Monday, June 19, 2023

Juneteenth Resources at the State Library

On June 19, 1865, the enslaved community of Texas was officially informed that the Civil War had ended and they were now free. From then on, the date of June 19th has held significance as being the date to commemorate the ending of slavery in the United States. The holiday began as a way to not only celebrate freedom, but to celebrate the achievements and contributions of the African American community. Juneteenth became an official state holiday in Massachusetts in 2020 and in 2021, Juneteenth became a federal holiday. See the 2020 state proclamation in our digital repository. 

The State Library is excited to highlight some related titles and events that celebrate the African American community and works that expand on the history of slavery and emancipation within this country. 

Earlier this month, the State Library Author Talks Series hosted Ilyon Woo, author of the 2023 book, Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom. The book focuses on the true story of Ellen and William Craft. The Crafts were a young, enslaved couple who disguised themselves as Master and Slave to seek freedom in the north. The Crafts set out in 1848, fleeing Macon, Georgia, traveling to Philadelphia, Boston, and eventually Canada. This riveting and meticulously researched journey, presents Antebellum America and the major abolitionists of the day. You can view the recorded Author Talk on our YouTube channel!

Another past author talk to check out is with Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Annette Gordon-Reed. Reed discusses her 2021 book, On Juneteenth, which explores the origins of the holiday and the significance it holds today. Reed, a native Texan, recounts her own personal experiences while relaying the history of Juneteenth within Texas. You can view Reed’s talk here

Finally, the State Library has an extensive collection of titles on slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, and more. Of interest, the library has several titles related to the Massachusetts 54th and 55th Regiments, the African American infantry units for the Union Army during the Civil War. See titles listed below. 

Image of Sergeant Andrew Jackson Smith.
Photograph from the
Alfred Stedman Hartwell Collection.

Also of note, library holdings include titles on the various leaders, orators, writers, and key persons of the abolitionist movement. Search our catalog or see below to learn more about these important historical figures. 

If you are a State Employee, use your State Library card to download the Libby app to browse their selection of Juneteenth ebook titles. For more information regarding access to any of the titles or resources mentioned above, please contact the Reference Department ( or stop by the information desk in room 341 of the State House. 

April Pascucci
Legislative Reference Librarian

Monday, June 12, 2023

LGBTQ Pride Month

Stop by the library this month to see a display in our reading room in honor of June’s designation as LGBTQ Pride Month. Along with a selection of books, we are pleased to share informational placards highlighting some LGBTQ milestones in the Commonwealth.  

In 1975, Boston resident Elaine Noble became the first openly gay or lesbian candidate to serve not just in the Massachusetts Legislature, but in any state legislature. Noble was a democrat who faced harassment during her campaign but was elected as a Representative from the 6th Suffolk District from 1975 to 1978. In 2022, WGBH interviewed Ann Maguire, who served as her campaign manager - you can read that interview here. We are also happy to share milestones achieved by our current governor, Maura Healey. When Healey was elected as Attorney General in 2014, she became the first openly LBGT person to be elected as Attorney General in the country. Within our own state, she made history at the time by being the first openly LGBT person to be elected to statewide office. And with her 2022 election as Massachusetts Governor, Healey became the co-first openly lesbian governor of a U.S. state (a title shared with Tina Kotek of Oregon). And as many of our readers know, Massachusetts was also the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage. In May 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Goodridge vs. Department of Public Health that stated that it was unconstitutional under the Massachusetts Constitution that only opposite-sex couples could marry. Other states followed suit, but it was not until eleven years later, in June 2015, that the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all fifty states. 

The American Library Association has designated June as Rainbow Book Month, a time when libraries throughout the country draw attention to the authors and writings that reflect the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community. With this in mind, our staff has researched to find books that would expand the LGBTQ holdings in our collection. Our recent acquisitions include:

We hope that you will stop by the library this month to see our display and new acquisitions, and that you’ll seek out Rainbow Book Month books in your own local library. And if you would like to find some additional books, you can check out the current and past winners of the Stonewall Book Awards. Beginning in 1971, the Stonewall Book Awards is the first and longest running book award for LGBTQIA+ books. Happy reading and Happy Pride!

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Friday, June 9, 2023

Herring Gulls Land in the Library!

You don't have to travel to a beach or coastal town to see seagulls, just visit us in the library! The Herring Gull (plate 291) from Audubon’s Birds of America is on display in our reading room through July 5. And unlike gulls on the beach, these won't try to steal your snacks! 

In this print, a large adult male is depicted alongside a younger gull, standing among Racoon oysters. The herring gull is the most familiar in the gull family, and here in the northeast it can be found along the coastline in all seasons. Read more about the herring gull in the Audubon Field Guide.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Great Outdoors Month is here!

June brings with it the official start of summer and what better way to enjoy summer than to celebrate Great Outdoors Month?! This celebration was started as Great Outdoors Week in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. It grew over the years into what is now a month-long celebration honoring nature and its benefits to the world.

The State Library has all sorts of materials to help you learn more about the great outdoors or books that state employees can check out and enjoy while in the great outdoors. We’ve rounded up some items in our collection to highlight because who doesn’t love a good beach read or a travel guide to reference while exploring a new place? 

Quincy Shore Reservations, Quincy;
image courtesy of Department of Conservation & Recreation

Feel free to browse the lists below for things that might spark your interest. If you aren’t a state employee and are interested in these books, you can borrow our books by submitting an interlibrary loan request via your local public library. You can also search WorldCat to see what other libraries might own that title.

Beach/park/backyard/anywhere reads

The great outdoors around New England

Southwest Corridor Park, Boston
image courtesy of Department of Conservation & Recreation

Perhaps you’d rather not carry a book around on your hike or to a local park. Have no fear because we’ve got you covered with e-books! If you’re a state employee you can use your State Library card to download the Libby app which will allow you to access ebooks through CW Mars. If you aren’t a state employee, you can access ebooks through the Boston Public Library by signing up for a BPL e-card. BPL e-cards are available to all Massachusetts residents.

There are some other great resources produced by the state that can help you in your quest to enjoy the great outdoors this month. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has a guide to the 150+ state parks around Massachusetts, as well as self-guided hikes and walks, plus events and programs. DCR also has a set of trail maps you can print out or use on your smartphone.

Blue Hills Trail Map
courtesy of Department of Conservation & Recreation

These resources should help you celebrate and appreciate everything about the great outdoors! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions about any of the resources here and remember to enjoy the great outdoors, especially this month!

Jessica Shrey
Legal Research Reference Librarian

Thursday, June 1, 2023

State Library Newsletter – June Issue

From postcards of the Mohawk Trail, to gulls from the coast, and a map of Boston, you can travel the state with this month's newsletter! Pictured here is a preview, but you can read about all those items and more by clicking here. And you can also sign up for our mailing list to receive the newsletter straight to your inbox.