Monday, June 28, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

This July, towns across the Commonwealth are preparing for Fourth of July celebrations. On that theme, this month our virtually displayed item is a broadside titled “Historical Celebration” that dates to 1849 and described the activities that were planned for the town of Leicester on July 4, 1849.

The broadside lists the “order of exercises” for the celebration, starting with music by the band. This was followed by a prayer by Rev. J. Nelson, D.D., a hymn by Henry S. Washburn, Esq., and an address by Hon. E. Washburn. A dinner was held at the conclusion of the event. There isn’t much additional information provided on the broadside, but a little bit of research led us to “An address commemorative of the part taken by the inhabitants of the original town of Leicester, in the events of the Revolution: delivered at Leicester, July 4, 1849” found on the Internet Archive. The address was by an Emory Washburn, which we can assume is the “Hon. E Washburn” referenced on the broadside. Emory Washburn, who was born in Leicester in 1800, went on to serve as the Governor of Massachusetts from 1853 to 1854. His address gives a history of the Revolutionary War and the years leading up to it, with a special emphasis on the role of Leicester residents. At the beginning of the address is a note which reads, “The Address was delivered in a grove, a little distance west of the meetinghouse, where a part of Gen. Burgoyne's army encamped on their march through Massachusetts, as prisoners of war, in 1777.” This little footnote helpfully sets the atmosphere in which the day’s events occurred. The published address is over forty pages long - so for the sake of those attending, we hope that Hon. Washburn was a fast speaker! 

Most of the broadside consists of the lyrics of the hymn, set to the tune of “Old Hundred.” The tune seems to date to the 1500s and was a popular one for music in the 1800s to be set to. Written seventy-three years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the lyrics call on the memory of those who fought in the war and the freedoms that came as a result of their service and sacrifice. The hymn was written by Henry Washburn, a businessman, attorney, and occasional poet. Though they share a surname and might be part of the same extended family, we did not find evidence that Henry and Emory were immediate relatives. 

On a preservation note, it looks as though this item has a bit of foxing, which is the discoloration that is visible on the surface. Foxing is a type of paper deterioration, and it gets its name from the “fox-like” reddish-brown color of the staining. From the American Institute for Conservation, foxing is “due to the metal in papermaking machines, iron in the water source, dirt or pollution, there may be traces of metal dispersed among the paper fibers. When the paper absorbs moisture, the metal traces begin to oxidize in those areas, causing disintegration and discoloration. This creates an acidic environment, which also encourages mold growth.” Exposure to high humidity and dampness can cause foxing, so remember to always store all documents in a cool, dry, place! 

Take a closer look at this broadside on DSpace, and our very best wishes for a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, June 21, 2021

LGBTQA+ Law and Resources in Massachusetts

This LGBTQA+ Pride Month, did you know that the Massachusetts has many state-specific governmental and charitable organizations that are focused on LGBTQA+ rights? Further, the commonwealth has some of the most progressive laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in the United States. While this is by no means a complete list and there is always room for improvement, we hope that the list below will provide you with more information on the many state-wide groups that work to provide services or further legislation in support of the LGBTQA+ community as well as current state laws regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.

State Government:

  • Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth: originally the Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, this commission that makes recommendations for the support of LGBTQA+ youth to other government agencies, as well as providing resources for youth in schools such as the Safe Schools Program.
  • Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD): an agency that protects the people of Massachusetts against discrimination of many kinds, including gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

Cover of the Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual,
Transgender, Queer, and Questioning Youth’s 
FY2021 Report and Recommendations.

Statewide Organizations:

Image from the Boston Gay Men's Chorus Collection
at the Northeastern University


  • Adoption of Tammy: 1993 Massachusetts Supreme Court Judicial (SJC) decision allowing a second parent who is the same sex as the first parent to legally adopt a child.
  • Goodridge v. Department of Public Health: 2003 Massachusetts SJC decision that it was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts state constitution to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. This decision made Massachusetts the first state to allow same-sex marriage in the United States.
  • MGL Chapter 22C Section 32: defines “hate crimes” as crimes committed with motivation regarding “gender, gender identity or sexual orientation prejudice,” among other prejudices. 
  • MGL Chapter 127 Section 32A: states that prisoners having gender identity differing from prisoner's sex assigned at birth should be addressed according to their gender identity and housed with other inmates of their gender identity, etc.
  • MGL Chapter 151B Section 4: asserts right against work discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • Massachusetts Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Initiative, resulting in Chapter 134 of the Acts and Resolves of 2016, which updated several parts of the Massachusetts General Law (MGL) protecting the right of transgender individuals to use public accommodations such as bathrooms according to their gender identity.
  • MGL Chapter 112 Section 275: bans conversion therapy and other “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts” by supposed health care professionals.

While there is still a lot of work to be done, it is important to know what resources exist and what laws are currently in place for the protection of the LGBTQA+ community. For more information about these governmental organizations or laws, feel free to contact the State Library’s Reference Department so we can help you with your research.

Alexandra Bernson
Reference Staff

Monday, June 14, 2021

The Controversy of Outside Sections

You may be wondering what “outside sections” are. If you are already familiar with the term, then you probably know how frustrating they are to research. Outside sections are the sections added at the end of an appropriations bill (aka the state budget) that can be, but don’t necessarily have to be, related to budgetary matters; instead, an outside section may create a new law or amend an existing one. The main problem with researching outside sections is the fact that they’re tacked onto the state budget, which is the largest piece of legislation passed every year, and finding information about your outside section can feel a lot like searching for that needle in a haystack. Instatrac’s bill tracking database, MassTrac, to which the library has a subscription, often provides documents helpful with researching outside sections. You may ultimately find, though, that sifting through the various budget drafts and amendments, long bill histories, and House and Senate journal entries is the most thorough approach.

Passing legislation through outside sections is also controversial as many believe the practice goes beyond its original purpose and is now used to deliberately circumvent the open legislative process:

Originally designed as a controlling measure to a line item, the practice of adding outside sections has gone far beyond its original purpose. Now, outside sections may have no connection with any line item language. Legislation that has originated as an "outside section" of an appropriation bill from the Ways and Means Committee of either the House or Senate usually does not have a public hearing and is enacted as part of the appropriations bill. (Source: 1.8.1 Outside Sections)

The year 1975 was the first time an outside section was used in the budget to amend the General Laws, and it was a provision to eliminate unemployment payments to those who have retired or have left their jobs voluntarily. In a 1993 publication by Hogarty and Manley (cited below), they describe this as the “first abuse that opened the floodgates.” While the practice has become more and more common, the use of outside sections for this purpose by the legislature can fluctuate. Mark Bobrowski, in his 2009 Massachusetts Law Review article “The Massachusetts ‘Smart Growth’ Experiment: Chapter 40R”, points out a “sharp decrease” of outside sections between 2004 and 2009. The most current passed budget for FY2021 contained 113 outside sections!

The Supreme Judicial Court has declined to issue a ruling on the constitutionality of this practice, but one court case did elicit the SJC’s opinion that outside sections are not related to the budget and therefore should not become immediately effective upon passage. Instead, the rules regarding the effective dates of outside sections must be the same as those imposed on general statutes, which is typically 90 days after enactment. See: Sutton Corporation v. Metropolitan District Commission, 423 Mass. 200, 667 N.E. 2d 838 (1996).

If you are researching an outside section, keep in mind the controversy surrounding this type of legislation. Also, check out the State Library’s webpage on legislative research, which includes helpful information and links to important primary and secondary resources.

Further reading:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, June 7, 2021

Massachusetts Legislators' Papers at the State Library

The State Library of Massachusetts collects, preserves, and provides access to records documenting the history of Massachusetts. A sub-set of these records comprises personal papers of Massachusetts legislators. Dating from late 20th century, these collections represent the spectrum of political opinion in the Commonwealth. Included are the papers of Jack H. Backman, Jarrett T. Barrios, Gloria L. Fox, and Thomas P. Kennedy, among many others.

Each collection is unique to its creator and can provide insight into the daily work of a legislator as well as information on issues of particular concern to the legislator or the legislator's district. These records provide first-hand documentation of the decisions, ideas, and actions made by the legislators. In these collections researchers can find notes from debates, drafts of bills, records documenting committee work, and materials related to speeches, appearances, and events, including campaign materials.

To access a list of legislators’ papers housed at the State Library and to browse guides to these collections, visit this link:

To search for other State Library collections that complement personal papers (for example, scrapbooks and photographs), visit our online catalog:

If you have any questions regarding personal papers or if you are a legislator and would like to donate your personal papers, please contact the Special Collections Department at

Silvia Mejia
Special Collections Librarian

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Friends of the Library Newsletter - June issue

The June issue of the Friends of the Library newsletter is out! Click here to download your own copy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

Happy June! As we enter the summer months, our minds begin to wander to thoughts of vacations and this month’s featured item is along that same vein. We’re sharing Souvenir of New England's Great Resorts, a souvenir book by George H. Haynes that dates to 1891. Within its pages are images and descriptions of seventeen of the premier resorts found on the northeast coast - including a few in Massachusetts!  

This book of resorts was published during the height of the Gilded Age, a period in American history marked by a high level of opulence and extravagance for the upper class. During this time, the expansion of the railroad system contributed to an increase of industrialization (and the wealth that came with it), and also led to a rise in the summer tourism business. An expanded railroad system allowed people to travel from their homes in the city to lavish resorts located in more rural and tranquil spots. In this book, some of the resort descriptions even include information about how they can be reached via train from Boston or New York. Once guests arrived at the resorts, they were met by grand dining rooms and ballrooms, elegant lobbies, and verandas to relax on. The resorts also offered recreational activities, like croquet, horseback riding, and golf. In sum, these resorts were places for the wealthy to see and be seen. 

Two of the resorts featured in this book were located in Massachusetts: The Hotel Chatham on Cape Cod, and the Hotel Vendome in Boston.    

Like its name suggests, the Hotel Chatham was located on a peninsula in Chatham Port on Cape Cod. The resort opened in July 1889 with seventy rooms and expanded to one hundred rooms the following year. According to its description in this book, “Its magnificent furnishings, spacious piazzas, bowling alleys, billiard rooms, electric lights throughout the house, together with the purest of water, perfect plumbing and drainage, steam-heat and open fires, combines to make this one of the best equipped of modern hotels.” The resort’s remote location on the peninsula allowed for each room to have a water view, but also proved to be part of its downfall. The Hotel Chatham was not accessible by railroad, which made it difficult to get to. The resort’s popularity was also affected by the economic Panic of 1893 and its subsequent depression. The Hotel Chatham was first put up for sale in 1904 and changed hands a few times before it was demolished in 1910. 

The Hotel Vendome was a luxury hotel, but unlike most of the other resorts mentioned in this book, it was located on Commonwealth Avenue in the upscale Back Bay neighborhood of Boston rather than in a rural country or coastal setting. Its neighbors in nearby Copley Square included the Museum of Fine Arts (before it moved to its current Huntington Avenue location), the Boston Public Library, and Trinity Church. The Hotel Vendome opened in 1871 and a large expansion was completed in 1881. In the book, its description mentions Boston attractions but also suggests that the hotel could be used as a home-base for those wishing to tour around New England during the summer. It is described as “very desirable as a summer home and to tourists visiting the seashore or mountain resorts, a delightful place to rest for a few days from the fatigues of traveling.” One of the luxuries that guests of the hotel enjoyed was the assurance that “excursions can easily be made to the neighboring seashore resorts and return to town the same day. Railroad tickets may be procured in the hotel, and all arrangements for baggage, car seats, lunches, etc. will be attended to if desired.” The Hotel Vendome remained in business until it was sold in 1971, and work began to renovate it into condominiums. Tragically, a fire occurred during the renovation, which is described in detail in this article on the Boston Fire Historical Society’s website. After the fire, the renovations were completed, and the Vendome stands today as a luxury condominium building.

Each of the resorts featured in this book have their own fascinating history, and while we can’t go into detail for all of them, we did a little research to see how many are still in existence. Take note if you are planning a vacation, because a surprising number of the resorts featured in this book are still taking reservations! The Ocean House (Newport, RI), The Maplewood (Bethlehem, NH), and The Algonquin (St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick) have all been modernized but retain their original historical charm. The Wentworth, also known as Wentworth by the Sea (New Castle, NH) was vacant for many years but was renovated and reopened as a Marriott resort in 2003. The similarly named Wentworth Hall and Cottages (Jackson, NH) is also still in existence, though it is now known as “The Wentworth: an Elegant Country Inn.” In South Poland, ME the original structure of the Poland Spring House, as well as the buildings it expanded to, burned down in 1975 but there is still a Poland Springs resort in the area. And the structures of two of the resorts remain, though they now serve a different function: The Rockingham (Portsmouth, NH) has been converted to condominiums, and The Hotel Champlain (Plattsburg, NY) is now the Clinton Community College. Unfortunately, the other hotels not listed here were either destroyed in fires, or they changed ownership and management over the years before being demolished. 

Check out all of the resorts featured in this book on DSpace. Read the descriptions of their lavish accommodations and enjoy drawings of their buildings and surrounding the landscapes. And happy vacationing!

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian