Monday, February 27, 2023

On Display in the State Library

One of the earliest incidents of the Revolutionary War was the Boston Massacre, which occurred in front of the Old State House on March 5, 1770. As we approach that anniversary, we’re sharing two items from our collection related to the incident: an account published in the March 12, 1770 edition of the Boston Gazette and Country Journal and a 1970 restrike of Paul Revere’s engraving The Bloody Massacre perpetrated in King Street, Boston, March 5, 1770, by a party of the 29th Regiment.

In the winter of 1770, tensions were high in Boston. British troops had been stationed there since 1768 to enforce Parliamentary legislation, and in late February an eleven-year-old named Christopher Seider had been killed by a British customs officer during a protest. On the night of March 5, a group of Bostonians gathered in front of the Old State House where a member of the British 29th Regiment of Foot was standing sentry. The group verbally assaulted the soldier and the incident escalated. Additional soldiers were called the scene as the number of participants grew to between 300 and 400. The crowd grew more agitated and rowdier, and shots were fired by the British soldiers. In the end, five individuals died; Crispus Attucks, Samuel Grey, and James Caldwell at the scene, and Samuel Maverick and Patrick Carr from their injuries in the days that followed. The event turned public sentiment even further against King George and British rule, and in describing the day, John Adams wrote that the "foundation of American independence was laid."

The March 12, 1770 edition of the Boston Gazette and Country Journal included a description of the incident. The Boston Gazette was an influential colonial newspaper published by John Gill and Benjamin Edes. Printed weekly, it shared news from abroad as well as from within the colonies, and its patriot-leaning content was critical of British rule. The State Library holds a run of the newspaper, including the March 12 edition which was the first printed account of the massacre and comprised four columns across two pages. The account covers not just the event of March 5, but also provides a description of the days that followed up to the victims’ funeral on March 8. The funeral account describes a large procession that moved through the city from Faneuil Hall to the Granary Burying Ground, and stated that “on this occasion most of the shops in town were shut, all the bells were ordered to toll a solemn peal, as were also those in the neighboring towns of Charlestown, Roxbury, etc.”

Immediately following the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere engraved a print known of as The Bloody Massacre that went on to become an iconic representation of the incident. It takes a patriotic view, by placing the victims of the massacre in the foreground and including the sign “Butchers Hall” above the British soldiers. The print was then printed by Boston Gazette publishers Edes and Gill, and garnered further support for the patriotic cause while moving public sentiment away from the crown. Only around twenty-five copies of Revere’s print are still in existence, but his original engraving copperplate is part of the collection at the Massachusetts State Archives. In 1970, the Imprint Society of Barre, Massachusetts requested that restrikes be taken from the original plate, and after consultation with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, it was determined that a limited number of restrikes could be produced without damaging the plate. The result was a beautiful publication that included the restrike as well as a reprint of the account from the Boston Gazette. A limited number of these commemorative publications are in existence, and the State Library was gifted one from the President of the Imprint Society in 1972.

Visit the library throughout March to see the Boston Gazette article exhibited alongside the 1970 restrike of Paul Revere’s Bloody Massacre print. These two items together provide a vivid contemporaneous account of a key moment in our nation’s formation. And to read more about the Boston Massacre, check out The Boston Massacre: A Family History by Serena Zabin.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, February 20, 2023

Author Talk with Kate Clifford Larson

  • Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by Kate Clifford Larson
  •  Wednesday, March 8, 2023—Noon to 1:00pm
  • State Library of Massachusetts—Room 341, Massachusetts State House
  • Livestream:

Celebrate International Women’s Day this year at the State Library! Join us on Wednesday, March 8, for an author talk with acclaimed historian Kate Clifford Larson, author of Walk with Me: A Biography of Fannie Lou Hamer. If you’re unable to attend this talk in person, be sure to visit our YouTube channel to watch the livestream, courtesy of the Massachusetts House of Representatives Broadcast Services.

About the book: Walk with Me is the most complete biography ever written about civil rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer. Born the youngest of 20 children in an impoverished sharecropping family in rural Mississippi, Hamer became one of the most important and powerful voices of the civil rights movement. Starting in the early 1960s, she worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee to help with voter-registration drives, and she went on to become a community organizer, women's rights activist, and co-founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. She used her brutal beating at the hand of Mississippi police as the basis of her televised speech at the 1964 Democratic Convention, a speech that the mainstream party tried to contain. Meticulously researched, Walk with Me draws from recently declassified sources, including unredacted FBI and Department of Justice files, as well as interviews conducted by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress and also the author’s own extensive interviews with Hamer’s family and contemporaries.

About the author: Dr. Kate Clifford Larson is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of three previous biographies: Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero; Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter; and The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln. She also works as a consultant on projects such as feature film scripts, documentaries, public history initiatives, and museum exhibits, including award-winning consulting work for Maryland's Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State and National Historical Park, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway and All-American Road, and the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, NY. You can read more about Dr. Larson and her works on her website:

This event at the State Library is free and open to all, and those who attend in person will have the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with the author. Additionally, assistive listening devices will be available upon request, courtesy of the Massachusetts State House ADA Coordinator.

For more information about the State Library’s author talk series, please visit our website at

Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, February 13, 2023

Black History Month, Selected Titles

In February 1926, historian Carter G. Woodson organized a week-long event to honor and raise awareness of the contributions of African Americans to the United States. Support for this event would grow throughout history, culminating in 1976 with President Gerald Ford designating February as Black History Month. February continues to be an important and educational month for communities across America. See Governor Healey’s Proclamation declaring February 2023 as Black History Month. For more information, webinars and exhibits happening this month, visit

In honor of Black History Month, the State Library has selected a few recently published titles from our collection that explore different facets of black history within America. To access any of the titles listed below, please contact the Reference Department (, 617-727-2590) or visit us in room 341 of the State House! 

Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad (2022) by Matthew F. Delmont – Half American highlights the history of African American troops serving in World War II. Author Matthew Delmont details the vital service of black troops in the battlefield and on the homefront, but also exposes the mistreatment and denial of benefits for black veterans. Delmont is a Professor of History at Dartmouth College. 

The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation (2021) by Anna Malaika Tubbs – Described as a celebration and testimony of the importance of black women in American society, Three Mothers, tells the stories of Alberta King, Louise Little, and Berdis Baldwin. These women raised, inspired, and instilled in their sons a sense of social justice. Through their influence as mothers, their sons changed America’s history. Tubbs is an educator, consultant, and Cambridge Ph.D. candidate. In addition, check out this past Author Talk with Tubbs as she discusses her work.

Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (2020) by Kerri K. Greenidge – A name often overlooked in the history of civil rights, William Monroe Trotter (1872-1934), was a Harvard graduate and founder of the Guardian, a Boston based newspaper devoted to activism. In this engaging biography, Greenidge rightfully places Trotter as a leader in the American civil rights movement. Greenidge teaches at Tufts University and is codirector of the African American Trail Project

Say I'm Dead: A Family Memoir of Race, Secrets, and Love (2020) by E. Dolores Johnson – In this poignant memoir, Johnson explores her childhood and the impact of her parents’ interracial marriage. The daughter of a black man and white woman, Johnson explores her identity, family, and the larger history of race relations in America. Watch Johnson discuss her memoir in a previous Author talk!

April Pascucci
Reference Librarian

Friday, February 10, 2023

A Swan in the Library!

The Common American Swan (plate 411) has alighted into the library! Visit us through March 7 to see this impressive print on display in our reading room. And did you know that swans are seen as a symbol of love because they mate for life? So if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we suggest dropping by the library this month to see our featured bird for some romantic inspiration. 

When migrating swans reached their winter home, Audubon described their arrival as follows, "the first signal of their arrival at their winter abode is a general burst of melody, making the shores ring for several hours with their vociferating congratulations, whilst making amends for a long fast, and pluming their deranged feathers. From these localities they rarely depart unless driven farther south by intensely cold weather, until their vernal excursion." Read more from Audubon's account here.

Monday, February 6, 2023

The Traditional Exchange of Governor's Gifts

Yesterday marked one month since the inauguration of our new Governor, Maura Healey--welcome, Governor! The State House was buzzing during the transfer of power and now with the renewed energy of a new administration. 

What are some of the finer details of this transfer of power, though? You may have read stories in the news or watched clips on TV of former Governor Charlie Baker’s last day in office. One thing that I found interesting was the exchange of ceremonial tokens of office, or the traditional exchange of gifts, that happens between the outgoing Governor and the Governor-elect.

All four traditional gifts, photo courtesy of WCVB

Photo courtesy of WCVB
These four gifts all hold a special place for this office, but also for the history of the Commonwealth. One of the gifts is a pewter key to the governor’s office. Here we see former Governor Deval Patrick holding the key after it was passed down to him by former Gov. Mitt Romney. This is the original key to the corner office, though you won’t see Gov. Maura Healey carrying this around in her pocket--it’s just a ceremonial key.

Former Gov. Charlie Barker and Gov. Maura
Healey with one of the MA General Statutes
volumes, photo courtesy of the Boston Globe
Another gift is the Butler Bible. This bible was left by former Gov. Benjamin Butler in 1884 to all those who would serve after him. Governor Butler left this bible in the office because he previously had not found one there. The bible also includes a note from the outgoing governor to the new governor.

Two volumes of the Massachusetts General Statutes dating back to 1860 are also part of these gifts, as is the governor’s gavel. The gavel is carved out of white oak original to the U.S.S. Constitution and in 1906 was accepted as the “permanent official gavel” of the Governor’s Council.

Former Gov. Charlie Baker also presented Governor Maura Healy with a coin that had been given to him by the family of Sergeant First Class Jared Monti, who had been killed in Afghanistan in 2006. Baker said to WCVB that the coin is a “reminder of the sacrifice of military families.”

There have been plenty of news stories about these gifts if you’d like to read more:

If you missed the televised coverage of Inauguration Day, take a look at WCVB’s video of the traditional exchange of gifts. We’d also like to give a special shout out to WCVB and the Boston Globe for some of the images featured in this post. If you’d like more information on all former governors of the Commonwealth, take a look at the National Governors Association website, but don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have! Once again, welcome to Gov. Maura Healey, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, and everyone in the new administration!

Jessica Shrey
Reference Librarian

Thursday, February 2, 2023

State Library Newsletter – February Issue

February is a short month, but there’s a lot going on in the library! Read about our exhibited items, our upcoming Author Talks, and more in this month’s newsletter. Pictured here is a preview, but the full 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.