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Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and Researching Hip-Hop

This Research Guide provides information about Hip-Hop Collections in the Healey Library at UMass Boston and provides researchers with information about doing research about hip-hop more broadly.

Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive and Hip-Hop Collections at UMass Boston

Photograph description from the Mass. Memories Road Show: 'A Phi Ki in the house, 1980s.  Spinning at Cambridge VFW.  Pictured: Malcolm (Malibu) and myself Troy Ellerbee (Terminator).’ Contributor: Troy Ellerbee.In 2016, University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston launched the Massachusetts Hip-Hop Archive with an initial donation by Pacey Foster of recordings from the Lecco's Lemma radio program, a local rap music show that was founded by Magnus Johnstone and ran from 1985 to 1988. The Lecco's Lemma collection contains nearly 300 demos by local artists that were given to Magnus, as well as nearly 200 recordings of the show made by Willie "Loco" Alexander.

As we continue to develop this new collection area, we welcome donations of archival materials from musicians, DJs, break dancers, graffiti artists, producers, promoters, and fans that will help us document the rich heritage and legacy of hip-hop culture in Boston and Massachusetts.

Click here to learn more about contributing materials to the collection.

Browse hip-hop-related articles on our online newsletter, Open Archives NewsSubscribe to our newsletter here to receive notifications of newly-processed collections. Contact us at if you have hip-hop materials that you would like to donate to us.

We welcome guidance from community members regarding our acquisitions, collection-building, and programming. If you're interested in learning more, contact us.

Andrew Elder, University Archivist and Curator of Special Collections
Carolyn Goldstein, Public History and Community Archives Program Manager
Pacey Foster, Faculty Advisor and Community Liaison

Digital Collections

  • Cindy Diggs (AKA “Mother Hip Hop”), center, with contributors at the Mass. Memories Road Show. Diggs served as Director of Hip-Hop Community Engagement for the event.Lecco’s Lemma Collection: Lecco’s Lemma was a local rap music radio show founded by Magnus Johnstone that ran from 1985 to 1988 on local college radio stations WMBR (88.1 FM) and WZBC (90.3 FM). The Lecco’s Lemma Collection contains both artist demos that were given to Magnus, as well as recordings of the show made by Willie “Loco” Alexander, who regularly taped the show throughout its run.
  • Massachusetts Rock Against Racism: Massachusetts Rock Against Racism (RAR) came together at a time when the City of Boston and its surrounding areas were "rocked by racism." This was especially focused on the youth population as court-ordered desegregation and busing intensified problems. Designed to confront issues of racism in the Boston area, RAR used popular music and mass media as educational tools to address race relations for high school kids and the community. The RAR organizational records are part of University Archives and Special Collections at UMass Boston and include more than 80 videos of a range of RAR-produced concerts, performances, panel discussions, and other programs and events. Explore the collection.
  • "Show 'Em Whatcha Got" Mass. Memories Road Show: The Hip-Hop Edition: More than 200 community members joined us at the Boston Public Library in 2018 to share photographs, objects, and memories at “Show ‘Em Whatcha Got” Mass. Memories Road Show: The Hip-Hop Edition. In all, we collected nearly 300 digital images of items ranging from photographs and concert posters to t-shirts and album covers. We also recorded more than 40 video interviews with community members. Explore the collection.


Archival and Manuscript Collections

Magnus Johnstone and Willie Alexander: Lecco’s Lemma collection, 1984-2014, bulk 1986-1988

Massachusetts Rock Against Racism records, 1979-1987, bulk 1982-1987

WUMB-FM records, 1969-2012

Explore all of our archival and manuscript collections that document the history of hip-hop in Boston.

To access collections held outside of UMass Boston, search ArchiveGridWorldCat, and the Digital Public Library of America. Search for "hip-hop" and related keywords. 


Search UMBrella for books about hip-hop. Try searching for keywords like "hip-hop," "hip hop," etc.



Search and browse all of the Healey Library's newspaper databases.


Search these video databases for "hip-hop" and related keywords.

Healey Library | University of Massachusetts Boston | 100 Morrissey Blvd | Boston, MA | 02125-3393 | 617-287-5900