Monday, March 28, 2022

The 1950 Census is Almost Here!

Get the countdown clock ready! On April 1st (just four days away!) the 1950 United States census will be made available to the public. The census, which has been taken every ten years by the federal government since 1790, provides a treasure trove of population information for genealogists, historians, social scientists, and the general public. Why is there such a long wait for access? This is due to a 72-year restriction on these records, starting from the time they were created--and they are only released by the National Archives upon expiration of the restriction. This means that after this year, we will have to wait until 2032 for the release of the 1960 census.

Census Bureau employees transferring data from the 1940 census
questionnaire to punch cards for tabulation. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

For more information about the United State Census, visit:

Having trouble locating a census record from 1790-1940? This page will help you find what you need:

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Librarian

Monday, March 21, 2022

Hopping into Spring!

Happy Spring! Did you know that Massachusetts was home to beloved naturalist and author Thornton Burgess. Born in Sandwich in 1874, Burgess was responsible for writing over 170 children’s books inspired by the woodland creatures native to the Cape Cod area. His most famous character being Peter Cottontail, from his 1914 book, The Adventures of Peter Cottontail. This is not to be confused with Beatrix Potter’s rendition of Peter Rabbit.

Peter Cottontail as illustrated by Harrison Cady.
Image courtesy of Thornton Burgess Society.

Throughout his 50 year career, Burgess contributed to his Old Mother West Wind series with characters known as Jerry Muskrat, Bobby Raccoon, Spotty the Turtle, among others. However, it was illustrator, Harrison Cady, who brought these characters to life. Another Massachusetts native, Cady was born in Gardner in 1877. Burgess and Cady would go on to have a lasting business partnership and friendship.

Today, the Thornton Burgess Society along with the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, work to preserve and carry-on the mission of Burgess to instill an appreciation for nature among our communities. For more information, see

For continued reading held in the State Library’s collection:

April Pascucci
Reference Staff

Monday, March 14, 2022

Virtual Author Talk: ReVisioning History Author Panel

On Tuesday, March 29, authors Catherine Ceniza Choy, Kali Nicole Gross, and Kyle T. Mays from the ReVisioning History series will discuss the importance of highlighting histories from marginalized perspectives. This series, from Boston-based Beacon Press, consists of accessibly written books by notable scholars that reconstruct and reinterpret US history from diverse perspectives. Series Editor and Publisher Gayatri Patnaik will moderate this online program, which is presented in partnership with the Boston Public Library and is free and open to everyone.

Photo by Kirsten Lara Getchell

Catherine Ceniza Choy is professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Before that, she was an assistant professor of American studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. In addition to Asian American Histories of the United States, she is the author of the books Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History and Global Families: A History of Asian International Adoption in America, and she is the co-editor of the anthology Gendering the Trans-Pacific World. An engaged public scholar, she has been interviewed in many media outlets, including ABC 2020, The Atlantic, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, the New York Times, ProPublica, the San Francisco Chronicle, Time, and Vox. Connect with her on Twitter @CCenizaChoy.

Kali Nicole Gross is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and co-author of A Black Women’s History of the United States. Her previous books include Hannah Mary Tabbs and the Disembodied Torso: A Tale of Race, Sex, and Violence in America, winner of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in nonfiction. Learn more at or connect with her on Twitter @KaliGrossPhD.

Photo by Daniella Hagopian

Kyle T. Mays is an Afro-Indigenous (Saginaw Chippewa) writer and scholar of US history, urban studies, race relations, and contemporary popular culture. He is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and History at the University of California, Los Angeles. In addition to An Afro-Indigenous History of the United States, he is the author of Hip Hop Beats, Indigenous Rhymes: Modernity and Hip Hop in Indigenous North America.

To order copies of these books from Trident Booksellers and Cafe, one of the Boston Public Library’s community bookstore partners, please visit this link. Use coupon code BPLSHIP for free media mail delivery!

And don’t forget to register for this free online event: 

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, March 7, 2022

Atlas Collection at the State Library

Did you know that the State Library has a large collection of real estate atlases documenting the development of cities and towns in Massachusetts? Most of the Library’s atlases date from the 19th and 20th centuries and provide information about property boundaries, plot sizes, ownership, and building shapes and materials. These atlases are an invaluable resource for genealogists, environmental consultants, architectural historians, and the general public who are researching the history of a particular property in Massachusetts.

1911 Atlas of Salem

The Library’s collection of real estate atlases includes approximately 200 atlases, 167 of which have been digitized and made available in the Library’s online repository, DSpace, as well as our Flickr site. Take a look at them and see if you can find your own town in our online collection. You can also search the Library’s online catalog for atlases and other resources about your town:  If you have any questions regarding the State Library’s collection of real estate atlases, please contact our Special Collections Department at

Silvia Mejia
Special Collections

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Friends of the Library Newsletter – March issue

Read updates from the State Library in the March issue of the Friends of the Library newsletter – out now! Pictured here is a preview, but the full version can be accessed by clicking here. And you can also sign up for our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.