During the spring and summer of this year, I collaborated on an exhibit, Desegregating Boston Schools: Crisis and Community Activism, 1963-1977
, with Sarah Melton
and Dr. Eric Weiskott
. The main exhibit is at the John J. Burns Library, and a smaller complementary exhibit is on view in the Reading Room, Level 3, Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr. Library. Curating this exhibit required doing research in special collections at John J. Burns Library, specifically in the Louise Bonar and Carol Wolfe collection
, Citywide Coordinating Council Records
, and the Robert F. Drinan, SJ Congressional Papers
One aspect of this exhibit was to create visualizations and infographics using racial demographic data for the City of Boston, racial distribution of students within the Boston Public Schools, and outcomes of the Boston School Committee election of 1973. The data for these visualizations was drawn from the materials in the Bonar/Wolfe collection, Citywide Coordinating Council Records, 1970 Census, and Analyze Boston.
To complement the materials in the exhibit in the John J. Burns Library, which include a map depicting the total black population in the City of Boston (1970) juxtaposed with the wards won by the only black candidate—Patricia Bonner-Lyons, who ran for the Boston School Committee in 1973—I created these three density maps. The maps were created with tract-level 1970 Census data, which depicts the neighborhoods within the City of Boston as established by the Bureau of the Census. The shading (light to dark) of each neighborhood correlates with the number (low to high) of people according to race, as documented in the 1970 Census. From these visualizations it is easy to see that neighborhoods, including South Boston, West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Jamaica Plain were predominantly white, while the neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester were predominantly black.
Density map depicting population according to racial demographics (white, black, and hispanic) in the City of Boston, ca. 1970. (Click on the image to open the interactive map in separate tab)
There are many different GIS platforms and tools available, but for this project I used Tableau Public a freely available software that enables you to create interactive data visualizations (not just maps!). The neighborhoods in these maps are created with a shapefile that I generated from the Neighborhood Change Database 1970-2010. Tableau Public provides the option to connect a spatial file, which will then allow you to render a spatial visualization and identify the specific dimensions (for this map: population by race) that will be shown in an info box upon clicking or hovering over the map.
Dimensions are visible in the pop-up box.
The full workbook for this visualization can be downloaded from the “City of Boston 1970 (test)” page on my Tableau Public profile page.
Digital Scholarship Group members Sarah Melton and Anna Kijas, and Assistant Professor of English Eric Weiskott, have curated a new exhibit about the desegregation of Boston Public Schools, on view at the John J. Burns Library until February 2018.
In 1954, the United States Supreme Court declared separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional (Brown v. Board of Education). The ruling for desegregation provoked significant backlash from white communities and their elected officials across the country for several decades. De facto segregation, where racial concentration across neighborhoods resulted in the schools being predominantly minority or majority populations, continued nationwide after 1954. Activists continued to push for desegregation before and after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 respectively prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin and racial discrimination in voting.
In 1965, Massachusetts was the first state to legally prohibit racially imbalanced schools (Racial Imbalance Law of 1965). Nonetheless, de facto segregation persisted in the state, prompting a 1974 federal ruling (Morgan v. Hennigan) mandating Boston school redistricting and busing to promote greater racial balances. With resistance to desegregation in the community, this landmark decision spurred both activism and riots in the 1970s and 1980s.
Drawing from materials in the John J. Burns Library collections, the exhibit looks back on the controversies and crises that ensued, examining the facts, figures, and effects of desegregation in Boston Public Schools.
The Digital Scholarship Group is pleased to announce the newest exhibit on our touch table, For Everything, There is a Season: Japanese Woodprints in the Ukiyo-e Style.
The exhibit draws from the Burns Library’s stunning collection of Japanese prints. Featuring twenty prints, the selection highlights woodblock print art from the 17th-19th century Ukiyo-e period in Japanese art. This period focused on the “floating world”— “the emerging culture of pleasure, parties, and a preoccupation with the present moment” —of cultural elites, such as sumo wrestlers, kabuki actors, and courtesans (6). The chosen images depict a transition from abundant snow, to torrential downpours, to, finally, the blooming of cherry blossoms.
Come visit the exhibit, available on the 3rd floor lobby of O’Neill Library and in the lobby of the Burns Library! A special thank you to Ayoola White, our ARL Mosaic intern, for coordinating the exhibit.
Header image: Eizan Kikukawa, Three Fashionable Beauties Cooling Off in the Evening, woodblock print, ink and color on paper, circa 1814-1817. Box 2, Folder 9, Japanese Prints Collection, MS.2013.043, John J.Burns Library, Boston College.