Pilot Summary: Mission Hill 100
The Mission Hill 100 project team includes faculty members and students from Northeastern’s School of Journalism working to develop methods for digital reporting that can link interviews, data, narratives, and archival materials. Mission Hill 100 launched in early 2018 on the Scope, an experimental digital magazine focused on reporting “stories of justice, hope, and resilience in Boston.” It builds on the emerging nonfiction genre of instaessays by using Instagram to publish profiles of 100 Mission Hill residents. Each profile serves as a focal point for developing deep, focused connections between the present and the past. During the BRC prototyping phase, the Mission Hill 100 project team worked to develop a discovery interface for the interviews and related materials.
MH100, with its focus on student-community partnerships in creating content, shares much with other archival/journalistic projects such as Foxfire Magazine, which developed from a high school English course in Northeast Georgia’s Appalachian mountains in the late 1960s, ultimately resulting in the development of a cultural center dedicated to preserving the oral histories captured by the project. The MH100 prototype also explores the intersections between journalism, oral history and archival practices, and community partnerships.
During the summer and fall of 2018, the project team selected several dozen Mission Hill 100 installments and conducted research on major themes presented in interviews, such as affordable housing, gentrification, and immigration. Census and housing price datasets were used with historic maps of the Mission Hill area to identify changes in the neighborhood, including the boundaries of Mission Hill itself. The team also began using Northeastern’s own archival collections to identify resources that connect to interview themes, and enrich the context for individual interviews. In several example entries, researchers curated archival materials for inclusion with the interviews; in the future, MH100 plans to investigate the possibility of semi-automated linking to relevant archival materials.
The Mission Hill 100 project contributes to the BRC’s potential for community engagement and participation. As a project focused on the lived experiences of Bostonians in the present, MH100 also informs the ways in which an expanded BRC will be able to support complex projects with substantive public involvement. MH100 also contributes to the BRC’s understanding of how to dynamically link archival resources to textual materials (see the Boston Desegregation Archive for another example of this kind of work within the BRC).