Monday, January 25, 2016

Biographical and Political Resources in Massachusetts Government

At the State Library’s reference desk we get a fair number of questions about the Massachusetts government. Many people are interested in finding information on relatives who served in the legislature. Questions range from how many members of the legislature were there in a specific year to who was the governor in a given year.  The reference staff uses a variety of resources to answer these questions.

Manual of the General Court This resource dates back to 1858 and includes facts and figures about the Massachusetts Legislature otherwise known as the General Court. It is available in print and online and includes information such as:
  • Lists of Governors starting from colonial times
  • List of the current House of Representatives including districts, addresses and seat numbers
  • When the session for the general court starts and ends
  • The rules used by the legislature 
  • List of Massachusetts legal holidays
Image from Legislative Souvenir 1907

Public Officers of the Commonwealth  This resource has been published under several different names including: Legislative Souvenir and “bird book” and contains:
  • General Court members, Constitutional Officers and the executive council members
  • Photographs of the Massachusetts State House and Offices
  • one-page biographies with photographs of Massachusetts officials elected at the Federal and State level

The Massachusetts Political Almanac  (1981-current year) provides one-page summaries of legislators, photographs, biographical information, and key role call votes.  It also includes one-page profiles of executive branch officials and the duties of their office. Other information includes:
  • Terms in office
  • Profiles of agency heads 
  • Organizational charts for executive agencies
  • Committee members

Leading the Way: a History of the Massachusetts General Court 1629 -1980 – This book describes the history of the legislature from colonial time through 1980. Other information includes:
  • List of Massachusetts Senate Presidents
  • List of Massachusetts Speakers of the House
  • Statistics about the legislature 
Please visit the State Library of Massachusetts to view these and many holdings about state government.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian