Monday, September 26, 2016

“Married-Teacher Rule”

First page of results from the 1952 annual report of the
Massachusetts department of Education
Did you know that in the 19th century through the mid-20th century cities and towns throughout the United States, and even elsewhere in the world, had rules in place that prevented married women from holding permanent teaching positions? Such a rule seems very strange today, however the practice was pretty common and Massachusetts was no exception.  The general belief was that such full-time employment caused married women to neglect their responsibilities as homemakers.  This of course caused high turnover rates in the school systems as many female teachers were forced to submit their resignations once they married.

The Massachusetts Department of Education attempted to gather data on which cities and towns in the Commonwealth were still enforcing the “Married-Teacher Rule” by sending questionnaires out to all of the municipalities.  The Department’s 1950 and 1952 annual reports include their findings, and while many localities still officially had the rule on the books, by 1951 a great number of school systems noted that they had either suspended or no longer observed it.  One of the largest factors effecting the suspension or laxity of the rule was World War II and subsequent shortages of teachers in certain parts of the state.

One particular note regarding the city of Northampton in the 1952 annual report reads:  “Up to the time the questionnaire was sent out, Northampton did not appoint married women as permanent teachers, but there was to be a referendum on the city ballot this past November.”  The year 1951 ended up being a turning point for the city of Northampton:  chapter 653 of the acts of 1951 allowed the city to “ascertain the will of the voters” via a ballot question regarding “married women teachers being employed on a permanent basis and with the same tenure rights as single women teachers in the public schools.”  The result of the referendum on the November ballot was overwhelmingly in favor of the married teachers.

Links to the full reports with results:
1950 report:
1952 report:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On This Day… The Great New England Hurricane of 1938

While Boston’s weather patterns have a reputation for being inconvenient or unpredictable, thankfully today’s forecast is not as dire as the storm that struck New England on this day seventy-eight years ago.* On September 21, 1938, 100-mph wind blasts toppled trees that had long stood on the Boston Common. Buildings provided questionable shelter, as windows were smashed by flying debris, and some roofs were blown clean off. In the aftermath, the region struggled with mass blighted power and telecommunication systems. While Bostonians struggled mostly with the hassles of property loss and nonfunctional roads, in areas more exposed to the storm, the consequences of the hurricane left lasting trauma. Six hundred people and 5000 homes were gone in a single day, and in the chaos that followed, communities were forced to cope as they searched a flattened, transfigured landscape for missing family members. This natural disaster, remembered as “The Great New England Hurricane,” wrought changes that remain to this day.

Here at the Special Collections department at the State Library, we recently acquired a postcard illustrating storm damage right outside our door. This donation is not the only commemorative postcard that we hold. As a long-standing, public-serving institution, our library has had the opportunity to collect ephemera and memorabilia generated by the residents of our city in response to contemporary events. You can come by and view these historic documents; we are located in Room 55 of the gold-domed State House, and open to the public Mon.-Fri. 9am-5pm. For more information about the State Library and our collections, visit our website.

* See Celebrate Boston’s article on “the Great New England Hurricane, 1938.” Or check out Stephen Long’s Thirty-Eight: the Hurricane that Transformed New England (Yale University Press, 2016). The book is available at the State Library, Room 341 of the State House.

Caitlin Sanders
Special Collections Reference Intern

Friday, September 16, 2016

Origins of Constitution Day

September 17th is Constitution Day and it commemorates the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. Schools and libraries will hold special activities in honor of this day.

In 1939 New York City news tycoon William Randolph Hearst suggested having a national holiday to celebrate American citizenship. In 1940 Congress designated the third Sunday in May as “I Am an American Day” and Harry Truman put forth a resolution on March 12, 1946.    

In 1952, Olga Weber of Louisville, Ohio petitioned city leaders to change the date of this holiday so it would coincide with the signing of the U.S. Constitution.  She also petitioned the state of Ohio and later the U.S. Congress. In 1952 Louisville, Ohio became the first city to celebrate the holiday on September 17th. President Dwight Eisenhower signed it into law in 1953 and it became known as Citizenship Day.

In 2004 Louise Leigh founded a nonprofit organization called Constitution Day, Inc. to commemorate the Constitution. During the same year Leigh enlisted the help of Senator Robert Byrd to make Constitution Day an official holiday alongside Citizenship Day.  In May 2005, the U.S. Department of Education became involved and the law was amended so that each educational institution that receives Federal funds will hold programs for students on this day.

Many men were involved in the creation of the U.S. Constitution but only 40 signed the document. It is interesting to note who was involved, who signed or did not sign the Constitution. The Constitutional Convention started meeting in June 1787 in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Seventy men were chosen to attend the convention only fifty-five men attended most of the meetings.  Some states like Rhode Island, decided not to send any delegates.  Among those who signed the document include George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton.  William Jackson, who was the secretary of the convention but who was not a delegate, signed the Constitution. John Dickinson of Delaware left the convention due to illness but asked his colleague Jacob Broome of Delaware to sign his name to the document.  “George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia along with Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts refused to sign the final document because of basic philosophical differences.  Their refusal to sign the final document was due fearful of an all-powerful government and wanted a bill of rights added to protect the rights of the people.

Here are some proclamations relating to Constitution Day:

  • 1952 - President Truman proclaims the first Citizenship Day, Proclamation 2984, July 25, 1952, 3 C.F.R. 164 (1947-1953).
  • 1953 – President Eisenhower Proclamation 3028 commemorates Citizenship Day September 17th of each year.
  • 1955 - President Eisenhower proclaims the first Constitution Week, Proclamation 3109, August 19, 1955, 3 C.F.R. 56 (1954-1958). 
  • 2000 - President William J. Clinton’s Proclamation 7343 (PDF), Citizenship Day and Constitution Week, Sept. 17, 2000, 3 C.F.R. 7343 (2000).
  • 2005 - Department of Education Notice of Implementation of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17 of Each Year.70 Fed. Reg. 29727 (PDF).
  • 2009 - President Barack H. Obama's Proclamation 8418 celebrating Constitution and Citizenship Day and designating the week of September 17-23 as Constitution Week, 74 F.R. 48129.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Monday, September 12, 2016

New exhibition on the history of Education in Massachusetts

Opening this week at the State Library of Massachusetts is a new exhibition entitled Back to School A Retrospective View of Education in Massachusetts. Education has long been an important part of Massachusetts culture and commerce, the library’s resources documenting its development cover centuries of history, in a variety of formats, and a wide range of opinions. This exhibition, drawn from the collections of the State Library of Massachusetts, traces the history of education in the Commonwealth, starting with the first school-related legislation in 1642 through the Boston busing crisis of the early 1970s.
The exhibition runs from September 12 through December 31, 2016. It can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House, 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.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Adopt-a-Book Preservation and Digitization Program

YOU can Help Preserve and Digitize State Library of Massachusetts Resources for Everyone!
We are pleased to announce the creation of the Friends of the Massachusetts State Library Adopt-a-Book Preservation and Digitization Program!  And it doesn’t even have to be a book! We also have maps needing adoption!

Your personal sponsorship, or gift in honor of someone else, can help ensure the survival and enjoyment of State Library of Massachusetts’ resources for generations to come. We will put a custom, personalized book plate in each volume or on the item’s container so that users will know whose generosity provided for continuing and future use of the resource. Donors will also be acknowledged (with permission) on a special webpage.  With the help of sponsors like YOU, the State Library of Massachusetts can fulfill its commitment to the conservation, preservation, and digitization of our vast and unique collections with historical significance to Massachusetts and the world.

Please consider becoming a GOLD, SILVER, or BRONZE donor today! Thank you for your support.

Meet all our ADOPTEES here:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Author Talk: Megan Sullivan

Parental Incarceration: Personal Accounts and Developmental Impactedited by Megan Sullivan and Denise Johnston  
Tuesday, September 27, 2016—Noon to 1:00 pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

The State Library is pleased to invite you to an Author Talk on Tuesday, September 27, with Boston University professor Megan Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan will be speaking about her most recent book, Parental Incarceration: Personal Accounts and Developmental Impact, which she co-edited with Dr. Denise Johnston.

Parental Incarceration explores the ways in which the experience of having an incarcerated parent affects the health and development of children throughout their lives. As the number of prisoners in the United States has increased over the years, so too has the number of children with incarcerated parents increased. This book presents the stories of adults who experienced parental incarceration in childhood and discusses the impact of mass incarceration on families in the U.S.

In addition to Parental Incarceration, Dr. Sullivan is also the author of Irish Women and Cinema: 1980-1990 and Women in Northern Ireland: Cultural Studies and Material Conditions, as well as several journal articles. Dr. Sullivan serves as Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, and Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning at Boston University.

Dr. Sullivan’s talk is free and open to the public, and copies of the book Parental Incarceration will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Please register online and join us on September 27th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian