Boston Lives Matter: Freedom House and Black Activism, 1949-2004

Material Description

Freedom House was founded by Muriel and Otto Snowden in 1949 to centralize the African-American community's involvement in the fight for neighborhood improvement, good schools, and harmony among racial, ethnic, and religious groups in Boston. Freedom House's long history of advocacy and coalition building provides a grassroots perspective on how Boston's African American community addressed its own needs and developed strategies to meet them over time. Freedom House stood, and continues to stand at the center of black Boston's political and social life. It was the headquarters of Boston's civil rights movement, served as a forum for discussing the depopulation of Boston's central city, provided a voice for the community during urban renewal, and as a gathering place for families seeking information during the painful desegregation of the Boston Public Schools. For her long record of civic action, Muriel Snowden was honored with a MacArthur grant in 1987. More recently Freedom House has been pioneering anti-poverty youth development and college completion strategies for Boston's low income and minority students. Otto Snowden donated the bulk of the Freedom House (1949-2004) collection to Northeastern University in 1990. The records proposed for digitization consist of 56 cubic feet of textual documents, videos, and poster-size material. The collection contains correspondence, minutes, and reports of the Board of Directors; grant proposals to local funding agencies; reports related to the desegregation of Boston Public Schools; correspondence with Judge Arthur Garrity, the federal court judge who found the Boston School Committee guilty of willful segregation; minutes of committees, such as the Citizens Urban Renewal Action Committee, the Police-Community Relations Committee, and the Coordinated Social Services Committee; pamphlets from the 1940s and 1950s about racism; reports from neighborhood block associations; and correspondence, reports, and newsletters related to fund raising and social events.

Year Added:



Northeastern University Libraries


Ms. Giordana Mecagni
Northeastern University

Ms. Michelle
Assistant Archivist


Collaborating Institution(s)


Date Range

1941 - 2004

Geographic Scope

Freedom House provided services and programs in the Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts. The organization was heavily involved with urban renewal projects in the Washington Park area of Roxbury.


  • 56 Mixed Archival Collections