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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 and 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 Lecco's Lemma, a local rap music show that was founded by Magnus Johnstone and ran from 1985 to 1988 on college radio stations WMBR (88.1 FM) and WZBC (90.3 FM). 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 Founder

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.Honors 292: Hip-Hop Oral Histories: This collection includes interviews conducted in 2018 by UMass Boston students as part of a course co-taught by hip-hop artist and visiting lecturer Akrobatik.
  • 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.
  • Lou Cove photographs: This collection includes 15 photographs taken of breakdancers in Fanieul Hall in Boston in the summer of 1985.
  • 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.
  • Robin Radin photographs: This collection includes 10 photographs that the photographer took related to hip-hop in Boston in 1984 and 1985.
  • "Show 'Em Whatcha Got" Mass. Memories Road Show: The Hip-Hop Edition (2018 and 2022): 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. In 2022, the Archives held a second hip-hop themed Mass. Memories Road Show event that captured an additional 50 images and more than 20 video interviews. Explore the collection.
  • Tony Rose and Yvonne Rose Collection: In the summer of 1989, Roxbury born music executive and president of Hit City Recording Studio, Tony Rose, launched “Boston’s first black dance-music-video television show” (Hit City Recording Studio Press Release) in collaboration with director Dan Richardson. The collection online currently includes a recording of the locally-produced show, Dance Slam, from 1989..

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.

Citing Archival Materials

Citing physical item: 
Item title or description, date. Collection name, box number, folder number. Repository name.

Example: Citywide Coordinating Council daily monitoring report for Brighton High School by Nancy Mitchell, November 21, 1975. W. Arthur Garrity, Jr. chambers papers on the Boston Schools Desegregation Case, box 7, folder 91. University Archives and Special Collections Department, Joseph P. Healey Library, University of Massachusetts Boston.

Citing digital item:
Item title or description, date. Collection name. Repository name. Item URL. Date accessed.

Example: Lecco's Lemma Radio Show, 1986 January 18. Lecco's Lemma collection. University Archives and Special Collections Department, Joseph P. Healey Library, University of Massachusetts Boston. Accessed 8 November 2022.

See also the following style guides for citing archival material:
APA Style
Chicago Manual of Style
MLA Style

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