Monday, December 14, 2015

A “Wartime Story” From The Stacks

While researching Massachusetts governors recently, I came across an interesting item in our collection having to do with Governor Endicott Peabody.  Governor Peabody was the State’s 62nd Governor and served a single term from January 3, 1963 to January 7 of 1965. While it is not odd that we have a number of resources related to Massachusetts legislators, governors and historical figures, I was surprised to find an item called The Wartime Story of Governor Peabody. This booklet is a compilation of articles written in March of 1963 by Edward G. McGrath for the Boston Globe. The ten part series tells the story of the U.S submarine Tirante in World War II and Lt. Endicott Peabody’s role as an officer on board. The articles include a number of black and white photographs of the crew members on board, ships sinking through the lens of a periscope and officers receiving Medals of Honor.

The details of the Tirante’s exploits were classified for about twenty years before the Boston Globe requested that The Navy Department release some of its information. Governor Peabody was newly elected at the time, upsetting Republican incumbent John Volpe by a slim margin, and reporters were probably hoping to get as much information about their new governor as possible. But what is amazing is that these articles were clearly cut out of the newspaper, glued to a piece of paper, laminated, stamped with a three-hole punch and bound together by red string. There is a strong resemblance to an old scrapbook put together by a proud parent many decades ago.

The Wartime Story of Governor Peabody was probably saved by a State Librarian. Before scanning or digital publications became common place, librarians had to find other ways to hold onto articles, brochures and pamphlets with information regarding Massachusetts. Newspaper does not hold up over time, (and from a preservation stand point the obvious smudges of glue are an example of what not to do,) but many steps were taken to make sure this article would be available for patrons and researchers in the future.

Today, librarians spend less time cutting and pasting clippings or creating books for patrons to read, but time is spent collecting information. While we do have microfilm and print copies of many historical newspapers, we also subscribe to databases so that our patrons can search for articles. We pull reports off the internet and catalog them into our digital repository, creating booklets as PDFs instead of with glue and ribbon. While the steps we go through may be quite different, our goal to make information available is still the same.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian