Monday, June 27, 2022

Marbled Monday at the State Library

Happy #MarbledMonday! Each Monday, libraries, archives, and personal collectors share examples of marbled pages found in their collections, and this week, we’re joining in the fun. Paper marbling is an aqueous paper design which is often found on a book’s end pages, fore edges, or covers. It has been used as book adornment for centuries, and we have many examples of it in our library collection, mostly dating to the mid-to-late 1800s. A few examples are included below:

You can search the #MarbledMonday hashtag on social media to see all sorts of beautiful examples, and learn even more in this blog post from the Carnegie Library

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Summer is Here!

Boston Garden
Summer is here, and many people can’t wait to start planning vacations. With so much to do and so many places to visit throughout the Commonwealth, we thought that we would help you with your vacation planning by sharing two of our former exhibits: Rest, Relaxation, and Recreation: Parks in Massachusetts and The Natural Beauty of Massachusetts Waterways. We hope you will find inspiration and will want to visit one the many places listed in these two exhibits.

Silvia Mejia
Special Collections Librarian

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

June 20th Virtual Author Talk: Annette Gordon-Reed

Register Online

Please join us on Monday, June 20th, to celebrate Juneteenth with author, historian, and professor Annette Gordon-Reed as she discusses her 2021 book, On Juneteenth.

Juneteenth is observed to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States, and the holiday celebrates the freedom, achievements, and contributions of African Americans. Having been made an official Massachusetts state holiday in 2020, Juneteenth will be observed on Monday, June 20th this year. The date of Juneteenth has always been historically significant, with the holiday’s history rooted in Texas. On June 19th, 1865, Texas officially received news that the Civil War had ended and slaves were free (two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation). Since then, the holiday has been largely celebrated in Texas, with Texas becoming the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1980. 

Gordon-Reed’s book, On Juneteenth, explores the history, tradition, and new significance of the holiday. As a Texas native and descendant of Texas slaves, Gordon-Reed offers an intimate and well-researched perspective on Juneteenth and its meaning today. 

The author will be joined by moderator Lisa Baldez, a Professor of Government at Dartmouth College.

Related Juneteenth Resources:

Author Talks Committee
State Library of Massachusetts

Monday, June 13, 2022

New at the State Library: Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Photo courtesy of 
Castle of Our Skins
L'Merchie Frazier
If you’ve been to the State Library over the past couple of weeks, you may have noticed some new books about Frances Ellen Watkins Harper on display in the reading room. Harper, a writer and abolitionist, is not only the subject of these books, but also the subject of a quilt created by Boston-based artist L’Merchie Frazier. 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper:
Bronze Muse, 2015
when it was on display at the
State Library in early June 2022
Frazier’s quilt, titled Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Bronze Muse, 2015, is part of a larger exhibit called The Quilted Chronicles, which, according to Frazier, “examines the lives and legacies of African-descended people, including children and their communities across centuries of memory, places, and activism.” Frazier created this particular quilt to honor Harper, a woman who stands among other prominent black women like Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth, all of whom worked endlessly to challenge the impact that slavery had on human and civil rights.
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was not just an abolitionist, but a teacher, lecturer, suffragist, and a member of the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia. She was a leading black poet in America in the nineteenth-century and also a journalist who wrote frequently for anti-slavery newspapers. Harper was born free in 1825 in Baltimore, Maryland, but at age 3 was orphaned due to her parents' deaths. As a result, she went to live with her aunt and uncle, Henrietta Watkins and Rev. William Watkins, Sr. Her uncle founded the Watkins Academy for Negro Youth in 1820, which Harper attended. As an abolitionist himself, Watkins brought to light these ideas to Harper and impacted her career going forward.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
In 1845, at age 20, she published her first book of poetry, Forest Leaves, or Autumn Leaves. At 26, she became a teacher, first teaching in Ohio and then in Pennsylvania. Harper later gave up teaching and started lecturing to push forth the cause of abolitionism. She actually gave her first speech right here in Massachusetts in 1854, in New Bedford. The speech was given at a meeting on the “Education and Elevation of the Colored Race.” It has been suggested that the text of this speech later appeared in her book titled Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects

Also important to note is Harper’s 1859 short story titled The Two Offers, which is believed to be the first short story published by an African-American writer. You can read a copy of this short story in its entirety at this link. Harper’s first novel, Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted, published in 1892, was for some time believed to be the first novel by an African American woman. The significance of Harper’s work still remains though, as it documents the black experience through the years of slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. It also depicts social issues like the education of women, temperance, and religion.

Often referred to as "The Bronze Muze," Harper was one of the most famous women of her era and this quilt is meant to honor all that she has done. The quilt depicts vignettes of Harper’s 1858 sit-in to protest the segregated horse-drawn streetcars in Philadelphia and you’ll also notice Boston’s African Meeting House, where she lectured in 1854 and 1864.

If you're interested in learning more about Harper or reading some of her works, the following titles can be used in the reading room or you can check them out via interlibrary loan through your local library:

Any other questions? Feel free to contact us at

Jessica Shrey
Reference Librarian

Monday, June 6, 2022

Award-Winning Massachusetts Authors

Each year at the State Library, we look forward to receiving the Massachusetts Book Awards winning books from the Massachusetts Center for the Book. This long-standing awards program recognizes exceptional books written by Massachusetts authors each year, and the State Library is proud to serve as the depository library for all of the award-winning, honors, and must-read books.

 The most recent award winners, from the 21st Annual Book Awards, are as follows:

If you’d like to read one of these award-winning books, they’re available to check out from the State Library via interlibrary loan. Simply make a request through your local library, and we will send the book your way! 

In addition to retaining these special books within our collections, the State Library has also been honored to co-host virtual conversations with several Massachusetts Book Awards winners over the years as part of our Author Talk series. Most recently, we were excited to join several Massachusetts public libraries in co-hosting award-winner Jerald Walker, author of How to Make a Slave and Other Essays. If you missed it, you can view the recording of this author talk on the Ashland Public Library’s YouTube channel.

For more information about the Massachusetts Book Awards, please visit the website for the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and you can also explore all of the award-winning books in the State Library’s online catalog.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Friends of the Library Newsletter – June issue

Happy June! Kick off the month with our latest newsletter. 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.