Friday, May 25, 2012

Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government

Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for kids, named for Massachusetts’ native son, Benjamin Franklin, is a 6 part series on our United States Government at Ben Franklin was a printer, librarian, inventor and statesman. One can learn about his life on the website. 

The guide covers grades Kindergarten through 12 and it includes a section for parents and teachers. On this website you can learn about: animals, arts, business, money, careers, computers, crime, justice, education, environment, health, national security and many more topics.

You can also find basic information about the U.S. Government and its agencies which is helpful to parents as well as kids. It is quite possible that among the varied agencies listed are some that may not be known to you before.

Ben’s guide is a resource for the whole family.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What is in a name? The Story of the George Fingold Library

The State Library of Massachusetts has been in the State House since 1826, and in its present locations in Rooms 341 and 442 since 1895. The Special Collections Department is housed in Room 55 in the west wing of the capitol.

It was not until 1960, however, that the agency was given its current name: The George Fingold Library.

Who was this man and how did the library acquire his name? Sadly, Fingold, who was the Attorney General at the time (he served in that role from 1953 until his death), died in August of 1958 while in the midst of his campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor. He had been a prominent Republican for many years and began his career in Massachusetts politics when he was just twenty one, serving as a member of the Malden City Council.

The Library owns a collection of photos about his life with emphasis on his career in politics.

                                                                 Fingold second from the left

In the years following Fingold’s death, the legislature enacted two laws, one in 1958 giving financial support to his widow, the other, Chapter 380 of 1960, honoring his memory by renaming the State Library.

When one arrives at the entrance to Room 341 of the library, the tablet honoring him is omnipresent. It was dedicated on December 22nd, 1960.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Boston Immigrants: Bringing Four Centuries of Tradition and Innovation to The City upon a Hill exhibit is now on Flickr

Image adapted from Boston: Bird’s-eye View from the North, 1877
The Library invites you to view its current exhibit, Boston Immigrants: Bringing Four Centuries of Tradition and Innovation to The City upon a Hill on its Flickr website. This exhibit shows materials from the State Library of Massachusetts’ collections highlighting the history of Boston’s immigrants and their contributions to the Commonwealth.

The full exhibit runs through May 25, 2012 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Rooom 341 of the State House, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

- The Marketing Committee

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Brown Bag on Immigration

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
On Tuesday, May 15, 2012
State Library of Massachusetts 
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear researchers Alan Clayton-Matthews (Northeastern University) and Paul Watanabe (UMass Boston) share their findings in the 2012 version of “Massachusetts Immigrants by the Numbers: Demographic Characteristics and Economic Footprint.” Some key economic areas that will be addressed include taxes paid by immigrants, their consumer spending and use of social services. The report was commissioned by The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc in Malden as part of its Institute to educate the public about immigrants in Massachusetts. Print copies will be available.

To register, RSVP to

You may also let us know you will attend by calling the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 of e-mailing to

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Massachusetts Photographers in the 19th Century

May is National Photography Month! People are taking more photos now than ever before, thanks to the advancements of digital photographic processes. And because of the Internet, photographs can now be uploaded and shared almost instantaneously with anyone in almost any part of the world. The State Library is currently working on its own photographic digitization projects: in the works is the digitization of our collection of WWI Massachusetts soldiers, and also of our legislative photograph collection.

Due to the ease and accessibility of photography nowadays, it’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to experience the very concept as it was in its early stages. Early photographic processes were quite time-consuming and labor-intensive, and images were difficult to reproduce. Despite this, photography flourished throughout Massachusetts in the 19th century, and cities and towns both large and small saw commercial and portrait photographers setting up shop all around the area.
Boston in particular was home to many famous first generation American photographers, some of whom captured the images of notable men and women active during this time period: John Adams Whipple (1822-1891) and James Wallace Black (1825-1896) worked both as partners and individually, and are known for their photos of people such as Daniel Webster, Walt Whitman, and John Brown; the photographic firm Southworth & Hawes (Albert Sands Southworth (1811-1894) and Josiah Johnson Hawes (1808-1901)), also produced an extensive collection of famous portraits, including images of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Sumner, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

One great primary resource for early Massachusetts photographers are advertisements found within our collection of 19th century Boston directories, which provide insight about the various types of services that were provided. For example, an 1848 advertisement for Southworth & Hawes states: “We take great pains to have Miniatures of deceased persons agreeable and satisfactory, and they are often so natural as to seem, even to Artists, in a quiet sleep.”

Another more exhaustive resource, organized by town or city name, is “A Directory of Massachusetts Photographers, 1839-1900”; the authors of this book compiled information on nearly every photographer in Massachusetts between the years 1839 to 1900, including their business addresses, examples of their work (if available), and other pertinent info that the authors were able to uncover in their research.

As a final note, this is a good opportunity to invite you to please check out the State Library’s official Flickr page! Our Flickr is full of images from our collections, including those of WWI Massachusetts soldiers, over 100 photographs documenting the damage caused by the hurricane of 1936, and a large collection of photographs depicting Massachusetts roads and highways from 1892 to 1893.

Kaitlin Connolly
Library Technician, Reference Dept.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Farewell Card Catalog

Even if you are old enough to know what it is, you would probably consider the card catalog to be a relic of the past. The State Library still has one, but its days are numbered thanks to a $400,000 Fiscal Year 2012 capital investment grant from the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, Information Technology Division to create a virtual library. This grant is part of Governor Deval Patrick’s Capital Investment Plan for the Future of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

With these generous funds, the State Library is undertaking a project to retrospectively convert almost 100,000 catalog cards to automated records in the library’s online catalog .

This project will provide the citizens of the Commonwealth, and users throughout the world, virtual access to all the library’s research materials and allow them to immediately initiate requests to use these materials. Currently, these historically rich and unique collections are essentially hidden within the card catalog drawers and remain invisible beyond the physical library walls. Keep checking back to see what we can show you as these treasures are uncovered!