Monday, November 30, 2015

Staying Local this winter with MassGrown

One of the best aspects about being on the Exhibits Committee here at the Library is doing research on specific subjects relating to the state that otherwise I may not have known about. Whether it is delving into the Library’s photography collections of historical places and events or discovering the myths and stories that live on in our collective memory, there is always something new to learn.

While working on our exhibit Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts, I came across the MassGrown section of the Massachusetts Department of
Agricultural Resource (MDAR) page. Massgrown is a wonderful way to keep up with local farms, products and activities such as farmers markets, culinary tourism and special festivals. Massachusetts is lucky to be home to a number of farm stands, aquaculture, green-houses and nurseries that find ways to connect with their community through CSAs, agricultural fairs, and Pick Your Own fruit and vegetable farms. The MassGrown site is a one stop spot for all the information you need regarding these local resources.

Since first finding the MassGrown page in the Spring, I have found myself returning over and over for weekend outing ideas, local dairy or fish options and to help make suggestions to visitors from out of town.  When a tourist visiting the State House in mid-November asked if there were still orchards open in the area (hoping for a true New England, apple-picking experience), I was grateful to see how many local farms would still be open or hosting events well through the winter months ahead.

As the season changes from fall to winter, many people may not be thinking of our local farms and nurseries as places to visit. The ground hardens, blizzards set in and fresh fruit and veggies are far from some people’s thoughts. But, as the MassGrown site shows you, there are still a number of places to visit, workshops to attend and, most importantly, things to eat and drink. The winter is a wonderful time to for Maple Sugar Houses and Christmas Tree Farms. There are over 40 Fall/Winter Farmers Markets still open, not including the new Boston Public Market, a year round, indoor farmer’s market for New England vendors.  A calendar shows there are Holiday Open Houses and Markets well into December as well as breweries, distilleries and wineries ready for tours and tastings.

There is always new information and the MassGrown and Fresher News is a great way to keep updated, also available in our digital repository Dspace. With a few new recipes and food festivals, we all might just make it through another New England winter.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian

Monday, November 23, 2015

State Library’s Bradford Manuscript on Public Television

On Tuesday, November 24 and Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving Day) at 8pm EST, PBS will air a new film by documentary film-maker Ric Burns of Steeplechase Films called The Pilgrims. The film documents the political, economic, religious and historical forces that led to the Pilgrim’s migration to New England and their settlement at Plimoth Plantation in 1620.

Mr. Burns and his production crew spent an entire day in the State Library’s Special Collections Department in November 2014, working under the careful supervision of multiple staff members to film selected portions of the Bradford Manuscript, the hand-written journal by Mayflower passenger William Bradford, one of the original Mayflower passengers. In 1630, Bradford started to write an account of the Pilgrim’s history and travels, starting in England, moving to the Netherlands, crossing the Atlantic, and then their first thirty years in Massachusetts.

The resulting “Bradford Manuscript,” considered a treasure of the Commonwealth, plays an important role in the film’s narrative.

The State Library has digitized the entire volume, and it is available for public viewing through the Library’s digital repository, DSpace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Time of Thanks at the State Library

As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect, give thanks, and perhaps ponder the mysteries behind this special holiday.  The truth is, we do not know the details about the first Thanksgiving, despite the many generational stories and legends that have led us to believe certain “facts.”  In fact, the date of the feast was not even acknowledged; we only know it was between September and November, after the fall crops were harvested. Obviously, the first Thanksgiving was also not well documented, and very few first-hand accounts are in existence that we currently know of.  We are lucky to have two of these accounts here at the State Library of Massachusetts.

The Bradford Manuscript is an original document written by author and Plymouth Colony Governor (1621-1657) William Bradford.  It documents the Pilgrim voyage from England to the Netherlands to North America, the establishment of the Plymouth Colony, passenger lists and details, and of course, a vague description of the first Thanksgiving.  Bradford does not cover the feast in great detail.  However, we know that the meal was in celebration of a successful fall harvest, that 53 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag, including Squanto, were in attendance, and that fowl and deer were served.  Traditional meals, like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing and roasted turkey were not dishes that would have been present, as the necessary ingredients were not used or available at the time.

Another primary source is Edward Winslow’s Mourt's Relation; taken from it, this interesting
passage about the feast:

"our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."

"The Pilgrims," a new film by Ric Burns,  will premiere on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on PBS on Tuesday, November 24 at 8:00 PM EST and again on Thanksgiving Day at 9:30 PM EST.

Monday, November 16, 2015

REMINDER -- November Author Talk: Heather Cox Richardson

To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party by Heather Cox Richardson 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015—Noon to 1:30 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

With the presidential primary campaign season in full swing, party politics are at the forefront of American media coverage. But have you ever wondered how the political party system in America has evolved over time? Author and Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson has taken an in-depth look at the origins and history of the Republican Party in America in her most recently published book, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party. Join us at the State Library at noon on Tuesday, November 17, for an Author Talk with Dr. Richardson, who will speak about her book and the fascinating history of the Republican Party.

In addition to her most recent book, Dr. Richardson is also the author of several other books focusing on American history, including Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre (2010) and West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War (2007).

Dr. Richardson’s talk on the origins of the Republican Party is free and open to the public. Please register online and join us on November 17th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Friday, November 13, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Little Massachusetts Wine (and Cheese)

As summer has turned to fall it’s time again to enjoy the harvest outdoors in New England before the first frost—the fun of picking apples and pumpkins come easily to mind.  On the other hand, you might prefer to remain indoors in front of a cozy fire with a glass of Massachusetts wine. Yes, you read that correctly, Massachusetts wine. Massachusetts may have a way to go to compete with California, which currently produces 90% of the wine in the United States, but at #23 and rising, Massachusetts is an up and coming contender in the winemaking industry.

Winemaking has a long history in Massachusetts—it is even rumored that wine from native grapes graced the table at Plimoth Plantation during the first Thanksgiving in 1621. A History of Wine in America by Thomas Pinney relates that in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, wine was made from native grapes in the first summer of settlement in 1630.  And who can forget Concord grapes, named for the town where they originated, although they are known more today for jelly than for wine.

And what goes better with wine than cheese? The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources booklet “Massachusetts Wine & Cheese Trails” promotes and draws much-deserved attention to this growing industry to encourage tourism at local vineyards and farms. This booklet makes a great guide for an enjoyable fall road trip!

In the State Library’s eclectic collections, we can find items on the historical interest in and the importance of winemaking throughout the years—chronicling a long and worthy history of an old industry where the future seems just as bright.

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services