The Boston Teachers Union (BTU) is the collective bargaining agent for employees of the Boston Public School System (BPS): teachers, non-administrative professional employees, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. The BTU was charted in 1945 as Local 66 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and elected as the collective bargaining agent for BPS teachers in 1965. As of 2022, the union currently represents 7700 active members and 3317 retired members.
In 2018, BTU Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Drinan approached the University of Massachusetts - Boston to initiate a project to collect and archive the union's records and its history. The Boston Teachers Union Collection has since grown into three distinct collections: the Boston Teachers Union Digitizing Day, a community-based collection project held at BTU headquarters in November of 2018; the Boston Teachers Union Oral History Project, an in-depth oral history project with BTU leaders, organizers, and members, exploring education and organizing in Boston; and the digitized and physical issues of the BTU union newspaper, the Boston Union Teacher, from 1963 to 2010 (377 digitized issues in total, though not a complete run). The BTU has also donated print records--including a full run of contracts as well as meeting minutes, scrapbooks, and other ephemera--that UMass Boston is in the process of processing.
The collection has also inspired a significant and ongoing digital public history project between the BTU and UMass Boston. In Spring 2022, UMass Boston Professor Nick Juravich initiated Exploring The Boston Teachers Union Collections, an online project wherein graduate students explored and developed digital content from BTU records and in conversation with union members and leadership. The project has produced new digital scholarship and provides a gateway into the Boston Teachers Union collections held at UMass Boston.
This research guide was created by Evan P. McDonagh and Kayla Allen as part of their work for Nick Juravich's course, HIST 682: Topics in American History, Digital Public History: Teacher Organizing in Boston, during Spring 2022.