The Boston Research Center (BRC) seeks to unify, for the first time, unique special collections related to Boston, data generated by the government, citizen groups, social media, digital modes of scholarship, and a wide array of researchers to offer scholars a seamless environment for studying a city’s history and culture. The BRC is a dynamic research center that will enable scholars and communities to generate and operate on an array of archival materials and data in new ways, to draw upon a wide range of digitized resources and data sets, and to analyze multiple sources together through new services. The BRC connects research collections of images, maps, texts, audio and video files, as well as spatial and statistical/numeric data collections.
In 2018, the Northeastern University Library’s Digital Scholarship Group led an intensive preliminary planning and design process for the Boston Research Center. The goal was to create a model research center, focused on the city of Boston, to perform deeply integrative studies of urban history, communities, systems, and culture. Generously funded by a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this first phase involved the development of prototype projects, design plans, and technical specifications to capture the suite of tools, data, and staff needed for Boston-focused research projects on campus. This process helped us gain a clear understanding of how the BRC could best fit into the campus and city research environments.