Teachers Digitize Boston Schools Desegregation Case at the National Archives at Boston

Last week, educators visited the National Archives at Boston to explore and examine primary sources related to desegregating Boston Public Schools. It was part of our annual Primarily Teaching summer institute.

Educators At Primarily Teaching
Educators Attending Primarily Teaching in Boston, with Education Specialist Annie Davis

These educators-turned-digitization scholars identified classroom-appropriate documents from the 1970s civil action court case Tallulah Morgan et al. v. James W. Hennigan et al. As a result of their work, teachers, students, and anyone interested in Civil Rights can now investigate 30 documents from this important case—online for the first time!

Western Union Mailgram Document
Western Union Mailgram Urging Intervention by U.S. Marshalls on DocsTeach

In 1972, parents of African American children brought a class action lawsuit alleging that the Boston School Committee violated the 14th Amendment with a deliberate policy of racial segregation. The judge found that Boston schools had intentionally carried out a program of segregation and ordered the School Committee to formulate a desegregation plan. When the committee failed to present an adequate plan, the court assumed an active role and oversaw implementation of court-ordered desegregation in Boston public schools.

Staff at the National Archives at Boston scanned these finds and we’ve loaded them all onto DocsTeach.org so that they can be used in online student activities. See them all on DocsTeach!

Individual Teachers Working at Primarily Teaching in Boston

Boston is one of four Primarily Teaching locations this summer. All of the workshops fit within the national theme of “Leadership and Legacy in History,” matching that of National History Day in 2015. Educators at each location are exploring a specific case study, with original documents in our archival holdings, that fits within this broader theme.

The National Archives at Atlanta also held the Primarily Teaching summer institute for teachers last week. We’ll report on their findings next week!


Primarily Teaching is made possible in part by the Foundation for the National Archives, through the support of Texas Instruments.

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