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Teaching with Archives

Teaching with Northeastern's Archives and Special Collections 

The Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections is proud to offer a robust array of opportunities for experiential learning with archival records. The classes, workshops, and experiences we offer equip participants to locate, read, and engage with primary sources such as documents, photographs, local newspapers, and architectural plans related to the history of Boston’s social justice organizing as well as Northeastern’s history. Through our sessions we establish foundations of primary source literacy, an inclusive understanding of local history, and principles of ethical and data inflected storytelling. 

We have partnered with Northeastern professors, Boston Public Schools educators, National Parks Service rangers, and greater Boston community members to offer workshops to all ages.

Are you interested in learning through the Archives and Special Collections records about Northeastern and Boston's history? We would love to work with you.

Planning a Session

  • Request your session a minimum of two weeks in advance to plan and book space for a session. 
  • We offer instruction during our business hours of 8:30am to 5:00pm. 
  • Virtual instruction sessions are availble using our digitized archival collections
  • Planning a workshop or instruction session begins with reaching out to either Molly Brown, the Reference and Outreach Archivist or Regina Pagani, the Arts, Humanities, and Experiential Learning Librarian. In your email include the following:
    • Potential dates for Archives visit (including time of day)
    • What skills or knowledge you hope attendees will attain at the end of the session.  
    • Topics or collections that may be of interest to work with during the session.  

If you are curious about visiting the archives with a group but are unsure about the specifics, please reach out to Molly Brown and she would be happy to email, arrange a phone call or in person meeting to discuss how the Archives and Special Collections can serve you in an interactive visit. 

Sample Classes


Archives Orientation (Used with History 1000) 

This session introduces students to the scope of collections and resources available in the Library and Archives through a tour from their liaison librarian that ends in the Archives and Special Collections. An open house style viewing of the variety of records held by the Archives are pulled for students are to explore. The goal of this session is to introduce students to the staff and resources in the library that can support their curricular and co-curricular interests.  

Introduction to Primary Source Research Session (Used with Political Science 7387/Global Governance)

This session introduces students to Archives and Special Collections and how to research the variety of materials within them. The goal of the session is to equip students with primary source research skills for upcoming term papers and dissertations. After this session students will: understand how to analyze and extract information from a variety of types of archival records, learn archival policies and archival research habits to benefit primary source research, leave with an understanding of how to locate archival records relevant to their research. 

Exploring Visual Resources (Used with Architecture 2330: Architecture, Modernity, and the City) 

This session introduces students to resources from the Boston Globe Library Collection's print photographs series. In Architecture 2330 students explored visual records specific to the Emerald Necklace. The goal of this session is to have students engage in critical placemaking through historic visual resources and use archival photographs to understand the development and use of an area overtime. After this session students will: become familiar with the visual resources available in the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, understand how to extract and analyze information from archival photographs, critically reflect on how historic records inform a modern understanding of place.  

Introduction to Boston's Latinx History (Used with National Parks Service's Historias de Boston program) 

This session was designed to introduce youth participating in a self-determined oral history/cultural documentation project to the types of histories of Latinx communities in Boston through archival records. This session served as a tone setting introduction to what history looks like in record form. Participants were asked to think how oral histories or interviews could enrich archival records and continuing telling and preserving the stories of Latinx communities in Boston. 

Storytelling with Archives (Used with ENGL 1410: Introduction to Writing Studies) 

The goal of this session is to demonstrate how to build a timeline and story from archival material. During the session students will practice extracting date, name, and event information from a variety of archival material in small groups and will then attempt to build a story from the variety of data extracted from all members at the class. Students will leave this session familiar with archival research, primary source analysis, and creative composition of historic information. 

If you are interest in a session like these or would like to discuss further options, contact Molly Brown or Regina Pagani. We look forward to speaking with you!