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Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts records

 Collection
Identifier: M139

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the efforts of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts to administer programs created by the National Urban League to create social and economic self sufficiency among African Americans and other communities of color. Records date from 1968-2007 and cover such topics as career development and counseling, job skills and readiness training, and academic enrichment. Other topics include civil rights, school reform, and race relations in the city of Boston. Programs that were designed to foster self-esteem in young unemployed fathers (Boxes 8-10 and 13); employment opportunities for older adults (Boxes 4-5, 8-10 and 13); career exploration careers in the areas of technology and automotive repair (Box 6); and the development of leadership skills among youth are also documented (Boxes 5 and 6). Records include proposals, grants and contracts, correspondence, program descriptions, meeting minutes, and strategic plans, and progress reports. Photographs are also included.

Dates

  • 1953-2007 (bulk 1985-2000)

Creator

Conditions Governing Access:

The collection is unrestricted.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts (the League) began its work in 1917 when a group of citizens met to discuss ways to help the growing number of black migrants from the South and immigrants from the West Indies to find housing and employment in Boston's Roxbury neighborhood. Once established, it became an affiliate of the National Urban League and incorporated, in 1919, as the Boston Urban League. When the League first opened, it offered the same services as settlement houses; however, its focus quickly shifted to education and employment opportunities. As an affiliate of the National Urban League, it administers the programs and services that are designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated by the Office of the Vice President of the National Urban League.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Urban League of Greater Boston strove to improve the social and educational conditions of blacks. In the 1950s, it participated in creating legislation against discrimination in housing and held housing clinics, advocated for fair employment policies in local companies, and formed a committee to find ways to improve adoption and foster home care. Also, the League was a member of the South End Rehabilitation and Conservation Program, which sought to increase the economic viability and preserve the existing housing in the South End. During the Civil Rights Era of the 1960s, the League continued to administer programs in education and employment. Moreover, it began to strengthen its advocacy role by taking leadership positions on issues such as voter education, affordable housing, and racial equality in the areas of education and employment.

In the early 1970s, the League withdrew from the United Services Fund and consequently lost its main source of funding. Urban renewal, the desegregation of the Boston public schools, and high unemployment called for an increase in social services for the black community. In response to this need, the League of Eastern Massachusetts was established in 1973 to serve the residents of Boston's Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain, and Mattapan neighborhoods. In 1976, the Skills Bank, a counseling and placement service, was put into operation to assist unemployed and underemployed workers to find meaningful work. Also during this time, the League collaborated with the United States Government to bring programs to residents through the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). The Seniors in Community Services Program (Mature Workers Program), which provided older adults employment opportunities in non-profit and community services organizations, is a result of this collaboration.

Throughout the 1980s, the League offered programs in career exploration, community development, and on-the-job-training. Youth programs provided career development and part-time work opportunities, leadership training, and skills training. In addition, a collaborative effort with a local secretarial school resulted in an intensive office skills program that included classroom learning and actual business experience. Programs that made minority adoption more accessible, established apprenticeship positions in the construction trade, and attended to the needs of young unemployed fathers were also included. In the late 1980s, the League resumed its role as an advocate for people of color by monitoring issues such as school reform, racism and discrimination problems, and child care and child welfare. In addition, a program was established at the David A. Ellis Elementary school in Roxbury that promised children a fully paid college or vocational education upon completion of high school; and the League began publishing a newsletter and collaborating with organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the Black Ecumenical Commission of Massachusetts, and the Citywide Educational Coalition.

In 1990, the National Urban League underwent a reorganization and identified two priorities: education and career development, and employment and job training. In 1993, the Urban League partnered with the Efficacy Institute to help elementary school students achieve a higher level of academic and social competence. Youth programs were designed to develop leadership and academic skills, promote sexual responsibility, and emphasized violence prevention. In 1994, the Employment Resource Center was established in response to the unmet employment need in the African American community. The Center performed outreach and job-readiness training, case management, and job placement. The creation of the Technology Training Institute in 1997, which provided computer skills training and technology education, was the result of a partnership between the National Urban League, NYNEX, and the City of Boston. Advocacy remained a vital function of the organization and throughout the 1990s it was engaged in such issues as school reform, economic development in the African American community, and racism and discriminatory practices. To publicize its views the League gave testimony at legislative and community hearings, hosted forums, and published statements and editorial pieces in the press.

In 2007, the League offers an array of programs and services such as the BostonWorks Resource Center, (which offers an extensive on-line guide to employment opportunities), employment and professional job skill training, technology training, and an automotive repair training course. Programs for youth and families focus on academic, social, and emotional development by promoting family literacy and encouraging parent involvement in their children's education. Summer camp opportunities, small business development, and health awareness workshops are also offered by the League. There are two auxiliary organizations within the League: the Young Professionals Network, which seeks to advance personal and career development in young people living in Boston; and The Urban League Guild, is comprised of members and donors who assists the League with service delivery and fundraising activities

Chronology

  • 1919 Boston Urban League becomes an affiliate of the National Urban League.
  • 1926 Boston Urban League incorporates.
  • 1944 Boston Urban League becomes the Urban League of Greater Boston
  • 1972 Urban League of Greater Boston closes.
  • 1973 Urban League of Greater Boston reopens under the name Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.
1919
Boston Urban League becomes an affiliate of the National Urban League.
1926
Boston Urban League incorporates.
1944
Boston Urban League becomes the Urban League of Greater Boston
1972
Urban League of Greater Boston closes.
1973
Urban League of Greater Boston reopens under the name Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts.

President/Chief Operating Officer Chronology

  • 1977-1980 Emory N. Jackson
  • 1981-1983 Shirley O. Hicks
  • 1984-1988 Donald L. Polk
  • 1988 William J. Brown, Interim President
  • 1989-2000 Dr. Joan Wallace Benjamin
  • 2001 Barbara E. Edelin, Interim President
  • 2001-present Darnell L. Williams
1977-1980
Emory N. Jackson
1981-1983
Shirley O. Hicks
1984-1988
Donald L. Polk
1988
William J. Brown, Interim President
1989-2000
Dr. Joan Wallace Benjamin
2001
Barbara E. Edelin, Interim President
2001-present
Darnell L. Williams

Extent

13.5 cubic feet (14 containers, 6 flat file folders)

Overview

The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, (a community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans and other people of color to enter into the economic and social main stream), began its work in 1917 when a group of citizens led by Eugene Kunkle Jones met to discuss ways to help the growing number of black migrants from the South and immigrants from the West Indies find housing and employment in Boston. Once established, it became an affiliate of the National Urban League and incorporated in 1919 as the Boston Urban League. When the League first opened, it offered the same services as settlement houses; however, its focus quickly shifted to education and employment opportunities. In 1973, the organization was incorporated as the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, and it continues to offer programs and services that are designed to promote economic and social self sufficiency among African Americans and other communities of color in Boston. As an affiliate of the National Urban League, it administers the programs and services that are designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated by the Office of the Vice President of Programs of the National Urban League.

Overview

The collection documents the efforts of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts to administer programs created by the National Urban League to create social and economic self sufficiency among African Americans and other communities of color. The Urban league of Greater Boston and the Urban League Guild, which is the volunteer fundraising arm of the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. Records date from 1968-2007 and cover such topics as career development and counseling, job skills and readiness training, and academic enrichment. Other topics include civil rights, school reform, and race relations in the city of Boston. Programs that were designed to foster self-esteem in young unemployed fathers; employment opportunities for older adults; career exploration careers in the areas of technology and automotive repair; and the development of leadership skills among youth are also documented. Records include funding proposals, grants and contracts, correspondence, program descriptions, meeting minutes, and strategic plans, newsletters, and photographs.

System of Arrangement:

Organized into five series: 1. Governance; 2. Administration; 3. Development and External Affairs; 4. Programs; and 5. Audio-Visual material and Memorabilia.

Physical Location

58/3-4, FF6/D9

Related Materials:

Citywide Educational Coalition records (M130)
Roxbury Multi-Service Center records (M109).

The Archives and Special Collections Department capture the website content of the Urban League Of Eastern Massachusetts, which is accessible at: http://wayback.archive-it.org/1747/*/http://www.ulem.org./

Bibliography

  • Annual Reports, 1984-1985, 1990, 1994, 2002, and 2005 (Box 1).
  • Urban League: General, (Box 4).
  • "A Refocused Urban League", (Box 4).
  • http://www.ulem.org. Accessed July 29, 2007.
  • Roxbury Multi-Service Center, Board of Director Minutes: 1970-1972, (Boxes 2-3).
Title
Finding aid for the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Kimberly Reynolds with the assistance of Gena Pliakas and Tamara Gaydos
Date
July 31, 2007
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US