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Expos 20 | Whose Boston?


This resource guide has been designed for students in  Whose Boston?, an Expos 20 course taught by Willa Brown.

ether monument boston public garden designed john quincy adams ward 1868The resources and strategies described on this page are specifically targeted: they represent our first best guesses at where you might begin reading around for a topic for your unit 3 essay.

Remember that good research is often about following up on hunches, testing out a hypothesis and then seeing where else (or to what else) it leads. You may need to try several search combinations before you strike gold. 

Let me know if questions arise at any point in your project. We'll triage by email or set up a time to meet in person.  

Enjoy your work! 

Sue Gilroy, Librarian for Undergraduate Programs for Writing, Lamont Library

Above, left, The Ether Monument and Fountain ("The Good Samaritan"), Boston Public Garden, designed by John Quincy Ward Adams, 1868.

Exploring for an Essay 3 Topic





Wonderfully detailed information, both primary and secondary, on local history topics like Crime in Boston, Baseball, Boston Disasters, Transit History, Boston's Great Fires, Boston's  LGBTQ History, Filene's Department Store archives, Anti-Slavery  and more.




A compendium of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives. Digital Commonwealth currently has over 88 member institutions from across the state.

This site provides access to thousands of images, documents, and sound recordings that have been digitized by member institutions so that they may be available to researchers, students, and the general public.





A full-text collection of major U.S. dailies, and thus a way to find out more about individuals and incidents which were newsworthy at the time. Among the more than 30 papers you can search via this database are the Boston GlobeHartford CourantNew York TimesWashington Post, and some ethnic and African American titiles.

Bills itself as the largest online newspaper archive consisting of 158 million+ pages of historical newspapers from 15,500+ newspapers from around the United States and beyond




Produced by the Dow Jones company, this database covers local, regional, national, international and some broadcast news.  It's the place to search for relatively recent issues of the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, for example.  A couple of notes:

1) results will display in reverse chronological order so resort by relevance, if that helps you target good information more quickly;

2) the system default is to search the most recent 3 months, so change the date range if you need to before you execute a search. 


A current, interdisciplinary, bilingual (English and Spanish), and comprehensive full text database of the newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press.



A collaboration between the Boston Public Library, Cambridge Community television, Northeast Historic Film and WGBH Educational Foundation aims to bring to life local news stories produced in and about Boston from the early 1960’s to 2000.

Since 1968, Vanderbilt has recorded the major news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC  and, since the advent of cable, CNN and Fox News).  Clips, when not available online, are described and sometimes transcribed, but they also be ordered via Interlibrary Loan.  


Subject Databases: Some Scholarly Conversations Beyond HOLLIS

Research projects often require you to look close up at a body of inquiry produced by scholars in a particular field.  This research is typically collected, codified, and made findable in a tool called a subject database. You'll use them to complement, supplement (and sometimes, depending on the project, instead of) HOLLIS.

Every academic discipline has at least one subject database that's considered the disciplinary gold standard -- a reliable, (relatively) comprehensive, and accurate record of the books that scholars are publishing, and the ideas they're debating and discussing in important and influential journals. 

Databases are like lenses: they change what you see and how you see it -- and they offer you easy and efficient ways to bring your questions into sharper focus. Three to consider exploring for Essay 3: