Monday, November 29, 2021

On Display in the State Library

This month, our featured collection item is a fun map found in our Special Collections holdings. A Pictorial Map of the New England States, U.S.A. is by renowned cartographer Ernest Dudley Chase and dates to 1939. It shows, in great detail, the six states that comprise New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

If you were looking for a topographical map of New England, or a map that would show you how to get from point A to point B, you may want to look elsewhere. But this map is an excellent example of an illustrated map, which takes a more artistic, and less technical approach to cartography. Towns and cities are identified within each state and are accompanied by a drawing of an important building or landmark associated with that location. New England’s many lighthouses dot the coastline and various sailing vessels are found in the Atlantic. A fun aspect of this map is that sprinkled throughout it are illustrations of activities that can be enjoyed in that area; take a close look to see drawings of ice fishing at Sebago Lake in Maine, sunbathing at Falmouth on Cape Cod, and skiing in Gorham, Vermont. These are just a few examples, what other drawings do you spot within the map? Additionally, along the outer edges of the map are slightly larger drawings of important buildings with a title identifying their name and location, and found on the perimeter of the map, distinguishable by oval frames, are drawings of each state’s capital building - including our very own State House. 

Detail image of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Ernest Dudley Chase was a prolific illustrator and cartographer from the early to mid-1900s. The State Library holds several of his maps in our collection, and we hope to have them all available digitally in the future, but for now a full list of our Chase holdings can be found here. As you can see, his maps were not limited to New England, but include world maps, other locations within the United States, European countries, and themed maps. 

For a high-resolution version of this New England map, please click here to explore the copy in Harvard’s map collection. There is a lot of detail to be found on this map, each time you look at it you can find something new! Zoom in on this digital version to see all of the intricate drawings - buildings, activities, landmarks - that make New England such a special place to live or visit.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, November 22, 2021

Connect with the State Library!

We are excited to announce that we have launched a new mailing list feature. By subscribing to our mailing list, you’ll receive occasional updates, news, announcements, and our monthly newsletter straight
from our library to your inbox. 

Signing up is easy! Head to this link and fill in your name and email address. 

And while you’re online, consider joining the Friends of the State Library. As a Friend, you will have the satisfaction of knowing your efforts and financial support are going towards bettering our library through purchasing new equipment, enhancing our print or electronic collections, or helping fund a new preservation project to protect and preserve Massachusetts history for generations to come. Find more information and our online membership form on our website.

Thank you for connecting with the State Library!

Monday, November 15, 2021

Redistricting in Massachusetts 2021

The Massachusetts legislature’s Special Joint Committee on Redistricting has released maps detailing proposed changes to the state’s House, Senate, Congressional, and Governor’s Council voting districts. These changes reflect the most recent 2020 federal census data for Massachusetts and is required every 10 years by the U.S. Constitution. Many of the Joint Committee’s proposed changes for this year’s redistricting efforts aim to improve minority representation in certain parts of the state. 

Some of the proposed changes and anticipated outcomes include:

Senate districts

  • Lawrence and a section of downtown Haverhill will move from the Second Essex and Middlesex Senate District to a new 19th District. Methuen and parts of Haverhill that are currently in the First Essex Senate District will move to this new 19th District. These changes aim to create a majority-minority district.
  • Sections of Haverhill, Amesbury and Merrimac will move to the Second Essex and Middlesex Senate District.
  • Topsfield will move from the Second Essex Senate District to the First Essex and Middlesex Senate District.
  • Newburyport will move from the First Essex Senate District to the First Essex and Middlesex Senate District.

House districts

  • Existing House districts will be reconfigured to create 33 new majority-minority opportunity districts where less than 50% of the population is non-Hispanic white residents. Of these new districts, 10 will be majority-minority districts where over 50% of the voting population are either Black or Hispanic.
  • The 16th and 17th Essex House districts will be reconfigured so that three majority-minority districts can be created in the Lawrence and Methuen area.
  • The 4th Essex House District will be reconfigured to create a majority-minority district.

Congressional districts

  • Fall River, currently split between the 4th and 9th Congressional districts, will instead be moved to the 4th Congressional District in its entirety.
  • Chesterfield and Heath will move to the 2nd Congressional District.
  • Parts of southern Worcester County will move from the 2nd to the 1st Congressional District.
  • The 7th Congressional District will see an increase in the percentage of people of color living in the district: from roughly 57% to 61.3%.

Important contemporary and historical resources on redistricting:

Proposed changes for 2021:
Current districts as of 2011:
Archived public hearings:
Historical Massachusetts district maps: 

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department

Monday, November 8, 2021

November 22nd Virtual Author Talk: Barry Van Dusen

Please join us on November 22nd for a virtual author talk with artist and author Barry Van Dusen, whose new book, Finding Sanctuary: An Artist Explores the Nature of Mass Audubon, was recently recognized by the Massachusetts Center for the Book as one of the Commonwealth's must-read books of the year. This free online event is presented in partnership with the Tewksbury Public Library along with other public libraries across the Commonwealth.

Van Dusen’s statewide residency with Mass Audubon is featured in his new full-color book, Finding Sanctuary, which includes more than 250 watercolors and sketch studies, along with commentaries and essays by the artist. Over the course of four and a half years, Van Dusen visited all 61 of Mass Audubon’s public wildlife sanctuaries, nature centers, and museums, producing drawings and paintings at each location. Follow his travels and share in his adventures—from the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket to the mountain peaks of the Berkshires. Learn about hatching turtles on Cape Cod, rare orchids in the Connecticut River Valley, and a bear encounter in a western Massachusetts forest. Birders, naturalists, conservationists, gardeners, artists, art appreciators, and all outdoor folks will enjoy this presentation.

Barry Van Dusen is an internationally recognized wildlife artist living in central Massachusetts. His articles and paintings have been featured in Bird Watcher's Digest, Birding, and Yankee magazines, and he has illustrated a variety of natural history books and pocket guides in association with the Massachusetts Audubon Society. In 1994 Barry was elected a full member of London's Society of Wildlife Artists. His work has been exhibited regularly in the prestigious Birds in Art Exhibition (Wausau, Wisconsin) as well as in many galleries in the United States and Europe. At the invitation of the Artists for Nature Foundation, Barry has travelled to Spain, Ireland, England, Israel, India and Peru, working alongside other wildlife artists to raise money for conservation of threatened habitats. Learn more about Van Dusen here.

You may register for this free virtual event here, and also be sure to check out other upcoming events hosted by our partner! 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Friends of the Library Newsletter – November issue

Our Friends of the Library Newsletter has a new look! In it, you’ll find everything that you love from past issues of our newsletter, but we’re happy to be able to provide expanded content and more features in our new format.  

A preview is pictured here, but the full version can be viewed at this link. If you'd like to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox, be sure to sign up for our mailing list.

Thanks for reading and reach out to us: with any questions!

Monday, November 1, 2021

On (Virtual) Display at the State Library

We might be biased, but we think one of the prettiest views in Boston is looking up from the Common to the State House. So this month, we’re sharing a lithograph of just that view in our virtual display case. Boston Common was drawn by James Kidder and published by Abel Bowen in Boston in 1829. It shows the State House and its neighbors atop Beacon Hill, with a swath of the Common in the foreground. Adults and children are shown strolling paths, cows graze on the grass, and young trees are shown in growing supports, all of which combine to create a bucolic scene in the middle of downtown Boston. 

A noticeable feature in this lithograph is that the State House is a much smaller building than its current size. This image shows the original building as designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1798. A large addition, designed by Charles Brigham, was added to the back of the State House between 1885 and 1889, and the east and west wings, designed by architects Sturgis, Bryant, Chapman & Andrews, were added between 1914 and 1917. Though not visible from this exterior image, the State Library itself, which was established in 1826, would have been found within the walls of this 1829 State House, but not in the same location it occupies today. Visit the Flickr album from our past exhibit on the history of the State Library to learn more about the library’s location at its 1826 founding, its expansion and move in 1856, and the move to its current location in 1895. Just as the State House has grown over the years, so has the State Library!

While the State House dominates the view in this lithograph, there are a few other buildings of note visible. If you are facing the State House from the Common, as this view shows, the building that is visible to its right is the Amory-Ticknor House, located at 9-10 Park Street and 22-22A Beacon Street.  This is a Federal style mansion designed by Charles Bulfinch and built in 1804. Soon after its construction, however, the building’s owner Thomas Amory sold it and it was enlarged and divided into multiple dwellings (which is why it has door fronts on both Park and Beacon Streets). The rest of the building’s name comes from a later owner, scholar George Ticknor, who resided in the building at the same time that this lithograph was published. He lived in the building until 1871, followed by his daughter, Anna Eliot Ticknor, who lived in the building until 1884. After that, the building was used for retail rather than dwellings and has housed restaurants, coffee shops, and stores ever since. Over the years, the Amory-Ticknor house has seen some alterations, most noticeably, the addition of oriel windows on the upper levels, but the house still stands today. 

And to the left of the State House is another important building, but unfortunately, one that has not survived to the present day. The Hancock Manor was located at 30 Beacon Street, in fact, not far from where our Special Collections Department is located today. It was built in the 1730s for the merchant Thomas Hancock and his wife Lydia, who were John Hancock’s aunt and uncle. The stately mansion sat among outbuildings, gardens, orchards, and pastures - much different from the Beacon Hill that we know of today. John Hancock lived in the house after the death of his aunt and uncle, and it was after his death in 1795 that some of the pasture land was purchased by the Commonwealth to be used as the site of the future State House. For a number of years afterward, the State House and the Hancock Manor were neighbors until the mansion was demolished in 1863. Before it was torn down, relics and souvenirs were retrieved from the house, so even though it doesn’t live on in its entirety, pieces of the mansion can still be found in historical collections throughout Massachusetts and beyond.  

To take a closer look at the State House and its neighbors, click on the image above. And the next time you visit Boston Common, imagine what it looked like in 1829! 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian