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Social Justice Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Call Number: MS 7403

Scope and Contents

This collection contains eight boxes of activism-related ephemera from 1968-1983, documenting changing American ideologies at the grassroots level in Boston and Cambridge. Particularly strong topics represented in the collection are Boston’s busing crisis, boycotts of major companies such as J.P. Stevens & Co., workers strikes, farmworkers’ rights, housing and tenant rights in Cambridge, anti-nuclear activism regarding Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant, advocacy for nuclear disarmament, feminism and issues of equal and reproductive rights, and anti-war action relating to the Vietnam War and the draft. The materials largely promote events, marches, protests, and meetings that raised awareness for or benefited different social and political advocacy efforts in Boston.

Among the organizations that are represented in Boston and Cambridge are the Eastern Service Workers Association, Greater Boston Peace Action Coalition, People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice, Progressive Labor Party, and Students for a Democratic Society. The Eastern Service Workers Association is an existing membership association for Boston’s service, temporary, domestic, and other low-income workers and their families. The Greater Boston Peace Action Coalition and People’s Coalition for Peace and Justice were active anti-war groups. Many of the political and student organizations worked collaboratively to host events or marches in Boston and Cambridge.

Subjects, such as women’s rights, anti-war, and anti-nuclear, include materials from other organizations that advocated specifically for these causes. Examples of these groups are 9to5 Organization for Women Office Workers, Indochina Peace Campaign, and Mobilization for Survival. These items are organized topically, as the nature of their materials and organizational missions dealt with specific topics.

Collection materials include posters, flyers, brochures, pamphlets, and newsprint.


  • Majority of material found in 1968-1983

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. The Boston Public Library does not hold copyright on the material in this collection. Researchers are responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations that hold copyright.

When reproducing material from this collection please include the credit line "Courtesy of the Trustees of the Boston Public Library/Rare Books.”


24.00 Linear Feet (8 boxes; 24 linear feet)

Language of Materials



This collection documents the social justice movements and grassroots activism efforts in Boston, Cambridge, and surrounding areas but also throughout the United States from 1968-1983. The topics reflect counterculture ideologies, shifts in social and political thought, and major cultural movements, such as anti-nuclear, anti-war, busing, civil rights, feminism, and housing and tenant rights. Materials include flyers, brochures, leaflets, pamphlets, posters, and newspapers.

Arrangement Note

Organized into 2  series. 1) Boston and Camridge, Massachusetts and 2) National. Topics arranged alphabetically.

Source of Acquisition

Material collected by by Ellen M. Oldham, former Rare Books and Manuscripts Department staff member, beginning in 1968.

Processing Information

Processed and finding aid prepared by Emily Sylvia, April 2016.
Social Justice Collection
Emily Sylvia and Brenda Craig
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Script of description

About this library

Part of the Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections Repository

700 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116 United States