Monday, August 30, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

It goes without saying that we’re big fans of all the Commonwealth’s many libraries, so we’re happy to share this map, Public Libraries of Massachusetts, as our September featured collection item. September is Library Card Sign-Up Month, designated as such by the American Library Association. It’s a great time to visit your local branch, which might be depicted on this map, and see what wonders you can experience with a library card!

Published in 1904, this map of the Commonwealth’s libraries was designed and drawn with pen and ink by George Hartnell Bartlett. It shows the boundary lines for each town, and each town that includes a library also has a small but intricate drawing of said library. A larger drawing at the bottom of the map shows the Boston Public Library, along with circulation and volume statistics.  Bartlett created other versions of this map in both 1893 and 1914.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners shared this map in 2015 as part of a timeline celebrating 125 years of service. On the timeline, they cite a reference to the map in the Fifteenth Report of the Free Public Library Commission, which we have available in DSpace. The report states, “The skilful [sic] hand of Prof. George H. Bartlett, principal of the Normal Art School, prepared for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition a large map of the State, containing pen and ink drawings of over 250 of our library buildings in the towns they serve. This map attracted great attention during the continuance of the fair at St. Louis, and will form a portion of the State exhibit at the coming Lewis and Clarke [sic] Exposition. It was awarded the grand prize at St. Louis. A reduced copy of the map forms a portion of this report.” The map was included as a folded insert at the beginning of the report, but the copy in our collection has been removed from the report so that it could be flattened and stored in a separate enclosure. From a preservation standpoint, we recommend removing folded inserts so that they don’t wear, and potentially tear, along crease lines.  

In the report mentioned above, George Hartnell Bartlett is referenced as principal of the Normal Art School, which was the original name of what is now known as the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The Normal Art School was founded in 1873 and is the oldest art school in the country. In addition to serving as an art instructor and drawing maps, Bartlett was also the author of Pen and Ink Drawing: A Series Of Drawings Showing Its Perfect Adaptability To The Modern Processes Of Reproduction, a copy of which can be found in our Special Collections holdings. 

For a closer look at the map, you can click on the above image. And for an even closer examination, a high-resolution copy of this map can be found through the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center. Click around to find the library from your own hometown or from a neighboring town. It is interesting to see what each library retains of its original elements, and to compare how they have grown and changed over the years. 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, August 23, 2021

Massachusetts State Budgets From FY1919 to Current Now Compiled Into One Helpful Resource

The State Library recently compiled links to full copies of Massachusetts general appropriations acts (state budgets), starting from FY1919 up through FY2022 (the most current).  We’re happy to report that this resource is now available on our website!  We hope that this new and continually updated document will allow researchers and the public to locate past and present budget acts more easily and quickly.  Please note that supplemental budgets are not included in this resource; however, they can be searched for using the databases highlighted in the document.

For more information about the current budget process in Massachusetts, visit our webpage on the subject.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, August 16, 2021

August 24th Virtual Author Talk: Adam Stern MD

Register Online

Join us in partnership with the Boston Public Library for an online talk with Adam Stern, MD, author of Committed: Dispatches from a Psychiatrist in Training. This discussion will be moderated by Suzanne Koven, MD, writer-in-residence at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Adam Stern recounts his four-year psychiatry residency at Harvard Medical School in his heartfelt memoir, which brings readers along as he and his fellow doctors make the rounds on psychiatric wards, grapple with impostor syndrome, navigate their personal lives, and experience love and loss.

With compassionate portraits of his psychiatry patients and honest ruminations on the physical and emotional toll of a medical residency, Stern pulls back the curtain on what it’s like to be a doctor tasked with healing the mind. Candid, sometimes raw, and always entertaining, this memoir celebrates human connection through the eyes of a new doctor.

Photo by Kate McKenna,
Crabapple Photography
Adam Stern, MD, is a psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He has written extensively about his experience as a physician including in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and the American Journal of Psychiatry. He lives with his family near Boston.

Suzanne Koven, MD, is a primary care physician and the inaugural writer-in-residence at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her memoir, Letter to a Young Female Physician, was released in May 2021. To learn more, visit her website and find her on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

To register for this free online event, please visit: 

Be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partner:  

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, August 9, 2021

August 17th Virtual Author Talk: Scott Borchert

An immersive account of the New Deal project that created state-by-state guidebooks to America, in the midst of the Great Depression—and employed some of the biggest names in American letters. 

The plan was as idealistic as it was audacious, and utterly unprecedented. Take thousands of hard-up writers and put them to work charting a country on the brink of social and economic collapse, with the aim of producing a series of guidebooks to the then forty-eight states—along with hundreds of other publications dedicated to cities, regions, and towns—while also gathering reams of folklore, narratives of formerly enslaved people, and even recipes. With this effort, America was documented, its families and their sensibilities brought to life by such celebrated authors as Nelson Algren, Zora Neale Hurston, and Richard Wright. Don’t miss Scott Borchert’s discussion with genealogist Rhonda McClure about this remarkable, history-making Federal Writers’ Project, part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA)’s New Deal initiative.

Scott Borchert is a writer and editor based in New Jersey and a former assistant editor at the book publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He holds a master’s degree in cultural reporting and criticism from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University, and his work has appeared in Southwest Review, Monthly Review, The Rumpus, PopMatters, Brooklyn Magazine, and other publications.   

Rhonda McClure is the senior genealogist at American Ancestors/NEHGS. She has been a contributing editor for Heritage Quest Magazine and Biography magazine and contributed to The History Channel Magazine and American History Magazine. She is the author of ten books, including the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy.

To register for this free online event, please visit:

Be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partner: 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Friends of the Library Newsletter - August issue

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

Monday, August 2, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

Take a trip to the coast of the North Shore with this month’s virtually displayed collection item! We’re featuring a bird’s-eye view map of the small village of Magnolia, which is located in Gloucester, Massachusetts right over the town line from Manchester-by-the-Sea. 

This item was specifically selected for virtual display during the summer months because from the mid-1800s and into the 1900s Magnolia was a vacation destination for Bostonians and other New England and New York residents. This map was published in 1887, so it depicts Magnolia in its relatively early days of development. The legend in the bottom right of the map identifies some of the town's landmarks. Unfortunately, our copy has experienced some paper loss, so the full legend isn’t available. However, the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center also has a copy, which includes the full legend.

Detroit Publishing Co., Copyright Claimant, and Publisher
Detroit Publishing Co. The Hesperus, Magnolia, Mass.
United States Massachusetts Gloucester, ca. 1906. Photograph.
From the legend, we know that stately homes and sprawling resorts were found in Magnolia in 1887. The largest structures that dominate the map are located near the center right off the town green. They are identified as the Oceanside Hotel (D) and The Hesperus (E). Neither hotel is still in existence, but at the time, they were posh retreats for vacationers looking to escape the city and be near the sea. 

We’d also like to point out one inconspicuous building in the far-reaches of the map. A long rectangular building labeled “M” is shown in the distance off of Normans Avenue - that building is a bowling alley! The first indoor bowling alley in the United States opened in New York in 1840, and by the late 1800s, they were popular meeting (and drinking) spaces for men. Bowling alleys were more often frequented by working-class men, possibly after a long day of working in the resorts and businesses that catered to wealthy out-of-towners. A check of a contemporary map of Magnolia showed that while there are many more roads there now than there were in 1887, and some of the streets have changed names, Norman Avenue (identified as Normans Ave. in 1887) is still in existence - there isn’t evidence of a bowling alley on that site, though. 

In addition to buildings and roads, there are always a lot of fun details to see in bird’s-eye view maps, like different modes of transportation and people engaged in various activities. Take a closer look at life in Magnolia by clicking on the above image or checking out its record on DSpace. And while you’re in DSpace, be sure to peruse our full collection of digitized bird’s-eye view maps.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian