Pilot Summary: Boston Desegregation Archive
A joint effort between the Northeastern University Archives, the NuLawLab, and the BRC, this project is focused on exploring the social and historical materials at the center of major legal cases in Boston related to race equity and desegregation. This project has developed ways to contextualize case law by annotating documents with archival sources, maps, and photographs. The project prototype can also function as an instructional tool for law students, highlighting the interconnections between social and legal histories. Additionally, this project will bring to life a case at the center of ongoing conversations in Boston surrounding school busing and racial equity in public education.
During the summer and fall of 2018, the project team selected the 1974 Morgan v. Hennigan decision as the focus document for the prototype. Project members then conducted archival research to identify relevant materials for inclusion in the initial prototype. This also included developing guidelines for the metadata needed to not only represent those materials, but also to link them to the relevant text in the decision. Annotations linked to a variety of archival materials including photos, documents, media files, audio files, and video files related to the Morgan v. Hennigan case and the wider issues of school desegregation surrounding it.
The prototype reading interface developed by the project team has been useful in identifying platform and interface needs for future BRC projects. For example, the linking of archival sources to a text document posed important questions about the types of sources and perspectives to highlight in the project. One way in which the Desegregation Archive proves instructive for the development of the BRC is in how the project models ways of making text documents more dynamic as instruction tools and portals into archival collections that can enrich and expand upon those documents.