Monday, February 28, 2022

Currently on Display in the State Library

This month, we’re excited to remind you that you can now visit the library and view our featured collection item in person! Currently on display in the State Library’s reading room is A Pictorial Map of the New England States, U.S.A. by renowned cartographer Ernest Dudley Chase. Dating to 1939, it is an illustrated map of the six states that comprise New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont.

Read about this map in our previous blog post, and then visit us to check out all its intricate details in person. The State Library is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 5:00. The public can access the State House through the Ashburton entrance and be sure to check the requirements for entry before you visit. 

For those of you who can’t visit us, we’d also like to share a few of the other Ernest Dudley Chase maps found in our Special Collections.

Above left is France as drawn by Ernest Dudley Chase in 1935. This map has a fleur de lis border and shows an illustration for each French town. Paris has an illustration of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe and Notre Dame. There are also illustrations of landmarks flanking the map. And above right is The United States as viewed by California (very unofficial). A California-centric map “distorted and drawn” by Ernest Dudley Chase in 1940. It shows planes, trains, cars, and buses speeding across the rest of the country on the way to California, and we appreciate the annotation for New England that it is “kissed by the sun part of the time. After all, many Californians, or their forbears, came from this section.”

And lastly, published by the Massachusetts Department of Commerce and Development in 1956 is Historic Massachusetts, a travel map to help you feel at home in the Bay State. The map identifies Massachusetts as “a world of fun and relaxation” and it includes illustrations of the state’s landmarks and activities, along with an inset of Greater Boston. A useful tool for any tourist!


We’ll be changing the library’s display case at the beginning of each month, so stay tuned to see what other items will be exhibited in the months to come. And as always, we’ll continue to share the featured item through our blog and social media for those who can only visit us remotely.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, February 21, 2022

Researching Federal Legislation

If you’ve ever researched Massachusetts legislation, you might be familiar with how difficult it can be. Even if a researcher has compiled all the necessary primary and secondary materials to review, intent can still be difficult or impossible to infer—it’s the “white whale,” so to speak. However, if you’re new to researching federal legislation, you might be pleasantly surprised at how many explanatory materials are produced during the lawmaking process. In fact, it’s even common to find pre-compiled federal legislative histories, whereas in Massachusetts the compiling must be completed by the researcher. There are also many examples of “similar but different” or even “very different” when comparing Massachusetts and federal research. For example, certain terminologies can mean very different things, such as “committee report”:

  • Massachusetts definition: The report is not a written document but the recommendation of a Committee that a bill ought to pass (OTP), ought not to pass (ONTP), or ought to pass with an amendment (OTPWA). (source)
  • Federal definition: Document accompanying a measure reported from a committee. It contains an explanation of the provisions of the measure, arguments for its approval, votes held in markup, individual committee members’ opinions, cost estimates, and other information. (source)

As this blog aims to highlight federal legislative research, here are some helpful resources and guides that will help you learn about: the federal legislative process; how to locate primary documents, compiled histories (if available), and secondary materials; and other important information:

Federal government resources:

Non-government resources:

Subscription databases:
(most commonly found in law, academic, and government libraries)

  • ProQuest Congressional
  • ProQuest Legislative Insight
  • HeinOnline

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Librarian

Monday, February 14, 2022

Happy Library Lovers Day!

February 14th is Library Lovers Day, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has a website where Massachusetts residents can show their love for libraries by writing a valentine to their local library. If you want to participate and show your local library your support, upload your valentine today through this site:

Silvia Mejia
Special Collections Department 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Virtual Author Talk: Jerald Walker

Register Online

Join us on February 28th for an online conversation with Dr. Jerald Walker, author of How to Make a Slave and Other Essays, which was a National Book Award Finalist and the winner of the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award for Nonfiction. This online event is presented in partnership with the libraries of Ashland, Brookline, Newton, Tewksbury, and Watertown, and is free and open to all.

About the book:
For the Black community, Jerald Walker asserts in How to Make a Slave, “anger is often a prelude to a joke, as there is broad understanding that the triumph over this destructive emotion lay in finding its punchline.” It is on the knife’s edge between fury and farce that the essays in this exquisite collection balance. Whether confronting the medical profession’s racial biases, considering the complicated legacy of Michael Jackson, paying homage to his writing mentor James Alan McPherson, or attempting to break free of personal and societal stereotypes, Walker elegantly blends personal revelation and cultural critique. The result is a bracing and often humorous examination by one of America’s most acclaimed essayists of what it is to grow, parent, write, and exist as a Black American male. Walker refuses to lull his readers; instead, his missives urge them to do better as they consider, through his eyes, how to be a good citizen, how to be a good father, how to live, and how to love.

About the author:
Dr. Jerald Walker is the author of The World in Flames: A Black Boyhood in a White Supremacist Doomsday Cult and Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, winner of the 2011 PEN New England Award for Nonfiction. He has published in magazines such as Creative Nonfiction, Harvard Review, Mother Jones, and Oxford American, and he has been widely anthologized, including five times in The Best American Essays series. The recipient of James A. Michener and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Walker is Professor of Creative Writing at Emerson College.

To register for this free online event, please visit:

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Friends of the Library Newsletter – February issue

Did you know that February is Library Lovers Month? Celebrate with the latest issue of the Friends newsletter! Pictured here is a preview of our February newsletter, to access the full version click here.

If you would like to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox, you can sign up for our mailing list here. And if you would like to join the Friends, find more information on our website.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Happy Groundhog Day!

February 2 is well-known in the United States, and especially in our Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as Groundhog Day. We are proud to honor today Ms. G, the Massachusetts State Groundhog. Ms. G is a female groundhog living at Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, Massachusetts. She has been forecasting the weather on Groundhog Day since 2008.  

The story of Ms. G’s official designation as the Massachusetts State Groundhog is well-documented in several places, including her own website and in a beautifully-written book by meteorologist Mish Michaels called Ms. G’s Shadowy Road to Fame. The illustrations by Kathleen Jameson bring the story to life. After hard work by students at Hunnewell Elementary School in Wellesley, and with help from State Representative Alice Peisch and other dedicated fans of Ms. G, Governor Deval Patrick signed the bill into law on July 31st, 2014.

In our 2017 exhibition on state symbols of Massachusetts, we used a stuffed animal purchased from Mass Audubon Drumlin Farm to illustrate Ms. G’s status as the State Groundhog. A photograph of the real Ms. G is here. Please join us in wishing her a long and healthy life!

Beth Carroll-Horrocks
Special Collections