Monday, June 24, 2019

Bird’s-Eye View Maps Are Now Online!

The State Library has a large collection of bird’s-eye view maps that were digitized and are now available online!  These maps illustrate with great detail aerial views of cities and towns in Massachusetts--much like what you can imagine a bird would see flying overhead!--with a few maps from other areas outside of Massachusetts.  The online collection includes 120 maps so far, with many more to be added in the near future.  Most maps date from the late 1800s up to the early 1900s. 

You can search and browse the collection in our DSpace online repository by visiting the following link:

If you have any questions regarding bird’s-eye view maps, or other maps in the library’s collection, please contact our Special Collections Department at 617-727-2595 or by email at

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, June 17, 2019

LGBTQ+ History and Pride in Massachusetts

Happy Pride Month from the State Library of Massachusetts!

Massachusetts has been home to a thriving LGBTQ+ culture throughout its history. In the late 20th century, LGBTQ+ activism came to the forefront following events like the Stonewall Riots in New York City. In 1971, the first official Pride March took place in Boston. Several years later in 1978, the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) organization was founded in Boston. Cultural organizations, like the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus founded in 1982, also popped up as activists fought for acceptance and civil rights.

The Massachusetts government was also changing at this time. In 1974, Elaine Noble became the first openly lesbian or gay candidate to be elected to a state legislature. In the same year, the Massachusetts Supreme Court also presided over the landmark case Commonwealth v. Balthazar regarding the legality of same-sex sexual activity. In 1989, Massachusetts became the second state to pass a law prohibiting discrimination against sexual orientation in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations.

Elaine Noble, the first openly gay candidate
to be elected to the Massachusetts State
Legislature, listed in the Public Officers of the
 Commonwealth of Massachusetts (1975-1976)

In the 1990’s, the impact of continuous LGBTQ+ activism was even more visible in the Massachusetts state government. Previous laws prohibiting same-sex couples from acting as foster parents were rescinded thanks to the work of GLAD and the ACLU. In 1992, Governor William Weld began supporting certain rights for LGBTQ+ state employees and also appointed a Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, which published several reports throughout the 1990’s including Recommendations for the support of gay/straight alliances in Massachusetts (1996), which is available online. He also appointed a Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, which was instrumental in implementing and amending both the Hate Crimes Reporting Act and the Hate Crimes Penalties Act in the 1990’s.

In late 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health found the commonwealth’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. In 2004, Governor Mitt Romney ordered town clerks to begin issuing marriage certificates to couples beginning May 17, 2004. That day, over 75 same-sex couples would marry throughout the state, making Massachusetts the first state in the United States where same-sex marriage was legal.

Panel from the State Library of Massachusetts’ exhibit on
Massachusetts Firsts regarding the legalization of same-sex
marriage in 2004.

But political activism for the LGBTQ+ community is not finished and continues today. According to Boston Magazine, Massachusetts has the second-largest LGBTQ+ community in the United States as of 2018. Governor Baker re-established the Task Force on Hate Crimes in 2017, and also signed legislation that included protections for transgender individuals in public restrooms. In 2018, the people of the commonwealth of Massachusetts voted against removing protections that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, which was added to the Massachusetts General Law in 2016. Governor Baker also signed legislation that banned conversation therapy in Massachusetts in 2019.

The State Library of Massachusetts welcome LGBTQ+ researchers, organizations, and groups. Please take a look at our catalog and DSpace Online Repository for state publications related to LGBTQ+ communities and history.

Alexandra Bernson
Reference Staff

Monday, June 10, 2019

Government Documents Librarians Visit the State House

Members of the group pose in the State Library’s conference
room, one of them holding a facsimile of Jacques Nicolas
Bellin’s 1760 map of Boston.
On May 20, 2019, the State Library hosted a meeting of Government Publications Librarians of New England.  The group meets twice a year and we discuss topics and host speakers relevant to federal government documents. We had a presentation from a staff member from Project Citizenship, a non-profit that seeks to increase the naturalization rate in Massachusetts and beyond by providing free, high-quality services to permanent resident to help them become U.S. citizens the different paths people have for becoming citizens. I gave them a tour of our spring exhibit on early advertisements in city directories.  I also showed them the artwork and architecture of the third (Room 341) and fourth (Room 442) floors of the State Library.

The group also toured the State Library’s Special Collections Department, which is in a different part
Plan de la ville de Boston et ses environs,
by Jacques Nicolas, 1760
of the State House (basement level, west wing); the department head showed us examples of the types of holdings that department handles. We saw a bird’s-eye view map of Arlington, Massachusetts, both before and after careful cleaning treatment by the Library’s former Preservation Librarian; a hand-colored 1760 map of Boston that shows a very different land mass than we know today; a volume of photographs of members of the state Senate from 1880, featuring men with significant facial hair; the Library’s earliest city directory (1789, Boston); a volume of the newspaper the New England Chronicle from 1776 that includes the text of the Declaration of Independence; an 1862 issue of the short-lived Russell’s Horse Railroad Guide for Boston and Vicinity; and a beautiful facsimile volume of William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation. (Note: the entire Bradford manuscript is available in digital format in our digital repository, DSpace.)  For more information about some of our resources please see our list of city directories and a list of our early newspapers including the New England Chronicle.

The group really appreciated their time spent at the State Library of Massachusetts.

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Now Open!! The New State Library Store

The State Library is excited to announce the launch of our BRAND NEW online storefront powered by Shopify!  Our online store is your go-to place for beautiful reproduction maps and notecards, as well as various items featuring the State Library’s logo, including mugs, aprons, tote bags, and magnets. We will be adding more State Library-branded merchandise in the coming months.  All items are also available at our main Reference Desk in Room 341 of the State House so stop by or order online—your choice!

Thank you for checking out the new storefront directly through Shopify or by clicking through on our State Library homepage’s “quick links” section.  And don’t forget that your purchase directly supports the services and programs at the State Library.  Happy shopping!

State Library of Massachusetts Staff

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Summer exhibit: The Natural Beauty of Massachusetts Waterways

The State Library of Massachusetts invites you to view our summer exhibit: The Natural Beauty of Massachusetts Waterways.

As home to an abundance of large and small bodies of water, over 26% of Massachusetts’s total area is covered by water. This exhibit shows the many categories of water bodies that can be found throughout the Commonwealth, from the vast Atlantic Ocean to small ponds, all of which shape our businesses, agriculture, and leisure time. 

The exhibit runs from June 3 through August 30, 2019 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This exhibit will be available to view online as a set of images on the State Library's Flickr site.

Monday, June 3, 2019

June Author Talk: Christine M. DeLucia

Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast by Christine M. DeLucia
Tuesday, June 18, 2019—Noon to 1:00pm
State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House

The State Library invites you to our final author talk of the season, with noted historian Christine M. DeLucia, on Tuesday, June 18. Dr. DeLucia will speak about her recent book, Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast.

Memory Lands reexamines the violent 17th-century conflict between Native Americans and European settlers known as King Philip’s War. This book brings to light the alternate histories of this Indigenous resistance movement, providing an alternative to the conventional “Pilgrim-centric” narratives of colonial New England. Drawing upon oral traditions, environmental studies, archaeology, and other resources, Memory Lands presents a series of case studies from such places as Deer Island in Boston Harbor and Great Swamp near Narragansett Bay, showing how the effects of this war have persisted throughout the centuries.

Author Christine M. DeLucia was a member of the History faculty at Mount Holyoke College for seven years and recently held a research fellowship at Chicago’s Newberry Library. This year she will be joining the History faculty at Williams College as an Assistant Professor. A graduate of Harvard, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and Yale, Dr. DeLucia specializes in the Native American/Indigenous and colonial histories of the Northeast. 

At the conclusion of her talk, Dr. DeLucia will sell and sign copies of Memory Lands ($20, cash or check). For more information about the State Library and our Author Talk series, please visit our website at

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian