Monday, July 29, 2013

An Anomaly: The Massachusetts Census Here today (1970); Gone tomorrow (1974)

Recently, the reference staff received a question regarding a little-known 1971 state census. Massachusetts has taken a census in years ending in 5 since the mid-1800’s and the results are available on the State Library’s website. The United States government also conducts a census in years ending in 0; starting in the year 1790.

We discovered that there was a Massachusetts Constitutional Amendment adopted in 1970 (XCII-#92), which called for a state census in 1971 and every tenth year thereafter. The amendment also refined how the General Court was composed. At that time, the House of Representatives consisted of 240 members and the Senate of 40 members. The General Court (the Legislature) held a constitutional convention in both 1968 and 1969 to pass this Constitutional Amendment. There were court cases to dispute the census results by Brockton, Lowell and others. There were questions about the counting of students, especially for Cambridge.

Constitutional Amendment XCII was annulled in 1974. The General Court held constitutional conventions in both 1971 and 1973. The people of Massachusetts approved the annulment which was on the 1974 ballot; this became amendment CI (#101). Amendment CI also reduced the size of the General Court to 160 members of the House of Representatives and 40 Senators. The 1971 census was completed, but apparently the results were never published. The returns are available at the State Archives.

For more information about the Massachusetts Constitution and General Court (Legislature), please visit us in room 341 of the State House. The State Library is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 5 pm.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Book of Fishes

The State House's own Hall of Representatives gets a shout-out in National Geographic's The Book of Fishes, from 1924. The introduction features a photograph of the Sacred Cod of Massachusetts, which hangs above the chamber in a tradition dating to 1784.

The Book of Fishes covers one hundred species of marine life, including lobsters, turtles, and dolphins. The proper fishes are illustrated in over ninety color plates, painted from life for the National Geographic Society.

The book is intended for the veteran fisherman as well as the amateur ichthyologist. It covers everything from the manner in which male lumpfish protect their eggs before hatching, to the process of commercial fish-drying in Nova Scotia, to the reason why fish have spherical eyes (apparently because they are close in density to the surrounding water). The State Library is full of unexpected treasures!

Brian Hoefling

Monday, July 15, 2013

Brown Bag on Fenway Park

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Tuesday,  July 23rd,  2013
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear David Freidman, Senior Vice President and Special Counsel for the Boston Red Sox, and Dan Rea, Special Assistants to the President/CEO of the Boston Red Sox, talk about the history of Fenway Park and their experience chronicling it in the coffee table book, Fenway Park: 100 Years, the official, definitive history of Fenway Park.  David and Dan will speak on the decision to produce the 256-page book in house – in conjunction with Major League Baseball – essentially created a publishing house within the Red Sox organization. They will also discuss and answer questions on how the club is preserving and protecting Fenway Park and the precious artifacts and memorabilia within it.

Both David and Dan served as co-editors of three books associated with Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary: Fenway Park: 100 Years, the park’s official coffee table book; Wally the Green Monster’s Journey Through Time, an animated children’s book; and Fenway Park: It Never Gets Old, the park’s official tour book.

To register, please go to:
You may also register by calling the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or by e-mailing to     

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Item of the Month for July 2013 - 1924 Report on the Watertown, Massachusetts Police Department

Because of its prominent role in the days following the Boston Marathon terrorist attacks, Watertown, Massachusetts, a town located very close to Boston, is now known all over the world. It was during a gunfight on April 19th of this year that the police force of Watertown worked with a plethora of law enforcement groups to capture one of the suspects in the Marathon bombing. The other suspect was killed during the long encounter.

One of the main collections in the State Library is comprised of materials about the Commonwealth’s communities. Because the Watertown police force is so much in the news, I hoped to find something about this department in our stacks. I found a gem! Published in 1924 it is entitled Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Police Department of the Town of Watertown, approved by the Board of Selectmen of the Town. The volume covers the expectations of the police and outlines the benefits the officers serving received. Page two, though written 90-years ago and of course “dated” in some respects, rings true to what we know of the department today.

Visit the State Library to view this entire document, or to read about our collections of city, town, and county resources. The State Library is located in Room 341 of the State House and is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, July 8, 2013

A New Exhibit at the State Library of Massachusetts

Visit the State Library to see an exhibit entitled Doll E Daze: Footprints of African Americans in Transportation presented by the National Black Doll Museum. The exhibit showcases sixteen expressive art dolls that examine the impact that various modes of transportation played in the transformation of enslaved Africans to freed African Americans. These dolls stand at 24 inches and are decorated with items that chronicle the arduous journey to freedom from the early national period through the twentieth century and tell the story of the African American experience gathered over two hundred years of its existence.

The exhibit runs through August 31, 2013 and can be viewed in the reading room of the State Library (room 341 of the State House). Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fredrick Douglass in the State Library

Frederick Douglass, a former slave, was a passionate abolitionist, a forceful speaker, and a prolific writer. Douglass started a newspaper called The North Star and he also wrote three autobiographies. Frederick Douglass gave a speech on July 5, 1852 in Rochester, NY. The State Library has a copy of this speech titled: “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” on page 379 in a book called The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Nellie Y. McKay.

The State Library’s online catalog contains records for several of his publications, and the Library’s Flickr site has pictures of Frederick Douglass and other people involved in the emancipation of slaves and in the Civil War.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, July 1, 2013

A Law by Any Other Name is Still a Law

When researching legislative history at the State Library, patrons sometimes encounter abbreviations like G.S., P.S., R.L., and R.S. These abbreviations are law compilations, or Acts divided up by subject with chapter numbers. The abbreviations stand for:

Revised Statutes-R.S.
General Statutes-G.S.
Public Statutes-P.S.
Revised Laws-R.L.

For instance, if someone uses an annotated version of the Massachusetts General Laws for the statute on the Adulteration of Alcoholic Liquors (Chapter 270, section 1 of the Massachusetts General Laws), he or she can find citations to previous versions of the laws. The citations will look like this:

GS 166 section 4; General Statute chapter 166, section 4
PS 208 section 4; Public Statute Chapter 208, section 4
RL 213 section 1; Revised Law 213, section 1

The State Library of Massachusetts owns earlier versions of the Massachusetts General Laws, including: General Laws of Massachusetts 1823, Revised Statutes of MA 1836, the General Statutes of MA 1860, the Public Statutes of 1882, the Revised Laws of 1902, the General Laws of 1921, and the General Laws of 1932 tercentenary edition. It is important to note that there were no official Massachusetts General Laws published between the years 1932 and 1984.

These laws are in paper format in the State Library and also available online in the State Library’s digital repository.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian