Monday, January 29, 2024

Browsing Basics for DSpace 7

You may have noticed our digital repository, DSpace, has a new look. The vendor who supports our digital repository recently upgraded us from version 6 to version 7 of DSpace. While some of the functionality and appearance of DSpace features changed significantly during the upgrade, the browsing functions remained the same. In this week’s blog post, we are going to go over how to browse in DSpace 7. For patrons who used DSpace prior to the upgrade, the steps for how to browse will seem very familiar. And if this is your first time using DSpace, the instructions in this post can help you get started with browsing DSpace.

If you go to the top of the webpage and click All of DSpace, a dropdown menu appears where you can select what you want to browse by. There are four categories for browsing: By Issue Date, By Author, By Title, and By Subject (image below). Search filters are not available on browsing results webpages to further refine the results.

Browsing by issue date is similar to the date filter available on far left of a search results webpage. However, there is a key difference between using the date filter and browsing by issue date. Unlike the date filter where only a range of years are specified, while browsing by issue date a specific year and month can be chosen from drop down menus to the left of the browsing box. Although not required choosing a month can be very useful for narrowing down what you are interested in finding. An alternative to using these is to enter into the browsing box the issue date in one of the following formats: YYYY, YYYY-MM or YYYY-MM-DD. After you have typed the date in the search box, you then can utilize the Boolean operator AND, entering a keyword after the operator. Boolean operators aren’t case sensitive when they are used in DSpace so you can enter an operator in all caps or all lowercase and it will work the same. You can also opt out of using the Boolean operator and simply enter a keyword after the date. The same results will be returned either way!

To browse by author, you can find the author you are looking for by entering the first few letters of the author’s name into the browsing box. On the landing page for browsing by author there is also multi-page list you can click through to see all the author names that are in DSpace. Some of the author names are for people and other author names are the names of organizations, companies and governmental offices.

If you are looking for an author’s name that has initials like A. G. Spalding & Bros simply enter the first initial followed by a period in the search box and select the name from the list of browse results (image to the left). When you click on the author’s name you will be taken to a browsing results page displaying all the resources authored by them.

Another thing to know about browsing by author is that you can search by the author’s last name or last name followed by their first name. There won’t be any browsing results if you only enter the author’s first name.

To browse by title, you can find the title you are looking for by entering the first few letters of the title into the browsing box. Alternatively, you can click through a multi-page list to view all the titles listed. When you are using the browsing box to find a title you can also enter numbers if the title begins with a number; however, for titles of resources that begin with a symbol like the dollar sign ($) search results won’t be returned. To successfully find a title that begins with a symbol you skip typing in the symbol in the browsing box and simply add the letters or numbers that come after (figure 3). You can also search by one or more entire words that a title contains as long as they are at the beginning of a title; the search won’t work if you are entering a word that appears in the middle or end of the title.

One last thing to remember is if you are browsing by title, the browsing box only looks for the title of a resource and not any of the alternative titles that may be associated with it. So if you are looking for the digitized manuscript Of Plimoth Plantation then you would enter the title Of Plimoth Plantation and not the other title the manuscript is referred to (The Bradford Manuscript).

Like browsing by title, when you are browsing by subject you have enter the first few letters or numbers it begins with to get the results you are trying to browse. The subject browsing search draws information from our subject fields on individual resource webpages. The subject fields use Library of Congress Subject Headings which is a defined vocabulary for subjects a resource can be about. This means that you aren’t able to search by a keyword or phrase in the subject browsing box. If you’re not sure what your subject heading begins with you can always click through the multi-page subject list on the landing page.

If you are feeling stuck at any point while browsing, you can reach out to our reference department for assistance by email or calling 617-927-2590. Or if you are visiting our reading room, come up to the reference desk and someone can help you.

Emily Crawford
Technical Services Librarian

Monday, January 22, 2024

Samuel Humphrey Turner and the Minute Men of 1861

As a new staff member of the Special Collections department here at the State Library, I’ve been working to familiarize myself with our holdings. One of the early collections I found compelling was Ms. Coll. 5, The Samuel Humphrey Turner Papers, and the story within those papers of the Minute Men of 1861.

Samuel Humphrey Turner was born in Scituate, Massachusetts on September 20, 1838. As a volunteer in the Civil War, Turner enlisted in the Massachusetts Infantry, 5th Regiment, Company E, and was wounded in the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861. Turner reenlisted one year later, joining the 39th Regiment of the Massachusetts Infantry, and was promoted to sergeant. During the war, Turner married Ellen A. Washburn in Medford, Massachusetts. He was officially discharged on June 14, 1865, and subsequently settled in Medford, where he worked as a caulker for the Boston Water Department.

Turner’s letters reveal his sense of humor and devotion to his family, and a possible penchant for drawing; to the right is Turner’s doodle of an eagle resembling the Great Seal of the United States, found on the back of one of his letters.

Turner wrote to his sister Nellie, “You are a good sister and always was. But us men are so very sightless that we never can appreciate kindness until it is too late.” He wrote to his mother, “If all mothers were like mine, all the world could not conquer the Sons of the North... if you and Father only knew the courage one of your letters give me you would send one every day.”

In addition to correspondence with family, Turner’s collection includes enlistment and discharge papers and materials relating to the Massachusetts Association of Minute Men of 1861, of which Turner was a member and an officer until his death on March 24, 1907. I was previously unaware of this Association, which prompted me to do some more digging.

The Massachusetts Association of Minute Men of 1861 included Members of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia of the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Regiments, Third Battalion, and First Battery of Light Artillery, and general and staff officers selected by the governor, who responded to President Lincoln's first call for troops on April 15, 1861.

From this history and roster of the Minute Men, written by George W. Nason in 1910:

“It is well to note here that while our pages treat only of three months of the doings of these men, yet the greater part of them continued their service of patriotism to the end of the rebellion, and that the names of some of them appear on the rolls of most of the battles of the Civil War.”

Medals were given to the Minute Men by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with the following inscription: "To the members of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia who were mustered into the United States service in response to President Lincoln's first call for troops. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts. April 15, 1861." You can see a likeness of the front and back of the medal in the broadside below:

Massachusetts Association of Minute Men of 1861 broadside announcing the 1906 annual banquet. From the Samuel Humphrey Turner Papers, Ms. Coll. 5. 

You can access the finding aid for Samuel Turner’s collection in the State Library’s digital repository, linked here, and an online version of Nason's book is available on the Internet Archive.

Work consulted:

Nason, George W. History and complete roster of the Massachusetts regiments, minute men of ’61 who responded to the first call of President Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1861, to defend the flag and Constitution of the United States ... and biographical sketches of minute men of Massachusetts. Boston, MA: Smith & McCance, 1910.

Alyssa Persson
Special Collections Processing Librarian

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Resource Spotlight - West’s Nutshell Series

Looking into an area of law that is new to you? Need a quick overview of a certain subject? Not sure where to start with a research assignment? The Nutshell Series published by West Academic provide compact overviews of a range of subjects and practice areas. Nutshells are a great option as they highlight the key information, terms, cases, and processes needed to understand an area of law in an easy to read format. The State Library has a growing collection of Nutshells to offer patrons! Some popular titles include: Legal Research in a Nutshell, Copyright Law in a Nutshell, Constitutional Law in a Nutshell, and Legal Citation in a Nutshell. Our collection also includes nutshells on Family Law, Elder Law, Social Media Law, Employment Law, and more! View a full list of nutshell titles in the catalog here. If there is a subject or latest edition of a nutshell you would like to see in the collection, please reach out to us via email.

In addition, State Employees can access nutshells as ebooks! After locating the title you need in the catalog, select the electronic resource link. Sign into OverDrive as a CW MARS Patron with your State Library Card barcode number and password. You can then borrow the ebook for up to 14 days! If you would like to sign up for a State Library Card, fill out this form or send us an email

Please reach out to us with any questions or need assistance with the steps above. We are happy to help get you started with your research and point you to the best resources!

April Pascucci 
Legislative Reference Librarian

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Snow Birds in the Library

If these birds were set against a snowy backdrop, you might not even notice them in the print! They are the American Ptarmigan and White-tailed Grouse (Plate 418), which is also known as the snow quail. You're only likely to see them if you live in a high altitude and/or far north, since they are native to Alaska and the mountainous western regions of Canada and the United States.

But did you know that in the summer time, these birds are a different color? Their summer appearance is grey or brown (some of which is still visible on the throat of the bird on the left), and in the winter their feathers turn white. This allows them to be well camouflaged to their surroundings. And take a close look at their feet - they are fully feathered! This helps to protect them from extreme temperatures in cold weather climates. You can read more about them in the Audubon Field Guide

Visit us from January 11 through February 8 to see these color changing birds on display, after all, it is much more comfortable viewing them in our Reading Room than trekking northwest to see them in person!

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian

Monday, January 8, 2024

The State Library of Massachusetts: General Resources

For those of you who are regular readers of the State Library’s blog, you may have noticed that some blog posts offer an in-depth look at some of our resources and databases, and other posts cover Massachusetts history and events taking place in New England. Today we’d like to give you an overview of the State Library by highlighting a few of our more general resources that you may find helpful to your work as we kick off 2024!

A great place to start is of course our homepage, There you’ll find a link to our catalog, our newly-upgraded digital repository, and our list of online databases. If you’re wondering whether or not we subscribe to a specific publication, do a general search for that title on our online database page and if we own it, a link to that publication and the name of the database it’s in will be displayed. If you’re using our databases in the library on one of our public computers, you’ll find our onsite database links page helpful. There you’ll find links to resources such as Westlaw, the Boston Globe, HeinOnline, JSTOR, PressReader, and more.

Don’t forget about our access to historical newspapers either! Our holdings can be found here, and you’ll find titles such as the Boston Chronicle, dating back to December 1767, and the Worcester Telegram, starting in June 1960. This list includes information on the date range we hold for each title, as well as if we own it in print or microfilm. To access a title we own in print, you’ll need to contact our Special Collections Department at If we own a newspaper on microfilm, contact us at and our Reference librarians will assist you with access. If you’re not sure where to start, just reach out to the Reference Department and we’ll get you started.

We also receive some current newspapers in print, such as the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. These newspapers can be read on our 4th floor balcony during the library’s open hours. We have tables and comfy chairs on our balcony, with an up-close view of our beautiful stained-glass windows near our magazine racks, so be sure to check out the space!

If you’re more of a visual or self-taught learner, our Quick Guide to the State Library of Massachusetts might be the right resource for you. We feature QR codes with links to several videos on our YouTube channel, such as videos that teach about the House and Senate Journals, the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) and regulatory research, and my personal favorite, a video on how to compile a legislative history. Our YouTube channel also has recordings of our Author Talks for those of you interested.

If you’re a state employee, you’ll find our Library Services for State Employees handout helpful as well. In it you’ll find information about how to sign up for a library card, how to borrow ebooks and use our interlibrary loan service, and how to book the conference room in the library.

No matter what your research needs are, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at the State Library! We’re here to direct you to the resources and services best-suited to your needs and we’re also here as a quiet space for you to enjoy! Stop by to visit us in person Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, or contact us at or 617-727-2590.

Jessica Shrey
Reference Librarian

Thursday, January 4, 2024

State Library Newsletter - January Issue

From all of us at the State Library to you - Happy 2024! For a winter respite, remember that we are open to the public Monday - Friday from 9:00 to 5:00. We will be closed on Monday, January 15 in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

This month's newsletter contains information about everything new that's happening at the State Library! 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.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

On Display in the State Library

Happy 2024! It’s become a bit of a tradition at the State Library to begin the year by displaying some historical almanacs from our collection. This year, we’re sharing a few of the older ones in our collection, the 1796 and 1797 editions of Strong’s Almanack, which was compiled and calculated by Nehemiah Strong and published in Springfield (1796) and West Springfield (1797) by Edward Gray. The almanacs were calculated for Hartford, Connecticut and were distributed for use in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

We have chosen to display the 1796 almanac closed so that its cover is visible, while the 1797 almanac is opened to its page featuring January. The 1796 cover features a drawing of an astronomer holding an instrument and looking skyward, while standing on the banks of a body of water with a town in the background. A globe and other equipment are at his feet, and the night sky is shown above, complete with stars and the moon. Though we don’t know for sure, we can speculate that this may be a depiction of the compiler himself, Nehemiah Strong (1729-1807). From the article “Check List of Connecticut Almanacs, 1709-1850: With Introduction and Notes” by Albert Carlos Bates found in the 1914 edition of the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, we learned that Strong was an astronomer and mathematician, and the first chair of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Yale University. Strong was a prolific compiler of various almanacs from 1775 until his death, and some of his former students from Yale also went on to compile almanacs.

The 1797 almanac is displayed open to the January page, which shows a listing of all 31 days, along with their moon phases and commentary on their predicted weather. The month starts off clear and cold on January 2 and 3 but January 4 is predicted to be more pleasant. Later in the month calls for snow, freezing temperatures, and even hail! Colonial Americans did not have their local meteorologist giving the forecast every morning on the news, so almanacs were extremely useful and popular publications that could be found in most households. Beyond astronomical and meteorological data, they also included useful information for the general public, like the listing of Superior Courts and Supreme Courts shown on the opposite page. And one of the more whimsical features of the almanac is a verse with stanzas that continue from month to month. 1797’s is titled The Lover and January’s entry reads, “Of all the things beneath the sun; To love’s the greatest curse; If one’s deny’d, then he’s undone; If not, ‘tis ten times worse.”  

If you’d like to start off your year with even more almanac content, then be sure to check out our previous posts. For 2023, we shared the 1815 and 1817 editions of The New-England Almanack, in 2022 we featured Peter Parley’s Almanac for Old and Young, in 2021 we highlighted Fleet's Pocket Almanack for the year of our Lord 1789, and in 2020 we showcased a selection of Isaiah Thomas’s New England Almanac, which can also be viewed in our digital repository. And if you are in the area, be sure to visit us from January 5 through the 31st to see Strong’s Almanack on display in our main library reading room.

Elizabeth Roscio
Preservation Librarian