.Ballet performance by three students from the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, ca. 1970. Photograph from the National Center of Afro-American Artists Collection.Children getting their faces painted at the Shared Summer event in front of the Boys and Girls Roxbury Clubhouse, 1976. Photograph from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Inc. collection.Visitors examine artwork on the walls at the Kaichon Festivity of Arts exhibit, 1958. Photograph from the United South End Settlements collection.

Natalie Ammarell Papers

  • Activist Natalie Ammarell worked on behalf of Boston organizations, including the Boston Panel of Agencies Executives, United South End Settlements, Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center, Inner City Inc., Federated Houses, New England Medical Center community planning initiative, and WISH House, a community based housing program for women with HIV⁄AIDS in Dorchester.

Ronald W. Bailey Oral History Collection

  • Oral histories of three prominent members of Boston's African American community: Milton Derr, a painter, illustrator and retired teacher; Mel King, a community activist and retired professor; and Byron Rushing, Representative for the 9th Suffolk District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, discuss their lives and work for a book by Ronald W. Bailey with Diane Turner and Robert Hayden, entitled Lower Roxbury: A Community of Treasures in the City of Boston.

Boston Society of Vulcans of Massachusetts Records

  • The Boston Society of Vulcans works to increase the number of minorities in the Boston Fire Department; supports and counsels minorities within the fire service; promotes and teaches fire safety, CPR, and community first aid training in designated high-risk neighborhoods; and serves as a watchdog for the concerns of minorities employed within the fire service.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, Inc. Records

  • The Boys and Girls Club provides the City of Boston with a youth development agency offering programs in six areas: the arts; education; leadership and character development; life skills; sports, fitness and recreation; and technology.

Charles Herbert Bruce Photographs

  • Charles H. Bruce, an active amateur photographer during 1890 to 1920, photographed the Charlestown Navy Yard, and his family, friends and colleagues, including the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge of which he was a member.

John E. Bush Papers

  • Activist and educator John E. Bush is a co–founder of Men of All Colors Together Boston, founded 1980, and a 1988 co–chair of the National Association of Black and White Men Together. Additional unprocessed material available.

Melnea A. Cass Papers

  • Community and civil rights activist, Melnea Agnes Cass (1896-1978), was known as "The First Lady of Roxbury."

Dana C. Chandler, Jr. Papers

  • Dana C. Chandler, Jr., noted African American artist, founded and directed Northeastern University’s African American Master Artists–in–Residence Program which provided studio space to visual artists.

Citywide Educational Coalition Records

  • The Citywide Educational Coalition played an important role in the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools and advocated for school reform by providing parents with the skills necessary to participate in shaping education policy.

Gregory C. Coffin Papers

  • Educator and civil rights activist Gregory C. Coffin (1926-2002) oversaw the Urban Schools Collaborative which worked to implement desegregation and improve the public school system in Boston.

Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts Records

  • The Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts (1950-1990) was established to meet the social, cultural, and artistic needs of Boston's African American community, offering education in art, dance, drama, music, and costuming to pre-school children, school-aged children and adults.

James W. Fraser Photograph Collection

  • Photographs collected by James W. Fraser depicting the events subsequent to Judge Arthur Garrity's 1974 decision to desegregate Boston public schools by means of forced busing.

Freedom House, Inc. Records

  • Founded in 1949, Freedom House’s mission was to centralize community activism in the fight for neighborhood improvement, good schools, and harmony among racial, ethnic, and religious groups in Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Freedom House Digital Photographs

  • View more than 2,300 images of people, places and events from the Freedom House, Inc. records documenting Roxbury, Massachusetts from 1950-1975.

Robert P. Gittens Papers [unprocessed]

  • Robert P. Gittens, Northeastern University class of 1975, photographed speakers, students and events at NU during the 1970s for The Onyx Informer, the University’s African-American student newspaper.

Martin Gopen Papers

  • Martin Gopen was an activist involved with the Urban League of Greater Boston and the United South End Settlements, and he wrote a column for the Bay State Banner entitled, "The Job Scene." Additional unprocessed material available.

Grants Management Associates

  • Founded in 1982, Grants Management Associates, now called GMA Foundations, provides consulting, administrative, and organizational support services to grant-making organizations in the Boston area, including The Riley Foundation, a major funder of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.

Roderick L. Ireland Papers [unprocessed]

  • Roderick L. Ireland was the first African-American justice appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in its then 305-year history and its first African-American chief justice. Ireland retired from the Supreme Judicial Court in 2014. This collection is restricted until screened and processed.

The Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society Records

  • Founded in 1984, the Justice George Lewis Ruffin Society was established to create greater understanding and communication between minority communities and the criminal justice system through annual convocations, events, courses, workshops and the traveling exhibit "The Long Road to Justice."

Elma Ina Lewis Papers

  • Elma Ina Lewis (1921-2004) taught dance, drama, and speech therapy, and established the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts in 1950, the National Center of Afro-American Artists in 1968, and the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists in 1969.

Lower Roxbury Black History Project Records

  • From 2007-2009, Lolita Parker Jr., a photographer and documentary film researcher, collected over 40 oral histories from African American clergy, educators, businessmen, politicians, community activists, former military men, laborers, and citizens discussing their families and growing up in Lower Roxbury during the early to mid-twentieth century.

Lower Roxbury Community Corporation Records

  • The Lower Roxbury Community Corporation was established in 1966 to provide Lower Roxbury residents a voice in urban renewal projects, foster social services, improve local schooling and education, and encourage local business developments.

Massachusetts Human Services Coalition Records

  • The Massachusetts Human Services Coalition (MHSC) advocates for health and financial benefits for underprivileged and disabled residents of Massachusetts.

Jean McGuire Papers [unprocessed]

  • Jean McGuire is the executive director of Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating racial imbalance in suburban public schools.

Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. Records

  • Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization founded in 1966 to eliminate racial imbalance by busing children from Boston and Springfield to suburban public schools. Additional unprocessed material available.

Frank J. Miranda Papers

  • African American activist Frank J. Miranda (b. 1932) was director of the Cultural Enrichment and Tutorial Program of Operation Exodus, a community based, parent-initiated organization to deal with the educational problems of African American students in Boston; and a former member of Boston Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), an organization founded to abolish discrimination based on race, color, creed, or ethnic origin.

Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists Records

  • The Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, founded by Elma Lewis in 1969, is an art museum dedicated to the education, promotion, exhibition, and collection of African, Caribbean, and Afro-American fine arts worldwide.

National Center of Afro-American Artists Records

  • The National Center of Afro–American Artists was founded by Elma Ina Lewis in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1968 as a multi–disciplinary arts organization to showcase regional and national African American visual and performing artists.

National Lawyers Guild. Massachusetts Chapter, Inc. Records 

  • The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, an association of progressive lawyers, law students, paralegals, judges, legal secretaries, and community activists, has been active since 1937. It seeks justice by working for immigrant and human rights, building community resources through the Street Law Clinics and the Lawyer Referral Service, acting as legal observers at demonstrations, educating the public about judicial nominees, and promoting workers' rights.

Northeastern University John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute Records

  • The John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute was founded in 1972 to provide African American students services and programs promoting academic success and encouraging civic and cultural engagement.

Northeastern University African American Master Artists–in–Residence Program Records

  • Founded in 1974, the African American Master Artists–in–Residence Program (AAMARP) was the first African American artist–in–residence program in the United States, providing studio space on an annually renewable basis to visual artists.

Paul Parks Papers [unprocessed]

  • Paul Parks (1923-2009), activist, engineer, and former chairman of Boston's School Committee, was the first African American appointed Massachusetts Secretary of Education in 1974.

Julius A. Prince, Jr. Papers [unprocessed]

  • Julius A. Prince, a photographer in the 1960s, photographed houses and participants from the Roxbury Work Study Program, an urban renewal project to revitalize Roxbury.

John Ross Papers

  • John Andrew Ross (1940-2006), an accomplished African-American composer, organist, choral conductor, and jazz musician, was music director of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts and National Center of Afro-American Artists.

Roxbury Multi-Service Center Records

  • Roxbury Multi-Service Center (RMSC), a social service agency, founded in 1963 to offer programs and services designed to empower the residents of Roxbury and North Dorchester to become economically and socially self-sufficient.

Dick Russell Papers

  • Author and environmental journalist Dick Russell (b. 1948) has devoted the majority of his life and work to environmental issues such as protecting endangered species in the world's oceans. He has also written several books on a variety of topics, including “Black Genius” which highlights the achievements of prominent African Americans throughout American history.

Phyllis M. Ryan Papers

  • Social justice and political activist Phyllis M. Ryan (1927-1998) supported school desegregation, prison reform, welfare reform, the establishment of disability rights, and civil rights organizations like Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

Muriel S. and Otto P. Snowden Papers

  • African American social workers Muriel S. Snowden (1916-1988) and Otto P. Snowden (1914-1995) were the founders and co-directors of Freedom House, a center for neighborhood improvement and community activism in the racially mixed neighborhood of Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Stull and Lee, Inc. Records [unprocessed]

  • Stull and Lee, Inc. is an African American owned and operated, Boston-based, architectural and urban planning firm established by Donald L. Stull in 1967.

United South End Settlements Records

  • Founded in 1950, United South End Settlements (USES) is a non-profit social service agency located in the South End of Boston, Massachusetts, whose mission is to foster well-being, nurture personal growth and development, build a sense of community, and maintain an environment where all can thrive. In 1960, the Children’s Art Centre, the first public fine arts museum designed exclusively for children, merged with five settlements to form USES. Additional unprocessed material available. Additional unprocessed material available.

Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts Records

  • Founded in 1917, the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts administers programs designed to create social and economic self-sufficiency among African Americans and other communities of color.

Joseph D. Warren Papers

  • African American educator and community activist Joseph D. Warren (1938-2010) was an Associate Professor of Northeastern University's Department of African American Studies, served as a political aide and advisor during Michael S. Dukakis' second and third terms as Massachusetts governor, and established the Balfour Academy, a program providing education opportunities for a successful college career to Boston inner-city youth.

Zuline Gray Wilkinson Papers

  • Zuline Gray Wilkinson (b. 1947) was the director of the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, a social service agency for residents of Roxbury and North Dorchester, from 1995-1997.