Monday, May 23, 2016

A Historic View of the Massachusetts State House exhibit

Our current exhibit, A Historic View of the Massachusetts State House, will close at the end of May, so if you haven't had the opportunity to view it in person you have one more week before it goes away. This unique exhibit displays historical images of the construction of the new State House. You can also check out parts of it in our Flickr page.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Alexander Hamilton: the Massachusetts Connection

No historical figure is hotter in the American imagination today than Alexander Hamilton: a hit Broadway show, saved from the brink of being replaced on the $10 bill, and now serving as an unlikely inspiration to some of today’s Republicans in 2016 for his long-ago example of opposing his Federalist Party’s fellow nominee for President in 1800, John Adams.

Hamilton first set foot on the North American Continent in October of 1772 right here in Boston after sailing from his birthplace, Nevis, in the British West Indies. While he quickly made his way to New York to begin his studies at King’s College (later to become Columbia University), Hamilton was greatly influenced in his beliefs by the protests he witnessed against excessive British authority taking place in Faneuil Hall during his stay in Boston. Hamilton’s lasting impact in Massachusetts ranges from his namesake town on the North Shore founded in 1793, the 26th governor of Massachusetts, Alexander Hamilton Bullock, who was named after him, as well as the impressive memorial granite sculpture by artist William Rimmer that was erected in 1865 that can still be found at the entrance to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall at Arlington Street.

The State Library of Massachusetts has a rich and eclectic collection of works on and by Hamilton ranging from an 1865 reprint of the original Federalist, numerous biographical works including a so-called “dramatized” biography (The Conqueror by Gertrude Atherton), complete sets of Hamilton’s compiled works, and even a fascinating pamphlet chronicling the Burr-Hamilton duel that eventually took Hamilton’s life in 1804. In his short 49 years, Hamilton left a legacy that still lives on in the United States of today.

Judith Carlstrom
Technical Services

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

May Author Talk: Dr. James J. O'Connell

Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor by James J. O’Connell 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, 
Massachusetts State House

The State Library of Massachusetts is pleased to invite you to an Author Talk with James J. O’Connell, M.D., on Wednesday, May 11. Dr. O’Connell, author of Stories from the Shadows: Reflections of a Street Doctor, will speak about his work providing health care services to the homeless population of Boston for over 30 years.

Dr. O’Connell is one of the founding physicians of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, started in 1985 with the goal to provide clinical services to homeless men, women, and children. This program now serves over 12,000 homeless people each year in Boston. Throughout his extraordinary career serving this often marginalized population, Dr. O’Connell has written essays, never intending to be published, chronicling the humanity and courage of those living a life on the streets. These essays have now been compiled and published as Stories from the Shadows, a book which, according to its foreword, “instantly and irrevocably transports you into a fascinating universe of individuals usually invisible to us … The riveting stories presented here capture each life in such moving and vivid detail that you will be forever changed.”

Dr. O’Connell’s talk is free and open to the public, and copies of Stories from the Shadows will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Please register online and join us May 11 at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

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