Monday, January 26, 2015

Massachusetts Public Statutes of 1882

With the holiday season behind us and the deep freeze of winter upon us, I can think of no better time to write about a subtly celebratory find here in the State Library's preservation lab.  In 1903, Wilson Publishing Co. released the Encyclopedia of State Laws: Governing the  Sale of Liquor in the Various States throughout the Union, Also Embracing a Complete Collection of Fancy Mixed Drinks and How to Mix Them, for $1.00. 

The book contains Massachusetts public statues dating back to 1882, and while reading through the chapters, which include references to the sale of cider and obtaining special liquor licenses during the summer months, was interesting, my favorite part was the Appendix: Clear and Practical Directions for Mixing all kinds of Cocktails, Sours, Egg Nog, Sherry Cobblers, Coolers, Absinthe, Crustas, Fizzes, Flips, Juleps, Fixes, Punches, Lemonades, Pousse Cafes, Etc.  

With cocktail creations such as Medford Rum Smash, Hot Irish Punch, and Boston Egg Nogg, perusing the names and ingredients of this extensive list is impossible to resist. 

The text itself is a paperback with a sewn binding that needs to be reinforced. Loose pages will be reinforced with Japanese tissue and adhesive, and the cover will be reattached with Filmoplast cotton fabric book cloth.  That type of hard work calls for a Champagne Velvet!

Kelly J. Turner
Preservation Librarian

Monday, January 12, 2015

WWI 26th Yankee Division Photograph Digitization Project Is Now Complete!

Corp. George E. Bennett, Co. A.,
104th Infantry
In November of 2014, the State Library of Massachusetts completed the final stages of its World War I photograph digitization project.  The project, which began in 2007, oversaw the digitization of more than 11,000 images, with 8,500 26th Yankee Division and other soldiers represented throughout the collection.  These photographs are now all available online for the public to view and enjoy.  A large portion of this project also included the careful collection and multiple revisions of metadata that can be found with each digital image for enhanced searching and retrieval in the database.

The collection, also known as Photograph 359, was donated to the library in 1935 by the Boston Globe, which used soldiers’ photographs in the newspaper during the war.  Accompanying many of these photographs are “cut slips” produced by Globe staff members to record factual information for subsequent news articles; the slips include biographical and military information, as well as any notes on service recognition, wounds received, and casualties.  It’s also common to find on the cut slip the date when a story appeared in the Globe, which is helpful when researching a particular soldier.

Soldiers can be searched by their name, by military unit, and even by their hometown (when provided).  Users can also browse by soldiers’ last names.  The Division’s units most represented in the collection are the 101st, 102nd, and 104th infantries; the 101st and 102nd field artilleries; and the 101st and 301st United States engineers.

Here is a link to the library’s WWI Fickr set, which is a small example of what the collection contains: 

[Back of photo] "Left to right: Trainor of San Antonio, Leo Peterson of Minneapolis,
Murphy of Boston, Carlson of Boston; [Murphy and Carlson labeled] The Wild Beans." 
For further research, here are some helpful resources in the library’s collection:

Search the State Library’s online catalog for more publications.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Librarian

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New exhibition on Massachusetts As The Bay State

Massachusetts bears the nickname “The Bay State” proudly, as bays have played significant roles in the state’s history starting long before the Massachusetts Bay Company and the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1600s. The exhibition features maps, publications, and artifacts from the State Library to illustrate both actual bays in Massachusetts and uses of the term “Bay State” in commerce, art, and design.

Included are items from a collection of Bay State “souvenirs,” such as plates, mugs, magnets, and articles of clothing, books about the various bays in the state, and a wide selection of publications with the term “Bay State” in the title, selected from the State Library holdings.
The exhibition is now open and will remain on view outside the State LibraryRoom 341 of the State Housethrough May 29, 2015.

Special thanks to Special Collections Department interns Sarah Jennette and Victoria Zimmer, who helped with the selection, organization, description, and installation of the materials in the exhibition.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Collection of Arms and Armor

During my preservation internship at the State Library I worked on a fascinating volume by Bashford Dean called The Collection of Arms and Armor of Rutherfurd Stuyvesant (1914). Stuyvesant (1843-1909) was a member of several prominent New York families, and a great collector of arms and armor as well as European art of all kinds. During his travels to Europe to see art first-hand and to purchase pieces for himself and for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Stuyvesant’s purchases resulted in a collection of 120 pieces of armor, 14 shields, 135 swords, 84 daggers, 83 shafted weapons, 12 crossbows, 17 guns, 29 pistols, and assorted other objects such as horse trappings, spurs, and powder horns. The objects ranged in date from 1400 B.C. to the eighteenth century.

Through his long association with the Metropolitan Museum of Art as an advisor and board member, Stuyvesant helped start the Museum’s own collection of arms and armor. The author of the book I worked on, Bashford Dean, established the Museum’s Department of Arms and Armor in 1912.

Dean’s catalog of the Stuyvesant collection was the first to describe an American collection of Early European arms and armor. The catalog describes 218 items, with 54 leaves of plates. The volume came to the State Library in 1915, as a gift from the author and at the bequest of Stuyvesant’s widow.

When the catalog came across our desk, it was in relatively poor condition. The front cover had become detached, dust and grime had infiltrated the book and discolored the edges of the pages and the flyleaves, the spine was fraying, and the leather binding was coated in red rot. Our goals for the repair were to fix the spine and cover, clean the book, and treat the red rot.

I began my repair by cleaning up the spine, separating the front and back covers from the text block, trimming away the frayed parts, and making clean edges. This allowed me to have discrete pieces that I could clean and treat before putting the book back together.

Notice the difference between
the left side of this page, which
has been cleaned, and the right
side, which has not.
I first applied Cellugel to all of the leather on the remaining spine leather and the leather of the covers. Cellugel is a combination of cellulose ethers and isopropanol, which treats red rot by helping to bond the leather layers back together and protect it from further atmospheric damage. While the leather dried, I began to surface clean the pages of the book. With each stroke of the cleaning tools, you could see a noticeable difference in the color of the page as the dirt was removed from the surface.

Once all of the parts were cleaned, I re-bound the book in a brown bookcloth. This created a stronger spine and cover attachment than the old, crumbling leather. I reinforced the interior joints with Japanese tissue to help reinforce the covers. Finally, I re-applied the remaining spine label.

This project, one of the last completed before the end of my internship here, was also one of the most fulfilling. It was a pleasure to work with the catalog, with its beautiful plates and rich history, so it can once again be safely used by researchers.

Andra Langoussis
Preservation Intern

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Preserving the Past: Massachusetts Historical Commission

For many citizens, a major part of living in Massachusetts is the historic properties that make up our cities, towns and neighborhoods. Massachusetts is rich with Native American archeological areas, homes still standing from 17th and the 18th century, as well as early infrastructure associated with our landscape and coastline. These historical sites are what make Massachusetts the state it is today, with an established sense of the past in all of our daily lives. But with our ever changing lifestyles and the power of time, these areas and objects are often in need of protection, preservation or even just recognition within the community. When looking to preserve and restore our historic places, citizens can turn to their local historical groups as
well as the statewide Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC).

The MHC was established in 1963 under M.G.L. Ch. 9 ss. 26-27D and is chaired by the Secretary of State. In total, the commission is made up of 17 members, from various agencies and private institutions, who work as a State Review Board for both state and federal preservation projects. The members are responsible for identifying, evaluating and protecting the many historical assets of Massachusetts. To meet this challenge, the MHC work with a number of local and federal preservation programs, grants, projects and awards. They also have a number of user-friendly resources including the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System or MACRIS, a database that allows anyone to search for information on historic properties, archeological publications and online exhibits, as well as a detailed explanation of their Review and Compliance policies.

The MHC has a wide range of responsibilities and programs to oversee. As a commission, they are authorized to determine whether a proposed state or federally funded project will negatively impact any Massachusetts historical properties, oversee Historical Rehabilitation Tax Credits, provide assistance and aid to local commissions, as well as administer the National Register of Historic Places in Massachusetts.

The MHC’s connection to the National Register comes from the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Under the act, every state has to establish a State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and the MHC was established as Massachusetts’ SHPO in 1971. As the SHPO, the MHC has certain responsibilities, including reviewing nominations for the National Register. Other responsibilities include conducting a survey of historical properties and putting forth a statewide preservation plan to meet with the National Park Service’s requirements.

The MHC’s Preservation Plan for 2011-2015, as well as many other resources, is available on the MHC website. If you wish to research certain properties further, the State Library of Massachusetts has many resources for state and local history as well as many of the MHC’s publications.

The State House Library is located in room 341 and is open between the hours of 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday.

Stephanie Turnbull
Reference Department

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Proclamations at the State Library

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, the harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. To commemorate this date the Library is displaying here some of our historical Thanksgiving proclamations from our collections. In addition to the proclamations we have included a description of the first Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims, by William Bradford from his manuscript Of Plimoth Plantation.

Massachusetts officials have been issuing Thanksgiving proclamations since 1676. The library’s collection spans the years 1779 through 1893.  

Earliest Thanksgiving proclamation in
the collection dates to 1779.
1783 proclamation by John Hancock, first and third governor of Massachusetts.

1796 proclamation by Samuel Adams, fourth Governor of Massachusetts.

William Bradford's account of Thanksgiving in 1621. From
his Of Plimoth Plantation.

Silvia Mejia
Special Collections Librarian