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Northeastern’s Boston research center creates a new model for preserving local history

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The Harriet Tubman House Memory Project is one of four Boston Research Center efforts to preserve local history. The Harriet Tubman House, a community center which stood at 566 Columbus Ave, in Boston's South End neighborhood from 1975 to 2020, was demolished in 2019 but lives on through a detailed digital history hub created by the BRC. Northeastern University Library, Archives and Special Collection

The corner of Massachusetts and Columbus avenues used to be something more than a flattened lot. It used to be more than just another in a long line of mixed-use development sites with condos in Boston.

For the residents of the South End neighborhood, it was the Harriet Tubman House. Founded in the early 20th century as an autonomous space for and by Black women on Holyoke Street, in 1975, it became a community center run by United South End Settlements until it was sold in 2019 to help keep the organization afloat. Ultimately, it was demolished.

The house was a fixture of Boston’s Black community, but its century-spanning history–the kind that doesn’t get told in museums or textbooks–was in danger of getting lost with the demolition too. Fortunately, the building’s history and the community’s memories were saved through the hard work of residents who banded together under the I Am Harriet coalition, USES itself and the resources and ingenuity of the Boston Research Center.

Continue reading at News@Northeastern.

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