The Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection is a digital library of scanned archival materials documenting the desegregation of Boston’s public schools. The Collection brings together materials from numerous Boston-area institutions and covers the time period beginning with the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) and focusing on the Morgan v. Hennigan case (1974) and the court-ordered plan to desegregate the Boston Public Schools (BPS). The collections document the implementation of busing students to different neighborhoods to rebalance the racial makeup of schools, the resulting citywide unrest, and developments in Boston school desegregation efforts in the following decades.
This website is an entry-point to the Boston Public School Desegregation Collection and a place for educators, students, activists, researchers, and anyone with a general interest in the history of Boston school desegregation and “busing” to begin investigating primary sources and to find supplemental resources and curricular materials.
“The central issue is not transportation; it is equal protection under the law.”
- Jesse Jackson (New York Times, March 8, 1982)
The most intense period of school desegregation in Boston is oftentimes referred to as the “Boston Busing Crisis,” identifying the historical moment with the violent backlash to busing. This backlash is most certainly reflected across our collections, such as in anti-busing chants distributed at protests or angry letters written to Federal Judge W. Arthur Garrity. At the same time, school desegregation was much more than busing alone, as reflected in the Morgan v. Hennigan decision itself and its far-reaching effects including the desegregation of BPS administrative staff and faculty. In these collections you will also find, for example, information about Civil Rights activism leading up to desegregation, the role of Latinos and advocacy for bilingual education, the hard work of parents and students in the implementation of desegregation, and the reflections of participants years later.
Digitized materials from the various institutions are brought together in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). To immediately begin searching the Boston Public Schools Desegregation Collection materials, search in the DPLA search widget to the right. Discover the many other ways of exploring and accessing these materials through our Using the Collection page.