Skip to Main Content

Boston Public Schools Historical Research: Busing Crisis

This guide provides resources and strategies for researching the history of the Boston Public School system, individual schools and guidance on finding high school yearbooks.

BPS History

Home - General histories of the Boston Public School system and individual schools

Busing Crisis - The most controversial era for the Boston Public Schools

Official Records - Available from the Boston Public Library or the Boston Public School Department

Schools - Researching specific school names, school buildings and images

Yearbooks - Finding yearbooks for specific schools

Desegregating Boston Public Schools

Desegregation of the Boston Public Schools was an issue in the 1950's and 1960's, but came to a head in the 1970s with the U.S. District Court decision in the case of Morgan v Hennigan (379 F.Supp 410).  This decision led to the oversight of the Boston Public Schools passing into the hands of W. Arthur Garrity, the judge in the case, until the 1980s.  It is commonly referred to as the busing crisis or busing in Boston or simply busing.

Forty years later it has been added to the Boston Public Schools curriculum.  Busing changed not just Boston's public school system, but its politics, demographics and culture.  Possibly nothing in Boston's twentieth century history had a greater affect on the city and its citizens.

While not exhaustive, the following contains lists of material that chronicle, discuss and explain this still controversial era and its aftermath. 


Find a wealth of material--including film, audio files, photographs, letters, archival material from local organizations, and more, on the Digital Commonwealth website. This link shows all the available material digitized in Digital Commonwealth related to the busing era in Boston. 

Government Publications





Media and More


The resources listed below do not fit neatly in the boxes above.  The Boston Globe and the Boston Public Schools have created websites tracking the history of desegregation in Boston.  The City of Boston Archives has pre-selected collections of official records so you do not need to search a catalog.  The ERIC database includes scholarly articles and government reports, many full-text.  The Boston TV News Digital Library website returns 150 videos when Boston busing is searched.