Boston’s ethnic neighborhoods are famous, but what do they look like today? Old enclaves and predictable patterns are changing as Boston becomes a more global city. The spring series looks at Boston’s three most diverse neighborhoods: East Boston, Mattapan, and Allston Brighton.
This series will complement the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s exhibit, A City of Neighborhoods: The Changing Face of Boston (running from March 14 to July 12 at the Central Library in Copley Square). The exhibit will feature maps of Boston’s immigrant population based on the 2010 federal census as well as historic, modern, and digitized maps.
Talks are on Wednesdays at 6pm in the Commonwealth Salon, unless otherwise noted.
January 15 Ethnic Enclaves, Edge Gateways, and the Global Boston / James Madden will discuss how Boston’s once solidly ethnic neighborhoods and the predictable patterns the city used to follow have developed into today’s multi-ethnic neighborhoods and diverse immigration pathways that are more difficult to map. Madden is a co-creator with MIT professor Tunney Lee of Boston: People, Place, and Planning, a web based, comprehensive and accessible history of Boston’s urban development.
Tuesday January 28 in Rabb Lecture Hall Turmoil and Transition in Boston: A Political Memoir from the Busing Era / Turmoil and Transition in Boston tells the personal and political story of Larry DiCara, the youngest person ever elected to the Boston City Council. In 1974, a federal court order mandating busing to achieve racial integration in the public schools ripped Boston apart. 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. Larry DiCara is among Boston’s most recognized attorneys and civic leaders. He served on the Boston City Council from 1972 to 1981. He is former Chairman of The Boston Municipal Research Bureau and a former Chairman of A Better City A frequent speaker at colleges, universities and other venues.
January 29 Researching Your Ancestral Homes — Adding Stories to Your Family Tree / Your home’s history can be impressive as your family genealogy. Instead of parents, there are architects and builders. Instead of an original immigrant, there is an original occupant. Instead of descendants, there are additions and renovations. All of these can tell you something about your family. Find out how to research your family’s home to enrich your family’s history. BPL staff will discuss resources available at the Library to uncover the lineage of your family homestead.
Tuesday, February 4 in the Commonwealth Salon The Race Underground: Boston, New York and the Incredible Rivalry that Built American’s First Subway / As cities like Boston and New York rapidly expanded in the late 19th century, streets became increasingly clogged with horse-drawn carts. Two brothers—Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York City—pursued the same dream: to have his city become the first American metropolis to build a subway. The great race between Boston and New York was on. Doug Most is the deputy managing editor for features at the Boston Globe. He has written for Sports Illustrated, Runners World and Parents and his stories have appeared in Best American Crime Writing and Best American Sports Writing.
February 12 History of People, Places and Plans that Shaped East Boston / Antonio Di Mambro will discuss economic and technological transformations that have defined this multi-ethnic neighborhood of Boston and will outline the challenges and opportunities that may shape its future. Mr. Di Mambro is president of Antonio Di Mambro + Associates, Inc. He has practiced architecture, city planning and urban design in the United States, Puerto Rico and Italy since 1971.
February 26 Boston’s Changing Neighborhoods with the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center and Tools for Mapping Neighborhoods and Stories in the Digital Age / Discover historic Boston neighborhoods through digitized building-level detailed maps from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. The lecture will also include a sneak preview to the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s next exhibition: A City of Neighborhoods: The Changing Face of Boston. Evan Thornberry is the Cartographic Reference Librarian for the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center.
Mapping genealogical and historical information and the stories those data tell often uncovers new stories. The patterns and connections between locations in a city neighborhood come to life in Web-based and open-source software, like Google Earth and QGIS, along with graphic design applications, all enable genealogists and historians to explore these spatial patterns in new ways. Jonathan Wyss has been making maps in Boston for more than twenty years, most recently at Beehive Mapping, a small business that produces a wide variety of maps.
March 12 Jewish Settlement in and out of Mattapan and The Roots of New Boston: Race and Ethnicity in Mattapan, 1860 – 2010 / Two speakers will review the history of the Jewish migration patterns in Boston and the evolution of Mattapan. Particular attention will be paid to the role of real estate, with particular concern for the question: Is there a “new Boston,” or is this “newness” merely the result of twenty-first ideas about race and ethnicity?
Amy Schectman has spent the past 30 years working on affordable housing, economic development and the integration of housing and social services. Dr. Kerri Greenidge is a lecturer at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. She previously worked as a historian for Boston African American National History Site and as a historian for the upcoming Blackwell Anthology of African-American Literature. Her book, Boston’s Abolitionists (2006) describes the city’s unique role in the ante-bellum abolition movement.
March 26 Family Research Through Oral History for Less Documented Groups / Not all families come from a place like New England that is rich in genealogy documentation. People from countries like Jamaica and Haiti struggle harder to piece their family history together. Oral history acts as a way to re-discover your roots through conversations with family members who are still living. In this talk, learn how oral history can be used, particularly within immigrant communities, to recapture your family story and to rekindle stronger family bonds. Marian Pierre-Louis is a House Historian and Genealogical Lecturer who specializes in southern New England research. She is the host of Fieldstone Common, a weekly radio show dedicated to northeastern history and genealogy.
April 9 Brighton: the Historic Neighborhood / This talk will trace the development of Allston-Brighton from its earliest years as part of Cambridge, its residential and commercial growth in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, annexation to Boston in 1874, and more recent immigration which has made it one of the city’s most embracing neighborhoods. Anthony Mitchell Sammarco is a noted historian and author of over sixty books on Boston, its neighborhoods and surrounding cities and towns. He lectures widely on the history and development of his native city. His most recent book, A History of Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon, was published last year.
April 23 Researching Your Jewish Ancestors in Old Boston Neighborhoods / Learn basic genealogical strategies for researching your Jewish ancestors from the Jewish neighborhoods of Boston. How to use online and local resources in your search, including the US records you need to find your 19th/early 20th century immigrant ancestors, the repositories and web sites where you can access them, some specialized Jewish sources, and the basics of how to use that information to begin to get back to the “old country.” Meredith Hoffman is a professional genealogist and popular lecturer. She is founding editor of the Success! Stories webzine on JewishGen.org, and KehilaLinks coordinator for Berezno, Ukraine, at JewishGen.org
May 7 Diaspora to the Boston Neighborhoods and Suburbs / James O’Connell will examine the migration of residents of Boston’s neighborhoods to surrounding suburbs during the twentieth century, drawing upon his recent book The Hub’s Metropolis: Greater Boston’s Development from Railroad Suburbs to Smart Growth (MIT Press, 2013). Mr. O’Connell is a Community Planner at the Boston Office of the National Park Service.
May 21 – Mining Family History – Gold in Local Archives and Speakers’ Round Table, with James Madden, Tunney Lee, Joanne Riley, Antonio Di Mambro, Kerri Greenidge, James O’Connell, Anthony Sammarco and Amy Schectman / The Boston area boasts dozens of Archives that are open to the and are goldmines for family and neighborhood historians, including records from 19th century social welfare organizations, mortuary records from the Massachusetts Catholic Association of Foresters, and the “Saturday Evening Girls” collection. Joanne Riley will provide pointers to the wealth of information preserved at local archives. The round table will tie together this year’s talks and give an opportunity for both speakers and audience to speculate on what kinds of changes are likely in the coming decade. Joanne Riley is University Archivist at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She co-founded the “Mass. Memories Road Show”, a state-wide public scanning and indexing project.