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  • Writer's pictureMolly Brown

Reference and Outreach at Northeastern

Updated: Jun 27, 2020

Just as many people in Boston began to self isolate in the face of COVID-19, my library was working on its newsletter highlighting the different projects departments completed over the year. Along with an article about Teaching with Archives there were photos from alumni events, group visits, and development projects I helped drive in the archives in tandem with our Events and Marketing Coordinator, Head of Archives and Special Collections, and Director of Development.

This newsletter represents my busiest year yet at Northeastern. I held 18 various events (both independent and collaborative) and taught over 40 classes while managing public services and our reading room. Even before we began working at home in March, this year reflected the fruits of outreach and trying to help others imagine our archives not just as a space for finding a primary source to complete a citation requirement, but instead a place to learn, activate, and be inspired by the stories of Boston's social movements.

Clipped below is the article about teaching with archives that I wrote for the newsletter, you can find the whole newsletter here:


On any given day in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections you could find a Northeastern student, a Nation Parks Service Ranger, a Boston Public Schools high schooler, or a Greater Boston community member visiting for a class using primary sources. The classes, workshops, and experiences offered by the Archives are a result of the Teaching with Archives program led by Molly Brown, the Reference and Outreach Archivist, and Regina Pagani the Arts, Humanities, and Experiential Learning Librarian.

Teaching with Archives classes equip participants to locate, read, and engage with primary sources such as meeting minutes, correspondence, photographs, local newspapers, and more related to the history of Boston’s social justice organizing as well as Northeastern’s history.

The Boston Public Schools (BPS) continue to include the Teaching with Archives program in their curricular unit educating high school juniors about Boston’s school desegregation history. The BPS students visit the Archives to learn more about the long history of education activism and find primary sources to incorporate in a chapter they are writing about an activist. Students are asked to consider their chapter as a way of contributing to popular historical records about desegregation, and expanding it by embedding community informed archival records in their telling of an activist’s life.

The sessions taught by Brown and Pagani emphasize experiential learning and encourage reflection about the participants’ own role in history, how their neighborhood, school, and beyond are part of the story of Boston’s past and present. They are open to anyone interested in learning from the Archives and Special Collections’ records.

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