Monday, December 20, 2021

Monday, December 13, 2021

Author Talk Archive

As 2021 winds down, we’re looking back at all of the author talks that we were thrilled to present this year along with our local partners, including such institutions as the Boston Public Library, American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the Museum of African American History. If you missed any of the talks, you can find recordings on our website. Here you'll also find links to our previous author talk blog posts, which provide additional information about each featured book and author.

Our video archive includes author talks dating back to 2020, so we hope you enjoy revisiting, or seeing for the first time, our collection of varied and diverse topics. And maybe one of the featured books will make a good holiday gift for someone on your list!

Author Talks Committee and the Friends of the State Library
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, December 6, 2021

Hunnewell and Gay Collections at the State Library

Bookplate for the Hunnewell collection
The State Library may be known more for its law and legislative collections but two significant donations given in the past have enriched our collections in two very different, yet significant ways yet still both remain connected to the Library’s mission: supporting the research and information needs of government, libraries, and people through innovative services and access to a comprehensive repository of state documents and other historical items.

First, the collection of James Frothingham Hunnewell of Charlestown, Massachusetts was a major New England historian, antiquarian, and collector of rare books on his native town and state. Educated in Charlestown, he joined his father in his foreign merchant business, engaging in extensive travel overseas. Once retired, he became a member of the Bostonian Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. As a collector, he was one of the founders of The Club of Odd Volumes. In his hometown community of Charlestown where his father’s family had lived since 1698 he served on many local boards and committees, including the Charlestown School Board, the Trustees of the Charlestown Public Library, and the Bunker Hill Monument Association. He lived in “Hunnewell House” on Green Street in Charlestown where he kept his library of Charlestown books and wrote his historical works.

His collection of books and pamphlets relating to Charlestown and Bunker Hill were bequeathed in his will to “the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, to be kept together in, or in connection with the Library of said state [as he believed it was] a very unusual collection of printed matter relating to one of the oldest towns in the state and to its people. In time it will be almost impossible to make a like collection, and [he thought] this collection … an interesting and valuable illustration on such a subject.” 

The State Library’s 1914 Annual Report calls the Hunnewell collection “the most significant gift of the year … a collection of books and pamphlets relating to Charlestown and Bunker Hill, bequeathed to the library by the late James F. Hunnewell and accepted by vote of the trustees on April 14, 1914. At the present time 1,440 items, comprising the major part of the collection, have been turned over to the keeping of the library. In a broad sense the collection represents the literature of Charlestown. It is made up of works by founders of the town whose residence in it was not long, printed works and memorials of inhabitants, works relating to Charlestown both as town and city, including addresses and sermons delivered in it, and finally the history and literature of Bunker Hill. The collection is a notable one, and enriches the library’s accumulation of Massachusetts and New England historical material.”

Most of the volumes from the Hunnewell collection have a bookplate that was affixed by Mr. Hunnewell to the items in his personal library. In the State Library’s online catalog and on call number labels, the volumes have a prefix of “Hunnewell” to identify them as part of the Hunnewell gift bequest within the whole of the library’s collections.

Gay collection bookplate
Frederick Lewis Gay (Oct. 28, 1856-Mar. 3, 1916) of Brookline, Massachusetts was a noted antiquarian, historian, and genealogist. He graduated from Boston Latin School and attended Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, receiving his degree from the college in 1903. He was a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Massachusetts Historical Society.  He researched and wrote about genealogy and the history of greater Boston and New England and was a collector of books, newspapers, and English Civil War materials.

A portion of his personal library was donated to the State Library in 1923 and was noted in the 1924 Annual Report of the State Librarian as “among the important gifts of the year we received some 2,000 volumes from the library of the late Frederick Gay consisting of local history, collections of Massachusetts Historical Proceedings, Dedham Historical Proceedings, Essex Institute, American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, and other important volumes.”  

Many of the volumes from the Gay Collection have a bookplate affixed by the State Library to distinguish them in the collection.  In the online catalog and on call number labels, the volumes have a prefix of “Gay Coll.” to identify them as part of the Gay gift collection within the whole of the library’s collections.

Judy Carlstrom
Technical Services

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Friends of the Library Newsletter – December issue

Pictured here is a preview of our December newsletter, to access the full version click this link: