Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pardoning of Witches

We had a question concerning the pardoning of witches. While researching this question I found out that the Provincial Laws of 1692-1693 2nd session has “An Act Against Conjuration Witchcraft and Dealing with Evil and Wicked Spirits.”

In 1711 by
Chapter 80 of the resolves some people prosecuted for witchcraft received money for damages. Chapter 145 of the Resolves of 1957 relative to the witchcraft trial mentioned “Ann Pudeator and certain other persons.” Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2001 lists Ann Pudeator, Bridget Bishop, Susannah Martin, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott and Wilmot Redd.

A reference librarian at Salem Public Library found a web site that mentions the fact these are the last six people that were absolved of their guilt in being witches.

The State Library has these books and others about the Salem witch trials:
  1. Francis, Richard. Judge Sewall's Apology: the Salem Witch Trials and the Forming of the American Conscience. F67 .S525 2005

  2. Hill, Frances. The Salem Witch Trial Reader. BF 1576 H55

  3. We Walked in Clouds and Could not See our Way. KFM 2478.8 .W5 L43 19984

  4. [Materials Issued by the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary] State Library Special Collections Souvenir no. 29

*The Dawn of Tolerance in Massachusetts: Public Repentence of Judge Samuel Sewall for his Action in the Witchcraft Trials by Albert Herter, 1942. Mural given to the General Court by Albert Herter and former Governor Christian Herter. It hangs in the House of Representatives chamber.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, April 26, 2010

Treasures in the State Library - Massachusetts Postage Stamps

April, 2010

"Special Postage Stamps Honoring the Bay State, 1925-1997"

Those who visit the State Library of Massachusetts, in person or online, know that our major collections include legislative history materials, reports from state agencies and from the General Court, a general book collection and digital materials. People visit to read newspapers, to view the proceedings of the legislature on television and/or to "go wireless."

Please know also that there are many special "treasures" housed in the library stacks and other areas, not just in the Special Collections Department in Room 55, but also in the general collection on the third and fourth floors of the Library. Once a month, on this blog, we will highlight one such unique holding from our diverse collections. In April, the "treasure" is Souvenir 51, located in Room 55.

This beautiful album can be viewed in Special Collections during the hours they are open, from 9 AM to 1 PM Monday through Friday. It is a small album, about 9 by 7 inches, and contains fifteen pages of stamps and a few postcards. Stamps honoring Susan B. Anthony, Winslow Homer, Arthur Fiedler, and Malcolm X are just some of these.

One can also make an appointment to see the stamps. Please call 617-727-2595 or e-mail to do so.

Pamela Schofield
Reference Department
State Library of Massachusetts

Friday, April 23, 2010

Food Drive Helps Communities to Thrive

State employees donated nearly 400 lbs of food for the Greater Boston Food Bank last week. To our amazement, donations continued to come in after the drive ended. We would like to thank all those who so generously gave to this cause. Their efforts are deeply appreciated. A thank you also goes to the Bureau of State Office Buildings in the State House and the John W. McCormack Building at One Ashburton Place, who provided their time and assistance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preserving for Digitization

As mentioned in a previous post, the library was awarded a grant to digitize collections relating to transport- ation systems in the Commonwealth. The first batch of materials are being scanned and the digital images created thus far are wonderful. The second batch of materials is being preserved prior to digitization.

One step that happens before items are sent to be digitized is making sure that the original materials look as good as they possibly can prior to going in front of the camera. Recently I have focused on preserving and preparing a batch of letters written in the 1800s that correspond to the railroad maps also being digitized. Above is a before-and-after shot of such a letter (click image to enlarge). While some staining remains, the original is greatly improved and as a result the digital image will be much easier for users to read. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates as this grant project progresses.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Library Closed on Patriot's Day

The Library will be closed Monday, April 19 in observance of Patriot's Day. This holiday commemorates the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Food Drive this Week

One in eight Americans does not have enough to eat and must rely on a shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen. Congressman James P. McGovern (D - Worcester) has pledged "to end hunger in Massachusetts". As the Greater Boston Food Bank states, "everyone has a role in ending hunger." All proceeds from the drive will assist GBFB in its work.

Besides the foods posted last week, these are also desired.
canned beef stew
dried beans
whole grain crackers
shelf-stable fruit cups
dried and canned fruit

Donations may be dropped off in the State Library (Rooms 341 and 442 in the State House). In the John McCormack Building (One Ashburton Pl.), the locations are the lobby, the cafeteria on the lower level, and the office of the Bureau of State Office Buildings in Room 107 on the first floor.

The food drive is hosted by the Friends of the State Library in observance of National Library Week. To learn more about the Friends, go to

Monday, April 12, 2010

Library Launches Flickr Site

The State Library of Massachusetts is happy to announce the launch of its Flickr web site. The library will use the site to post images documenting the library’s history, not just its collections. Past library exhibits will be recreated online to allow people from around the world to view important library collections.

In celebration of National Library Week the first set is “The State Library through the Years,” a selection of images from the library’s historical archive. The State Library of Massachusetts opened in 1826 and has been in its present location in the State House since the 1890s. The main reading room, periodicals balcony, and stacks are located in the Brigham Extension, completed between 1889 and 1895. The images in this set show the library over the last 100 years.

Be sure to check back each month as a new set is posted. Our photo set in May will showcase our first in the series of exhibits, The 55th Regiment.

- The Marketing Committee

Friday, April 9, 2010

Horatio Alger, Jr.: a Massachusetts Native

While in the vault
recently, I came
across a shelf of
novels by Horatio
Alger, Jr. These
items intrigued me,
as all I knew about
Alger was the idea
of a "Horatio Alger,
story. As I pulled
the volumes from the
shelf, I was enchanted
by the illustrations
on the covers and
throughout the text,
a selection of which are pictured throughout this post. However, I was curious as to
why we had these items, as they were written for children.

A bit of research into the life of Horatio Alger, Jr. turned up
an immediate Massachusetts connection. The senior Horatio
Alger served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives
in 1833 representing Chelsea and again in 1860 representing
Marlborough. Alger, Jr. was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts
and lived there for over ten years. In the mid-1840s the
Alger family moved to Marlborough, where Alger, Jr. attended
Gates Academy. He then attended Harvard College and began

Alger, Jr.
became a
of the
Society of
Massachusetts and ministered for several years before moving
to New York, where most of his novels were written. In 1896
Alger, Jr. retired to South Natick, Massachusetts, where he died
three years later.

For those interested in researching the Alger family's time in
Massachusetts, the Chelsea and Natick city directories and atlases
provide information on the footprint and location of the Alger's homes.

to the
the State
information about the elder Alger's time in the Massachusetts General Court
and two other interesting items related to the Alger family. "A sermon
preached at the installation of the Rev. Horatio Alger as pastor of the
West church in Marlborough, Massachusetts" commemorates the
occasion of the elder Alger's installation in the church and
can be found in Addresses; Sermons by George Edward Willis
(Hun 974M31:2 C471:25 E47za no. 6). The library also owns a very
interesting 1928 biography of Alger, Jr. titled, Alger: a Biography
Without a Hero
by Herbert R. Mayes (B A395m). This book was
thought to be the definitive tome on Alger, Jr. until the 1960's
when it was debunked as largely fabricated - quite the interesting
piece of cultural literary heritage!

Images from
Luck; or A

Chance; and How He Improved It
, cover and illustration; Alger:
a Biography Without a Hero, end sheet illustration.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food Drive Begins Next Week

The theme of National Library Week, April 11 - 17, is a fitting one for the Friends' food drive. "Communities Thrive@your library" reflects the role the State Library plays in contributing to bettering the lives of those in the Commonwealth. Among its offerings is a growing collection of electronic Massachusetts state agency documents

Donations will assist the Greater Boston Food Bank in its work. These are some examples of foods desired by hunger-relief organizations.
Canned tuna, chicken, or other meats
Canned soups or chili
Plastic bottles or cans of 100% fruit juice
Pasta, rice, or other grains
Healthy cereal
Dry or boxed shelf-stable milk
Canned beans
Peanut butter
Canned vegetables

Donations may be dropped off in the State Library (Rooms 341 and 442 in the State House). In the John McCormack Building (One Ashburton Place), the locations are the cafeteria on the lower level and the office of the Superintendent of Buildings in Room 107 on the first floor.