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Resources Documenting UMass Boston History

This research guide explores materials that document the history of the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Overview of the UMass Boston Research Guide

Finding information about the University of Massachusetts Boston can be as complex and challenging as the structure and history of the university itself or as simple as checking UMass Boston Fast Facts or the History of UMass Boston. The object of this research guide is to bring together resources available in or through the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, primarily the University Archives and Special Collections department, for researching questions about the history of UMass Boston.

Learn about the differences between primary and secondary sources here.

If you need further help, don't hesitate to contact us!

A Brief History of UMass Boston

The city of Boston has long been known as a center for higher education with thirty-five colleges, universities, and community colleges currently located within the city limits. Until the middle of the twentieth century, these were private institutions that were inaccessible to many of Boston’s young men and women of a lower socioeconomic status. However, during the 1960s, an unprecedented growth in both enrollment and the diversity of students who were attending universities and colleges highlighted the need for a public university in Boston. Students were coming from more diverse backgrounds and pushed for a democratized higher education system. In 1963-1964, there were just over 170,000 students enrolled in Massachusetts colleges and universities. Of this number, 78.2% attended private institutions and 21.8% attended institutions in the public sector. This private/public ratio was dramatically different than that of the national trends, where enrollment in public higher education institutions at this time far outnumbered those attending private institutions.


The University of Massachusetts was the only public university in the state and it was located in Amherst -- nearly 100 miles away from the state capital and largest city. In 1964, UMass Amherst had rejected 1,400 applicants from Boston and thus sparked the campaign to fund an affordable, public university to provide higher education to a wide population of students who could not afford the hefty prices of the private colleges. On June 16, 1964, the Massachusetts State Legislature established a Boston campus for the overburdened University of Massachusetts in order to solve their enrollment issues and the absence of a public university within Boston, a city saturated with private colleges and universities. This newly minted school became the second university in what is now the UMass system with an appropriation of $200,000 from the state. Until this point, UMass Amherst had been the only public university in the state and it was nearly 100 miles away.


The University of Massachusetts Boston’s first home was the former Boston Gas Company building located at 100 Arlington Street in the Park Square section of downtown Boston. The first class of students fulfilled the mission to provide educational opportunities to students in Boston who otherwise, due to social or financial constraints, would be left out of higher education. Of the 1,240 students all but five were Massachusetts residents. The campus officially opened on September 9, 1965 and was located downtown for the next ten years.


Although the buildings were cramped and offered few amenities, application numbers continued to grow. The typical UMass Boston student was not the fresh from high school matriculant, but was older with an average age of twenty-three. Vietnam veterans and African American students were particularly drawn to UMass Boston more than any other university in the city and through the 1960s, their matriculation numbers continued to grow. Today, UMass Boston still remains one of the most racially and ethnically diverse universities in the United States and still attracts vast numbers of veterans.


The downtown campus was ideal as a location with the different subway lines and buses converging in the area, but the buildings were not ideal for building a university campus. The library was located down the street in a building that was originally an armory for the First Corps of Cadets, a Massachusetts military organization established in 1741, now known as “The Castle at Park Plaza.” Expansion of the downtown campus would only further scatter the student population. In 1968, it was announced that a new location was being sought to build a campus that would suit the needs of a growing university, and its faculty, administration, and students. Despite student and faculty protests to remain in the downtown location, Columbia Point was eventually chosen as the site on which to build a cohesive campus with all the amenities expected for a college campus, such as an athletic facility, a well-stocked library, student lounges, and cafeterias.


Resistance was not isolated to the students and faculty once the Columbia Point location was chosen. Residents there feared that the influx of students would drive their rents up and push them out of their neighborhood as had been seen in the Allston-Brighton neighborhood with Boston University’s campus expansions. With help from the Columbia Point Community Development Council and the Dorchester United Neighborhood Association, residents were eventually assuaged and building began. The new campus opened its doors in January 1974, and the university community settled into McCormack and Wheatley halls, the Science Center, the Healey Library, and the Quinn Administration Building.

In 1982, the Board of Regents of Higher Education announced a merger of Boston State College and UMass Boston. Economic pressures dictated budget cutbacks for the two schools and a merger would help solve financial constraints and expand the degree offerings of UMass Boston. Although the merger happened quickly, it was not a smooth transition as hoped. UMass Boston decided to eliminate duplicate programs and only brought on programs that did not have an equivalent at the Columbia Point campus, such as education, nursing, and many graduate studies programs. In the end, this merger gave UMass Boston the push to expand its degree offerings and become a larger part of the community which resulted in a strengthening of public higher education in Massachusetts and boosted its enrollment.



Feldberg, M. (2015). UMass Boston at 50: A fiftieth-anniversary history of the University of Massachusetts BostonLD3234.M27 F45 2015.


Selected Books

Search the UMBrella for books and other publications about UMass Boston. Search for terms like "UMass Boston" and "University of Massachusetts Boston." To generate a list of more specific search results, click "Edit Search" and then click the "Advanced" tab. Try filtering your search term by title or subject, and choosing different options under type or format.

Commencement Programs

Search and browse our collection of digitized UMass Boston commencement programs from 1969-2010.

Course Catalogs and Course Schedules

Click the links below to view digitized copies of UMass Boston course catalogs and course schedules from 1965-2012, which are available through the Internet Archive.







Historic Documents

Search and browse our collection of digitized UMass Boston historic documents.

Scholarly Works

Selected Works
D'Arrigo, Diane, "Higher Education in the 1960's: The Origins of the University of Massachusetts Boston" (2004). American Studies Graduate Final Projects. Paper 1.

Search the Healey Library's catalogScholarWorks, or WorldCat for dissertations, theses, and other scholarly works about UMass Boston.

UMass Boston Mass. Memories Road Show

Search and browse digitized materials that were collected during the UMass Boston Mass. Memories Road Show on May 2 and 3, 2014.

UMass Boston Memories - Oral History Collections

Search and browse the UMass Boston Memories - Oral History Collections, which preserve recollections and oral history interviews contributed by members of the University of Massachusetts Boston community through formal and informal collection projects.

University Photographs

Selected Photographs

UAPHO-0004 University of Massachusetts Boston, Publications Office photographs, circa 1966-2000

This collection contains photographs and slides from the Publications Office at UMass Boston. Materials include photographs, contact prints, promotional photographs, positive and negative transparencies, slides, notes, and correspondence. Many of the photographs in this collection have been digitized and are now available on Open Archives at UMass Boston.

University Archives Historic Photographs

More than 3800 historic photographs of UMass Boston, Boston State College, and their predecessors have been digitized and are available online.

University Publications

Selected Publications

This collection contains 17 issues of Wavelength, a student-produced magazine. Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy on the Internet Archive.


UAPUB-0006 University of Massachusetts Boston: Howth Castle, 1985-1993

This collection contains the 8 issues of Howth Castle, a student-produced literary magazine. Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy on the Internet Archive.


UAPUB-0007 University of Massachusetts Boston: The Watermark: A Journal of the Arts, 1993-2014

This collection contains 23 volumes of The Watermark: A Journal of the Arts, a student-produced literary magazine. Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy on the Internet Archive.


UAPUB-0008 University of Massachusetts Boston: Mass Media

The Mass Media is UMass Boston's student newspaper. Issues from 1966-2011 are available online through For more recent issues, see the Mass Media's website.

UAPUB-0023 University of Massachusetts Boston: C.R.U.M.B., [1970]-1973

This collection contains three issues of C.R.U.M.B., a student magazine at UMass Boston. Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy through Open Archives at UMass Boston.


UAPUB-0024 University of Massachusetts Boston: Loam, [1975?]-1979

This collection contains six issues of Loam, a literary/arts magazine for UMass Boston students' creative work. Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy through Open Archives at UMass Boston.


UAPUB-0031 University of Massachusetts Boston: Office of Public Relations news releases, 1971-1977

This collection contains the news releases published by the Office of Public Relations at UMass Boston.

Search and browse university publications and campus newsletters from 1965-2009 in ScholarWorks.

University Records

Selected Records

These records document the planning activities for the UMass Boston campus in Boston. Materials include consultant's reports, memoranda, meeting minutes, planning documents, state acts, statement of purpose, and materials documenting the Founding Convocation.

These records document the search by University of Massachusetts for a permanent campus site in Boston in the late 1960s, the various sites considered, and the public reaction to the move to Columbia Point. Materials include consultant's reports, maps, memoranda, press releases, correspondence, and statements for and against the campus on Columbia Point.

This collection documents the activities of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts at UMass Boston from 1971-2009, particularly the activities of the CAS Senate and course and program development. Materials include notes, reports, correspondence, memos, resumes, budgets, strategic plans, accreditation, enrollment status reports, and more. 

These records document the establishment of the Moakley Chair of Peace and Reconciliation at UMass Boston.  Materials include budgets, conference drafts, correspondence, event invitations, meeting minutes, news articles, notes, programs, and publications.

These records document the activities of the History Department at UMass Boston, particularly the founding of the Master of Arts program in History. Materials include articles, brochures, correspondence, course descriptions, faculty lists, meeting minutes, notes,pamphlets, proposals, reports, reviews, and speeches.

These records document the activities of the Office of Enrollment Services at UMass Boston. Materials includes plans, reports, and surveys.

These reports were produced by the Division of Student Affairs at UMass Boston between 1976 and 1978.

These records document the activities of the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston and documents UMass Boston's original library, the Armory Library at the downtown campus. Materials include newspaper clippings, correspondence, invoices, lists, memoranda, news releases, notes, pamphlets, proposals, receipts, reports, and VHS.

This collection documents the beginning and the development of the Women's and Gender Studies Department. Materials include meeting minutes, by-laws. proposals, correspondence, statistics, course materials, program booklets, publications, articles, photographs, and cassettes.

This collection documents the administration and operation of the WUMB radio station at UMass Boston from 1969-2012. Materials include original and photocopied documents, official records, notes, correspondence, playlists, program guides, surveys, performance agreements,CDs, cassettes, and more.

These records comprise of salary lists for staff and faculty at UMass Boston from 1991-2009.

This collection documents the opening of the Columbia Point campus of UMass Boston.

These records document the activities of the Office of Alumni Affairs at UMass Boston. Materials include brochures, correspondence, fact sheets, flyers, meeting minutes, memoranda, newspaper clippings, photographs, and resumes and curricula vitae.

These records document the activities of the Office of Admissions at UMass Boston. Materials include data sets, maps, meeting minutes, memoranda, statistical charts, and working papers.

This collection documents the activities of the Accreditation Steering Committee at UMass Boston following an evaluation of the University by the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education. Materials include memoranda, drafts of standards for accreditation, and self-study reports.

This collection documents the activities of the Facilities Planning Office (previously known as the Planning and Development Office) at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Materials include articles, building floor plans, bulletins, correspondence, invoices, lease drafts, lists, maps, memoranda, newspapers clippings, photographs, proposals, and reports.

This collection documents the activities of the UMass Boston Budget Office. Materials include budget process summaries, budget requests, memoranda, mission statements, reports, reviews, and spending plans.‚Äč

This collection documents UMass Boston's renovation and use of buildings in Park Square, Boston, including 100 Arlington Street and 250 Stuart Street. Materials include brochures, budgets, floor plans, invoices, leases, memoranda, newspaper clippings, notes, proposals, reports, surveys, and work requests.

This collection contains the outgoing correspondence of F. Donald Costello, Director of Placement at UMass Boston. 

This collection documents the activities of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning at UMass Boston. Materials include long range plans, five year plans, enrollment reports, correspondence, and memoranda.

This collection documents the daily activities and special events of UMass Boston Human Rights Working Group and the creation of a human rights minor at the university. Materials include daily meeting records, event advertisements, and human rights research.

This collection documents the activities of the Sociology Department at UMass Boston during the 1970s, particularly the Curriculum Committee. Materials include minutes, memoranda, reports, proposals, interview transcripts, correspondence, and notes.

This collection documents the activities of the Office of the Provost. Materials Include meeting minutes, agendas, course additions and change forms, and course guides and descriptions.

These records document the activities of teh Gerontology Institute. Materials include publications, program booklets, correspondence, photographs, beta tapes, cassettes, VHS tapes, and 16mm film reels.


UAPUB-0004 University of Massachusetts Boston: Yearbooks, 1969-2010

The UMass Boston yearbooks have had three different names through out the years: Montage (1969-1977), Harbor Light (1978-1983), and The Beacon (1984-present).  Click any of the issues listed below to access its digital copy on the Internet Archive.


Harbor Light

The Beacon


Research guide created by Corinne Zaczek Bermon, Archives Assistant, September 2016.

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