Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving at the State Library

The State Library of Massachusetts has many resources regarding Thanksgiving, from its early history to the present day. At left is a picture of the star of America's modern Thanksgiving, the turkey. This print is from John James Audubon's Birds of America double-elephant folio. The library holds this series of volumes in the Special Collections department.

For early history of the holiday, the library has several primary resources.

- William Bradford's Of Plimoth Plantation includes a description of the harvest feast of 1621, which is generally considered the first Thanksgiving at Plymouth.

- Edward Winslow's Mourt's Relation or Journal of the Plantation at Plymouth includes a more detailed description of the first Thanksgiving than Of Plimoth Plantation. Published in 1622, the State Library has two reprint edtions, one from 1865 and one from 1985.

- The library also has several Thanksgiving Day Proclamations from the 1700s. The item at left is a proclamation from 1796 given by Governor Samuel Adams. If you click the image to increase its size, you'll notice that the Governor declared that Thanksgiving should be on December 15th that year. Early days of thanksgiving were scheduled at various times throughout the year to reflect and pray on the bounty and good fortune. Thanksgiving Day Proclamations can be found in the Special Collections department.

Moving to more contemporary items, the library holds volumes regarding many aspects of the Thanksgiving story.

For more information about the Pilgrims and Wampanoag people:

- The Faith and Theology of the Pilgrims by Gary Marks.
- The Pilgrims of New England : A Tale of the Early American Settlers by Mrs. J.B. Webb.
- Performing the Pilgrims : A Study of Ethnohistorical role-playing at Plimoth Plantation by Stephen Eddy Snow
- One of the Keys: 1676-1776-1976 : The Wampanoag Indian Contribution by Milton A. Travers
- The Wampanoags of Mashpee : An Indian Perspective on American History by Russell Peters.

For more information about contemporarpy Wampanoag:

- Son of Mashpee : Reflections of Chief Flying Eagle, a Wampanoag by Earl Mills Sr. and Alicja Mann.
- Tribal-State Compact between the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (pictured at left).
- [Letter from Shawn W. Hendricks, Sr. , Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, to Governor Deval Patrick Regarding a Tribal-State Compact for Class III gaming] (electronic resource).
- Search Proquest to find articles on current Wampanoag culture, the protest of Thanksgiving, and the related day of mourning observed by the Wampanoag.

For more information about the Thanksgiving holiday from State Agencies:

- Thanksgiving travel : A Holiday Travel Supplement from Massport
- Report on Pilot Program for the Suspension of Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike during the Thanksgiving Holiday

And if you just want some fun reading for the long weekend:

- Once Upon a Thanksgiving by Holly Jacobs (electronic resource via C/W Mars).
- Mayflower : A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick.

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Save Your State Library – Follow us on Facebook

As announced in a previous post, Governor Patrick is considering closing the State Library of Massachusetts as a cost-saving measure. If you would like to show your support for the library remaining open, please sign our petition [Edited 11/30/09: Thank you for your support. The petition is now closed.]. You can now follow us on Facebook by becoming a fan of Save Your State Library! You can also visit our Facebook site without being a member by visiting http://www.facebook.com/saveyourstatelibrary. Click over to view photos of library treasures and unique resources, such as the Haitian medal awarded to Charles Sumner in 1871, pictured at left. We will continue to grow this collection of photographs, so check in with us often!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Save the State Library of Massachusetts

At a press conference on Thursday, October 29, the Governor's Office announced that Governor Patrick is considering closing the State Library of Massachusetts as a cost-saving measure. This closure will have a monumental impact on the cultural heritage of the Commonwealth.

Open to the public since 1826, the State Library has developed comprehensive collections in the areas of government documents, law, Massachusetts history, and public and current affairs. From the Bradford manuscript "Of Plimoth Plantation" to the ever-expanding digital repository, the State Library has collected items of crucial importance to the record of Massachusetts' historical wealth.

Please sign the petition to ensure that Massachusetts' heritage continues to remain freely accessible to all members of the public. [Edited 11/30/09: Thank you for your support. The petition is now closed.] To contact the Governor's Office directly, please visit http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov3utilities&sid=Agov3&U=Agov3_contact_us.

If you would like to make a donation, please visit the Friends of the State Library page at www.mass.gov/lib

Monday, November 2, 2009

Profiles of Legislators

The State Library has a Legislative Biography file with information on legislators going back to the 1700's on 3 x 5 index cards. Over the decades staff recorded data about each person serving in the General Court. Recently someone called the State Library and asked for information on Captain John Bayley from Maine. Maine was part of Massachusetts until March 15, 1820. The information I found on Capt. John Bayley's card is:

Massachusetts House of Representatives: 1791.

Birth place and date: Weymouth, Feb. 2, 1737; son of Rev. James and Sarah Bayley

Occupation: Farmer and soldier

Death place and date: Woolwich, ME on July 29, 1813

This card file is currently being digitized for the Library's electronic collection.

Other biographical sources are the Official Gazette for the years 1885 through 1890, the Souvenir of Massachusetts Legislators covering 1893 through 1917, and the Bird Book (a series of volumes published under various titles) for 1908 to the present. All contain brief profiles. Photographs of individuals began appearing in 1908. These items are accessible through the Library's digital collections.

Naomi Allen, Reference Librarian