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About Us

Global Boston is a digital project based at Boston College that chronicles the history of immigration to greater Boston since the early nineteenth century. Examining different time periods, ethnic groups, and places of settlement, the site features capsule histories, photographs, maps, documents, videos, and oral histories documenting the history of a city and metro area where immigrants have long been a vital force in shaping urban life.

Our Mission: We at Global Boston believe that historical and contemporary diversity has been a defining characteristic of the region and one of its great strengths. The website aims to tell the story of Boston’s major immigrant groups, showing where they have come from and why, and how they have been central to the region’s history and development, as well as to that of their home countries. We hope to foster better understanding between recent immigrants and the descendants of those older groups depicted here, exploring both the similarities and differences in their experiences amid changing historical contexts. The stories presented on Global Boston attest to the power of ordinary people to make history. We hope that new Bostonians can use history as a tool for empowerment to make their voices heard as residents and citizens of the region.

Launched in 2016, the Global Boston website is a work-in-progress. We continue to add new pages and features as well as new topical areas that explore local immigration history from a comparative, pan-ethnic perspective.


Project Co-Directors:

Marilynn S. Johnson is Research Professor of History at Boston College. She received her Ph.D. in history at New York University and has taught at Southern Methodist University and the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality at MIT. Her research focuses on migration, urban social relations, and violence. Her books include The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II, Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City, and The New Bostonians: How Immigration has Transformed the Metro Region Since the 1960s.

Eddie Bonilla is Assistant Professor of History at Boston College, where he teaches courses on Latinx history, social movements, popular culture, and labor history. He received his BA from the University of California Irvine and his PhD from Michigan State University before holding fellowships at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and the University of Pittsburgh. He is writing a book on radical left activism since the 1970s that relies on oral histories with activists from Latinx, Asian American, and African American social movement groups.

Project Historian & Writer:  Deborah T. Levenson is a Professor Emerita of History at Boston College. She has published widely on Central American history, and her most recent book is Adiós Niño: The Gangs of Guatemala City and the Politics of Death. She received her BA and MA at the University of Massachusetts Boston and her Ph.D. from New York University. She has taught at Columbia University and has worked on interdisciplinary research projects in Guatemala. A trained oral historian, she is Spanish speaking.

Editorial Contributor: Elizabeth Graver is Professor of English at Boston College, where she teaches creative writing workshops and literature courses, including a course on Literatures of Migration, where her students conduct oral histories and make video interviews with immigrants. The author of four novels–Unravelling, Awake, The Honey Thief, and The End of the Point–she is at work on a new novel based on the life of her grandmother, a Sephardic Jewish woman whose life path took her from Turkey, to Spain, to Cuba, and finally to the United States. Her author’s website can be found here.

K-12 Curriculum Developer: Sol Rheem received her Bachelors degree from Bowdoin College and her M.Ed. in Secondary Education from Boston College. Formerly an instructor at the Henderson School in Dorchester, she developed the Unit Plan featured on our For Teachers page. She worked as a social studies teacher at Somerville High School and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. at Michigan State University.

Graduate Researchers:

Kelly Lyons, Ph.D. History, Boston College

Samuel Davis, M.A. History, Boston College

Madeline Webster, Ph.D., American and New England Studies, Boston University


Undergraduate Researchers:

Amanda Judah, Boston College 2020

Lila Zarrella, Boston College 2023

Brieanna Allen, Boston College 2025


Advisory Board:

Eddie Bonilla, Professor of History, Boston College

Samuel Davis, History Teacher, Gann Academy

Elizabeth Graver, Professor of English, Boston College

Brittany Lehman, Digital Humanities Program Librarian, Boston College

Denzil Muhammad, Director of Public Education Institute, Immigrant Learning Center

Sol Rheem, Ed.D. candidate, Michigan State University

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