Monday, March 31, 2014

President –Elect John F. Kennedy addresses the Massachusetts General Court

On November 8th, 1960, Massachusetts’ favorite son, Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was elected to the Presidency.  Elected at the age of  just forty three, he was the youngest man elected to that office.

A highlight of his career, perhaps most importantly for those in Massachusetts was his speech here in the Massachusetts State House, delivered on January 9th, 1961. Kennedy's speech as president-elect was delivered “To a Joint Convention of the Two Houses of the General Court of Massachusetts.”  He spoke here just ten days before his inauguration and the address has come to be known as "The City Upon the Hill" address.

The eloquent speech contains mention of Kennedy’s appreciation of history and of government. It also shines throughout with his love for this state, the state of his birth.   He notes that:

                For forty-three years---- whether I was in London, Washington, the South Pacific or elsewhere this has been my home: and, God willing, wherever I serve, this shall remain my home.
Reading this speech now captures the excitement of the times and the great hope Kennedy’s Massachusetts supporters had for their favorite son. The ending notes the profound future role for the President-elect:
       I ask for your help and your prayers, as I embark on this new and solemn journey.      
The speech is House Bill No. 2660  of 1961 located in the State Library. The text is scanned and available here.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum has a recording of the speech.

Please visit the State Library to find a large collection of materials about John F. Kennedy  and the Kennedy family.   We are located in Room 341 of the State House.  Please view our website at

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, March 24, 2014

Congressional Budget Office “Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2014 to 2023”

The Congressional Budget Office, commonly known as the CBO, produces various documents and reports during any given year.  The CBO, founded in 1974, produces independent analyses for the Congress of economic and budgetary issues.  Reports produced by CBO are available to the Congress and to the public on the website  This nonpartisan agency’s employees are appointed on the basis of their competence.

Types of reports issued are: analysis of the President’s Budget, long-term budget projections, scorekeeping for enacted legislation, monthly budget review, reports on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, sequestration reports, reports on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and analytic reports.

The “options” report is a 305 page document detailing information about: mandatory spending options, discretionary spending options, revenue options, health options, budgetary implications of eliminating a Cabinet Department, and 3 appendices (deficit reduction options, spending options by budget function and options by major program or category). There are a total of 103 options to decrease or increase federal revenue. Some decrease federal spending or increase federal revenue.

Some of the options have come from proposed legislation, the private sector, Congressional offices, and budget proposals of various administrations. CBO makes no recommendations, nor does CBO claim to present all options. The report is available online as well as in paper at the Reference desk (call number Y19.2: D36/18).

Please visit the main reading room of the State Library (room 341) on Mondays through Fridays between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm to use our reference copy or our public access computers to view all the documents/reports produced by the CBO.    

Bette L. Siegel
Government Document Librarian

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mass State Guard Collection

Handwritten form letter on company letterhead
dated May 22, 1868. State Guard Clerk Samuel
Houghton hand-wrote these letters requesting
guardsmen's attendance at drills and ceremonies.
Sometimes processing a collection – describing its contents and researching the historical context of its creation – creates more questions than it answers. One of those collections is the Records pertaining to the Worcester State Guard, 1867-1888 (Ms. 50).

The Worcester State Guard was incorporated in 1863. Its members attended military funerals of Worcester soldiers who had died in the “War of the Rebellion,” as the Civil War was then known in the North. The state guard also drilled regularly and was occasionally called upon to keep the peace or to escort officials or new enlistees. In 1866, the act that incorporated the state guard was repealed, and it was disbanded. However, former members petitioned to reinstitute it, and the legislature decided in 1867 to permit their continued existence. They were disbanded when the state militia was reorganized in 1875.

List of signatures of new members of
the Worcester State Guard. Penciled
meeting notes on back, dated "Oct 5”
and “Oct 7.” Undated, probably 1867.

Because there is no accompanying information about its origins, some aspects of the collection remain a mystery. Why, for example, is the bulk of the collection from 1867-1868, with only two items dating from after that period? Is the receipt from 1888 meant to be part of the collection, or was it swept into the file by a careless clerk? Does the 1879 form letter of acceptance to the Guard mean that these records were transferred to the official guard after the state militia reorganization? Sometimes there are more questions than answers.

Newspaper clippings relating
to the Worcester State Guard,
probably cut from the
Worcester Daily Spy. Two
are undated attendance
requests from the “Notices”
section. The third is a
resolution of mourning
dated June 3, 1867,
marking the death of
Simeon Clapp, late State
Guard member.
The collection contains an assortment of materials, including newspaper clippings, receipts, handwritten documents, and stationery. It seems likely that the collection exists because someone at the early stages of the state guard’s reformation wanted to document its history. Thus, we have some pieces of information that help us get a sense of its regular activities, like the two tiny newspaper clippings cut from the ‘Notices’ section of the Daily Spy (the local Worcester newspaper) that request the attendance of guard members at Brinley Hall Armory, or the six copies of a form letter that ask guardsmen to attend a drill and to march in a memorial procession. One of the most interesting documents in the collection is the state guard’s handwritten bylaws. Dated June 21, 1867, they extend to several pages and have attached amendments from August 6, 1869. 

The Worcester State Guard's existence was brief and the records of its existence are scarce, but the documents it left behind give us an interesting window into Massachusetts history after the Civil War and the ways that the War was memorialized and mythologized.

Katie Seitz
Special Collections intern

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Brown Bag Lunch on Family History: Part 2

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and listen to Sharon Sergeant, Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt, and Mary Ellen Grogan from the Massachusetts Genealogical Council talk about the resources and techniques used to discover the story of your family.  This is a follow-up to the talk on genealogy given on December 17th. Speakers will be discussing different aspects of research, but you will be able to follow the talk even if you weren’t able to attend in December.  Sharon will be talking about various records and how one set of records will lead to another; Polly will talk about DNA and genealogy, specifically the efforts of the Department of Defense to use these methods to identify and return the bodies of war dead to their families; and Mary Ellen will talk about educational sources for genealogy.

Sharon, Polly and Mary Ellen will stay to answer questions.  The Massachusetts Genealogical Council’s mission involves preserving public record access and a commitment to genealogy education.

To register, please visit  You may also call the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or send an email to to let us know you will attend.

Future Brown Bags which are planned for 2014

April 17th, 2014, Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Head of Special Collections, State Library of Massachusetts, “Treasures of the State Library”
May 22nd, 2014, Nancy Lusignan Schultz, author of “Fire and Roses: the Burning of Charlestown Convent, 1934”
June 19th, 2014, Stephen Puleo, author of “The Caning: The Assault that Drove America to the Civil War

Monday, March 10, 2014

State Bird Collection

The Black-Capped Chickadee's image
appears in many different places.
Jigsaw puzzle, Wild Republic, 2002.

Massachusetts designated the Black-Capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) as its state bird in 1941. Beth Carroll-Horrocks, head of the State Library Special Collections department, has amassed a collection of artifacts depicting the adorable songbird. She donated it to Special Collections this year for display and educational purposes.

This thimble displays an image of a
Black-Capped Chickadee. Ceramic thimble,
Birchcroft, England.

The collection contains items dating from 1922 to 2013, though most of the non-paper objects are undated. The range of objects demonstrates the universal appeal of the Black-Capped Chickadee. From salt-and-pepper shakers to greeting cards and jigsaw puzzles, the state bird of Massachusetts adds its unique charm.

These salt and pepper shakers are 
hand-painted with a Black-Capped
Chickadee. Glass salt and pepper shakers.

Hundreds of thousands of collectible cards were given out for
promotional purposes by companies in the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. This card, issued by Church and Dwight Co. in 1922,
was one of a set of thirty, all beautifully illustrated with North American
birds. The artist was Mary Emily Eaton, an English botanical artist
who worked in the United States in the early 20th century. 

These cards often had both promotional and
 informational text on the back. In this case, the
scientific name of the Black-Capped Chickadee
is incorrect. 

Katie Sietz
Special Collections Intern