Monday, January 29, 2018

Scrapbook of Eugene N. Foss (Scrapbook 17)

Bronze-colored medallion
with the saying “a la Sainte
Terre,” which is included in
the Foss scrapbook collection.
Old scrapbooks are interesting research tools because, behind all the pasting and arranging, there was a dedicated compiler who was deeply invested in documenting a certain person, event, or subject.  Sometimes scrapbooks document the life and memories of the compiler him or herself, and the types of materials included can offer a more complete story than a journal or diary alone.  Scrapbooks can contain all sorts of documents and ephemera (letters, photos, greeting cards, class grades, etc.), which may have been otherwise discarded if they hadn’t been preserved in such a way; objects that have a meaning or memory attached are also commonly found in scrapbooks (e.g. pressed flowers, silverware, fabric).

The State Library houses a large collection of scrapbooks which can be searched for using our online catalog.  One especially voluminous example covers the career of Massachusetts Governor Eugene N. Foss (1858-1939).  Under the direction of Foss, this 40 volume set was compiled by Marion Pottle over a 30 year period, starting from 1902 up through 1936, and includes materials that document Foss’ political activities, business interests, family life, and his life after politics.  The volumes largely contain newspaper clippings, but other types of items, such as banquet menus, posters, flyers, correspondence, a medallion, and a letter from Franklin Delano Roosevelt while he was serving as Governor of New York, can also be found throughout.  Here’s a link to the catalog record, which provides more information about this collection:

Examples of newspaper clippings and correspondence found
within the Foss scrapbook collection.
For questions about scrapbooks or other archival materials housed at the State Library, you can contact our Special Collections Department via the following ways:

State Library of Massachusetts
Special Collections Department
Room 55, State House
24 Beacon St.,
Boston, MA 02133
Phone:  617-727-2595

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, January 22, 2018

February Author Talk: Rosalyn D. Elder

Exploring the Legacy: People and Places of Significance
by Rosalyn D. Elder 
Thursday, February 8, 2018—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

The State Library of Massachusetts is pleased to invite you to our next Author Talk, featuring Rosalyn D. Elder, author of Exploring the Legacy: People and Places of Significance, part of the African American Heritage in Massachusetts series. Join us on Thursday, February 8, to hear Ms. Elder speak about the history and many contributions of African Americans in the Commonwealth. 

Exploring the Legacy is both a tourist guide and a history book, providing details about 741 sites significant to African American heritage across the Commonwealth. Included in this volume are the histories of such notable individuals as Phillis Wheatley, the first person of African birth in the U.S. to publish a volume of poetry; Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African American female doctor in the U.S.; and George Ruffin, the first African American judge in Massachusetts.

Author Rosalyn D. Elder is a registered architect and entrepreneur who founded and operated
Treasured Legacy, an African American cultural boutique, from 1992 to 1998 in Boston’s South End. She also co-founded and operated Jamaicaway Books, a multicultural bookstore, in Jamaica Plain. Ms. Elder graduated from the University of Memphis and earned a Masters of Architecture degree from the University of Washington, as well as a Masters of Architecture and Urban Design degree from Harvard University.

Copies of Exploring the Legacy will be available for purchase and signing at the conclusion of Ms. Elder’s talk. We encourage you to register in advance, and we look forward to seeing you on February 8th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Upcoming Author Talks at the State Library:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A new home for an old scrapbook

Greetings from the Preservation Lab! My name is Elizabeth Roscio, and I've been on the job as the Preservation Librarian for just a few months. In this role, my primary responsibility is to work to ensure the optimal lifespan for the materials in our collection. One way that I do that is to re-house items that are in enclosures that are detrimental to their condition or that need a little bit more stability. Recently, an item just like this made its way to the lab.

The item in question was a scrapbook of photographs taken when General Douglas MacArthur visited Massachusetts on July 25 and 26, 1951 (Scrapbook 71). These photographs documented his visit and depict various parades and receptions that were held in his honor throughout the Commonwealth. Each black and white photograph is approximately 8" x 10" and had been stapled onto the pages of the scrapbook, which was problematic for a few reasons. Staples cause damage to photographs and documents not only because they cause pinprick holes, but because the staples can rust and then transfer onto the item. Additionally, the pages that the photographs were adhered to were acidic and would become brittle over time, and would not provide a stable backing for long-term storage. I decided that the best way to preserve the photographs would be to remove them from the scrapbook and re-house them in plastic sleeves.

When removing staples from an item, it is important to do it carefully and slowly so that you don't cause any additional tearing. We've probably all used a staple remover at some point, and this process is similar but a little bit more technical. I began by turning the page over to its back so that I could access the staple prongs, and then I used a micro spatula to carefully lift each prong up. With both prongs lifted to a perpendicular angle, I could safely pull the staple out of the photograph. Once the photograph was free of the paper backing, I slid it into a plastic sleeve. As I was working on the scrapbook, I noticed that the pages did not include any sort of inscriptions, autographs, or captions. Since that was the case, the acidic pages and the front and back covers could be discarded after the photographs were removed. If the original scrapbook material had contained extra information about the photographs, then I would have had to preserve those pages, too.

After the photographs were removed from the scrapbook, they needed a new enclosure for long-term storage. I measured the length, width, and height of the stack of photographs and made a clamshell box out of corrugated board. Now that this collection has been re-housed in a stable enclosure, we've not only extended its life, but made it easier and safer for researchers to handle.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, January 8, 2018

Winter exhibition: Massachusetts Architectural Styles

The State Library invites you to view our newest exhibition, Massachusetts Architectural Styles.

This exhibition uses materials from the State Library’s collections to describe the wide variety of architectural styles in Massachusetts over the region’s long history, from the structures of Indigenous Americans in pre-colonial days to the most recent constructions in the Commonwealth’s largest cities.

The exhibition runs from January 8 through May 31, 2018 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. Can't make it to the library? View the digital exhibit on the library's Flickr site!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

January Author Talk: Mimi Graney

Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon
by Mimi Graney 
Friday, January 19, 2018—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

Our first author talk of 2018 features a pretty sweet topic: Marshmallow Fluff! Join us at the State Library on Friday, January 19, to hear author Mimi Graney speak about her recent book Fluff: The Sticky Sweet Story of an American Icon

Fluff celebrates the 100-year history of this tasty confection, invented in 1917 by Archibald Query in Somerville, Massachusetts. Much more than just a “fluff” piece, this book delves into the history of New England’s forgotten candy industry, highlighting the period of changing social roles for women, the emergence of radio as an advertising medium, the upheaval of wartime, and the advent of modern advertising and battles over nutrition.

Author Mimi Graney is the mastermind behind the quirky “What the Fluff?” festival held annually in Somerville’s Union Square. Ms. Graney has previously served as a council member of the Massachusetts Creative Economy Council and as Principal of Relish Management, where she provided management services for creative economy initiatives in several Massachusetts cities and towns. Ms. Graney is currently working to revitalize Chelsea’s historic downtown district as Downtown Coordinator for the City of Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Copies of Fluff will be available for purchase and signing at the conclusion of Ms. Graney’s talk. We encourage you to register in advance, and we look forward to seeing you on January 19th at the State Library.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Upcoming Author Talks at the State Library: