Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A new home for an old scrapbook

Greetings from the Preservation Lab! My name is Elizabeth Roscio, and I've been on the job as the Preservation Librarian for just a few months. In this role, my primary responsibility is to work to ensure the optimal lifespan for the materials in our collection. One way that I do that is to re-house items that are in enclosures that are detrimental to their condition or that need a little bit more stability. Recently, an item just like this made its way to the lab.

The item in question was a scrapbook of photographs taken when General Douglas MacArthur visited Massachusetts on July 25 and 26, 1951 (Scrapbook 60). These photographs documented his visit and depict various parades and receptions that were held in his honor throughout the Commonwealth. Each black and white photograph is approximately 8" x 10" and had been stapled onto the pages of the scrapbook, which was problematic for a few reasons. Staples cause damage to photographs and documents not only because they cause pinprick holes, but because the staples can rust and then transfer onto the item. Additionally, the pages that the photographs were adhered to were acidic and would become brittle over time, and would not provide a stable backing for long-term storage. I decided that the best way to preserve the photographs would be to remove them from the scrapbook and re-house them in plastic sleeves.

When removing staples from an item, it is important to do it carefully and slowly so that you don't cause any additional tearing. We've probably all used a staple remover at some point, and this process is similar but a little bit more technical. I began by turning the page over to its back so that I could access the staple prongs, and then I used a micro spatula to carefully lift each prong up. With both prongs lifted to a perpendicular angle, I could safely pull the staple out of the photograph. Once the photograph was free of the paper backing, I slid it into a plastic sleeve. As I was working on the scrapbook, I noticed that the pages did not include any sort of inscriptions, autographs, or captions. Since that was the case, the acidic pages and the front and back covers could be discarded after the photographs were removed. If the original scrapbook material had contained extra information about the photographs, then I would have had to preserve those pages, too.

After the photographs were removed from the scrapbook, they needed a new enclosure for long-term storage. I measured the length, width, and height of the stack of photographs and made a clamshell box out of corrugated board. Now that this collection has been re-housed in a stable enclosure, we've not only extended its life, but made it easier and safer for researchers to handle.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, January 8, 2018

Winter exhibition: Massachusetts Architectural Styles

The State Library invites you to view our newest exhibition, Massachusetts Architectural Styles.

This exhibition uses materials from the State Library’s collections to describe the wide variety of architectural styles in Massachusetts over the region’s long history, from the structures of Indigenous Americans in pre-colonial days to the most recent constructions in the Commonwealth’s largest cities.

The exhibition runs from January 8 through May 31, 2018 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Can't make it to the library? View the digital exhibit on the library's Flickr site!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January Author Talk: Mimi Graney

Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon
by Mimi Graney 
Friday, January 19, 2018—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

Our first author talk of 2018 features a pretty sweet topic: Marshmallow Fluff! Join us at the State Library on Friday, January 19, to hear author Mimi Graney speak about her recent book Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon

Fluff celebrates the 100-year history of this tasty confection, invented in 1917 by Archibald Query in Somerville, Massachusetts. Much more than just a “fluff” piece, this book delves into the history of New England’s forgotten candy industry, highlighting the period of changing social roles for women, the emergence of radio as an advertising medium, the upheaval of wartime, and the advent of modern advertising and battles over nutrition.

Author Mimi Graney is the mastermind behind the quirky “What the Fluff?” festival held annually in Somerville’s Union Square. Ms. Graney has previously served as a council member of the Massachusetts Creative Economy Council and as Principal of Relish Management, where she provided management services for creative economy initiatives in several Massachusetts cities and towns. Ms. Graney is currently working to revitalize Chelsea’s historic downtown district as Downtown Coordinator for the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Copies of Fluff will be available for purchase and signing at the conclusion of Ms. Graney’s talk. We encourage you to register in advance, and we look forward to seeing you on January 19th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Upcoming Author Talks at the State Library:

Friday, December 22, 2017

From the State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, December 4, 2017

December Author Talk: Michael Holley

Belichick and Brady: Two Men, the Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football, by Michael Holley 
Monday, December 18, 2017—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

Are you looking for the perfect holiday gift for the sports fan in your life? Look no further, because our next author talk is for you! Come to the State Library at noon on Monday, December 18, for a conversation with bestselling author and sports commentator Michael Holley and to get your signed copy of his book Belichick and Brady: Two Men, the Patriots, and How They Revolutionized Football.

Belichick and Brady explores the partnership between the head coach and quarterback for the New England Patriots, the most successful coach/quarterback pair in NFL history. Based on interviews with current and former players, coaches, and executives, Belichick and Brady gives behind-the-scenes details about the rise and dominance of Brady, Belichick, and the New England Patriots.

Author Michael Holley is the co-host of the radio show “Dale & Holley with Keefe,” airing weekdays on WEEI and featuring an interview with Bill Belichick every Monday during football season. Mr. Holley began his career in journalism at the Akron Beacon Journal and in 1993 was one of several reporters who contributed to the Beacon Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series “A Question of Color,” which studied race relations in Northeastern Ohio. Mr. Holley has also written for the Boston Globe and the Chicago Tribune and has written four books in addition to Belichick and Brady, including the New York Times bestseller Patriot Reign.

We invite you to register in advance, and we look forward to seeing you on December 18 at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday, November 6, 2017

The 1883 Mystery of the Missing Bills

The State Library is getting ready to wrap up its years-long Massachusetts Legislative Documents digitization project!  The Legislative Documents are an ongoing series of volumes published by the state that contain mostly bills, but among these documents are also reports and other types of governmental communications.  This involved a lot of metadata creation and review on our part so that the documents are described in such a way that they can be found by researchers.  You can search or browse the collection by visiting the library’s DSpace documents depository:

Having been heavily involved in the metadata side of this project, I’ve reviewed thousands of these documents going back to the early 19th century.  Early documents are especially interesting as they shed light on the state’s legislative activities during important periods of history; there was also much more published in the way of communications in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

A more amusing communication to the legislature, submitted formally in June of 1883 ¬by Governor Benjamin F. Butler, always stood out to me due to its personal nature.  It involves the case of the missing bills, which inexplicably disappeared from Butler’s desk.  Other objects, he states, had also gone missing from his desk drawers on more than one occasion—drawers which he “either kept unlocked, or locked and the key deposited for convenience in another drawer.”  He goes on to state that normally he would find only himself responsible for these losses, however since there were multiple duplicate keys to the Executive offices floating around, the situation (without pointing any fingers) seemed suspicious.  After trying to rationalize why the bill went missing, he concludes:   “It is difficult to see what object any one could have in taking away that bill except pure mischief.”

Four days later, in a separate communication, Butler explains that the bills were located somewhere in Boston but that he cannot divulge further as to who, when, how, and where they were found due to an ongoing inquiry into the matter.  Unfortunately I have not been able to find a report or further communications that satisfy this question:  whodunit?

Links to full communications:
1883 House No. 395: Communication regarding the missing items
1883 House No. 397: Communication regarding the located bills

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department