Thursday, December 24, 2015

The State Library of Massachusetts wishes you a wonderful
holiday season 
and a happy new year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Holiday Traditions and Interesting State Library Collection Finds

The holiday season is in full swing at the State House with holiday music filling the halls on a daily basis. Boston itself is full of holiday traditions—from the lighting of the menorah and Christmas tree on the Boston Common to ice skating on the Frog Pond to the year-long awaited holiday performances of the Nutcracker ballet and the Boston Pops concert at Symphony Hall.

The State Library’s collections yield a few eclectic items tied to the holiday season.  One of the most peculiar is a small 14 page booklet, The Alpine Edelweis: a Christmas Song from 1886 which contains an ode to the edelweiss flower made famous by the song everyone knows from the The Sound of Music. Christmas Eve on Beacon Hill by Richard Bowland Kimball, is another diminutive 16 page booklet from 1918 recounting the tradition of illuminating Beacon Hill windows with candles on Christmas Eve (one would hope that today those candles are electric!).  A third, Christmas, Boston Image from 1964 showcases eerie, almost otherworldly black and white photographs by Dave Lawlor which literally capture a snapshot of Boston life “frozen” in that moment with its many classic film shots of day and night winter and holiday scenes taken around Boston.  It is a glimpse into the past to holiday traditions and Boston scenes that remain the same today, even 50 years later, and how plenty have changed over the years.  Happy Holidays!

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services

Monday, December 14, 2015

A “Wartime Story” From The Stacks

While researching Massachusetts governors recently, I came across an interesting item in our collection having to do with Governor Endicott Peabody.  Governor Peabody was the State’s 62nd Governor and served a single term from January 3, 1963 to January 7 of 1965. While it is not odd that we have a number of resources related to Massachusetts legislators, governors and historical figures, I was surprised to find an item called The Wartime Story of Governor Peabody. This booklet is a compilation of articles written in March of 1963 by Edward G. McGrath for the Boston Globe. The ten part series tells the story of the U.S submarine Tirante in World War II and Lt. Endicott Peabody’s role as an officer on board. The articles include a number of black and white photographs of the crew members on board, ships sinking through the lens of a periscope and officers receiving Medals of Honor.

The details of the Tirante’s exploits were classified for about twenty years before the Boston Globe requested that The Navy Department release some of its information. Governor Peabody was newly elected at the time, upsetting Republican incumbent John Volpe by a slim margin, and reporters were probably hoping to get as much information about their new governor as possible. But what is amazing is that these articles were clearly cut out of the newspaper, glued to a piece of paper, laminated, stamped with a three-hole punch and bound together by red string. There is a strong resemblance to an old scrapbook put together by a proud parent many decades ago.

The Wartime Story of Governor Peabody was probably saved by a State Librarian. Before scanning or digital publications became common place, librarians had to find other ways to hold onto articles, brochures and pamphlets with information regarding Massachusetts. Newspaper does not hold up over time, (and from a preservation stand point the obvious smudges of glue are an example of what not to do,) but many steps were taken to make sure this article would be available for patrons and researchers in the future.

Today, librarians spend less time cutting and pasting clippings or creating books for patrons to read, but time is spent collecting information. While we do have microfilm and print copies of many historical newspapers, we also subscribe to databases so that our patrons can search for articles. We pull reports off the internet and catalog them into our digital repository, creating booklets as PDFs instead of with glue and ribbon. While the steps we go through may be quite different, our goal to make information available is still the same.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December Author Talk: Joseph McMaster

Charles Street Jail by Joseph McMaster
Thursday, December 17, 2015—Noon to 1:30 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

Please join us at the State Library at noon on Thursday, December 17, for an Author Talk with award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker Joseph McMaster, who will be speaking about his newly released book Charles Street Jail. Opened in 1851 near Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital, this elegant granite building was hailed as one of the finest jails in the country and was lauded for the humanitarian treatment of its prisoners. Also known as the Suffolk County Jail, this building housed some of Boston’s most notorious criminals, including future Boston Mayor and Massachusetts Governor James Michael Curley and Boston organized crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger.

Conditions in the Charles Street Jail deteriorated over time, however, leading to the jail’s closure in 1990. After sitting vacant for over a decade, this stunning building was eventually transformed into the completely renovated Liberty Hotel. This luxury hotel retains many of the architectural elements original to the building, including the jail’s expansive central atrium and catwalks. Mr. McMaster’s new book includes over 200 historic images, including photographs of the jail from the time of its original construction to its recent renovation, as well as photographs of the infamous prisoners who were housed within its walls.

Mr. McMaster’s talk on the history of the Charles Street Jail is free and open to the public, and copies of the book Charles Street Jail will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Please register online and join us on December 17th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, November 30, 2015

Staying Local this winter with MassGrown

One of the best aspects about being on the Exhibits Committee here at the Library is doing research on specific subjects relating to the state that otherwise I may not have known about. Whether it is delving into the Library’s photography collections of historical places and events or discovering the myths and stories that live on in our collective memory, there is always something new to learn.

While working on our exhibit Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts, I came across the MassGrown section of the Massachusetts Department of
Agricultural Resource (MDAR) page. Massgrown is a wonderful way to keep up with local farms, products and activities such as farmers markets, culinary tourism and special festivals. Massachusetts is lucky to be home to a number of farm stands, aquaculture, green-houses and nurseries that find ways to connect with their community through CSAs, agricultural fairs, and Pick Your Own fruit and vegetable farms. The MassGrown site is a one stop spot for all the information you need regarding these local resources.

Since first finding the MassGrown page in the Spring, I have found myself returning over and over for weekend outing ideas, local dairy or fish options and to help make suggestions to visitors from out of town.  When a tourist visiting the State House in mid-November asked if there were still orchards open in the area (hoping for a true New England, apple-picking experience), I was grateful to see how many local farms would still be open or hosting events well through the winter months ahead.

As the season changes from fall to winter, many people may not be thinking of our local farms and nurseries as places to visit. The ground hardens, blizzards set in and fresh fruit and veggies are far from some people’s thoughts. But, as the MassGrown site shows you, there are still a number of places to visit, workshops to attend and, most importantly, things to eat and drink. The winter is a wonderful time to for Maple Sugar Houses and Christmas Tree Farms. There are over 40 Fall/Winter Farmers Markets still open, not including the new Boston Public Market, a year round, indoor farmer’s market for New England vendors.  A calendar shows there are Holiday Open Houses and Markets well into December as well as breweries, distilleries and wineries ready for tours and tastings.

There is always new information and the MassGrown and Fresher News is a great way to keep updated, also available in our digital repository Dspace. With a few new recipes and food festivals, we all might just make it through another New England winter.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian

Monday, November 23, 2015

State Library’s Bradford Manuscript on Public Television

On Tuesday, November 24 and Thursday, November 26 (Thanksgiving Day) at 8pm EST, PBS will air a new film by documentary film-maker Ric Burns of Steeplechase Films called The Pilgrims. The film documents the political, economic, religious and historical forces that led to the Pilgrim’s migration to New England and their settlement at Plimoth Plantation in 1620.

Mr. Burns and his production crew spent an entire day in the State Library’s Special Collections Department in November 2014, working under the careful supervision of multiple staff members to film selected portions of the Bradford Manuscript, the hand-written journal by Mayflower passenger William Bradford, one of the original Mayflower passengers. In 1630, Bradford started to write an account of the Pilgrim’s history and travels, starting in England, moving to the Netherlands, crossing the Atlantic, and then their first thirty years in Massachusetts.

The resulting “Bradford Manuscript,” considered a treasure of the Commonwealth, plays an important role in the film’s narrative.

The State Library has digitized the entire volume, and it is available for public viewing through the Library’s digital repository, DSpace.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Time of Thanks at the State Library

As Thanksgiving approaches, we reflect, give thanks, and perhaps ponder the mysteries behind this special holiday.  The truth is, we do not know the details about the first Thanksgiving, despite the many generational stories and legends that have led us to believe certain “facts.”  In fact, the date of the feast was not even acknowledged; we only know it was between September and November, after the fall crops were harvested. Obviously, the first Thanksgiving was also not well documented, and very few first-hand accounts are in existence that we currently know of.  We are lucky to have two of these accounts here at the State Library of Massachusetts.

The Bradford Manuscript is an original document written by author and Plymouth Colony Governor (1621-1657) William Bradford.  It documents the Pilgrim voyage from England to the Netherlands to North America, the establishment of the Plymouth Colony, passenger lists and details, and of course, a vague description of the first Thanksgiving.  Bradford does not cover the feast in great detail.  However, we know that the meal was in celebration of a successful fall harvest, that 53 Pilgrims and 90 Wampanoag, including Squanto, were in attendance, and that fowl and deer were served.  Traditional meals, like pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, stuffing and roasted turkey were not dishes that would have been present, as the necessary ingredients were not used or available at the time.

Another primary source is Edward Winslow’s Mourt's Relation; taken from it, this interesting
passage about the feast:

"our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie."

"The Pilgrims," a new film by Ric Burns,  will premiere on AMERICAN EXPERIENCE on PBS on Tuesday, November 24 at 8:00 PM EST and again on Thanksgiving Day at 9:30 PM EST.

Monday, November 16, 2015

REMINDER -- November Author Talk: Heather Cox Richardson

To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party by Heather Cox Richardson 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015—Noon to 1:30 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

With the presidential primary campaign season in full swing, party politics are at the forefront of American media coverage. But have you ever wondered how the political party system in America has evolved over time? Author and Boston College history professor Heather Cox Richardson has taken an in-depth look at the origins and history of the Republican Party in America in her most recently published book, To Make Men Free: A History of the Republican Party. Join us at the State Library at noon on Tuesday, November 17, for an Author Talk with Dr. Richardson, who will speak about her book and the fascinating history of the Republican Party.

In addition to her most recent book, Dr. Richardson is also the author of several other books focusing on American history, including Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre (2010) and West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America after the Civil War (2007).

Dr. Richardson’s talk on the origins of the Republican Party is free and open to the public. Please register online and join us on November 17th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Friday, November 13, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Little Massachusetts Wine (and Cheese)

As summer has turned to fall it’s time again to enjoy the harvest outdoors in New England before the first frost—the fun of picking apples and pumpkins come easily to mind.  On the other hand, you might prefer to remain indoors in front of a cozy fire with a glass of Massachusetts wine. Yes, you read that correctly, Massachusetts wine. Massachusetts may have a way to go to compete with California, which currently produces 90% of the wine in the United States, but at #23 and rising, Massachusetts is an up and coming contender in the winemaking industry.

Winemaking has a long history in Massachusetts—it is even rumored that wine from native grapes graced the table at Plimoth Plantation during the first Thanksgiving in 1621. A History of Wine in America by Thomas Pinney relates that in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, wine was made from native grapes in the first summer of settlement in 1630.  And who can forget Concord grapes, named for the town where they originated, although they are known more today for jelly than for wine.

And what goes better with wine than cheese? The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources booklet “Massachusetts Wine & Cheese Trails” promotes and draws much-deserved attention to this growing industry to encourage tourism at local vineyards and farms. This booklet makes a great guide for an enjoyable fall road trip!

In the State Library’s eclectic collections, we can find items on the historical interest in and the importance of winemaking throughout the years—chronicling a long and worthy history of an old industry where the future seems just as bright.

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Moving Forward with Legislative History

As a reference librarian, I have come to expect certain things from patrons hoping to do legislative history. For those who have never had to complete the process before, there is often a look of panic that comes over them as you point to all the walls of books they will need to go through and describe the process of ‘reading between the lines’ to find intent. As someone who also had to learn how to backtrack a law using material like the General Laws, the Acts and Resolves and Senate and House Journals, I understand the dread a patron feels as they disappear behind a tower of oversized books. Legislative history in Massachusetts can be complicated and the library staff has put together a number of helpful resources to guide patrons through the process. Nevertheless, the older a law is the more difficult it can be to find the information you need.

The good news is that it is getting easier. For more recent bills, a number of online resources are gathering the information in one place so that legislative history can be done in less time and with less ambiguity. The legislature’s website is a great place to start. They have the General Laws available as well as Acts starting in 1997 and Resolves starting in 1998. If you have the act number, you will even be able to find the number of the bill that was passed. While perhaps to today’s standards this step may seem basic and obvious, finding this bill number for older laws can take time and some careful maneuvering through various sources. With the Legislature’s website it can be found in an instant.

With this bill number and the year, you have the tools to then use the resource Instatrac. Instatrac, or MassTrac, is a bill-tracking service the State Library subscribes to so it can only be used by patrons on location at the State House. Even without the bill number, you can search by keywords, categories and other citations to find the information you may need. The database contains legislative information including bill text, history, committee information, reports, news articles, votes, press releases and even floor debate for more recent bills. Since it is constantly being updated, it is also a wonderful way to track bills that are still being debated in the current session. For laws enacted after 1995, Instatrac allows a patron doing legislative history to follow a bill from its original text to the day it’s signed into law.

We at the library know how difficult the legislative history process can be, especially for those who are working on older laws or who cannot visit the library. We have already put all Acts and Resolves online and are working to put up all of Legislative Documents (bills). Nevertheless, sometimes the information desired will not be available. With online resources like the legislature’s website, Instatrac, and news services archiving their articles like the Boston Globe and the State House News Service, this process will continue to get easier and how and why a bill became law may get clearer.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Librarian

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Author Talks: Myths and Legends of Massachusetts

Myths and Legends of Massachusetts:
A Presentation by Local Author Sam Baltrusis
Wednesday, October 28, 2015—Noon to 1:30pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

The State Library of Massachusetts is pleased to announce the first in a monthly series of Author Talks. Sam Baltrusis, author of the recently published book 13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts, will speak on myths and legends in Massachusetts. Just in time for Halloween, this event will be held on Wednesday, October 28, from noon until 1:30pm in the beautifully restored State Library reading room, located in Room 341 of the Massachusetts State House.

Author and journalist Sam Baltrusis is a freelance writer for such publications as Boston Spirit Magazine and STUFF Magazine. In the past, he has worked for, VH1, Newsweek,, and ABC Radio and has served as a regional stringer for The New York Times and as editor-in-chief of Spare Change News.

In addition to his most recent book, Mr. Baltrusis is also the author of three books in the “Haunted America” series: Ghosts of Boston: Haunts of the Hub, Ghosts of Cambridge: Haunts of Harvard Square and Beyond, and Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City. Copies of the books 13 Most Haunted in Massachusetts and Ghosts of Boston will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

“Myths and Legends of Massachusetts” is free and open to the public. Please register online to attend this exciting Author Talk at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, October 19, 2015

Join the Friends of the State Library of Massachusetts

Let’s Be Friends! It’s National Friends of Libraries Week! Please join us in the celebration by becoming a Friend of the State Library of Massachusetts.

Friends of the State Library help us enhance our print and electronic collections, fund new preservation projects, and purchase new equipment. The benefits of joining include getting advance notice of our exhibits, tours, and other events.

Remember, anyone can join the Friends organization to help support the State Library of Massachusetts.  Check out our website at: and please feel free to email us at Thanks for your support!

The Friends of the State Library

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chocolate in the Commonwealth

One of my favorite things in life just so happens to be chocolate, so you can imagine my delight when I came across the library’s 1899 edition of the title Cocoa and chocolate: a short history of their production and use while I was perusing the library’s shelves.  It was published by Walter Baker & Company, which operated factory buildings in locations such as the Lower Mills Village on the Neponset River between Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts.  It’s an interesting book that educates the reader on how chocolate is made—or at least in the late 19th century—and also tells the story of the company, describing itself as “the oldest and largest establishment of its kind on this continent” with its origins going back as far as 1765.  Baker’s Chocolate did not become a household name until after the death of John Hannon in 1779, when the company was known as Hannon’s Best Chocolate.  Ownership switched over to James Baker in 1780 and then to Walter Baker in 1823, who rebranded the company under his name.  The company stayed within the Baker family until it officially organized under state law in 1895; in 1898 the company was incorporated through an act of the legislature.

For more information on the company and chocolate production in Massachusetts, check out the in depth online exhibit entitled “Sweet History:  Dorchester and the Chocolate Factory” created by the Bostonian Society:

Other related titles by Walter Baker & Co.:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, October 5, 2015

World War II Coloring Book from the Federal Government

Most of the State Library’s federal documents are produced by the various agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Census, Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration. These documents include annual reports containing a lot of statistical information on the issuing agency. However, some of them are quite unique.  One such document was published by the Office of the President during World War II and is titled John's Book.

John’s Book was received in the State Library September 20, 1945 and it is a children’s coloring book about servicemen during World War II. The book tells the story of John’s father, a pilot in the Ferry Command which ferried planes across the ocean.  The book contains black and white photographs and pictures to color including a ship, a star of freedom and the American flag.  One of the most interesting aspects of this book is its own two-sided pencil attached to a sleeve in the book’s spine. This patriotic book was translated into different languages and the State Library has the English, French, Portuguese and Spanish versions.

If you are interested in browsing these resources visit the State Library of Massachusetts in room 341 of the State House, Monday through Friday 9-5.

Naomi Allen
Reference Department 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Massachusetts Through the Lens is now available in Flickr

Gymnasium at the Normal School,
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Our current exhibit: Massachusetts Through the Lens: Photograph Collections at the State Library of Massachusetts is now available to view online as a set of images on the State Library’s Flickr site. This exhibit features collections that hold photographs of people, places, and events in Massachusetts history, from tintypes and cartes de visite of the Civil War to snapshots from the 1970s.

The exhibit runs from September 14 through December 31, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Funeral Sermons: A Useful Genealogical Resource

An often-overlooked resource for genealogists and historians, funeral sermons can provide interesting details about the lives of our ancestors. The State Library’s holdings include a number of funeral sermons and orations, the majority of which are from the 18th and early 19th centuries. During that time in history, funeral sermons were often printed and distributed to family members and other mourners as keepsakes.

Although these publications tend to be brief, they often include details that might have been omitted from an obituary, such as the personality and temperament of the deceased, family details, and information about the funeral service itself. For example, the following sermon for Mary Skinner of Colchester, CT, printed in 1746, includes eight pages of personal details about her temperament, such as, “As she had a Genius and Turn for Government beyond what is common for Persons of her Years, so she was regular and strict in ruling those under her Care.”

Another common trait of funeral sermons is the use of a mourning border, which is a heavy black border typically found on the cover or title page of a sermon and often printed on stationery used in periods of mourning. These borders are sometimes embellished with drawings, such as the skull and crossbones found in this 1765 sermon for the rector of Christ Church in Boston, the Rev. Timothy Cutler:

One of the most interesting funeral sermons in the State Library’s collection was printed in Boston in 1717. This sermon, which includes a preface by Increase Mather, was preached by his son Cotton Mather at the funeral for Wait Still Winthrop, one of the magistrates for the Salem witch trials and grandson of John Winthrop, one of the founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The sermon includes interesting details about Winthrop’s life, such as, “This Gentleman, having furnished himself with Medical Skill, became also a Master of Medicines, which he freely gave away as well as his Counsils, unto a Great Multitude of People, who from all parts flock’d unto him.”

Whether they are used to research important historical figures or distant relatives, funeral sermons are a resource that can provide a glimpse into the personal lives of our ancestors. To find these and other sermons, search our online catalog for the phrase “funeral sermons,” or visit us at the State Library’s Special Collections Department, Room 55 in the Massachusetts State House.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, September 14, 2015

New exhibition on Photograph Collections at the State Library of Massachusetts opens today

Photographs tell very different stories than the printed texts in the State Library. Opening this week at the State Library of Massachusetts is a new exhibition entitled Massachusetts Through the Lens: Photographic Collections at the State Library of Massachusetts. This exhibition features collections that hold photographs of people, places, and events in Massachusetts history, from tintypes and cartes de visite of the Civil War to snapshots from the 1970s.

The exhibition runs from September 14 through December 31, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This exhibition will also be available to view online as a set of images on the State Library's Flickr site.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

ArtWeek Boston at the State Library

This fall the State Library will participate again in ArtWeek Boston, a “twice-annual 10-day collection of events throughout the city that features unexpected and creative experiences that are interactive or offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or the creative process.”

Our event, a Special Collections Tour, will take place on Thursday, October 1, from 1-2pm, in the Special Collections reading room. Visitors will see treasures from the State Library collections that are not normally on public view, including some of the earliest published laws of Massachusetts, a realistic facsimile of Mayflower passenger William Bradford’s manuscript journal Of Plimoth Plantation, broadsides recruiting soldiers for the Civil War, photographs of African-American soldiers, a handwritten journal by a Civil War soldier from Massachusetts, early maps of Boston, and 19th-century birds-eye view maps of other Massachusetts cities and towns.
Seats are limited, and reservations are required. Participants can sign up through the ArtWeek Boston website, which provides a link for reserving a seat, and directions to the Special Collections department.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Legal View: from Native American Nations to Territories to States at the Massachusetts State Library

The earliest origins of the State Library’s collections date back over 200 years to 1811 when a formal exchange program of law books with other U.S. States, Territories, and Native American Nations was established by the Massachusetts General Court.  These legal collections expanded to a point where the State Library was formally established to house them in 1826.  Over the past two centuries, the collections eventually grew to number almost 24,000 volumes and form a vast and vital part of the library’s 19th and 20th century holdings, making it one of the largest collection of state publications in existence. 

While some might call these “dusty old law books” in the era of Westlaw and Lexis legal research, the volumes collectively tell the story of our nation’s legal foundations as a democracy, and the growth of the individual states to create the present United States of America.  The State Library’s legal collections include such varied items as the Laws of California written in their original Spanish, the laws of Native Indian tribes and nations (i.e. Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Osage), some even in the original native language, and the laws of various territories that eventually became the familiar U.S. States we recognize today (i.e. Dakota, Illinois, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Hawaii). 

One of the most curious volumes in the collection has to be the Laws of the Jefferson Territory, the one and only law volume printed for the Jefferson Territory that existed from 1859 to 1861 and encompassed a land area that would eventually become the states of Kansas and Colorado but was never legally recognized by the United States government.  The dissolution of the Jefferson Territory coincided with the fallout from the 1860 election of President Abraham Lincoln that precipitated the subsequent secession of the original seven states to form the Confederate States of America.  In order to augment the number of free states, the U.S. Congress quickly moved to admit the state of Kansas to the Union on January 29, 1861.  This action left the remainder of the Jefferson Territory unorganized until February 21, 1861, when it was made part of newly formed Colorado Territory, leaving its legal legacy behind for posterity in one 303 page volume.

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services

Monday, August 31, 2015

Must-Read Books at the State Library

The State Library is known for its legislative, historical, and special collections, but did you know that we have contemporary fiction and non-fiction books in our collections, as well? While the bulk of our popular books are available as eBooks, we also have an important collection of popular print books dating back to 2001: the Massachusetts Book Awards Must-Read Books.

Given to the State Library every year by the Massachusetts Center for the Book, the Must-Read Books include notable fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children’s/young adult books that are either about Massachusetts or written by Massachusetts-based authors. This year’s books include The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, The Map Thief by Michael Blanding, Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire, and many others.

We encourage you to stop by the library to browse this year’s Must-Read Books, which are located just inside the library’s third-floor entrance, or to request previous years’ award-winning books from our stacks. All of the Must-Read Books are available for checkout by State Library card holders and are also available to the general public via interlibrary loan.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, August 24, 2015

Massachusetts State Budget Resources

 The Massachusetts State Budget goes through a number of steps before being passed into law. In the middle of July, a number of patrons called the reference desk wondering about updates on the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget and where to find information regarding what stage it was at, how it compared to past budgets and where to find the recommendations from the Ways and Means Committees.  Since the budget must go through the House, Senate, committees and Governor, and is often changed with recommendations, amendments and vetoes, it can be hard to keep track of where we fall in the budget writing cycle.  Fortunately, there are a number of resources available both online and in the State Library to help you better follow and understand the General Appropriations Act of this fiscal year and those that came before it.

First there is the State Budget website through The Official Website of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This site doesn’t just lead you through the current budget process  but also includes links to corresponding documents and budget information going back to 2007. There is also a link to a summary break down of specific government areas from Fiscal year 2013 to the current fiscal year, allowing you to track spending within a specific subject you may be interested in like education or health care.  There are also pages devoted to the budget timeline, terminology, and agencies aiding in financial oversight and management of the budget.

Another resource is the State Legislature site which has a special section devoted to the State Budget. What stands out about this site is that it breaks down the Senate and House Ways and Means recommendations going back to 2012. The full text of their budgets, amendments and conference reports are available along with final budgets and bill numbers. These bill numbers can be quite helpful as the legislature’s site also lets you search Bills as well as Acts and Resolves.

Finally, The State Library assembled a quick outline to the State Budget Process to help with your research. We have also gathered all the House 1 (the Governor’s Recommendations) going back to 1939 in one area of our main reading room. For some of our more recent years, the House and Senate Committee on Ways and Means Budget Recommendations are also available in this section. These are grouped together as ready reference for our patrons hoping to quickly look up early stages of the past budgets. For recent budgets, one of the best resources is the bill tracking service MassTrac. The State Library subscribes to MassTrac because it combines bill history, text, reports, press releases, news articles, votes, debate transcript and much more in one place so that our patrons easily have access to all this information in one place. MassTrac can be incredibly helpful to someone who is looking for all the most up to date information regarding the Budget.

If you are interested in using the library’s resources to research upcoming, current or past budgets visit our website or the Massachusetts State Library in room 341 of the State House, Monday through Friday 9-5.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Department

Monday, August 17, 2015

Video Resources That Can Help You With Your Legislative Research

Many researchers who visit the State Library for legislative research purposes also inquire about
videos of executive branch coverage or legislative proceedings.  Here are some recommendations that we at the library have found to be particularly helpful over the years.

State Library’s House and Senate Floor Session Video Collection
Allowing my bias to take the reins, I will first mention the library’s videotape collection of House and Senate floor sessions (i.e. debates).   Housed in our Special Collections Dept. (Room 55 of the State House), the collection goes as far back as November of 1987 when the library began receiving copies of these videos.  Important to note is that from 1987 to 1993 the videos are that of the House only.  In addition to floor sessions, the collection also contains a handful of committee hearings.  Knowing if it’s House or Senate you want to see, and a specific date, is most helpful for our librarians when requesting video availability.  Our videos must be viewed on site, and copies cannot be produced by the library.  If you have any questions about our video collection, you can contact our Special Collections Department at 617-727-2595, or by email at

Massachusetts House and Senate Broadcasts:
This website provides “access to live gavel-to-gavel proceedings” of the legislature.  There is also an archive of videos, going back as far as January of 2007.  The types of videos you will find here include committee hearings, formal House sessions, Senate sessions, Joint sessions, and other events (ex. inaugural addresses, roundtables, etc.)  You can search by exact date or date range, by keyword, or you can browse the list by clicking “List all archived events.”

The Massachusetts Legislature’s Website: 
The legislature’s website allows users to search its “Events Archives,” which includes House, Senate, and joint sessions, committee hearings, and other special events.  The archive goes back as far as April of 2007, but it’s important to remember that not every event listed in the archive has a video.  If a particular event had a video available, a green video camera icon will appear to the right of the event name.  Users can search for an event by exact date or date range, or by keyword.

State House News Service:
SHNS is an independent, subscription-based wire service that covers the activities of the state’s government year-round.  Their multimedia content includes videos of interviews and events, as well as audio recordings, organized by date, of House and Senate sessions.  Patrons of the State Library can access SHNS onsite in the library.

Boston TV News Digital Library:
This website is an archive of news content produced by a number of Boston-area TV news programs, and covers the years 1960 through 2000.  Users can search the collections through a general keyword search that, when submitted and results are yielded, allows for additional filters (collection, places, date).  Videos (including interviews) of governors, legislators, and committee hearings, and various other institutions and events can be found within this digital library.

C-Span Video Library:
C-Span focuses on televising the proceedings of the federal government, but other public affairs programming is available in their online video archive.  Videos can be searched by typing in a keyword in the search bar near the top of the home page, and also by choosing “videos” from the drop down menu to the left of the bar.  For example, searching “Charlie Baker” (with quotes) yields 10 results, including press conferences and gubernatorial campaign coverage.  Once results are yielded, users can narrow down their topic with a variety of additional filters.

Almost everyone is familiar with YouTube, but it’s often overlooked as a resource for legislative proceedings or executive branch coverage.  While the videos are not as organized or curated in the same way as the above mentioned websites, the benefit is that you can cast a wide net and discover videos that you may not find anywhere else.  For example, if you search for “Massachusetts legislature” hearing, various videos of committee hearings and testimony are among the list of results.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, August 10, 2015

French Posters from World War I

While working with the federal documents, I came across a CD titled “French Posters from World War I” with a call number of LC 1.54: P 84/CD.  This CD introduces “the war poster as a powerful instrument of war propaganda wielded in France during the First World War. By the time France declared war on Germany on August 2, 1914, color lithography had provided the means to paper the streets with images and messages that posters could carry so well.”  There are 284 posters in this CD.

The posters consist of many subject matters including: collecting money for the war, ones about or for women, national symbols including victory shown as a woman with wings and Marianne a French icon.  Marianne is a symbol of the Republic of France representing liberty, egalitarianism and fraternity.  She is a proud and determined woman wearing a Phrygian cap, also known as a liberty cap which is often red.   The posters provided French artists a way to create emotionally moving images, raising funds, support the men in the trenches, promote support for colonial soldiers, and provide support for the orphans and wounded. World War I lasted from August 1, 1914-November 11, 1918. 

Naomi Allen
Reference Department