Reckonings Press Release
April 4, 2022

Download Document (PDF)

Press Release for Northeastern University Planning Grant

"Reckonings: A Local History Platform for the Community-Archivist"

The Mellon Foundation has awarded a $500,000 planning grant to Northeastern University for Reckonings, an innovative program of collaboration to empower BIPOC communities and citizens in the preservation, creation, and curation of community histories. This effort sees reckoning with the historical record and making it more accurate as important for civic life. With an emphasis on digital and physical sustainability for Boston and New England, the Reckonings team of scholars will work with partner organizations and students to correct gaps and inequalities in the existing historical record, and assist communities to recover under-represented histories and cultures. Dr. Kabria Baumgartner, Dean's Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies, and one of the principal investigators on the grant, emphasizes that collaboration between the university and cultural and social service organizations as well as museums will be crucial for this work of community co-creation and co-curation: "I'm excited about the Reckonings project because we have the incredible opportunity to expand our research on the histories of marginalized people in this region and we will be able to collaborate with students, community organizations, and other scholars."

Building on multifaceted and multi-media work in Boston and New England, the project will scale existing pilot initiatives into innovative and reusable frameworks for humanities research and learning beyond the spaces of the university. The intent is to find common ground within and across organizations (historical societies, museums, community centers, social service organizations, community colleges, and universities) and to make analog and digital tools accessible and usable for community-archivists. The project will promote six specific goals:

  • Creating a service model for the humanities that transforms aspects of scholarship and digital humanities work into replicable and easily adaptable methods that communities can use.
  • Democratizing archive-making and storytelling processes for communities, drawing on and transforming frameworks of knowledge production and dissemination in the humanities, and opening new opportunities for knowledge exchange.
  • Documenting, disseminating, and preserving the histories of BIPOC communities and other marginalized groups.
  • Co-curating and co-creating a readily accessible and portable series of analog and digital resources where communities share their local histories.
  • Training undergraduate, master's, and doctoral students in this work through classrooms, service-learning, and other experiential placements with partner organizations.
  • Developing equitable compensation models for community partners at the individual and institutional levels that properly reflect their contributions as co-creators and co-curators in both the planning and implementation phases.

Community and institutional partners on Reckonings at this time include:

We will build on lessons learned from two Mellon-funded projects – the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ) and the Boston Research Center (BRC) – with which we are currently involved. Indeed, we envision Reckonings as working together with the BRC and CRRJ to expand the range of techniques neighborhoods and communities can use to recapture, reckon with, and re-represent the past in new ways.

Northeastern University collaborating faculty on Reckonings include Nicole Aljoe, Professor of English and Africana Studies; Margaret Burnham, University Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project; Regine Jean-Charles, Director of Africana Studies, Dean's Professor of Culture and Social Justice, and Professor of Africana Studies and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies; Liza Weinstein, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Sociology; and Alexandra To, Assistant Professor in the College of Art, Media, and Design (Games) and the Khoury College of Computer Science. Partnering also on Reckonings as a faculty collaborator is Dorothy Kim, Brandeis University Assistant Professor of English.

Northeastern's lead principal investigators on Reckonings are Uta Poiger, Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and Professor of History; and Angel David Nieves, Director of Public Humanities, Director of the Public History Program, Professor of Africana Studies, History, Digital Humanities, and English. Kabria Baumgartner and Dan Cohen, Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, Dean of the Libraries, and Professor of History serve as principal investigators. Dean Cohen writes: "I'm thrilled about the intersection of the Reckonings initiative with existing efforts by the Northeastern University Library to work closely with local communities who wish to surface, preserve, and present their diverse histories and cultures. As a historian and librarian, I am looking forward to exploring with my colleagues, and with groups and individuals in the greater Boston area, the multiple ways that this project will forge new forms for that historical record, and press society to come to terms with the past."

Reckonings Community and Institutional Partners

Reckonings Project Team

Co-Principal Investigators

Uta Poiger

Dean, College of Social Sciences and Humanities; Professor of History

Uta G. Poiger is Dean of the College of Social Science and Humanities and Professor of History at Northeastern University. With the college’s faculty, staff and students, she works to enhance the college’s and the university’s leadership in Experiential Liberal Arts.

Ángel David Nieves

Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities; Director of Public Humanities

Ángel David Nieves is Professor of Africana Studies, History, and Digital Humanities in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities (CSSH) at Northeastern University and is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of English and in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs.

Kabria Baumgartner

Dean's Associate Professor of History and Africana Studies

Kabria Baumgartner is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, specializing in the history of education, African American women’s and gender history, and the New England region.

Dan Cohen

Dean of Libraries; Vice Provost for Information Collaboration; Professor of History

Dan Cohen is the Vice Provost for Information Collaboration, Dean of the Libraries, and professor of history at Northeastern University. His work has focused on the impact of digital media and technology on all aspects of knowledge and learning, from the nature of libraries and their evolving resources, to twenty-first century research techniques and software tools, to the changing landscape of communication and publication.

Project Staff

Greg Lord

Assistant Director of Design & Program Manager

Greg Lord is a designer and developer with over 15 years of experience in digital humanities research and development. His previous experience includes the University of Maryland’s MITH (Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities), Hamilton College’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), NASA, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), having served in roles as a graphic/web designer, software engineer, 3D modeler, and virtual reality developer.

Dzidzor Azaglo

Program Coordinator & Community Archivist

Dzidzor (Jee-Jaw) is a Ghanian-American folklore, performing artist, author, and curator. Dzidzor’s style of call and response has combined traditional storytelling in Afro-folklore and Poetry Slam through a sonic experience. Dzidzor is moved by the responsibility to alarm the power/abundance in the midst of bodies while creating a practice of care and freedom through creativity. Dzidzor is the founder of Black Cotton Club and partners with Grubstreet, ICA Boston, and Boston Public Schools to teach creative empowerment workshops in Boston.

Current Co-Creators

Victoria Dey

Research Assistant, Ph.D. Student in History

Victoria earned her B.A. in French and International Relations from the University of Rochester in 2021 and began the World History doctoral program at Northeastern University the following semester. Victoria’s research interests include the intentional modern manipulations of French memory during times of conflict that continue to influence race relations , identity, and other aspects of French society.

Hunter Moskowitz

Research Assistant, Ph.D. Student in History

I am a doctoral student in World History at Northeastern with a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. My research interests include examining how workers have resisted, shaped, and mediated colonialism. I hope to understand how power operates in eighteenth and nineteenth century communities through studying the intersection between race, labor, and gender.  I am also currently a research assistant at the Worker Institute at Cornell University working on projects involving the role of labor unions in creating climate change policy.

Alanna Prince

Research Assistant, Ph.D. Candidate in English

Alanna Prince is a PhD candidate in the university’s English department.  Her work focuses on late 20th and 21st-century Black literature and visual culture, with a particular emphasis on historical resonance, poetics, and gender/sexuality. She also has participated in several Digital Humanities projects on campus, including the Early Caribbean Digital Archive, where she acts as a Metadata and Acquisitions Lead.

Cassie Tanks

Research Assistant, Ph.D. Student in History

Cassie Tanks is a first year World History Ph.D. student at Northeastern University. During the course of her studies, Cassie aims to deepen her engagement with public facing historical and archival work, as well as explore the histories of the Cold War, paramilitarism, liberation, and veterans experiences. She is a research assistant for Dr. Angel David Nieves and his 3D spatial history publication, Apartheid Heritage(s), and Reckonings.

Reckonings and Co-Creation