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