Monday, December 14, 2009

Brown Bag Lunch Series

Bring your lunch and visit the State Library to learn about resources available for research. Join us in the Main Reading Room, Room 341, at 12:00pm on the following dates. Programs end at 1:30pm.

Dec. 17
Saving for the Future: Preserving Collections at the State Library of Massachusetts
Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian, will talk about conserving state agency publications. Techniques and products used in maintaining volumes dating back to 1800 will be discussed. Tips on applying these to your family's papers will be given. The session will include an optional tour of the Special Collections Preservation Lab. Advance registration is appreciated.

Jan. 14
Advanced Legislative History: the Budget
The budget process and locating past years' appropriations will be explained. Michael Segal from InstaTrac will discuss the BudgeTrac Service, a state budget analysis tool accessible through the web.

Feb. 11
Census 2010
Arthur Bakis from the U.S. Census Bureau will talk about accessing population data and the upcoming decennial census.

Mar. 11
Genealogy (tentative)

Apr. 15
Massachusetts Women in Politics
The focus of this will be women in the Massachusetts General Court.

May 20
Electronic Resources in the State Library
A repeat of November's offering, come learn about databases and the growing repository of state documents.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Gift Received by The State Library

On December 2 the State Library received a wonderful gift for the collection on behalf of the Consulat General du Canada. Neil J. Le Blanc, Consul General, presented The Evolution of Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia to Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo as a gift to the State Library. This volume commemorates 250 years of democracy and reproduces important documents from Nova Scotia's history. Only 12 copies of this book were made, all being hand-bound and printed on handmade linen paper. A booklet, The Making of "The Evolution of Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia", accompanies the presentation volume and illustrates the methods and materials used in producing this volume.

In addition to being a beautifully made showpiece, this volume enhances the library's collection and expands our coverage of legal history. The Evolution of Parliamentary Democracy in Nova Scotia is available for viewing in the Special Collections department. As part of the 250th celebration, content from this volume is posted in an online exhibit available through the Democracy 250 website.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving at the State Library

The State Library of Massachusetts has many resources regarding Thanksgiving, from its early history to the present day. At left is a picture of the star of America's modern Thanksgiving, the turkey. This print is from John James Audubon's Birds of America double-elephant folio. The library holds this series of volumes in the Special Collections department.

For early history of the holiday, the library has several primary resources.

- William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation includes a description of the harvest feast of 1621, which is generally considered the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth.

- Edward Winslow's Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth includes a more detailed description of the first Thanksgiving than Of Plimoth Plantation. Published in 1622, the State Library has two reprint edtions, one from 1865 and one from 1985.

- The library also has several Thanksgiving Day Proclamations from the 1700s. The item at left is a proclamation from 1796 given by Governor Samuel Adams. If you click the image to increase its size, you'll notice that the Governor declared that Thanksgiving should be on December 15th that year. Early days of thanksgiving were scheduled at various times throughout the year to reflect and pray on the bounty and good fortune. Thanksgiving Day Proclamations can be found in the Special Collections department.

Moving to more contemporary items, the library holds volumes regarding many aspects of the Thanksgiving story.

For more information about the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people:

- The Faith and Theology of the Pilgrims by Gary Marks.
- The Pilgrims of New England : A Tale of the Early American Settlers by Mrs. J.B. Webb.
- Performing the Pilgrims : A Study of Ethnohistorical role-playing at Plimoth Plantation by Stephen Eddy Snow
- One of the Keys: 1676-1776-1976 : The Wampanoag Indian Contribution by Milton A. Travers
- The Wampanoags of Mashpee : An Indian Perspective on American History by Russell Peters.

For more information about contemporarpy Wampanoag:

- Son of Mashpee : Reflections of Chief Flying Eagle, a Wampanoag by Earl Mills Sr. and Alicja Mann.
- Tribal-State Compact between the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (pictured at left).
- [Letter from Shawn W. Hendricks, Sr. , Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, to Governor Deval Patrick Regarding a Tribal-State Compact for Class III gaming] (electronic resource).
- Search Proquest to find articles on current Wampanoag culture, the protest of Thanksgiving, and the related day of mourning observed by the Wampanoag.

For more information about the Thanksgiving holiday from State Agencies:

- Thanksgiving travel : A Holiday Travel Supplement from Massport
- Report on Pilot Program for the Suspension of Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike during the Thanksgiving Holiday

And if you just want some fun reading for the long weekend:

- Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs (electronic resource via C/W Mars).
- Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Save Your State Library – Follow us on Facebook

As announced in a previous post, Governor Patrick is considering closing the State Library of Massachusetts as a cost-saving measure. If you would like to show your support for the library remaining open, please sign our petition [Edited 11/30/09: Thank you for your support. The petition is now closed.]. You can now follow us on Facebook by becoming a fan of Save Your State Library! You can also visit our Facebook site without being a member by visiting Click over to view photos of library treasures and unique resources, such as the Haitian medal awarded to Charles Sumner in 1871, pictured at left. We will continue to grow this collection of photographs, so check in with us often!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Save the State Library of Massachusetts

At a press conference on Thursday, October 29, the Governor's Office announced that Governor Patrick is considering closing the State Library of Massachusetts as a cost-saving measure. This closure will have a monumental impact on the cultural heritage of the Commonwealth.

Open to the public since 1826, the State Library has developed comprehensive collections in the areas of government documents, law, Massachusetts history, and public and current affairs. From the Bradford manuscript "Of Plimoth Plantation" to the ever-expanding digital repository, the State Library has collected items of crucial importance to the record of Massachusetts' historical wealth.

Please sign the petition to ensure that Massachusetts' heritage continues to remain freely accessible to all members of the public. [Edited 11/30/09: Thank you for your support. The petition is now closed.] To contact the Governor's Office directly, please visit

If you would like to make a donation, please visit the Friends of the State Library page at

Monday, November 2, 2009

Profiles of Legislators

The State Library has a Legislative Biography file with information on legislators going back to the 1700's on 3 x 5 index cards. Over the decades staff recorded data about each person serving in the General Court. Recently someone called the State Library and asked for information on Captain John Bayley from Maine. Maine was part of Massachusetts until March 15, 1820. The information I found on Capt. John Bayley's card is:

Massachusetts House of Representatives: 1791.

Birth place and date: Weymouth, Feb. 2, 1737; son of Rev. James and Sarah Bayley

Occupation: Farmer and soldier

Death place and date: Woolwich, ME on July 29, 1813

This card file is currently being digitized for the Library's electronic collection.

Other biographical sources are the Official Gazette for the years 1885 through 1890, the Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators covering 1893 through 1917, and the Bird Book (a series of volumes published under various titles) for 1908 to the present. All contain brief profiles. Photographs of individuals began appearing in 1908. These items are accessible through the Library's digital collections.

Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Blast from the Past: Library Rules

Over the summer, I completed a course on preservation management as part of the archives management concentration at the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. The class took a field trip to the State Library, its Special Collections, and the preservation lab. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes and how a number of preservation techniques that we were learning about were applied in a real situation. After finishing the class, I am fortunate enough to intern here at the State Library’s preservation lab and gain some hands on experience.

The project I am working on is rehousing documents from the Massachusetts Room that are fragile and thin. The items that I have worked on so far have a wide range in dates and cover a number of different topics. One of the best things about this project is that each document is unique. Many are different sizes or different formats and every day I find something new and interesting.

The first thing I do is remove any deteriorating paper or plastic folders. I then take out any staples or ribbons that have been holding multiple sheets together. These steps are taken to prevent further damage to the documents caused by unstable enclosures or fasteners. Next, I measure and cut a new acid-free folder so that it will give a close fit for the document with just a little extra room on the sides. The last thing I do is place the folder inside an envelope that is labeled with its call number, title, and author. This allows patrons to identify the contents of each envelope without having to pull out the item. Now the documents have a little more support and protection from light damage and shelf wear.

One of my favorite things that I have found so far is a document called Massachusetts State Library Rules. They went into effect on December 1, 1926.

A few of my favorite rules are:

#11: It is requested that users of the library shall refrain from removing their coats and appearing in shirt-sleeves in the main reading room

#13: Telephone calls will be delivered only in cases of emergency.

The rules are fascinating because they highlight changes in social conventions, technology advances, and differences in library procedures. Stay tuned for more interesting finds!

- Corinne Philips, Preservation Intern

Friday, October 23, 2009

Medicaid Audit and All Other Audits

The State Library has received a copy of the recent audit entitled:

This detailed audit found the program has inadequate internal controls, policies, procedures, and regulations over the Personal Care Attendant Program.

The State Library receives all the audits conducted by the State Auditor. We have them available in Room 341 of the Library in paper copies.

We also film them, so that we will have a permanent copy of the audits.

Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Thursday, October 22, 2009

South Coast Rail Corridor Plan

The South Coast Rail Economic Development and Land Use Corridor Plan integrates planning with economic and land use development on a regional scale. The gateway cities of New Bedford, Fall River, and Taunton will be reconnected to Boston by commuter rail and revitalized through smart growth strategies. This blueprint clusters jobs and residences around new stations, maximizes the economic benefits of transit investment, preserve farms, fields, and forests in each community, and minimizes sprawl. By reducing the need for auto trips, the accumulation of greenhouse gas emissions will be slowed. Renewable energy will be incorporated into the design of the stations. Thirty-one municipalities, three regional planning agencies, the Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force, and multiple state agencies participated in creating this vision for the corridor through 2030.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Preservation Update

It has been a busy couple of weeks in Special Collections and Preservation! Two major initiatives are underway and in the midst of these projects, I traveled to New Jersey to finish up my term at the Preservation Management Institute.

The Massachusetts Room Preservation Project
This is a multi-year project focused on rehousing unique documents produced by state agencies and concerning the Commonwealth. Many of these items were produced during the era of brittle paper (approximately the 1850s to 1950s) and are very fragile as a result. The preservation intern for the fall is working on rehousing fragile and thin items into acid-free folders and envelopes to provide support on the shelf and protection from light damage that can further degrade brittle paper. So far this season over 150 items have been preserved as part of this project. Stay tuned to the blog for updates on the project and posts about interesting items discovered in the process.

Mapping Massachusetts: the History of Transportation in the Commonwealth
This year the State Library received a grant as part of the Library Services and Technology Act to digitize collections relating to transportation systems in the Commonwealth. These materials include manuscript maps of railroads (built and proposed), materials from the Land and Harbor Commissioners, and materials relating to canals and tunnels in the state. Preparation for digitization has begun and that includes making sure that items look their best before they go under the cameras. Over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning up and making any minor repairs necessary to our first batch of items to be scanned, approximately 300 railroad maps. It is a great experience to see and work on these hand-drawn maps. With some stretching to over six feet long, they are really a testament to the care and diligence of state mapmakers of years past.

Preservation Management Institute
As mentioned in previous posts, the Library was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Preservation Assistance Grant last year to support my year of study at the Preservation Management Institute, a program of the Rutgers University School of Communication and Information. This October I traveled to Rutgers to complete my third and final week of the program. The class had some very interesting discussions about mission statements and current trends, the future of libraries in light of growing digital collections, managing change during times of restructuring and budget shifts, and a very enlightening presentation on digital imaging and what saving as a jpeg means for data/image loss. This week of discussions and presentations brought together ideas discussed in the previous two weeks of class and the hands-on experiences I've gained at the State Library over the past year.

The highlight of week three for me was our "backstage" tour of the New York Public Library (Mid-Manhattan Library). We spent a rainy afternoon there touring the preservation and conservation labs, the microfilming lab, the Office of the Registrar which handles exhibits, the main reading room, and the map room.
There were so many amazing things it is hard to express all we saw, but I guess I can sum it up by saying, we walked right by a Gutenberg Bible and only noticed it on a second pass through. What could be the crown of some collections is just sitting quietly in its own exhibit case with no fanfare. A slightly dark picture of the Bible is included at left. (No flash photography was allowed.)

We ended the day by visiting the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. I know their collections are amazing, but I was most taken by the compact map shelving and beautiful decor of the reading room. Below at left is a picture of the ceiling of the reading room. While I appreciate that new technologies can provide library services in remote locations, there's something to be said for providing library services in amazing reading rooms.

For those of you looking for a beautiful space to access library resources and wi-fi here in Boston, the State Library has huge windows for natural light, a beautifully renovated reading room, and a flat screen television on the balcony for viewing House and Senate sessions.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Federal Documents at the State Library

The State Library of Massachusetts is a selective federal depository library and, as such, we participate in the Federal Depository Library Program. The library collects documents from numerous agencies including the U.S. Census, Congress, and the Justice Department as well as laws and regulations.

Some of the federal documents the State Library receives are these:

ED 1.109: 2009
The Condition of Education
This is an annual report on subjects like the growth in enrollment, statistics concerning poverty and education, statistics on homeschooling, reading and scores.

HE 20.7042/6: 2008
Health, United States, 2008: with Special Feature on Health of Young Adults
This publication has charts on mortality rates, influenza and pneumococcal vaccination among middle-age and older adults by age, and health insurance expenditures. It also covers death rates and birth rates.

PREX 3.15: 2008
World Factbook
This book, produced by the CIA, contains many facts broken down into topics by geography, government, military, and additional subjects for each profiled country.

J 1.14/7: 1995-2008 online
Crime in the U.S.
“Several annual statistical publications, such as the comprehensive Crime in the United States, are produced from data provided by nearly 17,000 law enforcement agencies across the United States.” It gives statistics on offenses in the categories of violent crime, property crime, homicides, burglary, and other unlawful acts.

J 1.8/2: F 87/2009
Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2009
This book is an overview of the Freedom of Information Act requirements, exemptions, and litigation considerations.

For more links to federal documents go to the State Library’s web page at Choose Government Data & Documents, then Federal Data & Resources

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Library Hours for October 12-16

The State Library and the Special Collections Department will be closed on Monday, October 12 for the holiday.

October 13 through 16 the Special Collections Department will be available by appointment only. Please visit the reference desk in the main library (Room 341) to access Special Collections or call (617) 727-2590 to schedule an appointment.

The main library in Room 341 will be open regular hours from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm October 13 through 16.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Regular Day in Special Collections

One of my favorite things about working with special collections is the type of materials that can fall into your lap. Recently I was searching the stacks for a volume in our Pennsylvania collection and in the process I came across the volume pictured at the left, Acts and Laws, Colony of Rhode Island, 1730.

The State Library began in 1811 as a document exchange program between states and we have large holdings of other states’ legislative documents. The Rhode Island volume is just one of many we have for the state, but a particularly interesting one, as it was published in 1730 prior to American independence. The volume includes both the 1663 charter of the colony issued by King Charles the Second and the acts and laws of the colony. The information contained in this volume is invaluable for researchers of early American legal history, early Rhode Island history, and history of rule under the crown.

At the bottom of the title page a signature reads “Samuel Bennett.” While we cannot be certain of the provenance of this volume, a bit of research turned up references to a Samuel Bennett Jr. of East Greenwich, Rhode Island who was born around 1664 and died in 1745. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts includes a lengthy passage about the Bennett family and notes that the junior Mr. Bennett was a carpenter and deacon of two churches, one in East Greenwich and one in Warwick. Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of the State of Massachusetts is available in the State Library under call number O 929 M31 C99g. Acts and Laws, Colony of Rhode Island, 1730 is available in the Special Collections department as part of the Rhode Island collection.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Health Reform


The report includes hearings, a summary of the findings, testimony by the attendees, and media reports.

Now in the Library, the report is a timely addition to the discussion on health care reform.

Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Friday, October 2, 2009

Grants for Cities and Towns

Community development grants offerred by Massachusetts state agencies are a click away on the state's web site. To foster livable municipalities, funding in these areas may be available:

brownfield redevelopment
economic development
neighborhood revitalization
downtown revitalization

Technical support programs from these offices are also listed. Grants and Funding is a selection under Online Services at, the Commonwealth's home page.

Monday, September 28, 2009

High School Dropouts

The Massachusetts Department of Education's 2007-2008 annual dropout report provides education leaders with data to develop and strengthen prevention programs. Entitled High School Dropouts 2007-08, Massachusetts Public Schools, rates are taken from one year of statistics for grades nine through twelve. These are broken down by race/ethnicity and gender, school type, special populations, and summer/school year. Trends over time and final enrollment status of those in the latest count are presented. The appendices track annual dropout rate by district and school beginning in 2000 and by grade, gender, and race/ethnicity for individual school districts in 2007-2008.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cambridge Women in Politics

The Library is pleased to announce the opening of another new exhibit, Cambridge Women in Politics, which will run September 21 to December 18 at Cambridge City Hall.

The exhibit is located along the staircase on the first and second floors and highlights five prominent Cantabrigian women who have played important roles in the city's political life. Current Mayor E. Denise Simmons, current State Representative Martha "Marty" Walz, current State Representative Alice Wolf, former Mayor Barbara Ackermann, and former Mayor Sheila Russell are all featured. Cambridge Women in Politics is a precursor to Massachusetts Women in Politics, the State Library's Winter 2010 exhibit produced in collaboration with the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators.

Cambridge Women in Politics is presented by the State Library of Massachusetts in collaboration with the Office of Mayor E. Denise Simmons and the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators.

Cambridge City Hall
795 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Monday 8:30am - 8pm
Tuesday - Thursday 8:30am - 5pm
Friday 8:30am - 12pm

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Holyoke: Queen of Industrial Cities

The library's newest exhibit, Holyoke: Queen of Industrial Cities, will open on September 14 and run through January 15, 2010.

This exhibit highlights State Library collections regarding Holyoke, Massachusetts, and tells the story of the Industrial Revolution's impact on the town. Books, maps, and photographs of one of the country's first planned industrial towns will be included in the display. This exhibit was produced in collaboration with the Holyoke Public Library, and photographs from their Milan P. Warner collection will be on display. Warner, a Holyoke photographer in the 1880s and 1890s, captured beautiful black and white images of the town during its first industrial boom.

The exhibit will be on display through January at the State Library of Massachusetts, Room 341 of the Massachusetts State House.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Forest Trees

For the first time since 1922, A Pocket Manual entitled FOREST TREES OF MASSACHUSETTS has been published.

This project was funded by the United States Forest Service.

There are over 50 entries which include a picture of the unique character of the tree and a detailed description of the individual tree.

One may access the publication on the State Library website at:

The manual is an interesting, informative addition to the Library's collection.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Feeling the Heat? Come to the State Library!

The State Library offers a cool, air-conditioned space as well as wireless access for your laptop or other Wi-Fi accessible tools. You can enjoy our Main Library located in Room 341 of the State House or views of Boston’s West End from our Periodicals Balcony located in room 442. We are open 9-5 Monday through Friday. If you have any questions please call: 617-727-2590

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Finding information about past legislators

A generous donor has recently given the State Library of Massachusetts a collection of photographs of legislators dating from 1880 to about 1920. These are platinum prints (or platinotypes), a photographic process that achieved widespread use in 1880 and continued to be popular until 1930. Of particular value is the fact that most of the recently donated images are signed on the back by the legislator.

Depicted below is Anthony Smalley, a retired ship's master from Nantucket, who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Republican from 1890 to 1894.

According to the 1894 Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators, he served on the Committee on Fisheries and Game as well as the Committtees on Public Service; Street Railways; and Finance, Expenditures, and Revision of Corporation Laws during his time in office.

The State Library holds another collection of photographs of representatives and senators from about 1855 to 1908 for which we have a detailed alphabetical list in the Special Collections department. This new acquisition is a valuable supplement to that larger collection.

Shown above and at right are front and back examples (again for Anthony Smalley) of another valuable source of information about individuals who have served in the Massachusetts General Court prior to the early 20th century: legislative bio cards in Special Collections. These date from the late 18th century to 1915 and often list date of birth, birth place, date of death, names of parents, place of death, occupation, years served in the Massachusetts or U.S. House or Senate, posts held in the state or federal government, and community represented.

Paige Roberts
Head of Special Collections

Friday, July 17, 2009

Interesting Find: The Dedication of a Rest Room

With the summer exhibit posted, in Special Collections we've begun researching two future exhibits, one on the town of Holyoke and another on women in politics. While searching the Burrill File subject list for records of women legislators we came across the subject folder State House - Women's Rest Room. With a heading like that we had to see what was inside.

The folder contains a typed address by Thomas F. Pedrick, Chairman of the State House Commission, given upon the dedication of the Women's Rest Room in the State House. Additionally, two copies of the photograph at left are included in the folder. The photographs (circa 1918) are marked as having been taken at the dedication. The photographs and full text of the address can be viewed in the Special Collections Department, but two excerpts from the address are included below.

"When it became an assured fact that the Wings* were to be erected, I was in hopes that a suitable retiring room might be provided for the ladies employed here, and with that idea in view, I addressed a communication to the State House Building Commission in 1913, urging them to set apart the necessary space for that purpose. ... But owing partly, I presume, to the unavoidable change in the personnel of the Building Commission, and largely to the changes they had to make in plans to provide quarters for the continually growing business of the departments, the right kind of a room for this special need could not be provided."

"But since the declaration of war against Germany, every line of business has passed through a great change, and the working conditions in this building have likewise changed, owing to the great increase in the work. Massachusetts has ever been foremost in giving her all when the country needed her, and again she is in the forefront. Her young men, in large numbers, are serving in the American army across the seas, on the battle fields of Flanders, Picardy, the Marne, and in the Toul sector. Her civilians are all enlisted in the Home army for the protection of the health of her people, and the conservation of food and fuel, in order that we may back up the boys at the front. One of our patriotic duties, surely, is to see that the young women in industry and office work are properly cared for in case of sickness."

With the men away at war, the influx of women to the workforce required concrete changes in the work place. And while I'm not sold on Pedrick's "women's rest room as patriotic duty" idea, the installation of such a space signaled that the times were definitely changing.

To make this item even more intersting, Pedrick's address was given in the presence of the then-Lieutenant Governor, Calvin Coolidge. Future President Coolidge can be seen in the above picture, front row, second from left.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

* The East and West wings were erected between 1914 and 1917.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sen. Moore presents book on industrial history of the Blackstone Valley to State Librarian

July 15, 2009 ... Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, recently presented a copy of Landscape of Industry: An Industrial History of the Blackstone Valley, by the Worcester Historical Museum, to the State Librarian, Elvernoy Johnson, at the State House. The book, which features a foreword from Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-MA, describes the history of one of the most important regions in the nation that contributed to the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century. The book previously had a ceremonial unveiling on Tuesday, June 7th, welcoming Sen. Moore, Congressman Richard Neal, MA-2, and Congressman James McGovern, MA-3.

As An Industrial History of the Blackstone Valley recounts, in 1790, American craftsmen built the first machines that successfully used waterpower to spin cotton. America's first factory, Slater Mill, was constructed on the banks of the Blackstone River. The revolution in harnessing the power of water spread quickly through the Valley and in other areas of New England, leading to the erection of new structures, changes to the landscape, and radically altered ways in which people lived and worked. The unique history of the region unfolds within the book, including the life and economy of the mills, the complex transportation networks, the role of slaves and the history of abolition in the Valley, the struggle for workers' rights, and the creation of the unique National Heritage Corridor itself.

Sen. Moore, who is a member of the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission, presented the book to Ms. Johnson as a donation to the State Library. Upon presenting the book, Sen. Moore remarked upon the important contributions of the Blackstone Valley industry not only in the Commonwealth, but the United States. The book will be displayed in the front of the library within the State House.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chapter 40B

The Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight has issued a new report entitled: BUILDING ACCOUNTABILITY INTO THE MASSACHUSETTS AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROGRAM,

Chapter 40B has been a controversial issue for over a decade.

The committee heard varying testimony about the cost certification process. As a result, the report contains both findings and recommendations.

Bette L. Siegel
Documents Librarian

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Learning about maps

Thanks to New England Archivists’ Hale Award for professional development, in June I was able to attend a course on the history, collection, description, and use of maps at Rare Book School at the University of Virginia. Taught by Alice Hudson, chief of the Map Division at New York Public Library, this class of 14 students included lively and knowledgeable map librarians, collectors, and antiquarian dealers from around the country. This course was a fascinating and helpful mix of group exercises and fun hands-on work with original maps, atlases, and globes. Below instructor Alice Hudson explains the cartouche used in this early atlas.

We learned map concepts and the elements of a map as well as approaches to cataloging maps. Because an understanding of printing history is crucial for dating early maps, we were fortunate to be able to actually operate a printing press. Shown below is Terry Belanger, founder and director of Rare Book School, demonstrating to the class how to work the press.

The maps in the Special Collections department of the State Library of Massachusetts are very well preserved, stored, and cataloged. This terrific course gave me a much deeper understanding of the history of cartography in general as well as ideas about new ways to approach our map collection here at the State House. I look forwrad to offering a workshop about the State Library’s own map and atlas collection in the coming months.

Paige Roberts
Head of Special Collections

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

State Library to be open Friday and Monday

The State Library of Massachusetts will be open as usual 9:00am to 5:00pm Friday July 3 and Monday July 6.

If you are looking for an appropriate way to celebrate Independence Day this year, you may want to consider a 3-hour walking tour of the entire Freedom Trail. It will leave from the State House at 9:00am and run until noon on Saturday.

Footloose on the Freedom Trail

Best wishes to all our patrons for a joyous 4th of July!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Historic Chatham Maps

After reading about the loss of two more summer residences in Chatham due to the shifting of tides and erosion of beach, I thought it might be interesting to take a look through our map collection to find maps of Chatham and the Nauset Beach area.

The map at left was published in 1873 as part of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Document 65, the Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Harbor Commissioners. This map is particularly interesting as it reproduces Captain Champlain's map of Chatham from 1606 (lower right corner). Additionally, coastal surveys from 1853, 1868 and 1872 are included to show the movement of land over time. Click on the image to view a larger version.

The second map at left was published in 1874 as part of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Document 65, the Eighth Annual Report of the Board of Harbor Commissioners. I find this map particularly interesting because of the notes throughout the map that describe how the areas changed over the lifetimes of the mapmaker's patriarchal line. A note at the very bottom of the map reads: "A Sketch, (as handed down to me) of Nauset and Monomoy beaches, as they existed, in the days of my Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandfather I find by the Records the last settled at Chatham in 1684." Click on the image to view a larger version, where other notes can be read.

To view the original maps or House documents relating to the maps, please stop by the Special Collections Department of the State Library.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spot of Color

After such dreary weather in the Boston area, it was a nice surprise to find such a bright spot in the lab today.

As I was unfolding several pages of the Vassall Pedigree, I found this slip of paper with four family seals. I am particularly fond of the seal in the upper left corner - a little sunshine for the summer.

Click the image to view a larger version.

The pedigree will be unfolded, repaired, and will be stored flat. A special case will be made to hold these seals and to protect them for the future.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

State Library Awarded IMLS Grant

The State Library of Massachusetts has been awarded the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Bookshelf Grant. The IMLS press release can be read here.

The library looks forward to using the resources provided through this grant to further the preservation of library collections.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Archivists and our Pencils

Several months ago, I wrote a short piece about the Special Collections staff and our pencils. I never got around to publishing it to the blog, but as today is my last day before going on maternity leave, I thought I'd post it and leave (for now) with a meditation on one of the essential tools of the archivist and librarian:

Archivists and Our Pencils

Have you ever wondered why you are required to use pencil while working with historical library materials and archival collections? It’s to protect the items. Ink from a pen could permanently damage historic materials, while pencil is a much less invasive and more reversible tool. I imagine that the tradition probably began when fountain pens were ubiquitous in the workplace. Judging from some old documents we’ve seen, accidents were not uncommon. So pencil was by far the safest writing tool to use around precious archives and library items.

It’s not just patrons who must use pencils in an archives or special collections: the staff use pencils for many of our tasks. In the Special Collections Department, we do use pens for some things: taking notes in meetings, jotting down outlines for reports, and such. But when working on, with, or even near our collections, we use pencil. Because we use them so much, and probably because we are precise and a little obsessive by our professional natures, each of us in the department has developed our own little pencil habits and fetishes.

Lacy, the Preservation Librarian, uses pencils for making enclosures for books, applying titles and call numbers to items, and also for most of her writing and note-taking. Because she uses pencils so much and for different tasks, she has her favorite kind of pencil for each task. For marking enclosures and labels, she prefers a Ticonderoga Soft, because it is easier to erase. But for regular writing, she likes a harder pencil.

We have a number of different kinds of pencil sharpeners in the Special Collections Department. Interestingly, no-one likes the electric sharpener: it just doesn't produce a good enough point. We prefer to use one of the two old-fashioned table-mounted sharpeners, or a hand-held one. Shawna, a former library page, liked to use a small hand-held sharpener that she keept with her pencils and other tools. I like the extreme sharpness produced by the table-mounted sharpener in the back workroom ("sharp enough to slay a vampire" is my motto). Because I also wear down those sharp pencils quickly while processing manuscript collections, I like to have a number of them lined up on my right. As they get worn down, I lay them aside on my left, and then sharpen them again all at once.

Patrick, the Library Program Coordinator, doesn’t understand it at all, but he can think of a corollary that helps him get it: he compares this pencil connoisseurship to the way billiards players think of their pool cues. I think that it is just an extension of our natural propensity for order and systematic hierarchical arrangement. The same precision and attention to detail that allows librarians and archivists to successfully arrange complicated systems of information also carries over to our management of the physical work environment. Sometimes it even bleeds over into our choice of writing tool.

-Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Essential New England Books

Recently the Boston Globe listed 100 Essential New England books on their web site. The State Library holds many of these titles, some of which can be accessed electronically through the library catalog as an e-book or audio book file to download with a valid State Library card. Title, author, and call number information is listed below. If you see something that piques your interest, stop by for some summer reading!

All souls : A Family Story from Southie / Michael Patrick MacDonald F73.68.S7 M33 1999

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao / Junot Diaz PS3554.I259 B75 2007
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner

The City Below / James Carroll PS3553.A764 C58 1994

A Civil Action / Jonathan Harr KF228.A7 H37 1995

Cod : A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World / Mark Kurlansky PN6071.C66 K87 1997

Common Ground : A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families / J. Anthony Lukas F73.9.A1 L85 1985

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court / Mark Twain E-Book and Audio Book File

The Emperor's Children / Claire Messud PS3563.E8134 E47 2006
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner

Ethan Frome / Edith Wharton Audio Book File

Girl, Interrupted / Susanna Kaysen RC464.K36 A3 1993

John Adams / David McCullough E322 .M38 2001

The Last Hurrah / by Edwin O'Connor PS3565.C55 L3 1956

Little Women / Louisa May Alcott Audio Book File
Also available as an E-Book in the Collected Works of Louisa May Alcott

Looking Backward, 2000-1887 / by Edward Bellamy PS1086 .L6 1995

Massachusetts : A Novel / Nancy Zaroulis PS3576.A74 M37 1991

Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War / Nathaniel Philbrick F68 .P44 2006
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner

Mystic River / Dennis Lehane PS3562.E426 M97 2001
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner

Olive Kitteridge / Elizabeth Strout Audio Book File

One Boy's Boston, 1887-1901 / Samuel Eliot Morison F73.5 .M6

Paul Revere's Ride / David Hackett Fischer F69.R43 F57 1994

The Perfect Storm : A True Story of Men Against the Sea / Sebastian Junger QC945 .J66 1997

Profiles in Courage / John F. Kennedy E176 .K4 1956
Inaugural and Memorial editions are also available.

Promised Land / Robert B. Parker E-Book

The Rascal King : The Life and Times of James Michael Curley, 1874-1958 / Jack Beatty F70.C85 B44 1992

Science and Health : With Key to the Scriptures / by Mary Baker Eddy BX6941 .S4 1994

The Secret Life of Lobsters : How Fishermen and Scientists are Unraveling the Mysteries of our Favorite Crustacean / Trevor Corson QL444.M33 C675 2004

Summer of '49 / David Halberstam GV875.B62 H35 1989

The Very Hungry Caterpillar / by Eric Carle PZ7.C21476 Ve 1979
A Massachusetts Book Award Winner

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail / Bill Bryson E-Book

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Friday, May 29, 2009

Seeing Double!

As an intern volunteering at the State Library's Special Collection Department, I have a few projects that I work on. One of them is the ongoing database project, the goal of which is to allow public access to 8,000 photographs of World War I soldiers from New England that was donated to the State Library by the Boston Globe. Photographs are not the only source of information; some information can also be found on the photo envelope such as name, rank, unit, and the occasional newspaper clipping as well as an index card collection (though there is not a card for every photo) with additional information such as address and date the information was printed about the soldier.

On Wednesday afternoon, while I was scanning the second box of photographs for the day, I noticed something odd. I was previewing image number P359_2503 to make sure the scan of the photo would be perfect and I became confused. The individual in the photo look almost identical to the photograph I had scanned just previously. So naturally I checked to make sure that I was not scanning the same photo twice; I had not. I then double checked what unit each man had belonged to and those were different as well. I had stumbled upon two men with the same last names from different units that looked to be brothers if not twins. Abraham Fenno of the 101st Infantry Company C (left) and Patrick Fenno of 101st Machine Gun Company (right). The lost twins are found again!

Samantha Westall, Intern

Brown Bag Lunch on Legislative History Research - June 11

The 9C Law:
An Introduction to Legislative History Research

What is it? What is its history?

Why do the newspapers always refer to it?

Join us for a BROWN BAG LUNCH

Thursday, June 11 12 -2 PM Room 341
In the State Library

You will learn how to do a legislative history by learning how and when this law was added and then amended.

Please RSVP by phone (617-727-2590) or email (

Sponsored by the Friends of the State Library

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Slavery and the Massachusetts Constitution

We did some research regarding a question about involuntary servitude and the Massachusetts Constitution.

The 13th amendment in the U.S. Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude.

The Massachusetts Constitution never outlawed slavery but Article One of the Declaration of Rights says: “Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. [Annulled by Amendments, Art. CVI.]”

This quotation is from the Massachusetts General Court’s website.

There is a website that has slavery abolition dates for the states.

This is what it says about the State of Massachusetts:
“Massachusetts - The constitution of 1780’s case law abolish slavery in 1781. The constitution of 1780 was never actually amended to prohibit slavery…. The Massachusetts Legislature did debate…but choose to do nothing understanding public opinion as being strongly anti-slavery.”

-Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian

Friday, May 22, 2009

Haitian Flag Day: May 18, 2009

In conjunction with a reception sponsored by Representative Linda Forry, the State Library celebrated Haiti’s Flag Day with a display of several historical items related to Haiti from the Library’s collections. Of special interest was a biography of founding father Jean-Jacques Dessalines and a bound volume of official documents entitled Haytian Papers, both published soon after the republic’s independence in 1804 as well as a 1797 map (see below) of the island. Also put on view was the medal Haiti awarded to United States Senator Charles Sumner in 1871 for his work on behalf of that nation. All of these and other items related to Haiti are available to see in the State Library’s Special Collections department.

Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections

Ernest Dudley Chase: A Worldview in Maps: Exhibit now on view at the State Library

A new exhibit at the State Library of Massachusetts highlights original, decorative maps created and published in the 1930s and 1940s by Ernest Dudley Chase, a graphic artist from Winchester, Mass.

Born in Lowell, Ernest Dudley Chase (1878-1966) worked for Rust Craft Publishers, which printed greeting cards at its plant in Dedham. Chase was the acknowledged expert in the greeting card business in the United States with publication of his book The Romance of Greeting Cards (1926), the first complete history of the greeting card industry. Chase’s maps were an extension of his work as a graphic artist for Rust Craft and also reflected an international trend toward pictorial mapmaking.

These decorative maps, which experienced a resurgence in public popularity after 1913, are a genre in which the cartography is animated with illustrations of buildings, people, and animals. Often including historical references, the maps also frequently depicted airplanes and other modes of transportation. Borrowing from typical Renaissance cartography, Chase and other pictorial mapmakers used embellishments like compass roses, ornate cartouches, and decorative borders.

Chase’s maps revel in a colorful, idiosyncratic, and whimsical view of the world. This exhibit of his original cartographic creations showcases maps of Boston, Massachusetts, New England, the United States, and the world.

This free exhibit will be on display outside the State Library of Massachusetts, Room 341 of the State House, Boston, through September 7, 2009.

-Special Collections Staff

Preservation Work on the New Exhibit is Complete

The library is excited to bring our new exhibit, Ernest Dudley Chase: A Worldview in Maps, to the public. In this exhibit the library is expanding the number of original collections on display. Before any collections can be exhibited, they must be examined and any preservation issues must be addressed. All of the maps on exhibit were surface cleaned, repaired with Japanese tissue, and encapsulated for exhibit.

Since these maps are from the 1930s - 60s and still in very good condition, we decided to create an encapsulation for exhibit only, that will be removed once the exhibit is over. This exhibit encapsulation consists of a backing sheet of 10 point folder stock with an overlay of Mylar. The two pieces are adhered on the top and bottom edges with double-sided tape used for traditional encapsulation.

This type of encapsulation will provide support for the maps while on display and also is reusable. Once the maps have been removed from the encapsulations, the two pieces of double-sided tape will be cut away. This will leave two large pieces of materials that will be used in future preservation projects. This is one small way that the preservation lab is making the most of the materials we have to help both the Earth and the budget.

The map shown in this entry, Historic Massachusetts: a travel map to help you feel at home in the Bay State, was published in 1964. The library has two versions of this map: the one on exhibit was created to draw tourists from the World's Fair in New York to Massachusetts for vacation, while another version was created as a general tourism map. We hope that visitors to Boston this summer will spend some time at the State Library enjoying this exhibit of these wonderful maps by Ernest Dudley Chase.

Ernest Dudley Chase: A Worldview in Maps opens May 22 and runs through September 7, 2009 and is located in the exhibit cases outside of the main library, room 341 of the Massachusetts State House. The exhibit is open to the public from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian

Monday, May 11, 2009

Municipal Relief

The Special Commission on Municipal Relief has released its report. The bi-partisan commission has been studying tax relief for cities and towns and recommends revenue opportunities for them.

The report is available in the State Library's institutional repository.

The committee has attached a bill to the report.

- Bette L. Siegel, Documents Librarian

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Laws of the Jefferson Territory

The State Library has a sizeable collection of 19th-century law books from other states. Among them are some unusual titles, one being a compilation of laws governing the Jefferson Territory:

Provisional laws and joint resolutions passed at the first and called sessions of the General Assembly of Jefferson Territory, held at Denver City, J.T., November and December, 1859, and January, 1860 (Omaha, N.T.: Robertson & Clark, 1860).

The book contains the criminal code, civil code, general acts, and special acts. The two codes were approved on January 25, 1860 by the acting governor Lucian W. Bliss.

The General Acts (approved in January 1860) consisted of chapters, articles, and acts arranged by subject, resembling a constitution. Some of the topics were officers, courts, boundaries and roads, elections, revenue and taxation, licenses, etc.

The Special Acts (approved in December 1859) concerned chartering and consolidating Denver, Boulder, and some smaller towns, and incorporating several companies: Denver Mutual Insurance, Golden Gate Town, Cibolo Hydraulic, Fountain City Bridge, Clear Creek Lumbering, Arrappahoe Ditch, South Platte River Improvement and Lumbering, and Consolidated Ditch Companies.

In the back of the volume is a subject index, from ACTIONS to WARRANTS. Some noteworthy topics included counterfeiting, cheating, estates of deceased persons, forging, malicious mischief, marks of animals, writ of mandamus, offences against morality and chastity, and offences against the right of suffrage.

The Jefferson Territory included Colorado and parts of current-day Kansas, Nebraska, Utah, and New Mexico and was not recognized by the United States government. Thus it had a short life until June 6, 1861, when it became the Territory of Colorado. For a fuller description of the Territory of Jefferson and its short history, see the Wikipedia entry at

Eva Murphy
Reference Librarian

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Library Celebrates MayDay

Last Friday the State Library celebrated MayDay, a national initiative for staff in cultural heritage institutions do one thing for emergency preparedness. At the library we educated staff on the wet salvage of printed library collections. This training focused on air drying materials, but also touched on packing materials in the event of a large water accident where materials would need to be frozen.

At left is the set up for the workshop, while the books were soaking up water.


During the workshop staff asked great questions and made thoughtful comments about salvage priorities, as well as future activities that could further prepare staff for water disasters.

Items as they were set up for air drying.



As one final example, I placed two books into an inch of dirty water on Friday to show staff what even just a small amount of water can do to collections if left for a weekend.

Here is one of the books as it was placed in the water on Friday.


And here is the same book on Monday morning. The water has migrated up to the top of the pages and has brought dirt from the water along with it.



The back cover was totally soaked with water while only a portion of the front cover was wet.


While I hope that the library will never have to deal with a major water disaster, I know that if we do, our staff have the knowledge to salvage collections quickly and appropriately.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian