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Boston Globe Library collection

Identifier: M214

Scope and Contents

The Boston Globe Library collection, 4,239 cubic feet (4,376 boxes), documents the newspaper’s journalism of Greater Boston and New England from circa 1872 to 2003 through articles, images, and other related materials. The collection consists of four series: 1. Newspaper Clippings, 2. Microfilm, 3. Print Photographs, and 4. Negative Photographs.

The materials within this collection were arranged and described using the “More Product, Less Process” (MPLP) method of archival processing in order to make the collection accessible to the public in an efficient and expedient manner. Given the size of the collection, employing the MPLP method meant that materials are maintained in their original order and original enclosures at the folder, envelope, or similar level to save time and effort. As such, researchers may occasionally encounter materials that are slightly out of order.

Series 1. Newspaper Clippings consists of 2,644 cubic feet (2,540 boxes) of newspaper clippings dating from circa 1872 to 1991. The clippings were cut daily from the Boston Globe, the Boston Herald, and other local and national newspapers, and accumulated in envelopes by subject. The Globe clippings were taken from eight daily editions. Notes attached to Globe stories indicate if a story ran with a photograph, chart, or other illustration. Published corrections, clarifications, and editor’s notes were also added to stories in the clippings files by Globe librarians.

In 1977, the Globe developed a searchable full-text newspaper database to store each day’s edition, eliminating the need to manually index and file clippings. Due to storage constraints the clippings were also routinely weeded and/or preserved on microfiche. The microfiche is included in the clipping’s envelope.

The Globe Library’s filing system has been maintained. The series is arranged into five sub-series: A. Byline; B. Boston, Massachusetts; C. Massachusetts; D. Obituary Advance Research; and E. People. The description level is the first and last envelope in each box.

Sub-Series A. Byline contains articles written by Globe journalists. The byline is a credit line at the beginning of a news story giving the journalist’s name. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the journalist’s last name.

Sub-Series B. Boston, Massachusetts consists of articles on a range of subjects documenting the City of Boston’s education, architecture, infrastructure, neighborhoods, politics, and other major topics of interest. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Sub-Series C. Massachusetts—similar to Sub-Series B—contains articles documenting education, architecture, infrastructure, neighborhoods, politics, and other topics within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Sub-Series D. Obituary Advance Research are newspaper clipping files of world leaders and other significant persons collected in advance of their death in order to facilitate the writing of their obituary. They include government and political figures at local and national levels, as well as those involved with religious organizations, and philanthropic and arts institutions. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the person’s last name.

Sub-Series E. People contains articles that mention individuals such as athletes, authors, celebrities, military personnel, philanthropists, politicians, and religious leaders at the local and national levels. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the person’s last name.

Series 2. Microfilm consists of 72 reels (2 boxes) of microfilmed newspaper clippings dating from circa 1872 to 2000, arranged numerically by roll number. Between 1997 and 2007 the Globe librarians conducted a project to microfilm all files in the newspaper clippings series. How much of each sub-series was microfilmed is currently not known. The series is described at the item level.

Series 3. Print Photographs consists of 1,270 cubic feet (1,220 boxes) of print photographs dating from circa 1900 to 2003 (bulk 1950-2003). The approximately 1.5 million print photographs included in the collection were produced by Globe staff photographers, freelancers, and wire services such as the Associated Press and United Press International. To a lesser extent there are promotional photographs from sports teams, movie studios, and record labels. They document Greater Boston—its people, places, and institutions—as well as national and international topics and stories of import.

The print photographs date from circa 1900s, although the bulk of the collection begins in the 1950s due to earlier Globe collecting practices and weeding policies, as well as challenges brought on by early photographic processes and storage difficulties. Water damage also impacted the photographs after a 1987 flood in the Globe Library.

Many of the print photographs display crop marks, which are lines or similar markings used by photograph editors to indicate where the image is to be trimmed in preparation for publication. On rare occasions, print photographs may also exhibit retouching with pencil, ink, dyes, or airbrush paints. The verso (back) of each photograph includes the subject, date of the photograph, date of each publication, description and/or caption, photographer or wire service name, and publication specifications.

The Globe’s Library filing system has been maintained. The series is arranged into four sub-series: A. People; B. Boston, Massachusetts; C. Massachusetts, United States, and Countries; and D. Sports. The description level is the first and last folder in each box.

Sub-Series A. People includes photographs of a vast range of local, national, and international figures, from local leaders such as Frieda Garcia and Melvin H. King, to John F. Kennedy and Julia Child, to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Pope John Paul II, among many others. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the person’s last name.

Sub-Series B. Boston, Massachusetts consists of images documenting the City of Boston’s education, architecture, infrastructure, neighborhoods, politics, and other major topics of interest. These include major events such as the development of the Central Artery and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, construction of the Prudential Center and the redevelopment of South Boston, Boston Public Schools desegregation and busing throughout the 1970s, and beyond. Also included are more general topics, from parking lots to garbage, and local events, festivals, and theatre and musical productions. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Sub-Series C. Massachusetts, United States, and Countries covers an even broader range of historical moments, mainly throughout the twentieth century. Topics include various United States Army, Air Force, and Navy bases, presidential elections, mountain ranges, cities and towns throughout the fifty states, and political and cultural history of other countries, as well as countless, more general subjects like bicycling, bridges, and snowstorms. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Sub-Series D. Sports consists of two sub-series: I. People, and II. Teams.

Sub-Series I. People consists of photographs of amateur and professional athletes, coaching staff, and sports personalities at the local and national levels. Subjects include head and group shots, promotional stills, and special events including award ceremonies and charity events. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the person’s last name.

Sub-Series II. Teams consists of photographs of local and national sports teams from high school to the professional leagues. Subjects include game action shots and fans. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by the sport then team.

Series 4. Negative Photographs consists of 351 cubic feet (656 boxes) of photograph negatives dating from circa 1973 to 2003. An estimated 5.7 million negative photographs are in the collection; approximately 90% of the negatives have never been published or seen by the general public.

The series is arranged into three sub-series: A. 24 Hours in Boston; B. Daily Assignments; and C. Sports. The bulk of the negatives are found within the Daily Assignments sub-series. In each sub-series the negatives remain in the original order in which they were received and are not necessarily in chronological order. The description level is the first and last envelope in each box.

Sub-Series A. 24 Hours in Boston documents a typical 24-hour period in Boston in 1993. Unfortunately, the exact date and times have not been recorded on the assignment envelopes, so no order or subject matter is immediately apparent.

Sub-Series B. Daily Assignments consists of photojournalists’ assignments arranged chronologically in envelopes that are labeled with the date, photographer name, and assignment. Most topics are Boston-centric, as they were taken by Boston Globe staff photographers, although some national news is covered as well. Negatives that were published in the Globe are marked by holes punched in the perforated area of the photographic negative strip.

Each date can potentially have hundreds of negatives, covering all the topics of the day, as well as general images of the Greater Boston area. For example, negatives from the Globe on September 8, 1975—the first day of Boston’s school busing and desegregation program—includes images of Charlestown High and South Boston High; busing to Charlestown, English, Hyde Park, and other high schools; the Fens, Boylston Street, and the Boston Public Gardens; Molotov cocktails seized in Jamaica Plain; fires on Marlboro street; police officers at school and in front of the South Boston Court; and protests at the Federal Buildings.

Sub-Series C. Sports consists of photographs of the 1996 Beanpot Tournament, the 1992-1993 Boston Celtics, and the 1989-1995 Red Sox. No other boxes of material of this type have been located, so the original filing intent is unknown at present. Some additional sports events from local high schools to professional leagues can be found in Sub-Series B. Daily Assignments. The sub-series is arranged alphabetically by team and then chronologically.


  • Creation: circa 1872-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1925-2003


History of the Boston Globe and its Library Collections

The Boston Globe was founded in 1872 by a group of Boston businessmen led by Eben Jordan, co-founder of the Jordan Marsh department store. Despite nearly 150 years of publication, the newspaper endured a rocky start. Pitched to inaugural advertisers as “Something New in Journalism,” the paper’s first issue was published on March 4, 1872, and cost four cents. However, losses in the Great Boston Fire of 1872 and low circulation depleted the Globe’s founding capital of $150,000 within a year. Charles Taylor, then a 27-year-old magazine publisher, was brought on board as the newspaper’s first business manager in 1873.

Within three weeks of his arrival, Globe circulation rose from 8,000 to 30,000. Taylor is credited with several innovations that increased the Globe’s reach. He added illustrations to articles, ran full-page advertisements, and installed machinery for folding and trimming the newspaper. He also lowered the price of the Globe to two cents, expanded readership to women and children with family pages, and made it a rule that “news should be given impartially,” making the Globe welcome in households across the city. In 1877, Taylor launched the Boston Sunday Globe, and by 1886 the Globe reached 100,000 in daily and Sunday circulation. In 1887, he introduced an afternoon edition called the Evening Globe, which continued until 1979.

Taylor remained publisher of the Globe until his death in 1921, and his heirs retained management of the newspaper through three generations. William O. Taylor published the paper from 1921-1955, William Davis Taylor from 1955-1977, and finally Benjamin B. Taylor from 1997-1999. More recent publishers have included Richard H. Gilman (1999-2006), P. Steven Ainsley (2006-2009), Christopher Mayer (2009-2014), and John W. Henry (2014-present).

For more than a century, the Boston Globe has been Boston’s newspaper of record and the largest paper in New England. The paper achieved its national prominence under editor Thomas Winship, who led the newsroom for two decades from 1965-1984. During Winship’s tenure, the Globe’s daily circulation grew to 520,000 and Globe Sunday circulation topped 792,000. The paper won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for an investigation into the professional qualifications of Judge Francis X. Morrissey, a Kennedy family friend and nominee for an appointment in the federal judiciary.

In 1971, the Boston Globe became the third newspaper — after the Washington Post and the New York Times — to publish the top-secret Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War. The Globe won another Pulitzer in 1975 for its coverage of the Boston school busing crisis, and over the last fifty-two years has garnered 26 more Pulitzers for photography, commentary, and coverage of local, national, and international news stories. More recent Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage included the 2001-2003 investigative reporting on sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church — dramatized in the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” — as well as the paper’s 2014 coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Originally positioned in downtown Boston on State Street, the Globe was located on “Newspaper Row,” or Washington Street, from 1881 to 1958. That year, the paper relocated to its iconic plant on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. In 1967, the former Globe building on Washington Street was demolished. In 2017 the Globe moved back to State Street, just one block from its original location.

The Globe’s library was founded when the paper’s offices were relocated to 244 Washington Street in May 1881. The first librarian, Edson W. White, oversaw the filing of clippings and images, and the gathering of additional reference materials to support the research and information needs of the Globe newsroom.

Other head librarians included William Alcott, who served from 1922 to 1940 and rearranged the library’s organization, as well as Eugene Elliott, Mary H. Welch, and Edward W. Quill, who implemented and supervised the transition to microfilm and implementation of weeding strategies. Lisa Tuite, who first joined the library in the early 1970s, served as the head librarian until 2017. Many of the Globe head librarians were active in and became leaders of the Newspaper Group of the Special Libraries Association.

Throughout the twentieth century, the Globe library grew to a 16-person reference service and background research clearinghouse for the newspaper’s reporters and editors. Countless articles written by Globe staff include lines of thanks and credit to Globe librarians across many topics, and library staff actively produced articles and timelines over the years as well. These included end-of-year news columns in the 1920s that recounted each year’s significant news events, as well as more recent pieces on Boston history dating into the twenty-first century.

Beyond maintaining the growing reference and photographic collections and working directly with Globe writers, artists, and other staff members, Globe librarians also answered community reference requests, fielding queries from genealogists, research questions from doctoral students, and court subpoenas. From the late 1980s until 2001, the Globe library staff wrote an “Ask the Globe” column, responding to queries about certain news items and related resources in the library collection. The column also offered advice on using the collections and making requests.

Physical access to the Globe library’s research room and stacks was generally limited to the Globe librarians and staff. On occasion, however, the library staff welcomed occasional tours, especially for those in the library field interested in the special filing system and photo morgue collection and management practices maintained by the librarians. Some of the tour groups included such organizations as the New York State Library School at Albany (April 1926), the Boston Chapter of the Special Libraries Association (October 1938), and librarians from other Canadian and American newspapers (June 1972). Tours often included displays of the map and clippings collections, as well as explanations of the unique filing system for the Globe library’s extensive collections.

By April 1926 the library contained 3500 volumes of reference works, about 200,000 subject files containing 1,600,000 clippings, 150,000 photographs, and 60,000 photographic metal half-cuts. When the Boston Post closed in 1956, the Globe purchased its photograph archives, adding these to the collection. The library further collected materials that came in through the Associated Press, a wire service to which the paper has had access since 1887, and library staff-maintained images and articles from the Associated Press as part of the reference materials in the collection.

By 1970, the collection was believed to have about 4 million newspaper clippings, 500,000 photographs, and 35,000 metal photographic cuts; as of 1968 the cuts were contained in one electromechanical unit called a Kard-Veyer, and the photographs were kept in electromechanical file units called Lektrievers.

In addition to the physical collections, the Globe was the first American newspaper to create a searchable electronic cache of public stories in 1980, and in 2010 the Globe digitized microfilm of the paper from 1872 to 1980, making all published articles available digitally. The Globe also started digitizing daily photographs in 1994.

Though resources were weeded, and materials streamlined with the advance of technology, by the 2017 move to State Street the Globe library included more than 5 million photographic negatives, 1.5 million photographs, and countless newspaper clippings collected for reference use from the paper and other news sources. The Globe library continues today, though with a reduced physical space and staff. The majority of the historic collections were transferred to Northeastern University during the move, where they are now accessible not only to Globe staff, but the general public as well.


1872 February 4
Lewis Rice, Maturin M. Ballou and his son Murray Ballou, Stephen Niles, Seman Klous, Samuel A. Carlton, and Dr. Henry E. Townsend meet at Rice’s home to discuss plans for the Boston Globe, set to launch on March 4, 1872. All of these men, as well as Eben Jordan and Cyrus Wakefield who were not present that night, are the original incorporators of the Globe Publishing Company.
1872 March 4
First issue of the Globe is published. It costs four cents.
1872 March-October
The Globe’s original capital shrinks from $150,000 to $30,000 under Maturin Ballou’s management.
1872 November 9
Great Boston Fire destroys many Boston businesses in the downtown area.
1873 June
Maturin Ballou resigns and Charles H. Taylor is invited to replace him. City editor Clarence Wason becomes managing editor.
1873 August
Charles H. Taylor begins his work at the Globe as the paper continues to lose money and debts increase.
1873 September
Maturin Ballou, Murray Ballou, and Seman Klous give up their shares in the Globe.
1873 November
Charles H. Taylor is elected director of the company and two weeks after that is elected clerk of the corporation.
1873 December 6
Charles H. Taylor signs contract as general manager.
Edwin Munroe Bacon is appointed as the new editor.
Sunday edition is added.
Afternoon edition, Boston Evening Globe, is added.
1881 May
Move to "Newspaper Row" at 244 Washington Street, where it was located until 1958.
The Globe Library is founded.
Named "largest newspaper" in the country outside of those in New York City.
Access to Associated Press wire service; retained as part of reference materials in the library.
William O. Taylor replaces Charles H. Taylor as publisher.
Laurence Winship becomes editor.
William Davis Taylor becomes publisher upon the death of his father, William O. Taylor.
Boston Post photograph archive is purchased.
Move to Morrissey Boulevard.
Thomas Winship becomes editor.
First Pulitzer Prize won for investigation into Judge Francis X. Morrissey to the federal bench.
Company becomes a subsidiary of Affiliated Publications and goes public.
William O. Taylor II becomes publisher of the Globe.
Publication of the Boston Evening Globe ceases.
Globe creates searchable “electronic cache of public stories”.
1993 October
Taylor family sells the Globe and Affiliated Publications to the New York Times Company.
Digitization of daily photographs begins.
October 1995
Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc. launches, a website offering news and information about Greater Boston and becomes a major source of advertising revenue.
Benjamin B. Taylor, William O. Taylor II’s younger cousin, takes over as publisher of the Globe.
New York Times Company executive, Richard H. Gilman, takes over as publisher and is the first person outside the Taylor family to hold that role.
P. Steven Ainsley is named publisher of the Globe and head of the New England Media Group.
2009 April
After losing much of its circulation and profits after its sale to the Times Company, the Times threatens to close the Globe unless unions agree to $20 million in concessions.
2009 July
Unions agree to $10 million in cuts, including cuts to pay and benefits, which ends the threat of closure.
Christopher Mayer becomes publisher.
Globe announces split of digital news into (free site) and (paid subscription site).
2011 September
Globe launches and enters the digital subscription market.
Globe begins printing and delivering the Boston Herald.
NYT Company sells the newspaper to Boston-based businessman, investor, and Red Sox owner John W. Henry.
2017 June
Headquarters move to Exchange Place at 53 State Street, one block from original location and printing operations move to Myles Standish Industrial Park in Taunton, Massachusetts.
Globe library collections transferred to Northeastern University during move to State Street.


4,239 cubic feet (4,388 containers)




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Boston Globe Library collection, circa 1872-2003 (bulk 1925-2003)
In Progress
Daniel Lavoie, Jill Chancellor, Jessica Chapel, Eliza Gilmore, Jane Kelly, Kimberly Kennedy, Emily Mathay
January 22, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US