Friday, June 29, 2012

Treasure of the State Library for June, 2012

With the nation marking the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, there have been commemorations across the nation. The Massachusetts State House has had numerous events to mark this anniversary.

Just recently, Susan Greendyke Lachevre, Arts Collection Manager for the State House, completed a volume detailing the Art of the Civil War at the Massachusetts State House. The State Library has recently added copies to its collection and at some point in the future, the report will be available online. As Ms. Greendyke Lachevre notes, publication coincides with the Sesquicentennial of the War. Her beautiful work, a detailed listing of holdings in the State House, was written by the Massachusetts Art Commission.

As is the case with many libraries across the country, the State Library owns artwork from the Civil War Era. The first of note is a plaster bust of Arthur Buckminster Fuller, a prominent Massachusetts clergyman who was killed in the battle of Fredericksburg in December of 1862. A blog entry from 2011 describes this sculpture and its focus

A second item owned by the library is a portrait of Charles Carleton Coffin painted by Frank H. Tompkins in 1891. Coffin, a New Hampshire native, lived for many years in Massachusetts. Unable to enlist in the war due to an injury in his youth, Coffin became one of the most famous journalists covering the war. He donated his portrait to the State Librarian C. B. Tillinghast and his successors in 1896. 

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department
State Library of Massachusetts

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Spirit of Independence

The State Library received The Citizen’s Almanac: Fundamental Documents, Symbols, and Anthems of the United States, a publication from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the federal government depository program. 

The Citizen’s Almanac is a document concerning U.S. Citizenship. It has many wonderful pictures and documents related to citizenship and the founding of the U.S.  It has a picture of two suffragettes petitioning for the right to vote in 1917; a painting of the signing in 1620 of the Mayflower Compact, which was a social contract for self-government and an inspiration to the framers of the Constitution and a painting of the “Spirit of ‘76” by Archibald M. Willard in 1876. The image in the book is from the National Archives but there is also a copy in Abbott Hall, Marblehead’s Town Hall.
Materials included are the Declaration of Independence, with a John Trumball painting of the signing of this document;  The Federalist Papers which were a series of eighty-five essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison under the pen name “Publius”; The Bill of Rights; The Emancipation Proclamation; summaries of landmark decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court including Marbury vs. Madison (1803), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), West Virginia State v. Barnett (1943) and Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954). 

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Drummer's Hymn Book

The Special Collections department of the State Library is delighted to announce receipt of a new donation to our collection, an item that adds to the richness of the Civil War-era materials already maintained by the repository. The Soldier’s Hymn Book, published in 1861 by the Young Men’s Christian Association, has particular value in that it was owned by a soldier named Albert P. Hills, a drummerboy who served in Company I of the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers during the Civil War. Throughout the hymnal, Hills drew several illustrations including “Chaplain Clark in the Pulpit,” an eagle clutching arrows and a shield, a sow, and a field drum.

The staff in Special Collections sought to gain more information about the owner of the hymnal, and through their research they found that Hills enlisted as a drummerboy in the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteers at the young age of 15. Although both of his parents opposed his decision to join, they could not dissuade him, and it was then that Hill’s father, Albert Smith Hills, chose to accompany his son and enlist in the regiment with him. Both father and son served in General Burnside’s army in North Carolina, and they fought and served in several battles including the battle and capture of Roanoke Island.

The Soldier’s Hymn Book is just one example of the State Library’s extensive number of items and collections that document Massachusetts’ contribution during the Civil War. Anyone can visit Special Collections and view these historical treasures. Please visit us in Room 55 of the State House, and for more information about our hours, visit our website at

Casey E. Davis
Reference/Exhibition Intern
Special Collections Department

Monday, June 18, 2012

The World Factbook

The World Factbook is prepared by the CIA (the Central Intelligence Agency).

The Factbook contains information about 267 world entities. There are maps, listing of independent states, dependencies, environmental issues, flag description, exports, exchange rates, health information and many other topics of international interest.

Information is received from many federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

The publication has been available to the public since 1975 and available on the internet since 1997. The web edition is updated every two (2) weeks.

The 2010 edition commemorates the 63rd anniversary of establishment of the CIA.

The State Library has the Factbook in its collection, in paper, from the year 2000 to 2010. The call number to request an individual year edition is: PREX 3.15: (year you seek). The Library also has computers to access the Factbook available in room 341 and room 442 of the State House. Our hours are 9 AM to 5 PM, Mondays through Fridays.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Early Massachusetts Registers: A Researcher’s Goldmine

The State Library’s digitized collection of early Massachusetts Registers, which cover from the mid-18th up through the late 19th centuries, were recently made available through our DSpace electronic documents repository. Not to be confused with what is presently known as the “Massachusetts Register” (published by the Office of the Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), these early annual publications acted as both almanacs and directories and sought to inform readers on the weather and celestial events, important dates, duties on imports, basic census figures, and other topics that allow us to document the goings-on in Massachusetts during these years. The almanacs are also an invaluable resource on Massachusetts state and city/town elected officials, justices, lawyers, sheriffs, ministers, and officers of various organizations throughout the state; institutions such as schools, churches, and societies; area businesses; soldiers; and military activities. In earlier volumes, it’s common (and exciting!) to come across such famous names as John and Samuel Adams, John Hancock, George Washington, James Bowdoin, and others.
One interesting feature found within the 1862 register is a lengthy section titled “History of the Rebellion and Massachusetts Action”, which covers state, legislative and military action, noteworthy men, and the historical events leading up to the beginning and early years of the Civil War through 1862. A substantial part of this section provides a complete account of the Massachusetts Volunteer regiments, including sketches about each regiment and lists of soldiers’ names accompanied by the Mass. cities and towns from which they hailed.

For more information on the early Massachusetts Registers, or if you would like to view them in person, please visit our Special Collections Department in Room 55 in the State House, or call 617-727-2595 to speak with a Special Collections librarian. The State Library is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Kaitlin Connolly, Library Technician
Reference Department

Monday, June 4, 2012

Amazing Birds: The Wild Side of Massachusetts

Image adapted from
Birds of Massachusetts
and other New England States, 1929
The State Library invites you to view the newest exhibit, Amazing Birds: The Wild Side of Massachusetts.

The exhibit features bird species commonly found in the Commonwealth as well as notable Massachusetts-based ornithologists and naturalists.

The exhibit runs through August 31, 2012 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Can't make it to the library? View the digital exhibit on the library's Flickr site!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brown bag on the State of the Birds of Massachusetts

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
On Thursday, June 7th, 2012
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear Joan Walsh, Director of Bird Monitoring for the Mass Audubon, speak about the Massachusetts’ bird populations and the extraordinary changes we have seen over the last 35 years in the bird life of the Commonwealth. She will give an overview of the new publication, The State of the Birds of Massachusetts, and discuss the conservation successes and challenges we face in the state. Her talk will coincide with the opening of a new exhibit in the State Library to be entitled Amazing Birds: The Wild Side of Massachusetts. The exhibit will highlight the following: Eastern Wood-Pewee, Black Capped Chickadee, Canadian Warbler, Wild Turkey and Cardinal. The exhibit will also focus on famous Massachusetts ornithologists.

To register for the Brown Bag, please go to

 You may also register by calling the Reference Department of the State Library at 617-727-2590 or by e-mailing to

Future Brown Bags will include: 
  • Tuesday, July 10th- Pamela Wilmot, Executive Director, Massachusetts Common Cause

  • Thursday, August 23rd, Connie Reik, Tisch Library, Tufts University, The Civil War Veteran in Federal and Massachusetts State Documents and Publications

  • Thursday, September 20th, Elaine Grublin, The Massachusetts Historical Society, Civil War Papers of the Society with emphasis on the Battle of Antietam and the battle’s 150th anniversary

  • Tuesday, October 16th, Alexandra S. Baker, The United States Census Bureau, The 2010 Census

  • Thursday, November 15th, Dr. Marcia Hohn, The Immigrant Learning Center, Massachusetts Immigrant Entrepreneurs