Monday, January 28, 2013

Item of the month for January 2013

Written by Cornelius Dalton, in collaboration with John Wirkkala and Anne Thomas, Leading the Way: A History of the Massachusetts General Court 1629-1980 is a valuable source for anyone interested in the story of the state and its government. Divided into six parts: Origins, 1629-1775, Founding-1776-1780, Legislating for the Common Good, 1780 -1865, Pioneering in Progressive Legislation 1866-1915, A Changing Commonwealth 1915-1950, and A New Era, 1950-1980, this book is a classic and beautifully written history of the Commonwealth which has and will continue to touch historians, politicians and all with an interest in Massachusetts. Often consulted for reference questions here in the State Library, the book includes short illustrated biographies of Senate Presidents and Speakers of the House, a listing of the political “complexion” of the General Court for the years 1867 until 1980 and pages giving the lengths of legislative sessions. This “treasure” stands out as a uniquely valuable source for those wishing to know the history of the Massachusetts General Court.

Cornelius Dalton’s own story is in itself a beautiful State House tale. A political reporter, he worked for 39 years for the Herald-Traveler. To Boston Globe reporter David Farrell, who remembered Dalton in a piece in 1985, he was “Mr. Chips”:
“The scholarly Dalton, who wrote about local and national politics for more than four decades, died last Thursday. His death caused little more than a ripple in the local media which is dominated by people who were in diapers when Dalton was in his prime. But the qualities that made him special will never pass away. His integrity, professional standards, patriotism, warmth and sincerity were the hallmarks of his distinguished career. Dalton was one of a kind. As a young political reporter in the early 1950s, I had the good fortune of breaking in under him at the State House. He was a beautiful man, my Mr. Chips.” (Boston Globe, September 16th, 1985, page 15).
A copy of Leading the Way is kept at the Reference desk for referrals by our staff. The library has several copies for circulation.

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brown Bag on Abolition and WGBH’s “The Abolitionists”

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Tuesday January 29th, 2013
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear WGBH’s Sharon Grimberg, Executive Producer of American Experience’s newest film, The Abolitionists, a three-part series looking at the men and women who fought body and soul to bring an end to slavery.  She will  speak about the making of the film, which aired this January, marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Her presentation will include the showing of some clips from the production.  This talk will coincide with the current exhibit in the State Library, It was Everyone’s War: Celebrating the Contributions of Massachusetts to Abolition and the Civil War.

To register, please go to: 

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

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jennie Volpe: First Lady of the Commonwealth

Recently, this librarian opened the 2011Town Report for Nahant and noticed on the in memoriam page a picture of a woman in a pretty, flowery hat. The picture was captioned “First Lady of the Commonwealth.” Her name was Jennie Benedetto Volpe and she was the wife of John Volpe, Massachusetts Governor from 1961-1963 and 1965-1969.

Mrs. Volpe died on January 12, 2011 at the age of 98. According to the Boston Globe obituary, she designed hats, including the one she wore for her husband’s first inauguration. She also had “impeccable taste in fashions” and she had a    no-nonsense attitude about life: if there was a problem such as her stove breaking down she would say, “I don’t discuss it, I solve it.”

She was born Giovannina Benedetto in 1912 in Pescosansonesco, Italy. She and her mother emigrated to the United States in 1915, to the town of Wakefield, Massachusetts, where she joined her father. When she married John Volpe he owned a construction company, and he built them a stately house in Winchester, Massachusetts.

According to her online obituary, when her husband was Governor of Massachusetts she “worked to improve the quality of the state's mental-health facilities and she delivered numerous addresses on her husband's behalf on the campaign trail.” She later lived in Washington, D.C., and in Italy when her husband became U. S. ambassador. She and her husband returned to the United States in 1978 and lived in a ranch-style house in Nahant, Massachusetts. She lived there until her death in 2011.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Civil War Exhibit Now Open

The State Library invites you to view the newest exhibit, It Was Everyone’s War: Celebrating the Contributions of Massachusetts to Abolition and the Civil War.

The exhibition highlights examples of various groups’ contributions to the Union cause during the Civil War and to the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States.

The exhibit runs through May 31, 2013 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

A special thanks to Amani Marshall, an intern at the State Library, who surveyed the collections for Civil War-related material, and proposed the major themes. Thanks also to Casey Davis, a former Reference/Exhibit intern, who scanned many of the documents in the exhibit, wrote much of the panel text, and designed the exhibit layout.

For more information on the Civil War in Massachusetts, please see the website of the Massachusetts Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission (

Image: Row 1: Frederick Douglass; Sgt. Andrew Jackson Smith, Mass. 55th Regiment. 
Row 2: Abraham Lincoln; Charles Sumner; Col. Robert Gould Shaw, Mass. 54th Regiment.
Row 3: Gov. John A. Andrew and his military staff.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules of the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.

In Massachusetts, the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) is the complete set of Administrative Law (regulations) promulgated by state agencies.

The CFR is divided into 50 subject matter titles which coincide with the titles of the Federal law (U.S. Code).  It is often asked what the phrase “reserved” means in both the CFR and CMR.   “Reserved” holds a place for future regulations that  may be inserted into that location.

If one wanted to see the regulations for the Affordable Care Act, commonly called “Obamacare”, you would do the following: go to
- click on Advanced Search
- click on Code of Federal Regulations and the word ADD
- type in "affordable care act" in the lower right, the myriad list of regulations will be available.

To understand the CFR citations, for example 45 CFR section 158.150, is described below:
- The Title is a numeric value to the left of “CFR”  (Title 45 is cited)
- The Section/Subpart is a section number to the right of CFR. (section 158.150)

The CFR on line has been authenticated by the Superintendent of Documents of the United States Government Printing Office and has been available on line since 1996.

We invite you to the State Library in room 341 of the State House from 9 am to 5 pm on Mondays through Fridays to access the CFR on one of our computers.