Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Photographic Mystery: An Anonymous Picture of a Woman in the 1869 Senate Album

Sometimes a little mystery makes a project all the more interesting! In a recent blog entry, I reported on our newly digitized legislative photograph collection and some of the characteristics I observed. Since then, I have been working ardently on creating and fixing metadata that will be attached to each photograph. Although the project is moving along pretty smoothly, some snags are to be expected—namely trying to identify unidentified legislators, officers of the court, and other images included within the collection. I’ve been largely successful with the bound Senate albums, relying greatly on the relationship between the order of the pictures in the album and the senators’ seating arrangements found in the Manuals of the General Court, but I am finding that the loose photographs are incredibly difficult to identify.

One image in particular pleasantly surprised me: our Senate album for the year 1869 concludes with a final picture of an anonymous woman. Keep in mind, the first female Massachusetts legislator did not serve until 1923 (also see our updated list of women in the Mass. Legislature), so this is a bit of a head-scratcher. Who was she? Was she the widow of an important Massachusetts legislator? Women’s suffrage continued to be an active cause during this time period—could she have been making waves in the legislature? Was she an officer for the Senate? Her picture comes at the end of the album where the officers were typically located. Nevertheless, officers and appointees of the General Court in the 19th century were, like legislators, exclusively men; it wasn’t until the early 20th century that we begin to see women appointed to positions such as cashiers and stenographers. Unfortunately, the 1869 Manual of the General Court, as well as the Journal of the Senate for that year, provide no helpful information on who she was and the role she played.

If you recognize the woman in this picture, or have strong suspicions that you might know who she is, please contact the State Library at reference.department@state.ma.us.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brown Bag on Researching Civil War Family Members

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear Connie Reik, Government Publications Coordinator at Tisch Library at Tufts University, speak about researching family members who served in the Civil War. With the continued sesquicentennial of the War much in the news, the interest in this major part of American history is stronger than ever.

To register, please go to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5CPLK9Q

You may also register by calling the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or by e-mailing to mailto:Reference.Department@state.ma.us

Future Brown Bags will include: 
  • Thursday, September 20th
    Elaine Grublin, The Massachusetts Historical Society, Civil War Papers of the Society with emphasis on the Battle of Antietam and its 150th anniversary
  • Tuesday, October 25th
    Alexandra S. Barker, The U.S. Census Bureau, The 2010 Census 
  • Thursday, October 25th
    Dr. Marcia Hohn, The Immigrant Learning Center, Massachusetts Immigrant Entrepreneurs
     Tuesday, December 11th
  • Dr. Beryl Rosenthal, Executive Director, The Waterworks Museum, The History of Water in Massachusetts

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Treasures of the State Library for August, 2012: Massachusetts Legislators as Authors

Members of the Massachusetts legislature, known as the General Court, come to office from many professions- lawyering, insurance, social work, retail, teaching, policing, academia, manufacturing and farming just to name a few. Over the course of their careers, many also become authors of books which find a place in the world of politics and government. For many years, the State Library has requested that Legislators leaving office consider donating their papers to the State Library. The books and personal papers become part of the State Library's collections. 

Former Senate Minority Leader John Parker, from Taunton, relished writing about “legislative life” and about his long career in the Senate which ranged from 1953 until 1990. His The Fun and Laughter of Politics is full of chapters with enticing names such as “The Constituents always Write” and “The Country Needs Me.” The State Library also has his papers collection number is Ms. Coll. 35.

For another perspective on legislative life, one might wish to read former Representative from Framingham Barbara Gray’s book A Woman’s Ways and Means (her papers collection number Ms. Coll. 114).

Her tales about her role through twenty four years in the Massachusetts House, have engaging chapter titles such as “What’s A Nice Girl Like you Doing in Politics?” and “Lost in the State House.” Representative Gray served from January 1973 through January 1997.

Massachusetts legislators are often known as experts on public policy. One recent example is former Representative John E. McDonough of Boston who served in the House from January of 1985 until December 1st 1997 when he resigned to join the Institute for Health Policy at Brandeis University. Representative McDonough played a major role in the formation of the Massachusetts Health Care Law signed in 2006 and has been touted as influential in the development of the federal Affordable Care Act.
In Experiencing Politics: A Legislator’s Stories of Government and Health Care, published in 2000, the author focuses on “Agendas and Children’s Health Care,” but also on issues such as “landlord and tenant” and “fiscal crisis.” His papers can are also available collection number is Ms. Coll. 101.

These are, of course, just three examples of a plethora of members who are published. And, it so happens that the State Library not only owns these three legislators’ books, but has also been fortunate to have garnered the legislative papers of all three. The manuscript collections, located in the Special Collections Department, are of great value to researchers.

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

World War One Soldier Portraits Now in Dspace

A portion of our World War I photograph collection has finally made its way online! Digitization of over 8,000 soldier portraits begun in 2007 and was finally completed last summer. After careful review of files and metadata, 1,800 images were recently uploaded to the State Library’s digital repository.

Now patrons are able to browse photographs of members of the 26th “Yankee” Division who were based at Camp Devens (now Fort Devens) in Ayer, Massachusetts. Many soldiers have more than one image in their record because of material written on the reverse side of their portrait. Valuable information like hometown, address, promotion, and even names of family members may appear here, so make sure to click “show full item record” to check for more files and a transcription of the text.

Click here to browse photographs of soldiers with names beginning with S – Z, and stay tuned for more notices about future uploads!

Bianca Hezekiah
Reference Department

Monday, August 6, 2012

Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases Now on Flickr


As part of a grant-funded project, the State Library has started to digitize the Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases in its collection. The library has approximately 200 atlases, which include about 6500 maps in 12 counties and more than 80 municipalities throughout Massachusetts. These atlases provide information about property boundaries, plot size, ownership, building shapes, and materials and are heavily used by genealogists, architectural consultants, people researching the history of their homes, and others.

So far 45 of the 200 atlases have been scanned, and a selection of images from these atlases may now be viewed on the State Library’s Flickr site. 

This project is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

- The Marketing Committee

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Capital Blooms Exhibit

Stop by the State Library before Friday, August 3 to see floral arrangements in our “Capital Blooms” exhibit. Members from the Beacon Hill Garden Club and Waltham Garden Club have used items in our collection as the source of inspiration for four different bouquets.

Visit the State Library’s Flickr page to see images of these wonderful arrangements and the items they were inspired by.