Monday, July 6, 2015

No Question Too Great Or Too Small

Finding information, no matter how minute, is something librarians take very seriously—and it can be incredibly rewarding for all parties involved.  One of my favorite questions was based on a small, unassuming pamphlet on a now-defunct Maine railroad company.  Titled Mortgage Deed From Sandy River R.R. [Railroad] Co. to John H. Kimball, Payson Tucker, Nathaniel B. Beal, the 8 page pamphlet was published in 1885 and is currently housed in only two known libraries in the U.S. (including the State Library of MA).  A researcher, thrilled to be able to access this seemingly rare title, went on to ask a question that is not often asked of us: “How in the world did the library acquire this pamphlet?”









It was a good question, and one that required just a little Sherlock Holmesian deduction to answer.  During the mid-19th to early 20th centuries, the State Library published annual reports that provide lists of new acquisitions added to the collection for each year.  In addition to the titles, the information also includes how it was acquired: either by donation, exchange, purchase, or from government officers.  Although the pamphlet was printed in 1885, it had a library stamp with the date “OCT 7 1891” on the front—the date it was either received or processed by the library.  I looked in the library’s annual report for 1891 and was at first disappointed that it was not included in the acquisition list.  However, October is pretty late in the year; I wondered if this title would be found on the list provided in the 1892 annual report.  I quickly flipped the pages until I found it:

Sandy River Railroad Company
.  Mortgage deed to J. K. Kimball, Payson Tucker, N. B. Beal. h.t.p. [1885.] 8o.  8p.  [3, J. H. Drummond, Portland.]

The number 3 was code that it was acquired “by donation,” and that J.H. Drummond of Portland, ME was the donor.  Drummond’s name was familiar to the researcher as he was in some way affiliated with the railroad company (the specifics escape me now).  He was also known to have been in Boston in October of 1891, and this entry from the library’s annual report now corroborated this fact.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Librarian

Monday, June 29, 2015

Boston 1915=Boston 2024?!?

Hosting the Summer Olympics in Boston in 2024 is big news around the Commonwealth and whether for it or against it, everyone has an opinion. The State Library recently added to its digital repository the report “Understanding a Boston 2024 Olympics,” issued by the Massachusetts General Court’s Special Commission Relative to the Feasibility of Hosting the Summer Olympics in the Commonwealth. Looking into and planning for such a future can be both scary and exhilarating at the same time; fortunately, we can turn to the past for some guidance and reassurance. Over one hundred years ago, Bostonians of 1909 were doing the same thing that the Special Commission, Bostonians and Bay Staters are doing today: envisioning a future that they hoped would be a better one.

In 1909, a special event with the stated purpose of imagining the future to help make Boston a better place by 1915 was held at the Old Art Museum in Copley Square from November 1st to 27th (sadly, this building was demolished in 1910). For a 25 cent admission fee to enter the “1915” Boston Exposition, Bostonians of 1909 could see exhibits on and hear lectures about improving life in Boston on topics ranging from public health to transportation. This idealized, forward-looking future of 1915 was the work of the Boston 1915 Movement, a group of prominent business leaders and citizens that came together in 1909 to work for the betterment of the City of Boston. The Movement established their own progressive thinking magazine called “New Boston: a Chronicle of Progress in Developing a Greater and Finer City--Under the Auspices of the Boston-1915 Movement” (held in the State Library’s collection) and planned the Exposition, modeled on the Columbian World Exposition held in Chicago in 1883, to introduce their city “as it is to be.”

In the Exposition’s official catalog and yearbook, the goals of this Movement were to have the members of the Boston community co-operate and plan wisely in order to do the “things that must continue to be done as long as the city exists, such as street cleaning, adequate sanitation, intelligent planning of physical expansion, and proper provision for peoples health, comfort and recreation.” Not surprisingly, 100 years on, Bostonians still want the same things! In fact, the findings of the Special Commission of 2015 for the Boston of 2024 pretty much mirror the desires and hopes of the Boston of 1909 for the Boston of 2015—economic development, infrastructure and transportation improvement, recreational venues and better housing for city residents. The optimism for positive change in 1909 and 2015 to position Boston as a world-class, model city shows us that Bostonian’s pride and confidence in their city does not change, no matter the century.

Judy Carlstrom

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts is online!


You can now view parts of our current exhibit:  Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts online through the State Library's Flickr site.

The exhibit runs from June 8 through September 4, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Tiny Treasure


While working in the State Library’s Special Collections Department recently, I came across a book that is so tiny it looks like it belongs in a dollhouse. The book, Addresses of Abraham Lincoln, measures a mere 7/8 of an inch in height and was published in 1929 by the Kingsport Press Training Division in Kingsport, Tennessee, as a student exercise.

According to the book’s preface, the idea to create a miniature book originated with the students at the Training Division as an exhibit to be submitted to the Employing Bookbinders of America convention, held in Boston in 1928. The students chose Lincoln’s addresses for the subject matter of the book because of the addresses’ “high literary value” and also because “no author using the English language has ever excelled Lincoln in putting a large amount of human feeling within the compass of a few words.” The tiny book went on to win first prize at the convention.

Smaller than a postage stamp, Addresses of Abraham Lincoln was touted as the smallest book in America when it was published. To put the book’s size in context, the following image shows the miniature book lying on top of one of the State Library’s largest books, a volume of John James Audubon’s Birds of America, which is a double elephant folio size measuring 38 inches in height.
Laura Schaub
Cataloging Librarian

Monday, June 8, 2015

New exhibit on the history of Agriculture in Massachusetts opens today

Opening this week at the State Library of Massachusetts is a new exhibition entitled: Cultivating the Commonwealth: A History of Agriculture in Massachusetts. Agriculture has been a vital component of Massachusetts life since people here first began growing crops and raising animals to feed themselves. This exhibition features publications, images, and artifacts from the State Library of Massachusetts to illustrate the Commonwealth’s long and colorful history of agricultural practices and traditions.

The exhibit runs from June 8 through September 4, 2015 and can be viewed outside of the Library, Room 341 of the State House. Library hours are Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. This exhibit will also be available to view online as a set of images on the State Library's Flickr site.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Materials Relating to the Death of Governor Roger Wolcott

From the 1898 Souvenir of
Massachusetts Legislators
The State Library has within its collection many published materials and pamphlets that commemorate the deaths of notable 19th and early 20th century Massachusetts citizens.  They are usually published around the time of death, and contain addresses that memorialize the deceased.

Particularly interesting are a group of items that were housed in a small, unassuming envelope in our library’s stacks.  They were printed around the time of Governor Roger Wolcott’s death on December 21st, 1900.  Roger Wolcott (1847-1900) was the 41st* governor of Massachusetts.  After the death of Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge in March of 1896, then-Lt. Governor Wolcott became the acting governor until he was elected to office in 1897; he served from January, 1897 until January, 1900.  In November, Wolcott began exhibiting the symptoms of typhoid fever shortly after returning from Europe and passed away a month later.  He was buried in the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge.  During his 1897 term in office, the Bradford Manuscript returned to Massachusetts and was placed in Gov. Wolcott’s custody; he then authorized the State Library to care for the priceless volume.

The contents of this envelope include: a pamphlet that provides directions to ushers and contains information on the funeral’s attendees and their seating arrangements; typed instructions for police officers regarding funeral procedures and the required police presence; a tribute pamphlet published by the Women’s Committee of the Massachusetts Volunteer Aid Association; and a program titled “Memorial Services Held In Honor Of Roger Wolcott Governor of Massachusetts In Symphony Hall Boston April Eighteenth MDCCCCI.”  Each of these items has been digitized and can be viewed on the library’s Flickr page.

In direct relation to these materials is a book titled Public Services in Memory of Roger Wolcott, which includes full text of the addresses listed in the memorial program.  This publication can be found in the library’s collection, or it can be viewed online.

*Number varies depending on source.  This number is based on the information provided by the National Governors Association.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The 102nd U.S. Field Artillery (26th Yankee Division)

While conducting research for the library’s World War I soldier photograph collection, I came across
a treasure from our shelves that was deserving of its own moment in the spotlight.  Titled A short history & photographic record of the 102nd U.S. Field Artillery, 1917, this book contains the history of the 102nd F.A as well as the photographs, names, and hometowns of the soldiers who served in the regiment’s different batteries.

The regiment, which was part of the 26th Yankee Division, was mobilized on July 30th, 1917 at Camp Curtis Guild in Boxford, Massachusetts, and “was formally drafted as part of the national forces on August 5, 1917.”  The majority of the soldiers were from Massachusetts, but other states are represented as well—such as Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Maine, New York, and Illinois.  There were even a couple soldiers from Nova Scotia, Canada!

After finding that this book was not available online, there was only one thing I could possibly do: digitize it in its entirety so others could benefit from the wonderful information it provides. The book is available to download in our DSpace digital documents repository; however, if downloading is not your style, you may also browse the title on our Flickr page.

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Librarian