Image courtesy of Our Marathon Digital Archive.

What We Do

Boston is a place of complex and deeply layered history.

The Boston Research Center (BRC):

  • Focuses on the history of underrepresented groups to expand our understanding of Boston’s long history through the eyes of its residents, past and present.
  • Expands on Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections’ existing commitment to activate archives by making them as useful as possible to the neighborhoods and underrepresented groups they originate from.
  • Builds on the strength of scholars across Northeastern and expertise within the Library to interlink digital historical materials (maps, photos, texts) with data (census information, commercial records) and narrative (analytic writing to pull out important themes).
  • Connects collections across Boston through both information infrastructures and partnerships with other Boston organizations.
  • Unlocks historical analog and paper data (charts, tables, maps, finding aids, books, articles) through scanning and reformatting to perform more robust large-scale analysis, and computation of older data previously only on paper.
  • Emphasizes long-term, sustainable, inclusive information infrastructures to create a safe place to build community-based histories in freely-available and non-commercial systems.


The Boston Public Library:

Partnering with Northeastern University Library on the Boston Research Center, the Boston Public Library (BPL) has served as a convening space, supported BRC’s research, provided digitization services, and connected community members to BRC projects through educational programming and outreach. Digitized materials represented in BRC projects will be made publicly accessible via the Digital Commonwealth, a robust digitization program based at the BPL. This collaborative work advances the BPL’s missions of expanding access to its historical collections and research resources and supporting patrons in the unearthing, telling, and sharing of local and community histories.

The Digital Scholarship Group:

The Digital Scholarship Group offers services ranging from grant-writing support to GIS and data visualization consultations. The DSG also conducts research on subjects like inclusive information systems, data representation standards, and digital repository systems. Working as an applied research team within the library, the DSG seeks out new tools and methods, tests them on real-world projects, and makes them available to the Northeastern community. The DSG supports a wide range of projects, including projects from the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks and the CERES Exhibit Toolkit.