Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Special Collections Hours for July

Reduced hours for Special Collections will continue into July. If you need an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact the department at (617) 727-2595.

July 1 & 2: By appointment

July 5: Closed for the holiday

July 6 – 9: Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 am to 1 pm, and by appointment

July 12 – 30: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 1 pm, and by appointment

- The Special Collections Department

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Ward Commission Report - Treasure of the State Library for June, 2010

John William Ward, a scholar and former President of Amherst College, was appointed in 1979 to chair a Commission whose final report would come to be known by his name. This twelve volume study, owned by the State Library, became one of the most important reports ever written in this state. Its official title is Commission Concerning State and County Buildings in Massachusetts; and it was created in response to a 1977 scandal related to the construction of the University of Massachusetts, Boston and to the construction industry in general.

An article from the Boston Globe, written in 2006 by Dave Denison, points out how the Commission found, for example, that the state had allocated $17 billion dollars to construction from 1968 until 1978 and that not only had $7 billion been poorly spent, but also that 76% of the buildings sampled had defects!!!!! Kickbacks to elected officials were rampant, and corruption was omnipresent. Due to the findings, two state Senators were convicted of extortion.

Appointed by Governor Michael Dukakis as the Chair of the seven member group, Ward was credited with a strong sense of ethics as he led the more than two and a half year study. The final document is over 2,000 pages in length and was released on December 31, 1981.

A major outcome of the study was the creation of the Office of the Inspector General. This office has come into prominence in the monitoring of state agencies and government. It was the first such state agency in the country.

The State Library owns two copies of the twelve volume report. One is kept on Reference and the other, housed in the library stacks, is available for loan.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Dept.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Green Communities Act

On July 2, 2008 Governor Deval Patrick signed comprehensive landmark legislation to reduce energy consumption and spur clean energy technology. This law places Massachusetts nationally at the forefront of climate change reform. A leader in energy policy for years, the state participates in a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gases from power plants and has set a goal of increasing solar power in the Commonwealth by 600 percent in 4 years.

Among the major provisions is a requirement for utilities to invest in energy efficiency when it is less expensive than buying power. Previously companies purchased more power when demand increased. The construction of additional polluting power plants over time was the result. In addition, utilities will need to buy more electricity from renewable power sources. By 2030, 25% of this would be from renewables. The law also encourages the creation of green communities. A Green Communities Division within the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources will expend $10 million annually to assist cities and towns in finding ways to become more energy efficient or to invest in renewable energy. No-interest loans are one of the incentives.

The text of this and other legislation can be accessed through the Library's web site by clicking on the "Massachusetts Acts and Resolves" button.

Reference Dept.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hartwell Collection Materials on Flickr

A recent set on the State Library's Flickr web site highlights photographs and materials from the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Black Volunteer Regiments from the Civil War. The collections are from materials donated to the State Library by Alfred Stedman Hartwell, who served in both regiments.

Alfred Stedman Hartwell was born in Dedham, Massachusetts on June 11, 1836. Civil War records describe him as having been a law student; he graduated from Harvard University in 1858.

From May 8, 1861 to August 17, 1861, he served as a corporal in the 3rd Missouri Infantry. He was commissioned a 1st lieutenant on August 22, 1862 and was mustered into Company F, 44th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry on September 12, 1862; he resigned from that regiment and was discharged for promotion on March 31, 1863. Hartwell was next commissioned a captain in the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry and was discharged on May 14, 1863 for promotion in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. On November 3, 1863 he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in that regiment. He was wounded at Honey Hill, South Carolina on November 30, 1864, brevetted as a brigadier-general on December 30, 1864 and mustered out on April 30, 1866.

Because of his experience with black regiments, he spearheaded an investigation into certain abuses in the recruiting of black soldiers in the south. From 1865 to 1866, Hartwell led the investigation into these alleged abuses. Brevet Brigadier-General M.S. Littlefield was the subject of many accusations that indicated that he enrolled disabled blacks, known deserters, and others into the 21st Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops and had failed to pay bounties due to the men. As a result of Hartwell's efforts, Littlefield was court-martialed.

Hartwell later served as the Representative from Natick in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1867 and as Attorney General and Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Hawaii. He died in Honolulu on August 30, 1912.

The collection resides in the Special Collections Department of the State Library of Massachusetts and is available for the public to view.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Library Closed Bunker Hill Day

The State Library will be closed Thursday in observance of the holiday. Regular hours in the Main Reading Room will resume Friday. Special Collections will be open Monday through Wednesday from 9:00am until 1:00pm and by appointment through June 29.

image: The Battle of Bunker Hill by Howard Pyle, 1897

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Images on Flickr

The library is making great progress with our Mapping Massachusetts: the History of Transportation in the Commonwealth grant and have received the first batch of images from our digitization vendor. All images are available in DSpace, and you will already find links to the digital images for many items when viewing the record in our online catalog.

A selection of these images are now available for browsing on the Library's Flickr site. The Board of Harbor and Land Commissioner Maps set contains sixteen of the approximately 125 maps digitized that were produced by the Board of Harbor and Land Commissioners. These maps range in date from the late 1880s to the early 1920s, an example of which is given above. This map depicts Gloucester Harbor as it was surveyed in 1915. Click here to see other images in this set.

The second set now available on Flickr contains twenty-nine images from the approximately 105 photographs digitized that record the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel (1848-1875). These photographs show both the construction of the tunnel, as well as work buildings surrounding the tunnel and tools developed specifically for the tunnel project. Several images include people and are quite charming. For instance, the image above shows four women - parasols in hand - standing atop the west end masonry during construction. (Click the image to enlarge). Click here to see other images in this set.

Stay tuned to Flickr where we'll be adding more images from this grant project. Up next is a selection of images from the Commission to Improve the Highways of the Commonwealth (1892).

- Lacy Crews Stoneburner, Preservation Librarian

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Interesting Laws: Acts of 1954

The Massachusetts Acts and Resolves were scanned as one large file. In order to save time retrieving a particular act, we are breaking them up into individual files. While searching the Acts of 1954, these acts were found to be of interest:

1. Chapter 361 changed the General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport to Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport. It was on June 13, 1923 that Boston's first aircraft touched down on a 1,500 foot cinder runway (piloted by Lt. Kitchell Snow) on a tiny airfield known as Boston Airport built by the U.S. Army on 189 acres of tidal flats.

2. Chapter 408, Sections 2 and 3 restricts dental advertising. Dentists cannot advertise in any newspaper, on the radio, or sign "to deceive or mislead the public...or claiming professional superiority."

3. Chapter 590. This 38-page act revises the military laws of the Commonwealth. The militia and the national guard are discussed with references to the National Defense Act.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Town Reports

Annual reports of the Massachusetts towns are submitted to the State Library by law. Chapter 40, section 50 of the Massachusetts General Laws require towns to submit their reports.

The State Library has a meaningful collection of these reports. The holdings for each town can be found at Scroll down to Research State and Local History, then click on Local Documents and Resources. Our holdings, by town, are delineated.

Town reports have varying information in them. Generally included are the names of town leaders, actions of town meetings, reports of town departments and committees, suggested/amended by-laws and zoning rules. The reports are a treasure trove of facts and figures that relate to the history of the community. Genealogists often use the reports for specific information.

The Reference Department

image: Plymouth town seal

Friday, June 4, 2010

Survey of Current Business

One of the monthly journals that the library receives is the SURVEY OF CURRENT BUSINESS. This is a publication of the Bureau of Economic Analysis within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Those interested in information about the federal budget, the economy from a federal perspective, imports, investments, and more can find the data they seek in this journal. One of the resources available is a contact list with names and phone numbers of personnel in the Bureau of Economic Analysis, both regionally and nationally.

The Survey is available electronically at The library has tangible copies (paper). The call number is: C59.11: Volume number and issue number follow the colon. The most current issue is: C59.11:90/3 (March 2010 issue).

Documents Department, State Library

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Special Collections Department Hours for June

The Special Collections Department will have reduced hours for the month of June. Please see below for the schedule.

June 1 - 11: Monday through Friday, 9 am to 1 pm and by appointment.
*The department will open at 10 am on June 10th*
June 14 - 29: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 9 am to 1 pm and by appointment.
June 30: 9 am to noon.

Regular hours will resume Thursday July 1.

- The Special Collections Department