Monday, January 25, 2021

A Basic Timeline of State Oversight Regarding Massachusetts Corporations and Charitable Organizations

Years ago, I wrote a blog aimed at helping State Library patrons find information about early corporations in Massachusetts. Requests for help locating old and newer articles of organization and other types of corporate filings continue to be received by the Library via our Reference Department, and I decided it was a good time to revisit the subject. The history of state law governing incorporation in Massachusetts is complicated, and I don’t dare attempt to be exhaustive on the subject; however, context is important in understanding which state agencies were responsible for overseeing filings, as well as understanding the filing laws as they pertain to certain business sectors. 

Today filings are handled by the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Corporations Division, but this wasn’t always the case. Using helpful resources, including those compiled by the Massachusetts Archives, I put together a basic timeline that tracks the filing laws of corporations and charitable organizations. It is my hope that this timeline will help researchers understand how filings were submitted over time and where they might be located.

The State Library has also added a new corporations research page to its website, where users can download a pdf of the timeline complete with clickable URLs to the laws outlined as well as important collections and databases:

If you have any questions about the timeline or the resources highlighted, you can contact the Reference Department via email at  

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Virtual Author Talk: Dan Morain

  • Kamala’s Way: An American Life by Dan Morain, in conversation with Liz Goodwin
  • Tuesday, February 2, 2021—7:00pm EST on Zoom
  • Presented by the Friends of Tewksbury Public Library, Libraries Working Toward Social Justice, and the State Library of Massachusetts

The State Library of Massachusetts is thrilled to partner with the Friends of Tewksbury Public Library for an author talk about the life of our nation’s first Black, South Asian, and female Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris. Join us at 7pm on Tuesday, February 2, for a conversation between journalist Dan Morain, author of the brand new biography, Kamala’s Way: An American Life, and Liz Goodwin, the Boston Globe’s Deputy Bureau Chief in Washington, DC. This exciting event is free and open to all, as part of the Tewksbury Public Library’s Social Justice Series.

Kamala’s Way is the first biography of Kamala Harris since her historic win alongside President-Elect Joe Biden, written by a veteran California journalist who has followed her career for decades. In Kamala’s Way, Morain shares the forces that shaped Harris during her early days in Oakland and Berkeley and throughout her career, from a deputy district attorney in Alameda County to San Francisco District Attorney, California Attorney General, U.S. Senator, and, finally, Vice President. Along the way, he paints a vivid picture of her values and priorities, the kind of people she brings into her orbit, the sorts of problems she’s good at solving, and the missteps, risks, and bold moves she’s made on her way to the top. 

Dan Morain,
Credit: Hector Amezcua
Journalist Dan Morain has covered California policy, politics, and justice-related issues for more than four decades. He spent twenty-seven years at The Los Angeles Times and eight at The Sacramento Bee, where he was editorial page editor, and he has also served as senior editor at CalMatters. 

Journalist Liz Goodwin has served the past three years as the Deputy Bureau Chief in Washington, DC, for the Boston Globe, covering national politics. A graduate of Harvard University, she has also worked as a journalist for Yahoo News, Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and The Tico Times.

To register for this free virtual event, please visit:

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, January 11, 2021

On (Virtual) Display in the State Library

Last January, our library display case featured a selection of almanacs published by Isaiah Thomas. This year, we are continuing our trend of starting the year with a historic almanac by featuring Fleet's Pocket Almanack for the year of our Lord 1789: Being the First after Leap Year and the Thirteenth of American Independence. Though we are not on-site and can’t physically change our display case, we’re happy for the opportunity to virtually share this item from our collection.

As represented in its name, Fleet’s Pocket Almanac was published by brothers Thomas and John Fleet and sold in their shop, The Bible and Heart, in Cornhill, Boston. Thomas and John were also the printers of the Boston Evening-Post, a newspaper that they took over from their father and ran until it ceased publication in April 1775. In The History of Printing in America (originally published in 1810), Isaiah Thomas wrote of the brothers that, “their father gave them a good school education; they were correct printers, very attentive to their concerns, punctual in their dealings, good citizens, and much respected.” They continued printing together until Thomas’ death in 1797. To read even more anecdotes and references to the Fleet brothers, be sure to check out their tag on Boston1775.

Fleet’s Pocket Almanac provides much of the same information that you’d expect to find in an almanac. There are entries on the year’s upcoming eclipses, the roads from Boston, and dates for the four seasons. Each month has a page for its moon phases and weather, along with “remarkable dates” of important anniversaries and holidays, like “Tea destroyed in Boston, 1773” for December 16 and Valentine’s Day on February 14. But there are also a few less traditional dates included, for example, the phrase “the dog days of summer” is commonly known as a way to describe the hottest days of summer, and in the almanac the “dog days” are noted as starting on July 25 and ending on September 3. 

But what is unique about Fleet’s publication is that after the almanac pages is the Massachusetts Register, which was published annually by various Boston printers from 1767 to 1878. It was published under the Fleet name from 1779 to 1800, at which point it was taken over by William Manning and James Loring. The Register was a comprehensive publication, similar in nature to a directory and almanac but also with a plethora of additional information. It would be a lengthy list to include everything found in the publication, but a sampling is that it provided statistics and data on currency, directions for the entrance of Boston Bay and sailing in and out of Plymouth, a tide table, as well as listings of various elected and appointed officials, religious assemblies, schools, attorneys, and sheriffs - it was truly a thorough annual resource.

While just the cover is shown here, you can virtually flip through the whole almanac and Register on DSpace! And click here to revisit our almanac post from last January, about Isaiah Thomas’s New England Almanac

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Friday, January 8, 2021

Monday, January 4, 2021

January Virtual Author Talk: Eric Jay Dolin

  • A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes by Eric Jay Dolin
  • Wednesday, January 13, 2021—6:00pm EST on Zoom
  • Presented by American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society and the State Library of Massachusetts

Join us on Wednesday, January 13, for an evening with bestselling historian Eric Jay Dolin, author of A Furious Sky: The Five-Hundred-Year History of America's Hurricanes. This free author event is presented in partnership with the American Ancestors/NEHGS as part of their American Inspiration author series.

Dolin will give us a new perspective on American history as he takes us through the "eyes of the storms" that our ancestors—and we—have weathered. With A Furious Sky, Dolin has created a vivid, sprawling account of our encounters with hurricanes, from the nameless storms that threatened Columbus’s New World voyages to the destruction wrought by the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, the New England Hurricane of 1938, Hurricane Carol (1954), and other hurricanes from our own era of global warming and mega storms. Dolin’s riveting tale of history shines a light on American resilience and human ingenuity.

Eric Jay Dolin is the bestselling author of many works on American history, including Leviathan: The History of Whaling in America; When America First Met China: An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail; and, most recently, Black Flags, Blue Waters, his acclaimed account of piracy in the Americas.

To register for this free virtual event, please visit:  

Be sure to check out the other upcoming author events hosted by our partner, American Ancestors:

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts