Monday, October 25, 2021

November 4th Virtual Author Talk: Anne Willan

Join us virtually on November 4th for a daytime online conversation with culinary historian Anne Willan on her latest book, Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential Cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today. Willan will be joined in conversation by award-winning food writer Sheryl Julian. Presented in partnership with American Ancestors/NEHGS, this virtual event is free and open to all.

Anne Willan, multi-award-winning culinary historian, cookbook writer, cooking teacher, and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, explores the lives and work of women cookbook authors such as Fannie Farmer, Julia Child, and Alice Waters, whose important books have defined cooking over the past three hundred years. Beginning with the first published cookbook by Hannah Woolley in 1661, Women in the Kitchen moves through history to show how female cookbook authors have shaped American cooking today. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about the key historical contributions and recipes of these influential cooks and chefs.

Anne Willan founded La Varenne Cooking School in Paris in 1975 and has written more than thirty books, including the double James Beard Award-winning The Country Cooking of France, the Gourmand Award-winning The Cookbook Library, and the groundbreaking La Varenne Pratique, as well as the Look & Cook series, showcased on PBS. In 2013 she was inducted into the James Beard Foundation Awards Hall of Fame. Willan serves as an Emeritus Advisor for The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.

Sheryl Julian was the longtime award-winning Food Editor of The Boston Globe. She trained at the Cordon Bleu schools in London and Paris, was deputy director of La Varenne cooking school in Paris, is co-author of The Way We Cook and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. She runs food styling workshops in the Boston area, writes regularly for The Boston Globe, and teaches food writing in the Gastronomy master's program at Boston University.

To register for this free virtual event, please visit the following link: 

And be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partner! 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, October 18, 2021

October 27th Virtual Author Talk: Reece Jones

Join us in partnership with the Boston Public Library and the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library (LMEC) for an online talk with Reece Jones, author of White Borders: The History of Race and Immigration in the United States from Chinese Exclusion to the Border Wall. Jones will be in conversation with Garrett Dash Nelson, President & Head Curator, LMEC.

With his newest book, White Borders, Reece Jones reveals that although the United States is often mythologized as a nation of immigrants, it has a long history of immigration restrictions that are rooted in the racist fear of the “great replacement” of whites with non-white immigrants. Connecting past to present, Jones uncovers the link between the Chinese Exclusion laws of the 1880s, the “Keep America American” nativism of the 1920s, and the “Build the Wall” chants initiated by former president Trump in 2016. Through gripping stories and in-depth analysis, Jones exposes the lasting impacts of white supremacist ideas on United States law.

Reece Jones is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and a professor in and the chair of the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Hawai‘i. He has researched immigration for over twenty years and is the author of Border Walls: Security and the War on Terror in the United States, India, and Israel and Violent Borders: Refugees and the Right to Move, as well as over two dozen journal articles and four edited books. He is editor in chief of the journal Geopolitics and lives in Honolulu with his family. Connect with him on Twitter at @ReeceJonesUH.

To register for this free online event, please visit the following link: 

To purchase this book from Trident Booksellers & Café, please visit the following link and use the code BPLSHIP for free media mail delivery!

And be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partners! 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

October 19th Virtual Author Talk: Mae Ngai

We invite you to join us on Tuesday, October 19, for an online conversation with award-winning author Mae Ngai on her new book, The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics. This free virtual event is presented in partnership with the Boston Public Library, American Ancestors/NEHGS, the Boston Book Festival, and the GBH Forum Network.

Jia Lynn Yang, New York Times National Editor and author of the award-winning One Mighty and Irresistible Tide: The Epic Struggle Over American Immigration, 1924-1965, will moderate this discussion about how Chinese migration to the world’s goldfields upended global power and economics and forged modern conceptions of race.

Mae Ngai (Photo credit:
Beowulf Sheehan) 

In roughly five decades, between 1848 and 1899, more gold was removed from the earth than had been mined in the 3,000 preceding years, bringing untold wealth to individuals and nations. But friction between Chinese and white settlers on the goldfields of California, Australia, and South Africa catalyzed a global battle over “the Chinese Question”: would the United States and the British Empire outlaw Chinese immigration? Drawing on ten years of research across five continents, prize-winning historian Mae Ngai masterfully links important themes in world history and economics, from Europe’s subjugation of China to the rise of the international gold standard and the invention of racist, anti-Chinese stereotypes that persist to this day.

Mae Ngai is the Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies and Professor of History at Columbia University. She is the author of the award-winning Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America and The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America. She lives in New York City and Accokeek, Maryland.

Jia Lynn Yang
(Photo credit: Lorin Klaris)

Jia Lynn Yang, the national editor at The New York Times, was previously deputy national security editor at The Washington Post, where she was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of Trump and Russia. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

If you’d like to purchase The Chinese Question from Porter Square Books, please visit the following link: 

And be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partners! 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Friends of the Library Newsletter - October issue

Keep up with the State Library's activities and programs with the Friends Newsletter. To download your own copy visit:


Monday, October 4, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

As the calendar turns to October, we’re featuring an item related to one of the month’s unofficial mascots - cats! A quirky little pamphlet called Murthy’s Cattage: A Biographical Dictionary of Cats in Literature is this month’s item in our virtual display case. Inside the pamphlet, the reader will find a list of cats associated with literature and authors. Each entry includes a biographical note, which sometimes includes a physical description or breed like Tabby, or Maltese, or one of October’s favorite symbols - black cats!  

Murthy’s Cattage was compiled by Howard Millar Chapin and was published in Providence, Rhode Island in 1911. The pamphlet is dedicated to the memory of Chapin’s own cat, and the namesake of the book, Murthy, a picture of whom appears on the first pages. Within the pamphlet is an alphabetical listing of cats, and according to an introductory note at the beginning of the list, “this work is a brief biographical dictionary of cats in literature, that is of cats mentioned in literature or owned by literary or historical personages.” Many of the literary references and authors named in the dictionary might be unfamiliar to today’s readers but examining the list reveals some familiar names. There’s Chanoine, who belonged to Victor Hugo; Sour-Mash, who belonged to Mark Twain; and Puss-in-Boots, the folklore hero of a familiar nursery tale. 

National Black Cat Day is October 27 so we searched the list for a few black cats that were the well-loved pets of some nineteenth century authors. There’s Lucifer, who was the pet of Harriet Prescott Spofford, a New England author who published extensively from the 1850s into the 1920s. Spofford wrote newspaper serials, novels, detective stories, and poems. Gavroche and Eponine, both black cats, were the pets of French author ThĂ©ophile Gautier (and named soon after the publication of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables). Gautier loved cats so much that a carving of one is included on his headstone in Paris. And Dixie, who was the subject of Dixie Kitten by Eva March Tappen. Tappen was a Massachusetts resident and a graduate of Vassar College, who went on to be a teacher and a children’s book author. She was also the owner of Dixie’s kitten, and fellow black cat, Topsy. 

Beyond the introductory note and the alphabetical listing of cats, there’s no other information in this brief pamphlet, though we would be interested in reading about how Howard Millar Chapin selected cats for this list, how he found some of the biographical information, or how he traced the lineage of some of the cats included. A search of the title and the author’s name did reveal some interesting details about him, though. Murthy’s Cattage was just one of many books by Chapin (and might be one of his most whimsical topics); he also wrote at length about Rhode Island’s history and American colonial history. He served as the Librarian of the Rhode Island Historical Society from 1912 until 1940. His papers are held in the RIHS collection and the finding aid can be accessed here

Murthy’s Cattage is a brief pamphlet of less than a dozen pages, and it can be accessed in DSpace here. Even though not all the references found in the dictionary are immediately recognizable, it is still worth a read through for the cat descriptions. And it also serves as a bit of a literary time capsule, by highlighting authors and titles that might not be as well-known today as they were when this pamphlet was published in 1911. See what new cats you might find when you take a look at Murthy’s Cattage

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian