While Boston’s weather patterns have a reputation for being inconvenient or unpredictable, thankfully today’s forecast is not as dire as the storm that struck New England on this day seventy-eight years ago.* On September 21, 1938, 100-mph wind blasts toppled trees that had long stood on the Boston Common. Buildings provided questionable shelter, as windows were smashed by flying debris, and some roofs were blown clean off. In the aftermath, the region struggled with mass blighted power and telecommunication systems. While Bostonians struggled mostly with the hassles of property loss and nonfunctional roads, in areas more exposed to the storm, the consequences of the hurricane left lasting trauma. Six hundred people and 5000 homes were gone in a single day, and in the chaos that followed, communities were forced to cope as they searched a flattened, transfigured landscape for missing family members. This natural disaster, remembered as “The Great New England Hurricane,” wrought changes that remain to this day.
Here at the Special Collections department at the State Library, we recently acquired a postcard illustrating storm damage right outside our door. This donation is not the only commemorative postcard that we hold. As a long-standing, public-serving institution, our library has had the opportunity to collect ephemera and memorabilia generated by the residents of our city in response to contemporary events. You can come by and view these historic documents; we are located in Room 55 of the gold-domed State House, and open to the public Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm. For more information about the State Library and our collections, visit our website.
* See Celebrate Boston’s article on “the Great New England Hurricane, 1938.” Or check out Stephen Long’s Thirty-Eight: the Hurricane that Transformed New England (Yale University Press, 2016). The book is available at the State Library, Room 341 of the State House.
Special Collections Reference Intern
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Friday, September 16, 2016
In 1939 New York City news tycoon William Randolph Hearst suggested having a national holiday to celebrate American citizenship. In 1940 Congress designated the third Sunday in May as “I Am an American Day” and Harry Truman put forth a resolution on March 12, 1946.
In 1952, Olga Weber of Louisville, Ohio petitioned city leaders to change the date of this holiday so it would coincide with the signing of the U.S. Constitution. She also petitioned the state of Ohio and later the U.S. Congress. In 1952 Louisville, Ohio became the first city to celebrate the holiday on September 17th. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law in 1953 and it became known as Citizenship Day.
In 2004 Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to commemorate the Constitution. During the same year Leigh enlisted the help of Senator Robert Byrd to make Constitution Day an official holiday alongside Citizenship Day. In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education became involved and the law was amended so that each educational institution that receives Federal funds will hold programs for students on this day.
Many men were involved in the creation of the U.S. Constitution but only 40 signed the document. It is interesting to note who was involved, who signed or did not sign the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention started meeting in June 1787 in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Seventy men were chosen to attend the convention only fifty-five men attended most of the meetings. Some states like Rhode Island, decided not to send any delegates. Among those who signed the document include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton. William Jackson, who was the secretary of the convention but who was not a delegate, signed the Constitution. John Dickinson of Delaware left the convention due to illness but asked his colleague Jacob Broome of Delaware to sign his name to the document. “George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia along with Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign the final document because of basic philosophical differences. Their refusal to sign the final document was due fearful of an all-powerful government and wanted a bill of rights added to protect the rights of the people.
Here are some proclamations relating to Constitution Day:
- 1952 - President Truman proclaims the first Citizenship Day, Proclamation 2984, July 25, 1952, 3 C.F.R. 164 (1947-1953).
- 1953 – President Eisenhower Proclamation 3028 commemorates Citizenship Day September 17th of each year.
- 1955 - President Eisenhower proclaims the first Constitution Week, Proclamation 3109, August 19, 1955, 3 C.F.R. 56 (1954-1958).
- 2000 - President William J. Clinton’s Proclamation 7343 (PDF), Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, Sept. 17, 2000, 3 C.F.R. 7343 (2000).
- 2005 - Department of Education Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year.70 Fed. Reg. 29727 (PDF).
- 2009 - President Barack H. Obama's Proclamation 8418 celebrating Constitution and Citizenship Day and designating the week of September 17-23 as Constitution Week, 74 F.R. 48129.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Opening this week at the State Library of Massachusetts is a new exhibition entitled Back to School A Retrospective View of Education in Massachusetts. Education has long been an important part of Massachusetts culture and commerce, the library’s resources documenting its development cover centuries of history, in a variety of formats, and a wide range of opinions. This exhibition, drawn from the collections of the State Library of Massachusetts, traces the history of education in the Commonwealth, starting with the first school-related legislation in 1642 through the Boston busing crisis of the early 1970s.
The exhibition runs from September 12 through December 31, 2016. It can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This exhibition will also be available to view online as a set of images on the State Library's Flickr site.
Posted by State Library Staff at 10:15 AM
Friday, September 9, 2016
We are pleased to announce the creation of the Friends of the Massachusetts State Library Adopt-a-Book Preservation and Digitization Program! And it doesn’t even have to be a book! We also have maps needing adoption!
Your personal sponsorship, or gift in honor of someone else, can help ensure the survival and enjoyment of State Library of Massachusetts’ resources for generations to come. We will put a custom, personalized book plate in each volume or on the item’s container so that users will know whose generosity provided for continuing and future use of the resource. Donors will also be acknowledged (with permission) on a special webpage. With the help of sponsors like YOU, the State Library of Massachusetts can fulfill its commitment to the conservation, preservation, and digitization of our vast and unique collections with historical significance to Massachusetts and the world.
Please consider becoming a GOLD, SILVER, or BRONZE donor today! Thank you for your support.
Meet all our ADOPTEES here: http://www.mass.gov/anf/research-and-tech/oversight-agencies/lib/adopt-a-book-program.html
Posted by State Library Staff at 9:52 AM
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Parental Incarceration: Personal Accounts and Developmental Impact, edited by Megan Sullivan and Denise Johnston
Tuesday, September 27, 2016—Noon to 1:00 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House
The State Library is pleased to invite you to an Author Talk on Tuesday, September 27, with Boston University professor Megan Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan will be speaking about her most recent book, Parental Incarceration: Personal Accounts and Developmental Impact, which she co-edited with Dr. Denise Johnston.
Parental Incarceration explores the ways in which the experience of having an incarcerated parent affects the health and development of children throughout their lives. As the number of prisoners in the United States has increased over the years, so too has the number of children with incarcerated parents increased. This book presents the stories of adults who experienced parental incarceration in childhood and discusses the impact of mass incarceration on families in the U.S.
In addition to Parental Incarceration, Dr. Sullivan is also the author of Irish Women and Cinema: 1980-1990 and Women in Northern Ireland: Cultural Studies and Material Conditions, as well as several journal articles. Dr. Sullivan serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning at Boston University.
Dr. Sullivan’s talk is free and open to the public, and copies of the book Parental Incarceration will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Please register online and join us on September 27th at the State Library.
Posted by State Library Staff at 9:47 AM
Monday, August 29, 2016
Massachusetts’ citizens can submit petitions to repeal or amend a particular section of an existing law or constitutional amendment for approval. If the questions get approved they appear on the statewide ballot. Each petition must be signed by ten voters and submitted to the Attorney General’s office by the first Wednesday in August and certification happens on the first Wednesday in September.
After a petition is certified by the Attorney General thousands of additional signatures are gathered (the requirement in 2015 was 64,750) and filed with local election officials by late November and then with the Secretary of State by the first Wednesday in December.
If enough signatures are gathered, the measure is sent to the Legislature; the Legislature approves or disapproves the measure, proposes a substitute, or takes no action.
Unless the Legislature has enacted the measure, the proponents continue to gather additional signatures. If they gather enough signatures, the measure and any legislative substitute are submitted to the people at the next biennial state election.
The Attorney General has designated the following questions as OB - On Ballot for November 2016:
15-34 An Act Relative to Expanded Gaming - Question 1
15-31 An Act to Allow Fair Access to Public Charter Schools Question 2
15-11 An Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals Question 3
15-27 The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act Question 4
After a ballot question has been approved for the November ballot the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth work jointly to prepare voter information materials per Massachusetts General Law chapter 54 section 53. This information includes a short title to the ballot question and fair and neutral sentence statements describing the effect of a yes or no vote.
For additional information on the Initiative Petition consult the Attorney General's web page.
Posted by State Library Staff at 10:08 AM
Monday, August 22, 2016
|Official seal of the State of Hawaii|
August 21, 2016 marks the 57th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood. What does this have to do with Massachusetts, you may ask?! Missionaries who graduated from the Andover Theological Seminary (established in 1807 on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts) played a pivotal role in the story of the “Americanization” of Hawaii that ultimately led to the establishment of our 50th state in 1959. Hiram and Sibyl Bingham and Asa and Lucy Thurston were the first company of New England missionaries to lead a mission to the then Sandwich Islands, as we call now the Hawaiian Islands, for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (which was also founded in 1810 in Massachusetts by recent graduates of Williams College).
Some notable items include:
- A Residence of Twenty-one Years in the Sandwich Islands, by Hiram Bingham, 1855.
- A Dictionary of the Hawaiian Language, by Lorrin Andrews, 1865.
- Narrative of a Tour through Hawaii, or Owhyhee, by William Ellis, 1827.
- Hawaii's story, by Hawaii's Queen, Liliuokalani, 1898.
- Hawaii and its People: the Land of Rainbow and Palm, by Alexander S. Twombly, 1899.
- Hawaii, U.S.A. and Statehood: History, Premises and Essential Facts of the Statehood Movement, 1951.
Posted by State Library Staff at 9:24 AM