What happened and when?

Timelines always tell some sort of story, depending on where they begin and end, and what they include and exclude. The following timelines tell different parts of the history of Boston school desegregation, and descriptions of the different formats and scope are included to help educators and researchers identify the ones best suited to their needs.

Etching from Anti-Slavery Almanac, Boston, 1839 of Sarah Roberts turned away from a school
“Turned Away from School,” Anti-Slavery Almanac, Boston, 1839.

Racial Equity History Project Timeline

The Racial Equity History Project was the collaboration of the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity (MORRE), the Boston Resilience Collaborative (BRC), Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections, and the Harvard-Mellon Urban Initiative: Boston Portal. The project produced an interactive timeline that integrates text and images and presents histories of racial injustice and structures of inequality in the City of Boston including histoires of “social resilience through community involvement and activism that moved spaces and institutions and policies toward justice and equity.” The timeline covers from the late 1600s onwards and places Boston Public School desegregation within a broader context of the fight for racial equity in the city’s history.

A page from NAACP Boston's typewritten timeline

Freedom Schools NAACP Timeline

This six-page document from the Phyllis M. Ryan papers at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections was produced by the Freedom Schools sometime in the late fall of 1963 and gives a detailed chronology of a controversy between the Boston NAACP’s Education Committee and the Boston School Committee. The timeline begins on June 11, 1963 when at a Boston School Committee meeting, NAACP leaders charged that there was de facto segregation in Boston Public Schools. When the School Committee failed to meet the NAACP’s demands to acknowledge the de facto segregation or take steps to address the issue, over 8000 students engaged in a school boycott. During the protest students attended community-run Freedom Schools.

A page from "A Timeline of Boston School Desegregation, 1961-1985"

A Timeline of Boston School Desegregation, 1961-1985

Produced by Jeremy Wolff at the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at Northeastern University School of Law for the Union of Minority Neighborhoods, this timeline provides a thorough and detailed chronology of events with an emphasis on the period between 1964 and 1976. The over-100-page timeline pays particularly close attention to legal cases and includes extensive footnotes.

First page of the "Desegregation-era Records Collection" guide

Boston City Archives Desegregation-era Records Historical Timeline, 1951-2004

The Boston City Archives Desegregation-era Records is a group of records drawing from a wide range of city departments. The guide to the collections includes a historical timeline that extends from 1994 and 2004 and includes the Boston Latin School Case and the 30th anniversary of Morgan v. Hennigan. The guide also lists common abbreviations for groups, offices, and other organizations commonly found in Boston Public School desegregation records.

Photo of a law enforcement officer in front of school buses arriving at South Boston High School, Jan. 8, 1975.
Buses arrive at South Boston High School, Jan. 8, 1975. (AP Photo)

Boston School Desegregation And Busing: A Timeline Of Events - WBUR Learning Lab

WBUR’s Learning Lab, a site dedicated to reporting on education reform and innovation in Massachusetts, hosts an interactive timeline on Boston School Desegregation from 1855 through 1999, with the greatest emphasis on 1974-1976. The timeline incorporates images and a few links to archival footage and interviews.

A page from Citywide Educational Coalition’s "Desegregation Timeline, 1963 – 1972"

Citywide Educational Coalition’s Desegregation Timeline, 1963 – 1972

The “Desegregation Timeline - 1965 to 1972” created by the Citywide Education Coalition is a typed, 14-page timeline arranged as a table with so that for each month there are different columns with one listing key issues and events, one for a more detailed summary of events, and another column for identifying key people involved. The timeline was created by the organization in 1972 and is part of the Citywide Education Coalition’s records at Northeastern University’s Archives and Special Collections.