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February 26, 2024
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Mass Memories covers the Irish immigrant experience

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The roadshow aims to connect Irish immigrants with their heritage

On Nov. 16, the University of Massachusetts Boston Archives partnered with four organizations to capture the Irish Immigrant Experience. The partners were the Irish Ancestral research Association (TIARA), the Eire Society of Boston, the Irish Cultural Centre of New England, and the Irish consulate.
The Mass Memories Road Show is a digital history project that seeks to document the history of Massachusetts through personal photographs and family stories. Founder Joanne Riley, who is currently serving as the university archivist, started it in 2004.
According to Riley, “It was created as a way that would make history and sense of location and place contributing to identity really accessible, collaborative, and fun.”
She added, “One motivating factor for the start of the program was that I noticed there were few photos available for historical societies. And because of this, wide and various communities in Boston were not as represented as they should be.”
A goal of the event is to visit all 351 communities in Massachusetts and collect photographs and memorabilia of people who have identified Massachusetts as their home and part of their identity.
This most recent road show was hosted at the Irish Cultural Center in New England at Canton.
The coordinator, Carolyn Goldstein, a Public History and Community Archives program manager for UMass Boston Archives, said, “This particular road show was focused on a certain theme in MA history rather than trying to document only a certain history of a certain town.” She stated, “This road show was not focused on a geographical community, but focused on a cultural identity.”
According to Goldstein, “Students should become involved with the roadshow because it’s a great way for them to learn about the history of the communities around us and to get a sense from all kinds of people about what matters to them about the past. So, as we study history in a university and try to make sense of patterns and trends in time, students also stand to learn from the roadshow how average people connect to the past and make sense of their own personal place in history.”
Other future road shows in the coming year will be held in Allston, Wayland, and the West End of Boston.
Next spring, a road show will be hosted at UMass Boston, and everyone who identifies with UMass Boston can bring photos of their time here. The event will be held in celebratory conjunction of the 50th anniversary of UMass Boston’s founding.