Monday, June 29, 2015

Boston 1915=Boston 2024?!?

Hosting the Summer Olympics in Boston in 2024 is big news around the Commonwealth and whether for it or against it, everyone has an opinion. The State Library recently added to its digital repository the report “Understanding a Boston 2024 Olympics,” issued by the Massachusetts General Court’s Special Commission Relative to the Feasibility of Hosting the Summer Olympics in the Commonwealth. Looking into and planning for such a future can be both scary and exhilarating at the same time; fortunately, we can turn to the past for some guidance and reassurance. Over one hundred years ago, Bostonians of 1909 were doing the same thing that the Special Commission, Bostonians and Bay Staters are doing today: envisioning a future that they hoped would be a better one.

In 1909, a special event with the stated purpose of imagining the future to help make Boston a better place by 1915 was held at the Old Art Museum in Copley Square from November 1st to 27th (sadly, this building was demolished in 1910). For a 25 cent admission fee to enter the “1915” Boston Exposition, Bostonians of 1909 could see exhibits on and hear lectures about improving life in Boston on topics ranging from public health to transportation. This idealized, forward-looking future of 1915 was the work of the Boston 1915 Movement, a group of prominent business leaders and citizens that came together in 1909 to work for the betterment of the City of Boston. The Movement established their own progressive thinking magazine called “New Boston: a Chronicle of Progress in Developing a Greater and Finer City--Under the Auspices of the Boston-1915 Movement” (held in the State Library’s collection) and planned the Exposition, modeled on the Columbian World Exposition held in Chicago in 1883, to introduce their city “as it is to be.”

In the Exposition’s official catalog and yearbook, the goals of this Movement were to have the members of the Boston community co-operate and plan wisely in order to do the “things that must continue to be done as long as the city exists, such as street cleaning, adequate sanitation, intelligent planning of physical expansion, and proper provision for peoples health, comfort and recreation.” Not surprisingly, 100 years on, Bostonians still want the same things! In fact, the findings of the Special Commission of 2015 for the Boston of 2024 pretty much mirror the desires and hopes of the Boston of 1909 for the Boston of 2015—economic development, infrastructure and transportation improvement, recreational venues and better housing for city residents. The optimism for positive change in 1909 and 2015 to position Boston as a world-class, model city shows us that Bostonian’s pride and confidence in their city does not change, no matter the century.

Judy Carlstrom

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts is online!

You can now view parts of our current exhibit:  Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts online through the State Library's Flickr site.

The exhibit runs from June 8 through September 4, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Tiny Treasure

While working in the State Library’s Special Collections Department recently, I came across a book that is so tiny it looks like it belongs in a dollhouse. The book, Addresses of Abraham Lincoln, measures a mere 7/8 of an inch in height and was published in 1929 by the Kingsport Press Training Division in Kingsport, Tennessee, as a student exercise.

According to the book’s preface, the idea to create a miniature book originated with the students at the Training Division as an exhibit to be submitted to the Employing Bookbinders of America convention, held in Boston in 1928. The students chose Lincoln’s addresses for the subject matter of the book because of the addresses’ “high literary value” and also because “no author using the English language has ever excelled Lincoln in putting a large amount of human feeling within the compass of a few words.” The tiny book went on to win first prize at the convention.

Smaller than a postage stamp, Addresses of Abraham Lincoln was touted as the smallest book in America when it was published. To put the book’s size in context, the following image shows the miniature book lying on top of one of the State Library’s largest books, a volume of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which is a double elephant folio size measuring 38 inches in height.
Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, June 8, 2015

New exhibit on the history of Agriculture in Massachusetts opens today

Opening this week at the State Library of Massachusetts is a new exhibition entitled: Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts. Agriculture has been a vital component of Massachusetts life since people here first began growing crops and raising animals to feed themselves. This exhibition features publications, images, and artifacts from the State Library of Massachusetts to illustrate the Commonwealth’s long and colorful history of agricultural practices and traditions.

The exhibit runs from June 8 through September 4, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This exhibit will also be available to view online as a set of images on the State Library's Flickr site.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Materials Relating to the Death of Governor Roger Wolcott

From the 1898 Souvenir of
Massachusetts Legislators
The State Library has within its collection many published materials and pamphlets that commemorate the deaths of notable 19th and early 20th century Massachusetts citizens.  They are usually published around the time of death, and contain addresses that memorialize the deceased.

Particularly interesting are a group of items that were housed in a small, unassuming envelope in our library’s stacks.  They were printed around the time of Governor Roger Wolcott’s death on December 21st, 1900.  Roger Wolcott (1847-1900) was the 41st* governor of Massachusetts.  After the death of Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge in March of 1896, then-Lt. Governor Wolcott became the acting governor until he was elected to office in 1897; he served from January, 1897 until January, 1900.  In November, Wolcott began exhibiting the symptoms of typhoid fever shortly after returning from Europe and passed away a month later.  He was buried in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  During his 1897 term in office, the Bradford Manuscript returned to Massachusetts and was placed in Gov. Wolcott’s custody; he then authorized the State Library to care for the priceless volume.

The contents of this envelope include: a pamphlet that provides directions to ushers and contains information on the funeral’s attendees and their seating arrangements; typed instructions for police officers regarding funeral procedures and the required police presence; a tribute pamphlet published by the Women’s Committee of the Massachusetts Volunteer Aid Association; and a program titled “Memorial Services Held In Honor Of Roger Wolcott Governor of Massachusetts In Symphony Hall Boston April Eighteenth MDCCCCI.”  Each of these items has been digitized and can be viewed on the library’s Flickr page.

In direct relation to these materials is a book titled Public Services in Memory of Roger Wolcott, which includes full text of the addresses listed in the memorial program.  This publication can be found in the library’s collection, or it can be viewed online.

*Number varies depending on source.  This number is based on the information provided by the National Governors Association.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department