Monday, April 25, 2016

U.S. Presidential Election: The Primaries and Caucuses

After months of debates, analysis and headlines the presidential primaries have started and votes are being cast.  The New York Times explains the concept of caucus this way: the Republicans show their preferences by a show of hands or holding a secret ballot.  The Democrats have people gather in candidate groups around the room.  If any candidate or the undecideds don’t have enough supportersusually 15% of the caucus goersthe group is ruled nonviable.  Its members have to realign with other groups and a final count is made.

First we had the Iowa caucuses.  You may think that Iowa is the only state that has a caucus but there are many others including: Feb. 20 Nevada (D); Feb. 23 Nevada (R); March 1  Alaska (R), American Samoa (D), Colorado, Minnesota, North Dakota (R), Wyoming (R); March 5 Kansas, Kentucky (R); March 6 Maine (R), Nebraska (D); March 8 Hawaii; March 12 Northern Marianas (D), District of Columbia (R); March 15 Northern Mariana Islands (R), Virgin Islands; March 22 Idaho (D); March 26 Alaska (D), Hawaii (D), Washington (D); April 9 Wyoming (D); June 4  Virgin Islands (D); June 5 Puerto Rico (D); and June 7 North Dakota (D) all hold caucuses.

A few statesAlaska, Hawaii, Maine Nebraska and Nevadahave their Republican caucus o
n one day and their Democratic caucus on another date. Washington, DC, has a Republican caucus on March 12 and a Democratic primary June 14.

There was a primary in New Hampshire on February 9, 2016. The Granite State used to have its primary in March but has moved the date in order to maintain its first-primary-in-the-nation position.  On March 1, 2015 Massachusetts voted on Super Tuesday, so called because the most states or territories voted on that day—15 in total. Besides our state those places voting on Super Tuesday were: Alabama, Alaska caucus (R), American Samoa caucus (D), Arkansas, Colorado caucus, Georgia, Minnesota caucus, North Dakota caucus (R), Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.

In the District of Columbia the Republicans caucus on Saturday March 12 and all other registered voters vote in the last primary on Tuesday June 14th.  The last multistate race is on Tuesday June 7th when California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold a primary and North Dakota holds a caucus.  The next step after this is the Democratic convention in Philadelphia the week of July 25, 2016 and the Republican Convention in Cleveland between July 18 and 21, 2016. This ritual occurs every four years; it is our democracy in action.


Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April Author Talk: Stephen Kendrick

The Lively Place: Mount Auburn, America’s First Garden Cemetery, and Its Revolutionary and Literary Residents (2016)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016—Noon to 1:00 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

According to the history of the cemetery on its own website, Bostonians founded Mount Auburn in 1831 for both practical and aesthetic reasons: to solve an urban land use problem created by an increasing number of burials in the city and to create a tranquil and beautiful place where families could commemorate their loved ones with tasteful works of art in an inviting and natural setting. The public flocked to the new cemetery and Mount Auburn quickly became the model for the American "rural" cemetery movement.

Today Mount Auburn continues its historic dual role as a sacred site and pleasure ground, serving as both an active cemetery and a "museum" preserving nearly two centuries of changing attitudes about death and commemoration and changing tastes in architecture and landscape design. Recognized as one of the most significant designed landscapes in the country, Mount Auburn was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003.

The Reverend Stephen Kendrick, senior minister at the First Church in Boston, Unitarian Universalist, has just published a new history of the cemetery (Beacon Press, 2016). He will describe his research and talk about what makes the cemetery one of the most beautiful places in Massachusetts.

Reverend Kendrick’s previous publications cover a wide range of topics. He is the author or co-author of Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes; Sarah’s Long Walk: The Free Blacks of Boston and How Their Struggle for Equality Changed America; Douglass and Lincoln; and the novel Night Watch.

Please join us for an Author Talk with Stephen Kendrick on Tuesday, April 26, at noon at the State Library. The talk is free and open to the public, and copies of the book The Lively Place will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Please register online and join us on April 24 at the State Library.


Monday, April 18, 2016

The Revolution before the Revolutionary War or No Shot Was Heard in Worcester

Did you know that Worcester was involved in a revolution seven months before the American Revolution started?  The British had taken over the court system and government and the colonists were not happy.  During the late summer of 1774, each time the British conducted court business the colonists disrupted things so there were no court hearings.  On Sept. 6, 1774, more than 4,600 militia from Worcester and three dozen surrounding towns descended on the county courthouse, forcing the magistrates appointed by the British administration to resign. This action effectively declared Worcester County to be beyond the reach of Parliament in London.  It is described as “the real Revolution, the transfer of political authority to American patriots, when thousands upon thousands of farmers and artisans deposed every Crown-appointed official in Massachusetts outside of Boston.” It is sometimes referred to as the Worcester Rebellion. After the militiamen took over they made the British walk the gauntlet for a quarter of a mile reciting loud recantations so everyone could hear.
 
Other cities and towns also revolted. In Salem Governor Gage, the British Governor, was foiled when he arrested seven men responsible for holding a town meeting in Salem, which violated the Massachusetts Government Act. Then three thousand farmers marched on the jail and released the prisoners. Except for Boston there was rebellion in every shire town, any town with a court in it, including Great Barrington, Springfield, and Plymouth. The Massachusetts Government Act was passed in Great Britain on May 20, 1774. It revoked the colony's 1691 charter effectively ending the constitution of Massachusetts. It also restricted the number of town meeting that a community might hold and prohibited the election of town officials. It prevented the import and export of goods. It also meant that there was no representative government for the citizens of Massachusetts.

Gage was not going to fight back against the Worcester Rebellion unless Great Britain sent more troops. Great Britain sent troops in April and Gage dispatched spies to determine where to attack. Gage wanted to attack Worcester but the report was not favorable. "They reported that a march on Worcester, a patriot stronghold and the largest storehouse of weaponry and powder, would be disastrous." Gage attacked Concord instead thus starting the Revolutionary War, seven months after the Worcester Rebellion.

The revolution in Worcester was bloodless, had no famous leaders, mainly involved the middle-class and took place outside of Boston. The colonists attacking in Worcester did not take any guns with them in order to prevent bloodshed. Since there was no shooting, there was no shot heard in Worcester as opposed to the famous shot heard around the world in Concord seven months later.

Library sources covering the Worcester Revolution and events leading to it:



Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Friday, April 15, 2016

Boston Strong and the Marathon Tradition

It is time again for the annual running of the Boston Marathon—the race to be held on April 18, 2016 will mark the 120th continuous year for the world’s oldest marathon, having begun in April 1897 with its inaugural race. It holds the distinction of also being one of only four major events that was still held in the United States during the years of both World Wars (the marathon is in the varied company of the other three: the Kentucky Derby, the Rose Parade, and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show!). Still unarguably the most famous marathon run today, the Boston Marathon was inspired by the successful revival of the Olympic marathon as the signature event of the first international modern-era Summer Olympic Games held in 1896 in Athens, Greece.

When the Boston Athletic Association, which still manages the marathon to this day, originated the idea of running of a marathon on the newly established Patriot’s Day, April 19 (first proclaimed as such in 1894 by Gov. Frederic Greenhalge to commemorate the date of the Battles of Lexington and Concord in 1776), the runner’s route was to trace the route of the battle from Concord to Lexington and on to Boston. As this route was too short at 20 miles, the decision was made to follow the tracks of the Boston and Albany Railroad 40 kilometers (24.5 miles) northwest of Boston to the starting line fixed at Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland. In 1924, the course was lengthened to the more familiar distance of 26.2 miles to commence at the now famous starting line at Hopkinton Town Green.

The State Library has a number of books that recount this long history and tradition of the Boston Marathon; highlight its famous and/or colorful participants over the years; as well as chronicle the tragedy of the 2013 bombings. The library even owns a beautiful, bilingual Greek-English “coffee table” book on history of Marathon, Greece and the history of Olympic marathon running. Listed below is a selection of titles and more can be found in our online catalog here.



Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services



Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pressed Flowers from the Holy Land

Working as a cataloger at the State Library of Massachusetts, I have become accustomed to handling rare materials of all kinds, but a book that recently came to me in need of recataloging caught my eye as something truly special. It is a small book, only six inches tall and 27 pages long, but contained within this slim volume are twelve nicely preserved pressed flowers from the late 19th century.

Published ca. 1898 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Pressed Flowers from the Holy Land contains flowers that were gathered and pressed in Palestine by Harvey B. Greene. Included in the book is a certificate from the U.S. Consul at Jerusalem, who attests that the author “spent three springs, in gathering and pressing the flowers of Palestine, during which time he made with the assistance of native helpers, large collections of the wildflowers,” which the Consul “feel[s] sure … really grew in the Christ Land.”

Delicately secured to the pages of the book are sprigs of Lily of the Field, Papyrus, Mignonette, Puff Ball, Madonna Flower, Judean Clover, Passion Everlasting, Flax, Lentil, Bean, Pheasant's Eye, and Carmel Daisy. Pressed Flowers from the Holy Land may be viewed in its entirety online in the State Library’s electronic repository.
                                                                               



Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian



Monday, March 28, 2016

Hatpins and Cursing


At the library we are continuously looking to make our resources more available to the public. In the past we digitized a number of public documents from our collection as well as all of Massachusetts’ Acts and Resolves. Currently we are in the process of digitizing Massachusetts’ Legislative Documents – all filed bills from the late 1700s, and have already put a number of them online for anyone to search through.

Digitization is a long process, including scanning of the material, creating and editing metadata, and uploading these files so that they are searchable and findable. During the process of editing the metadata, I came across a number of bills that today may have seemed slightly ludicrous. Of course, not all bills become law, but many of these bills seemed to reflect the time that they were filed.

For example, there was a lot of debate about hatpins at the turn of the 20th century, when they were quite fashionable for women to wear with oversized hats and long hair. Massachusetts passed an act in 1913 regulating the use of hatpins, making it unlawful for any person to wear a hatpin in public longer than one half inch. This was an issue all over the country, as women were using the pins as weapons against those harassing them and some saw the hatpins as a symbol of female empowerment at a time when women’s rights were at the center of politics. In 1943, with hatpins being out of fashion, a bill was filed and passed to repeal the hatpin law. Luckily, hatpins have not been a problem since.

There are other bills that today would seem difficult to handle or for police to enforce. In 1936, a bill was filed in the house, “prohibiting the use of obscene or sacrilegious language and swearing at theatrical exhibitions or entertainments”. Perhaps even harder to believe, a bill was filed in 1956, “prohibiting profane, obscene, impure language or slanderous statements directed at participant of sporting event.” When I read this bill, I found it very quaint that the legislatures of 1957 tried to get New England sports fans under control. But it turns out this bill came up again in 1957 and actually passed into law in 1963. In fact, it is still law today. Many people (including myself) may owe a fine of $50 after a visit to The Boston Garden or Fenway Park.

There are many more bills and acts worth looking into, including the intent of a bill filed in 1937, “making it unnecessary for women twenty years of age or over to give their exact age in order to be listed as residents of any city or town or permitted to Vote therein.” While we only have some of the legislative documents from 1913 to the 1980s and early 1990s currently online, we are working to make all of them eventually available!

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian