Monday, December 24, 2012

Seasons Greetings from the State Library of Massachusetts

As you curl up next to your computer with hot cocoa (or another wonderfully warm beverage), please enjoy some vintage postcards depicting wintery scenes of the Massachusetts State House.  Visit our Flickr account to view additional selected images from our State House post card collection (also known as Souvenir no. 68.

We at the State Library of Massachusetts wish you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guantanamo Bay: Difficulties in Managing Detainees Leaving Guantanamo Bay

The State Library has a publication from the federal government entitled: Leaving Guantanamo: policies, pressures, and detainees returning to the fight. It was published January 2012 by the 112th Congress House Committee on Armed Services. This publication handles a complex topic in a straightforward way. It shows that the Guantanamo Bay detainee challenge started in 2002 when the facility was established, it provides information about both current and former detainees and it points out the difficulties of transferring or keeping prisoners there.

According to this publication seven hundred and seventy nine individuals have been held at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center (GTMO). As of January 1, 2012, 600 have left the facility and eight have died there.  The U.S. government believes that 27% of former GTMO detainees were confirmed or suspected to have been engaged in terrorist or insurgent activities.

The report found that:
  • some detainees should not be held
  • after the population rose releases and transfers took place
  • during Bush’s 2nd term pressure to reduce the GTMO population accelerated
  • the Obama administration is continuing the same policies so that there may continue to be threats that some former detainees will resume terrorist activities.

The report recommends that the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence collaborate to produce a report of factors that cause or contribute to becoming engaged in terrorist activities after they have been released from Guantanamo Bay.  The report concludes with dissenting views from various members of Congress.

This document can be found at the State Library’s Reference Desk and is also available online

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Unidentified Legislative Photographs: The Mysteries Continue!

A few months ago, I shared an interesting photographic mystery that piqued our curiosity: the seated picture of a woman from our bound 1869 Senate photograph album.  We at the State Library wondered—who was she?  What relationship did she have with the legislature in 1869?  Was she an important figure in Massachusetts history?  Unfortunately, we haven’t come any closer to an answer, but these questions did engender many spirited attempts to uncover her identity—and we have had a lot of fun throughout the process.

However, she is just the beginning of many more mysteries surrounding identity.  While most of the legislators and officers in our legislative photograph collection (known also as Photograph 361) have been successfully identified, there are about 70 photographs that still remain otherwise.  In an effort to attach names to these faces, as well as involve the public in this fun project, we have made all of the unidentified photographs available for viewing on our State Library Flickr account.

If you recognize any of these past members of the Massachusetts General Court, or have strong suspicions that you might know who one or more of them are, let us know by contacting the State Library at

Kaitlin Connolly
Reference Department


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brown bag on Where Massachusetts Drinking Water Comes From

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
on Tuesday, December 11th
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear Dr. Beryl Rosenthal, Executive Director of the Waterworks Museum, speak about “where our water comes from.” Her talk will coincide with the current exhibit in the State Library, “The Time of Action has come,” Introducing Pure Water into the City of Boston. This exhibit opened in September and will be on display through December 28th.

To register, please go to:

You may also register by calling the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or by e-mailing to