Boston Public Library
Government Information

Social Sciences Department, 2nd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library, 617-859-2261

Boston School Desegregation / Boston Busing Crisis

The events around the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools in the 1970s are a significant part of the history and culture of Boston.  While the roots of the issue stretched back to the 1960s and 1950s, problems of inequalities in education in Boston came to light with the U.S. District Court decision in the case of Morgan v Hennigan (379 F.Supp 410).  This led to a well-known chain of events, ending with oversight of the Boston Public Schools passing into the hands of W. Arthur Garrity, the judge in the case, until the 1980s.  The following is not exhaustive, but represents materials held by the Boston Public Library and some materials available from databases.

Books – Popular Literature

  • Liberty’s Chosen Home, by Alan Lupo.  (First edition and Second edition)  This was written shortly after the 1974-75 and 1975-76 school years by a reporter various Boston media outlets at the time. (1977)
  • Common Ground, by J. Anthony Lukas.  This Pulitzer Prize volume follows how busing affects three Boston families, one Irish American from Charlestown, one African American from Roxbury, and one urban professional living in the South End. (1985)
  • Southie Won’t Go: A Teacher’s Diary of the Desegregation of South Boston High School, by Ione Malloy.  An account of a year in the life of the school most impacted by busing. (1986)
  • Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s, by Ronald Formisano.  (First edition and Second edition)  This was an attempt to view the issue beyond the usual racial prism. (1991 and 2001)
  • Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era, by Lawrence S. DiCara.  DiCara shows how public policy decisions and economic and demographic changes from that time transformed Boston into one of America’s most diverse, affluent, and successful cities in the twenty-first century. (2013)

Books – Scholarly Work and Dissertations

Government Information and Related Materials

Other Materials

  • The City of Boston Archives has extensive holdings of materials relating to desegregation.
  • The ERIC database of the United States Department of Education holds many items relating to desegregation in Boston.
  • The Microtext Department holds a 2 reel collection of articles from the Boston Globe entitled Boston Busing, 1969-1975.  These are arranged chronologically.  The call number is LC214.53.B67B38x.

Compiled by John J. Devine of the Government Information Department with the assistance of the entire staff of the Government Information Department and Michael D’Ortenzio, Jr.