Monday, January 26, 2009

New Acquisition in Special Collections

We are thrilled to highlight our most recent acquisition: The Repertory newspaper. Originally published in 1803 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, as the New England Repertory, the paper moved to Boston in 1804 and changed its name to The Repertory and later to The Repertory and General Advertiser. It was published until 1820 and was an early National Era newspaper published in broadsheet format. Despite its name, this paper does not address the theater. Rather, this is a news-of-the-day publication filled with interesting reports on the news and issues of Boston and the rest of the nation.

Ken Herrara, Director of News and Information at WISN-AM radio in Milwaukee, was generous enough to donate a bound volume of the Repertory from 1809 and 1810. We are grateful to Mr. Herrara, a collector of historic newspapers, who is eager to ensure that these primary sources are in "a public place where they are accessible to all."

Page One (below the fold) of the March 14, 1809 edition of The Repertory includes a full transcription of President James Madison’s inaugural address (pictured). Paying homage to his predecessor and fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, Madison also gave a nod to such enduring values in presidential speeches as peace and liberty.

These issues of The Repertory from 1809 and 1810 help fill out our holdings. The State Library of Massachusetts already owns issues of this paper from 1806, 1808, and 1817. In addition, this gift is a valuable addition to our collection of newspapers published in Boston and towns across Massachusetts that date from the 18th and 19th centuries.

-Paige Roberts, Head of Special Collections

Friday, January 2, 2009

Paul Demakis Collection open to researchers

The Paul Demakis collection, which documents Mr. Demakis' years as a State Representative, is now open for research. Some of the major topics covered are abortion rights (particularly buffer zones around abortion clinics), Mass Turnpike air rights, and domestic partnership. The case files and neighborhood files (especially Back Bay) often concern issues relating to neighborhood life: parking, traffic, trash cleanup, relations between residents and businesses, and conflicts between residents.

The featured image is of a MASS PIRG newsletter annotated with a "love letter" to Mr. Demakis, who strongly supported MASS PIRG's intiatives.

-Katie Chase, Special Collections Librarian

From the Preservation Lab

December was a busy month in the Preservation Lab, though the near radio-silence from me on the blog would indicate otherwise. In November I began gathering information and structuring my plan for conducting a preservation survey of the State Library's storage spaces and collections. As I've mentioned previously, this project is conducted in conjunction with the Preservation Management Institute at Rutgers University.

Once I had my plan of action, December was spent in the stacks: measuring temperature, relative humidity and light levels; assessing air flow, fire suppression systems and potential water threats; counting microfilm reels, video tapes and audio tapes; and surveying the condition of glass plate negatives, oversize framed objects, rare materials and miscellaneous objects in our vault (commemorative plates, doorknobs, building keys, medals, etc.). It was a great opportunity to look at our collections on the item-level, as well as at the collection level. And honestly, some of the things we have are just plain cool - such as two phonodiscs (33 1/3 rpm) titled "John F. Kennedy : a self-portrait ; the gallant warrior of the thousand days" - so it was fun for me to have a chance to spend a few minutes examining them.

Now that I have surveyed the storage spaces and collections I am left with a stack of notes about two inches thick. January will be spent synthesizing these notes into a document that describes preservation at the library in great detail and provides recommendations for areas of growth in regards to preservation. I am eager to complete this document as it will provide a sound basis upon which the preservation program at the library can move forward and perhaps even highlight some potential grant writing opportunities.

- Lacy Crews, Preservation Librarian