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Exploring Boston's neighborhood histories: An intro to an Archives blog series

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In the 1970s, Boston residents provided oral history interviews as part of the Boston 200 Bicentennial Celebration. We are highlighting these interviews in a blog series this summer!

In 1976, Boston held its bicentennial celebration, Boston 200. The celebration included many events and publications about Boston during the American Revolution. However, Boston wanted to celebrate the City's entire history, so they also created programming about the history of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods. The Mayor’s Office of the Bicentennial established the Boston 200 Corporation, a nonprofit agency, in 1972 to plan and conduct the celebration of the Bicentennial. Boston 200 ran from 1972 through 1976. 

Map of Boston, 1806

The Mayor’s Office organized Boston 200 into various program areas. These program areas included Citygame, Festival American, Neighborhood and Community Programs, and Visitor Services.

Boston 200 Cleanup Crew, circa 1974-1976

Citygame consisted of a series of exhibitions on life in Boston through three centuries and thematic exhibits on aspects of City life. The theme of this program was "The City is the Exhibit. Festival American consisted of commemorative events, re-enactments, parades, concerts, arts, crafts, and festivals. Visitor Services consisted of programs designed to help visitors navigate the City and the Bicentennial programs.

Neighborhood and Community programs explored and celebrated the histories of Boston’s neighborhoods and their residents. This program area consisted of neighborhood exhibits, booklets by residents, visible projects, and local preservation programs. This program included a collection of oral histories. Keep an eye out: this summer we will be posting a weekly series of posts highlighting some of these oral histories!

Boston 200 Neighborhood History Exhibit in Mission Hill/Parker Hill

My name is Colleen Nugent and I am a History PhD student at Northeastern University, completing my fieldwork at the Boston City Archives. I grew up right outside of Boston, in Bedford. I am very excited to go through these oral histories and get an understanding of the City from the perspective of people who lived in it during the 20th century. Please join me in uncovering more about Boston’s history from the mouthes of its residents


Colleen Nugent is a History PhD Candidate at Northeastern University, with certificates in Digital Humanities, Public History, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. You can follow her at clnugent.net.