Monday, July 25, 2022

Online Access to Massachusetts Government Documents

Did you know that the State Library of Massachusetts has the most complete collection of Massachusetts government documents in existence? While a portion of that collection is held in print format within the State Library’s stacks, an ever-growing number of Massachusetts state publications are available in electronic format, free to all, in our online repository.

From annual reports to meeting minutes to advisories, our online repository contains informative government publications intended for public use. Some of our larger collections include the Acts & Resolves and Legislative Documents, which are especially helpful for researching the history of Massachusetts laws. Other significant collections include the Public Document Series, Official Audit Reports, and state publications relating to the COVID-19 pandemic

Our online repository is organized hierarchically by state government name, from larger agencies, such as executive offices, to smaller departments, divisions, offices, and programs. If you don’t have a state agency in mind, you can also navigate our repository by browsing subjects or titles, or you can perform a keyword search. 

If you ever have any questions about navigating or searching our online repository, don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email (, phone (617-727-2590), or our chat service (available Mon-Fri, 9am-noon and 1-4pm).

New state documents are added to our repository each weekday, so check back frequently to see the latest publications from the Commonwealth.

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, July 18, 2022

New Resource Spotlight

In conjunction with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System, State Library patrons now have access to Gale Legal Forms. To access, navigate to the State Library’s Database page and scroll down to Massachusetts Legal Forms Library. From here, you can search for Massachusetts specific forms by category, keyword search, or select from a listing of sample and most popular searches. The forms library includes, Probate forms, Wills & Estates forms, Landlord Tenant forms among multiple others. The library also includes Sample Letters such as, Sample Letter for Automobile Quote, Sample Letter for Deed of Trust, Sample Letter for Change of Address, etc. Forms and letters can be downloaded as a MS Word document or Rich Text file; you can preview and read a description of the form before downloading. 

Massachusetts Legal Forms Library homepage

 Example of Available Forms

In addition to forms, the platform offers access to Legal Definitions/Dictionary, Law Digest to assist with case law research, and an Attorney Directory organized by state and practice area. There is also a Legal Q & A, and other helpful legal guides to explore.

For more information on Gale Legal Forms or access to our other databases, contact the Reference Department at

April Pascucci
Reference Librarian

Monday, July 11, 2022

A Glimpse into Boston’s Public Transit History

As you may know, the State Library is the official repository for Massachusetts State Publications. As such, we have publications from all departments and offices across the Commonwealth, including the MBTA. Home to America’s first subway system, Boston’s history of public transportation interests many and if you’re one of those people, the Library has resources that you’ll want to take a look at.

Portion of a stereograph showing
a horsecar on the Roxbury to 
Boston Line. Photo courtesy of
Historic New England.
Before the opening of Boston’s subway system, horsecar companies operated across the city, offering an easier--and much faster--way for people to get from one area of the city to another, as opposed to walking. By 1887 there were more than 20 horsecar companies with over 8,000 horses running services. This led to competition among the companies and increased fares for customers. As a result, the Massachusetts General Court passed an act that called for all horsecar companies to consolidate into the West End Street Railway. It then became one of the largest street rail systems in the country.

First electric streetcar in Boston. 
Photo courtesy of Historic New England.

Once horsecar travel was no longer meeting the needs of the city due to the dangers it imposed and its limitations, the West End Street Railway began looking into alternative transit options. This resulted in Boston’s first electric streetcar on January 1, 1889. It ran from the Allston Railroad Depot to Coolidge Corner and to Park Square. If you’re familiar with the MBTA, the C Branch of the Green Line still runs along this route today.

By the late 1890s, however, stalled streetcars and heavy foot traffic made Tremont Street crowded and congested. The city again needed a new system to meet its transit needs. The Rapid Transit Commission recommended that four elevated railway lines be created, plus a tunnel under Tremont St. for streetcars. The commission also authorized the creation of BERy (Boston Elevated Railway Company), which took over the West End Street Railway in 1897. BERy was later succeeded by the MTA, which was then succeeded by today’s MBTA.

Boston can be called the birthplace of public transportation with the opening of the first subway tunnel in 1897. The Tremont Street tunnel is still in use today and connects the Boylston, Park Street, and Government Center subway stations. Here you can see the construction of the Park Street station. If you’ve ever taken the Green Line to visit the State Library and got off at Park St then you’ve been in that tunnel. Things look just a little different today than they did when these photos were taken.

Construction of Park Street station.
Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library.

Construction of Park Street station.
Photo courtesy of Historic New England.

Once you walk up to the State House from Park St, you can turn around and see a view similar to this. While you can’t access the front of the State House due to construction, you can still walk up to the front fence and compare today’s view to what you see in this 1857 photo.

If you’re curious about what the MBTA is up to these days, you can take a look at some of the resources the State Library has in DSpace, our digital repository. For updates on the Red, Green, and Orange Lines, take a look at these weekly review and lookahead documents:

If you’re someone who takes the bus regularly, you may be interested in these proposed bus network changes. There are proposals for cities and towns throughout the MBTA bus network.

You’ll find even more collections here. We also have materials that you can use in the Library, if you’d like to take the T to visit us. Some of these include:

Jessica Shrey
Reference Librarian

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Friends of the Library Newsletter – July issue

A new month means a new issue of our newsletter! Pictured here is a preview but the full July issue can be accessed by clicking here. And you can also sign up for our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

On Display at the State Library

This July, we’re excited to exhibit a true treasure from our collection, and an integral part of American history. Visit our main reading room throughout the month to see a copy of the Declaration of Independence that was printed for The New-England Chronicle by Edward E. Powers and Nathaniel Willis on July 18, 1776.  

But if the Declaration of Independence signed by delegates of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia on July 4th, then why was it printed in Boston on July 18th – almost two full weeks later? That’s because Bostonians did not hear the stirring words of the Declaration until it was read from the balcony of the Old State House on July 18. And for those who were not part of that large crowd, it was also published in Boston on the same date. Three Boston newspaper publishers--John Gill, Edward E. Powars, and Nathaniel Willis--came together to print the Declaration as a broadside and in newspapers. Similar to modern-day posters, the broadside was a large piece of paper with printing just on one side that was posted and shared throughout the city. To ensure that the news of the Declaration spread even farther, its text was printed in Gill’s Continental Journal and Powars and Willis’ The New-England Chronicle, the copy of which we have in our Special Collections holdings. These are the only two newspapers in Boston that published the Declaration of Independence, though it appeared throughout Massachusetts in newspapers in Newburyport, Watertown, Worcester, and Salem. 

In a previous blog post, we wrote more in-depth about this item. Click here to read more about how the Declaration text traveled from Philadelphia to Boston, an interesting fact about all of the “f”s that make their way into colonial printing, and a note on the items’ condition. 

This July, celebrate America’s birthday by visiting us for the rare opportunity to see a 1776 version of the Declaration of Independence in person! 

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian