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Archives and Special Collections: The Collections


The Collections

The collections in the archives are divided into the categories below. We offer the following overview of each category to invite potential researchers to explore our collections. In addition, bibliographic records for all of the monographs in the department and collection-level descriptions of the archival and manuscripts collections appear in the library's on-line catalog.

Archival and Manuscript Collections

Areas of concentration include social welfare agencies, community organizations and alternative movements and local history.

The records of local 19th and early 20th century private social welfare and charitable organizations provide us with a history of the work of these agencies and of the people they served. The agencies include orphanages, settlement houses, and social welfare institutions in the Boston area.

In Boston, as in other urban centers, people often respond to the social issues and conditions of the day by organizing into voluntary community- based organizations. The community can be defined as either a geographical community (responding to an issue in a neighborhood for instance) or as a community of shared interest responding to contemporary social issues. Our collections document these aspects of the recent and contemporary history of Boston, its citizens and its neighborhoods.

A collection of books, publications, ephemera, and family papers primarily about the Dorchester section of Boston, its citizens and its neighborhoods, has been established from contributions of Dorchester residents and organizations. Our collections document the history of Dorchester as a twentieth century urban community and how it has responded to changes in mid and late twentieth century society. Other local history collections document various aspects of Boston history.

UMass Boston & Boston State College

Archives and Special Collections provides various printed and archival material for the study of the history, policies, and programs of UMass Boston. This includes catalogs (1966-), yearbooks (1969-), the student newspaper (1965-), and doctoral dissertations, master's theses, and reports and monographs published by many departments, programs and institutes of the university.

Boston State College merged with UMass/Boston in 1982. The department has a collection of college records, photographs, and publications relating to the history of Boston State, including catalogs (1953/54-1980/82), yearbooks (1917, 1927-1982), and newspapers (1954-1981).

William Joiner Center Collections

Archives and Special Collections has curatorial responsibility for the material acquired by the center as part of its mission to study the effects of the Vietnam War on our society. The collections of archives, manuscripts, photographs, and videos primarily explore veterans' issues and experiences.

Special Collections

There are approximately 6000 titles in the Special Collections. A large portion of the collection is expensive or out of print books on fine arts. The remainder range from a late Aldine edition to video art and is composed mostly of first editions, rare, and finely printed books. Of special note is a collection of the work of German author Jakob Wasserman, the Anais Nin collection of 20th century poetry, and the Amado Alonso collection of Spanish language literature. In the graphic arts the collection contains over 100 contemporary prints by regionally and nationally known printmakers, and two collections of photographic portraits, one by Lotte Jacobi and the other by Elsa Dorfman. There is also a set of early 20th century readers collected by Boston State College Professor Miriam Kallen. All items are individually cataloged in the library’s on-line catalog.