The Gerald R. Gill Papers at Digital Collections and Archives
Posted on March 26, 2017 by Daniel Santamaria | Categories: events, exhibits, features, news | | |

Gerald R. Gill was a beloved faculty member in the History Department of Tufts University from 1980 to 2007. In those twenty-seven years he had a profound and lasting impact on the lives of his students and the Tufts community as a whole. This past fall Digital Collections and Archives accessioned nearly 150 boxes of material documenting Professor Gill’s life and work. The collection of papers, photographs, and digital files documents Gill’s teaching, research, and the lives and work of black faculty, staff, and students at Tufts.

Gerald R. Gill

Gerald R. Gill

Professor Gill was well known for his mentorship of his students, and for developing relationships that often extended beyond the students’ years at Tufts. He won numerous awards for teaching at Tufts and was twice named Massachusetts Professor of the year. Professor Gill was heavily involved with community service, working with students and student groups at Tufts and serving as a frequent commentator on events and topics involving Boston’s African American community on radio, television, and at community events. Professor Gill’s papers include hundreds of letters and photographs from students who thanked him for his mentorship or just provided updates about their lives. Gill also collected material on Tufts students, alumni, and faculty of color. The flyers, photographs, and documents in the collection demonstrate the powerful connections formed between Gill and the Tufts community.

Students on the Tufts Campus. Photograph from the Gerald R. Gill Papers.

Students on the Tufts Campus. Photograph from the Gerald R. Gill Papers.

Professor Gill’s scholarship focused on African American protest movements. His dissertation, Dissent, Discontent and Disinterest: Afro-American Opposition to the United States’ Wars of the Twentieth Century, evolved into published articles and a book project. At the time of his death, he was working on a history of African American protest in Boston, Struggling Yet in Freedom’ s Birthplace: Black Protest Activities in Boston, 1930-1972. Professor Gill’s work researching the African American community at Tufts resulted in “Another Light on the Hill” published in Tufts Magazine’s sesquicentennial issue, the first major history of African American undergraduates at Tufts. As President Bacow wrote in a message to the Tufts community after Professor Gill’s death, “helped us understand Tufts and its history in ways that many had not appreciated before.”

Beyond the Barricades Forum Materials, 1990

Beyond the Barricades Forum Materials, 1990

Professor Gill passed away suddenly in August 2007. In September 2016 his daughter, Ayanna Gill, donated nearly 150 boxes of records documenting his life and work to Tufts Digital Collection and Archives (DCA). Archives staff are currently working to process and describe the collection but an initial finding aid is available and the papers are open by appointment in the DCA reading room.

Beginning March 31st selections from the Gill Papers will be on exhibit in the Tisch Library lobby and a celebration of the Gerald Gill and Gill Papers will take place as part of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy’s symposium “The Past Present and Future of Black and Native Boston,” also on March 31st in Breed Memorial Hall. Digital Collections and Archives is also planning a long-term project to create an online exhibit based on Gerald Gill’s Another Light on the Hill, the first iteration of which will be available the week of March 27th. For more information on Gill Papers, please consult the finding aid or send us an email at

Samuel Berger Exhibit Case at DCA
Posted on May 16, 2014 by Leah Edelman | Categories: exhibits, features, news | | |

Tufts DCA is proud to welcome a new addition to our office: the Samuel Berger Exhibit Case! Generously donated by the Berger family, the case will display items from the Samuel Berger Tufts Memorabilia Collection (MS159) on a rotating basis.

Dr. Samuel Harry Berger (1948-2009) graduated from Tufts University School of Medicine in 1973 before beginning an accomplished career as a pediatrician. Because of the strong connection he developed with Tufts during his years in medical school, he began collecting Tufts memorabilia related to all of Tufts’ schools and colleges and became well versed in the history of the university. Dr. Berger passed away on January 19, 2009, and his wife, Marlene Berger, generously donated her husband’s collection of memorabilia to DCA in 2013.

Stop by the DCA on the Ground Floor of Tisch Library to view the exhibit, which features items from the Berger collection related to sports at Tufts, representations of Jumbo (the university’s beloved mascot), and images of Tufts buildings. Highlights include athletics letter patches, a Jumbo charm bracelet from 1934, early 20th century Wedgwood china with images of Jumbo and iconic Tufts buildings including Ballou Hall and Goddard Chapel, and a 1947 calendar featuring photographs of the Tufts campus alongside the text of “Along the Row,” the title poem from a book of poetry about Tufts by former professor John Holmes.

This exhibit was designed and installed by Leah Edelman, Archives and Research Assistant, in May of 2014. It will be on display until further notice. For more information on the Samuel Berger Tufts Memorabilia Collection, stop by the DCA on the Ground Floor of Tisch Library.


Data migration success
Posted on February 27, 2014 by Erin Faulder | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , |

Here at the DCA we manage a lot of material. We have images, folders of documents, ground breaking shovels and other three dimensional objects, digital files, books, and A/V material. In order to manage the material effectively, we need a system that helps us identify, describe, and locate it all.

In 2010 we undertook a project to replace our old collection management system with a new tool that would help us do our job better. This tool is an open source web-based application called CIDER (source code can be found on GitHub.) However, creating the application was only the first step of replacing our old system. We also had to migrate all of the data that existed in the old system to CIDER.

The migration process was no small feat. We had over 600 collections to migrate. Some collections had only a handful of records. Others had thousands of records. We had to standardize, clean up, check the accuracy, and transform all of the existing data before we could import it into CIDER. Once it was in CIDER, we had a complex QA process to ensure that every piece of information was migrated accurately and completely. Each record was touched at least four times before it was considered complete. It took some excellent coordination, motivation, and commitment from those who helped the process go forward and the staff who had to work in an environment where our our data was in two different places at once!

We are happy to announce that the migration and QA process is now complete and we wanted to share some statistics from the process:

  • There were nearly 250,000 records migrated as part of this process.
  • The first collection was frozen in the old system to prevent changes to the data was on December 20, 2011.
  • The QA process was finished on the final collection, 26 months later, on February 24, 2014.
  • A quarter million records in 616 collections averages to about 406 records per collection.
  • On average, we were able to migrate approximately 2200 records per week.
  • Three people worked part-time on the first step of migrating data from one system to another
  • Six people worked part-time on the final QA steps.

Chi Omega Christmas party for South End House

Time to pull out the tinsel and throw a party!

Gone when the morning comes
Posted on January 31, 2014 by Deborah Kaplan | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , , , |

Today is my last day at Tufts DCA, and I keep dwelling on all the things I love about this place. There’s what I I love about Tufts University; today on my way into work, as I walked past the straw bales they put against trees so local kids sledding down the hill won’t hurt themselves, I thought about how one of the things that drew me to Tufts in the first place was how it is a member of the surrounding community. There’s also DCA, and everything I will miss here. Of course there’s the people and the work and everything that we’ve accomplished in the time I’ve been here, but let’s face it, it’s easier to blog about my favorite elements from our collections. Therefore I present for you:

Deborah’s list of five treasures she’s enjoyed finding in our collections, in no particular order:

  1. Outerbridge Horsey“. I know this record doesn’t look like much but I am so fond of Mr. Horsey. He’s my favorite name in the entire A New Nation Votes project. One thing I love about the Outerbridge Horsey family is that they understand how truly wonderful the name is: Outerbridge Horsey VII is alive and a practicing architect in Georgetown.
  2. Dog with sign protesting new dorms“, 1978. How can anyone not love this beautiful dog, who is very adamant that there should be no dorms.
  3. The Ginger-Beer Man“, 1890. This gregarious fellow has been my go to image for testing search for years.
  4. Marine Technology Transfer and the Law of the Sea“, 1984. This is a doctoral dissertation, submitted to the faculty of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, by the current dean of the Fletcher School. In between that dissertation and his current position as Dean, he was NATO Supreme Commander Europe. I am always so fascinated by the non-academia experience of the Fletcher faculty.
  5. I don’t have any particular favorites from the This I Believe collection, but I like the collection so much not just because I’m proud of how much work we put in to making this audio + transcript interface have lovely usability and accessibility, but because the content in general makes the 1950s real to me. Here’s a nice sampling: Annie Fisher, 1954, Nazrat Farooki, 1954, Vita Sackville-West, 1953, Yaroslav Chyz, 1952, Louis Brandeis, 1952, Violet Bonham Carter, 1952. What I love about This I Believe is how it blends famous people and regular Joes so seamlessly, without any presumption by either the show or the speakers that the two classes of speakers are any different from one another.

Woman leaping over a track and field hurdle, with one leg parallel to the floor in front of her and another parallel to the floor behind her
Diane Pilson, November 1979

Welcome, Liz!
Posted on January 16, 2014 by Anne Sauer | Categories: news | | 1 comment  Tagged:  |

We are pleased to welcome Liz Francis to DCA, who has joined us in a term appointment in the Records Archivist position. She has already become a key contributor to the archives team. I asked Liz to write a little something to introduce herself here. Stop by and say hello if you’re in Tisch. Welcome, Liz!

I am thrilled to join Digital Collections and Archives as Records Archivist. Stepping in to replace Veronica Martzahl, now Electronic Records Archivist at Massachusetts State Archives, I am grateful to my predecessor for, well, keeping such good records. My role at DCA is to oversee the intake of new collection material, both physical and electronic, and to process incoming collections to ready them for researchers. Jumping right in, the first collection I tackled, with the help of talented Tufts student assistants Elyse Werling and Grace Tam, was the Mobius records – more than one hundred boxes of materials documenting thirty years of experimental and performance art in Boston. Stay tuned for future blog posts about this important collection.

Before joining DCA in November, I assisted researchers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, processed archival collections at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and researched digital preservation strategies for the MIT Libraries. A long-time Boston resident, I am excited to delve into the rich history of Tufts and the exotic Somerville/Medford borderlands. My initiation begins with some background reading, Jumbo: This Being the True Story of the Greatest Elephant in the World by Paul Chambers. Outside of Tufts, I participate in the wider archival community by volunteering with our regional professional organization, New England Archivists, and our national organization, the Society for American Archivists.

If you see me around campus, don’t hesitate to challenge me to a Jumbo trivia face-off. And if you would like to discuss your own records, contact me anytime at

Tufts Alum Eugene Fama Wins Nobel Prize
Posted on November 12, 2013 by Timothy Walsh | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , , , , |

Here at DCA, we receive a number of reference requests relating to Tufts graduates who have gone on to do amazing things. For some of these graduates, their career trajectories must have been easy to predict from the time they came to the hill. Oliver Platt and Hank Azaria, both noted actors, performed in a number of plays as undergraduates in the Drama department. Gregory Maguire, author of many books, including Wicked, completed his Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Tufts. Gordon S. Wood, the Pulitzer Prize winner who was perhaps immortalized by a certain bar scene in Good Will Hunting, graduated summa cum laude from Tufts, where he began his academic studies in history.

Sometimes, however, Tufts graduates go on to make their mark in unexpected ways. Eugene Fama, one of this year’s recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science, is one such example. Fama, the Robert R. McCormick Distinguished Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, spent his time at Tufts studying not economics but French.

However, while Fama’s eventual chosen field might have come as a surprise to some of those who knew him here at Tufts, his level of success likely has not. As an undergraduate, Eugene Fama was a busy, well-rounded, and high-achieving student. In addition to playing both football and baseball, Fama was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sword & Shield, and the Society of Scholars. He won a number of awards, including the Cotter Prize for excellence in French, and was selected for Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. In his senior year, Fama received a fellowship for graduate study at the University of Chicago, where he earned an MBA and Ph.D. in economics and finance and then remained to teach.

Eugene Fama (left) winning Morgan Stanley-American Finance Association Award, 2008

Congratulations to Eugene Fama – yet another Jumbo making us all proud.

To see Tufts materials related to Eugene Fama and other notable Jumbos, stop by DCA Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, send us an email, or give us a call at (617)627-3737.

Journal highlights New Nation Votes Project
Posted on May 30, 2013 by Veronica Martzahl | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , |

The latest issue of the Journal of the Early Republic is composed of articles written using data found in the voting records which comprise the A New Nation Votes project. The opening article by Caroline F. Sloat provides a succinct introduction to the history of the project and to Phil Lampi, the gatherer of the data (and 2013 Tufts honorary degree recipient.) The Journal is full of articles by premier scholars who have long been associated with the project, including John L. Brooke, Donald Ratcliffe, Rosemarie Zagarri, and Andrew W. Robertson. Yet, to me, the most exciting article is by Lampi himself in which he discusses the resurgence of the Federalist Party between 1808-1816. My first job at Tufts was doing data entry for Virginia votes for this project. I had studied history during my undergraduate education (mostly European, admittedly), and was just returning to graduate school to get a masters degrees in library science and history. I was immediately taken by the number of Federalists who where running in – and winning – elections in Virginia well past the end of the War of 1812. All of the scholarship I had encountered previously told me that the Federalist party was long dead and buried by this point. But here was the data showing this conventional wisdom wasn’t supported by the numbers. This one encounter showed me the power this data holds, and I am very heartened whenever Phil gets to share what he’s found and whenever he gets the recognition he so truly deserves.

I would strongly encourage you to check out your local library to access this Journal. If they don’t carry the print copy, see if they subscribe to JSTOR or ProjectMUSE online resources.

Commencement 2013
Posted on May 20, 2013 by Veronica Martzahl | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , , , , |

Congratulations to Lois Gibbs and Phil Lampi on receiving honorary degrees during the Tufts University’s 157th Commencement on May 19, 2013.

Lester, Gibbs, Sauer, and Lampi at reception

Stephen Lester and Lois Gibbs from the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice with Philip Lampi from the American Antiquarian Society and Anne Sauer, Director and University Archivist, Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives

Phil Lampi with his honorary degree

Phil Lampi with his honorary degree

Announcing release of Center for Health, Environment and Justice finding aid
Posted on May 17, 2013 by Veronica Martzahl | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , , , , |

The DCA is pleased to announce that the finding aid for the papers of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice is now available.

cover image for Love Canal book by Lois GibbsThe Center for Health, Environment and Justice was founded in 1981 by Lois Marie Gibbs. The organization began as an information clearinghouse for environmental health issues and developed into an organization that focuses on raising awareness for environmental health concerns and assisting communities, organizations and individuals faced with environmental threats. CHEJ publishes a quarterly newsletter, Everyone’s Backyard, and works on campaigns that raise awareness of significant environmental threats to communities across the country and abroad. CHEJ works by conducting conversations with community leaders about their problems and provides advice, leadership training, education and assistance. Through this approach they are able to address a large number of environmental threats and empower communities to take action on their own.

Ms. Gibbs will be on campus this weekend to receive an honorary doctor of public service degree at Tufts’ commencement on Sunday, May 19, 2013.


DCA celebrates honorary degree recipients
Posted on April 29, 2013 by Veronica Martzahl | Categories: news | |  Tagged:  , , , , , , |

The DCA staff was overjoyed to see the announcement that Philip Lampi and Lois Gibbs are among the 2013 recipients of honorary degrees. Both Phil and Lois are amazing people who are hugely deserving of this honor, and they are near and dear to all of us at DCA.

Researcher Philip J. Lampi and project director John B. Hench of the American Antiquarian Society

Researcher Philip J. Lampi and project director John B. Hench of the American Antiquarian Society

As the New Nation Votes elections portal states, Philip J. Lampi has been collecting election returns for the past 45 years. His dedication and expertise in the area of Early American Politics has aided many contemporary scholars in their research at the Society. In the past, this body of election data was thought to be impossible to collect because of the vast and unwieldy nature of the unindexed newspapers and poor record keeping in this early period. He has received several grants over the years to assist him in his collecting. Under the current NEH grant, project staff and consultants at the American Antiquarian Society, DCA, and elsewhere are working to digitize a good portion of the tens of thousands of typed and handwritten tabulations and raw source materials that Lampi has accumulated as part of his life’s work. The project website will be updated frequently to monitor progress. The available election returns are fully searchable by such key index points as year, geographical constituency, office, names of candidates, and party labels.

Lois Gibbs is an environmental activist who formed the Love Canal Homeowners Association after discovering that her entire neighborhood of Love Canal, Niagara Falls, New York, had been built on a toxic waste dump which also included dioxin. Against strong opposition by local, state and federal government agencies and Occidental Petroleum, the organization succeeded and President Carter issued an Emergency Declaration in October 1980 to get 833 families evacuated and Love Canal cleaned up. Lois Gibbs and the association were instrumental in the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Gibbs founded the Citizens’ Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste, eventually Center for Health, Environment and Justice in 1980 to support and assist community groups and is its executive director. She has published about Love Canal and their efforts to get it cleaned up and a TV movie was made in called ‘Lois Gibbs: the Love Canal Story.’ Lois’ papers, as well as those of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice are held by the DCA. A new finding aid for the collection will be released in the next few weeks.