Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Monday, June 1, 2020

On (Virtual) Display in the State Library

As the calendar turns to June, it’s time to share another item from Special Collections in our virtual display case. In recognition of the 245th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, we’re featuring an “Ode Written for the Celebration on Bunker Hill, June 17, 1825.” The ode was written in honor of the 50th anniversary of the battle.

The Battle of Bunker Hill was on June 17, 1775 and actually occurred on nearby Breed’s Hill in Charlestown. The British won the battle and took the hill, but it was a much more costly endeavor than had been imagined at the start. The well-organized British army had not expected much from the American militia, but as they advanced on the hill they were pushed back twice and experienced a high number of casualties - 1,054 British soldiers and officers died during the battle or afterward from wounds. On the American side, there were 400 casualties, and among those was Dr. Joseph Warren, a leading member of the patriot cause who was serving as the President of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress at the time of his death. Dr. Warren had been commissioned as a major general just before the battle, but rather than relying on his rank and staying in the back of the fray, he chose to serve as a private. In the ode, he is acknowledged with the following stanza:

Ye shades of martyred heroes,
Who rallied here to fight;
Whose hearts of oak the onset braved
That shook old Bunker’s height;
Who, with your WARREN, proved yourselves
The Spartans of the field;
Here ye stood -- here your blood
Freedom’s sacred charter sealed.
Here to Liberty your pledge ye gave,
And the sacred charter sealed.

Composed by Thomas Wells, “Ode Written for the Celebration on Bunker Hill, June 17, 1825” was part of a celebration that included the laying the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument. More than 100,000 people were in attendance, including almost 200 veterans of the battle. The ceremony was presided over by the Marquis de Lafayette, a key military leader from the Revolutionary War, and also included an oration by Daniel Webster, who was serving as a United States Representative for Massachusetts 1st District at the time.

The ode is set to the tune of “Ye Mariners of England,” a patriotic British war song by Scottish poet Thomas Campbell. This may seem like an odd pick for a song that honors one of the first and most famous battles of the American Revolution, but it must have been a popular early 19th-century tune, as it was also used for a song honoring George Washington’s birthday and a restoration of peace in February 1815.

Sometimes the printed material in Special Collections will have handwritten notations on the back, or verso, of the page. When I am on-site, I can easily examine the physical object to determine what these notations are. In this instance, I only have access to the digital copy but I can tell that something was written on the verso of the page because the ink has bled through the page. Once the library reopens, I’ll retrieve the item from storage to see the notations, so watch this space for a follow-up reveal! In the meantime, based on the spacing and what looks like a combination of both letters and numbers, I'm making a guess that it is a ledger or tally of some sort. Unfortunately, the ink bleeding from those notations has completely obscured one entire stanza of the ode, but I was able to find a copy of the ode in the online collection of the Library of Congress and have transcribed that missing section below:

Ye brave, in death triumphant!
In Glory’s rest that sleep;
Your Country shall your ashes guard,
Her watch around you keep; --
Your Spirits here that walk abroad,
Have no unheard appealed
From the sod where ye trod,
And the sacred charter sealed;
Where ye gathered with your hearty few,
And the sacred charter sealed.

Take a closer look at all of the lyrics, and see if you can decipher what’s written on the verso, by clicking the image above or checking out the full size version on DSpace.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

June Author Talk: Honor Moore

  • Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury by Honor Moore 
  • A virtual author event moderated by Claire Messud
  • Monday, June 8, 2020—6:00pm
  • Presented by American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society, together with the Boston Public Library and the State Library of Massachusetts
  • Hosted on Zoom by WGBH Forum Network

The State Library is excited to announce that our next author talk will be virtual! We have partnered with American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society and the Boston Public Library to bring you a virtual talk with celebrated writer Honor Moore, author of the new biography-memoir Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury. This Zoom event, scheduled for 6pm on June 8, will be moderated by Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children and The Burning Girl.

Our Revolution focuses on Moore’s charismatic mother, Jenny McKean Moore, a descendant of prominent families from Boston’s North Shore. A writer and mother to nine children, Jenny Moore led a life full of social and political activism. Our Revolution documents Honor Moore’s attempt to understand her place in her mother’s complicated life.

Honor Moore is the recipient of several awards in poetry and playwriting, and her previous memoir, The Bishop’s Daughter, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year. Moore currently serves on the graduate writing faculty of The New School in New York City.

This virtual event, hosted by WGBH Forum Network, is free and open to all. To register, please visit: https://wgbh.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VPivIIVFSH2tlU25ObCFTw

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Be sure to check out the other upcoming author events hosted by our partners:

Monday, May 11, 2020

Asian-Americans in Massachusetts

May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and we are celebrating these vibrant communities located throughout the Commonwealth!

Mural as a lesson in Chinatown history, featured in the Boston Globe,
March 7, 1993. Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts Boston,
Joseph P. Healey Library.

While early Massachusetts made its fortune in trading with China following the American Revolution (so much so that businessman Elias Hasket Derby of Salem became America’s first millionaire), it is unlikely that there were many Chinese immigrants before the mid-1850’s. Large-scale immigration from Asia to Massachusetts began in the 1870s, when many Chinese immigrants originally from Guangdong and other southern Chinese provinces were recruited from California to work in mills during labor disputes in North Adams. Originally, these immigrants were almost exclusively single men due to laws like the Page Act of 1875, which barred Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Despite these attempts, more Chinese immigrants began to arrive in Massachusetts from the West Coast, creating communities most notably in Worcester and Boston around the turn of the century, with Boston’s Chinatown at one point so large that it was the third largest Chinese community in the United States. Following World War II, many of the laws barring Chinese immigration were lifted, and more Chinese immigrants settled in Massachusetts, specifically in Boston and Quincy. The Chinese Historical Society of New England was founded in 1992 to preserve the history of the Chinese community in Massachusetts, and recently partnered with the Massachusetts Historical Commission to register the Old Quincy School, home of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, on the National Register of Historic Places, the first listing in Massachusetts associated with Asian-American history.

Chinatown Y summer camp scrapbook, 1955. Image
courtesy of University of Massachusetts Boston,
Joseph P. Healey Library

In the 19th and early 20th century, many Chinese immigrants had worked in railroad yards or in Chinese-owned landries and restaurants. At the same time, Japanese immigrants arrived in Massachusetts to attend the illustrious universities here and, later in the 20th century, to work in the growing technology and science industries. Harvard’s first Asian students were Japanese and attended the Law School as early as the 1870’s, and in 1922, Shichiro Hayashi became the first person of Japanese heritage to graduate from Suffolk University Law School.

Shichiro Hayashi, a graduate of Suffolk University
Law School's Class of 1922. Image courtesy of the
Suffolk University Moakley Archieve & Institute.

Similarly, South Asian immigrants, one of the newest immigrant communities in New England, arrived in Massachusetts relatively recently for educational and economic reasons, primarily to attend universities and work in the commonwealth’s burgeoning technology and research fields. Starting in the 1960’s, these communities are primarily from India, but also include Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepalanese, and Sri Lankan immigrants.

However, some immigrants came to Massachusetts as refugees, escaping warfare, famine, and turmoil in their home countries. Many Southeast Asian immigrants arrived in the United States following the Vietnam War, and are now the second largest Asian immigrant group in Massachusetts. Many Vietnamese immigrants arrived as political refugees and settled in Boston, though Malden, Quincy, and Randolph also have large Vietnamese communities. In fact, some activists near Fields Corner in Boston have been campaigning for an official cultural district designation, “Little Saigon Cultural District,” in order to better recognize the size, history, and legacy of the Vietnamese community in Dorchester.

Cambodian immigrants began to arrive in the 1980’s and settled in Lynn and Lowell, which is now the largest Cambodian community on the East Coast and the second-largest in the United States. Rep. Rady Mom, currently serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, made history in 2015 when he became the first Cambodian-American to be elected to a state legislature in the United States.

Massachusetts Asian American Commission swearing in ceremony,
April 6, 2006. Image courtesy of University of Massachusetts Boston,
Joseph P. Healey Library.

Asian immigration continues to be the fastest growing immigration population in the commonwealth, comprising not only of the communities listed above, but also of immigrants from Korea, the Philippines, and many other Asian and Pacific Islander countries and communities. In 2006, the Asian American Commission was founded by the Massachusetts Legislature to advocate for Asian-Americans throughout Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Legislature also has a dedicated Asian American Caucus established in 2011 that works to provide more Asian-American representation throughout the Massachusetts state government. For more information on other organizations and resources specifically for Asian immigrants and Asian Americans, as well as materials regarding the history of the many Asian immigration communities here in the Commonwealth, please see the list below.

Massachusetts has a rich immigrant history, and the many Asian and Pacific Islander communities here in the commonwealth have diverse, distinct, and varied histories. Some communities began over 100 years ago, and others are young communities only decades old, and yet all of them make up an important part of contemporary life and culture here in Massachusetts.

Further reading:

More Resources:

Alexandra Bernson
Reference Staff

Monday, May 4, 2020

On (Virtual) Display in the State Library

Monday, April 27, 2020

Preservation Week at the State Library

It’s Preservation Week! The American Library Association has designated April 26 through May 2 as a time to both celebrate and promote the importance of preservation. From physical repair, to re-housing, to environmental monitoring, libraries work hard in a number of ways to preserve their collections and ensure their accessibility for future generations. Here at the State Library, our preservation lab is located within the Special Collections Department, but it handles the collection maintenance and preservation needs of the entire library. With a collection as historical and varied as the Library’s, an on-site lab allows us to address preservation head-on and ensure the longevity of our many resources.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Preservation Week. Visit the ALA website to access preservation tools and resources, and check out the wide array of free preservation webinars also available on the site. 

We’ll be posting preservation content on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all week so be sure to follow along! If you have any preservation questions, reach out to us by email or comment on any of our posts! 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Protect Your Privacy At Home

As we shelter in our homes in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, many citizens of Massachusetts have found themselves completely reliant on their computers as they "telework," "work remotely," or otherwise work from home. In fact, a March 2020 Pew Research Center study regarding how Americans have used technology in response to the current pandemic found that 76% of Americans have used digital tools to communicate with others and that almost half of all U.S. adults would categorize an interruption to their Internet or phone service as a major disruption impacting their day-to-day life. Technology has allowed us to work and communicate with our coworkers, friends, and family and remain connected during this difficult time.

But in downloading new tools that help us communicate and collaborate, we often sacrifice personal privacy unknowingly. Here are some resources that can help you protect your privacy and your data while using popular online communication software.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting civil liberties online. They have many tools that can help you navigate online privacy and have been publishing multiple articles and guides regarding the online tools that we now rely on, including student learning software, health applications, and more. For a basic overview of the concerns regarding the many different tools we are using today, visit their article here:

"What You Should Know About Online Tools During the COVID-19 Crisis"(March 19, 2020)

The EFF has also published guides specific to certain popular applications being used now, such as Zoom. The following article provides specific things you can do to make sure you and your privacy are protected while using this popular communication app:

"Harden Your Zoom Settings to Protect Your Privacy and Avoid Trolls" (April 2, 2020)

The article also mentions "Zoombombing," that is, the action of individuals hacking into an online meeting in Zoom (or generally in any online communication application) and causing disruption, often with inappropriate, racist, or threatening noises or imagery. The Boston FBI Office issued security tips that will help protect you against these individuals:

"Zoom-Bombing' Hijacks Online Class Meetings In Massachusetts, FBI Warns" (March 30, 2020):

However, privacy concerns are not limited to Zoom, and further are not limited only to adults working from home. After widespread school closure, many students are continuing their semesters via online learning software and personal computers provided by their schools. These tools often have surveillance and social media-monitoring technology built into them of which many minors and their parents or guardians may not be aware. Whether you or your child's school is using Canvas, Moodle, Schoology, Google Classroom, or any other online learning software, consider reviewing the Privacy for Students guide provided by EFF:

Surveillance Self-Defense: Privacy for Students (Last reviewed March 2, 2020)

At the State Library, we take your privacy very seriously. We keep no permanent record of the Internet sites visited by library patrons on the public computers in our Reading Room, the electronic databases accessed by our patrons, or the searches performed by individual patrons. Further, we do not keep any record of the materials that you have checked out in the past using your library card. We and the other libraries that make up the C/W MARS library consortium keep anonymous circulation statistics that allow us to see how often a particular item has been checked out, but not who checked it out. For more information about privacy, you can take a look at the C/W MARS Privacy Policy here: https://www.cwmars.org/about/borrowing-lending

When downloading new online tools to help you work, learn, and connect with others online, take a moment to consider the privacy concerns with that individual platform. Even if these platforms and technologies are required for you to participate in your job or education, there are still ways to protect yourself and your data while using them.

Alexandra Bernson
Reference Staff