Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What is in a Name? A Treasure of the State Library from 1941: "The Origin of Massachusetts Place Names of the State, Counties, Cities and Towns"

During the Administrations of President Franklin Roosevelt, a federal program, known as the Works Progress Administration (WPA), was implemented to provide employment to those searching for work during the years of the Great Depression.

In Massachusetts, part of the effort was led by the Writers’ Project and the State Library owns some very important materials produced by this group. Publications of the Federal Writer's Project of the Work Progress Administration of Massachusetts in the library's collections include:
One publication of this enterprise, however, has a particular “relationship” with the State Library. It is: The Origin of Massachusetts Place Names of the State, Counties, Cities and Towns.

This gem was actually written under the sponsorship of State Librarian Dennis A. Dooley, who served in that position from 1936-1959. Dooley wrote a forward to the 1941 publication, noting “Every compilation of scattered material in a convenient form is valuable.”

This booklet, kept in the third floor Reference area of the library, has helped answer many questions posed to the library staff.
The “Name of the State” definition is long and in-depth: 

The origins of the cities and town names are again, very helpful for answering reference questions:

For information on the state and its cities and towns, one should definitely visit us here in the State House. The Library is located in Rooms 341, 442 and 55, the latter being where the Special Collections Department is located. 
The library collects voluminous materials concerning the commonwealth and her 351 cities and towns.

Pamela W. Schofield
Legislative Reference Librarian

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thomas Cate’s Civil War Sword (Manuscript 37)

The State Library of Massachusetts has a number of small collections, each with its own fascinating story. For archival collections the archivists create a “finding aid,” a record listing the collection’s contents and information about its origin. I work as an intern with the Special Collections department and uncovered the story of one particular collection - the “Papers relating to the Lt. Thomas Jackson Cate Civil War Sword” (Manuscript 37) - as I created its finding aid.

Thomas Jackson Cate was born in 1829 in Effingham, New Hampshire. He moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts and joined a volunteer militia at the start of the Civil War, becoming a lieutenant in Company F of the 6th Regiment. On April 19, 1861, his regiment marched through Baltimore, MD and was attacked by rioters, suffering the first four casualties of the war. One of the fallen, Sumner Needham, was a personal friend from Lawrence.

First and second page of Cate's notarized document willing the sword to
his male descendants bearing his name
Cate’s experience as a mason made him invaluable to the Union Army and he was tasked with building the first ovens that baked bread for soldiers’ rations. He told his story in a 1905 article for New England Magazine, transcribed by J. Rodney Ball.

Major McDowell called for men who could build ovens to bake this flour into soft bread. I was experienced as a mason, and went on the detail prepared to lay brick. Looking over our materials, it was found that there were no castings for the ovens, and it was feared that we should have to continue to subsist on hardtack.

“Is there a man here,” asked Major McDowell, “who can build an oven without castings?”

I thought of the oven in the old house in New Hampshire where I was born, and its construction with a plank for a door, and I volunteered to take the responsibility of building such ovens. (p. 347)

Cate went on to become a first lieutenant of the 36th regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, and was accorded the rank of brevet major for his service. After the war, Cate returned to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he worked as a bricklayer, contractor, and builder. He died there in 1912.

Channing Cox, Massachusetts state governor
from 1919-1921, signed this letter acknowledging
receipt of the Cate Sword. 
In 1895, at age 66, Cate decided to draw up a document that would will the sword he carried during his Civil War service to his male descendants bearing his full name. Should the line end, the sword would be given to the State of Massachusetts to be placed with other relics of the “Old Sixth.” His grandson, Pvt. Thomas Jackson Cate, 2nd, died while fighting in World War I, and as he had no children, the sword was given to the State by his widow in 1921.

The collection no longer includes the sword; although it was once on display in the Senate Reception Room of the State House, its current location is unknown. What we do have, however, are the original legal document that Cate created and the letters written between the governor, Channing Cox, and the Sergeant-at-Arms regarding the donation. It was exciting for me to piece together the life of Lt. Cate using a magazine story and town directories, and create a sense of a real person - a veteran, a builder, and a father and grandfather - who wanted his memory to live on.

Katie Seitz
Special Collections intern

Brown Bag on Fire and Roses: The Burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834

Join us for a Brown Bag Lunch
On Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
State Library of Massachusetts
Room 442, State House
12 until 1:30 PM

Bring your lunch and join us to hear Nancy Schultz talk about the most notorious act of anti-Catholic violence in Boston’s history:  the 1834 riot that destroyed an Ursuline convent school in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  What would cause a mob of drunken men to attack a boarding school for young ladies in civilized nineteenth-century Boston?  Come and find out some of the answers to these questions.  The torching of the school is chronicled in Schultz’s prize winning Fire and Roses: the Burning of the Charlestown Convent, 1834.

Nancy Lusignan Schultz, Ph.D., is Professor of English at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts.  In addition to Fire and Roses, she is the author, most recently, of Mrs. Mattingly’s Miracle: The Prince, the Widow, and the Cure that Shocked Washington City, just published in paperback this spring by Yale University Press.  She is also the editor of three books, including the acclaimed Salem: Place, Myth, and Memory.  In March, she appeared on the Travel Channel premiere of the series “Church Secrets and Legends,” in a segment on the Salem Witch Trials.

For more information about these books, please visit www.fireandroses.com and http://www.mrsmattinglysmiracle.com.

To register, please visit:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/JFQ6WJ8You may also call the Reference Department at 617-727-2590 or send an e-mail to Reference.Department@state.ma.us to let us know you will attend.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Patents and Trademarks

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a federal agency that grants patents and registers trademarks. Patent and trademark law is part of the United States Constitution; Article One, Section 8, clause 8:
“The Congress shall have power…To promote the process of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
 According to the United States Patent Office, “a patent is an intellectual property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.” At the present time, a patent has a term of 20 years.

The first U.S. patent was issued to Samuel Hopkins for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” President George Washington signed this on July 31, 1790. The first patent issued to a woman was on May 5, 1809. Mary Dixon Kies of Killington, Connecticut was issued a patent for: “In Weaving Straw with Silk or Thread.”

The Patent Office operates on fees collected by its users and not on monies from taxpayers. At times, fees that have been collected from the Patent Office have been put into the general budget of the U.S. Treasury. There has been opposition to this by patent practitioners. The use of the funds to improve the office and the system is deemed more desirable.

As of 2011, over 8,743,423 patents have been granted and over 16,020,302 applications have been received.

Trademarks were protected under State common law in colonial times; and in 1881 Congress passed a Trademark Act. Trademark law prevents copying a “source-identifying mark.” One can acquire a trademark if one uses a logo or brand name for a product or packaging.

There are four categories of trademarks: 1. arbitrary and fanciful ; 2. suggestive; 3. descriptive and 4. generic.

In New England, the largest collection of patents can be found, since 1790, at the Boston Public Library.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides detailed information in assisting citizens to search for patents/trademarks and to register them.

Please visit the State Library in room 341 or room 442 of the State House to use our public access computers in researching the USPTO.

Bette L. Siegel
Government Documents Librarian

Monday, May 5, 2014

Charles Dickens and the Lowell Mill Girls

Cover design of the "Lowell Offering."
From Lowell: The story of an industrial
, National Park Service handbook,
The State Library of Massachusetts owns originals and reprints of The Lowell Offering, a publication by female mill workers or “mill girls” from Lowell. The mill workers wrote essays, poetry and fiction for the monthly magazine which was published from 1840-1845. Another publication about working in the Lowell mills is: Loom and spindle: or, Life among the early mill girls: with a sketch of "The Lowell offering" and some of its contributors. This book was written by Harriet Hanson Robinson in 1898 and it is about her experiences working in the Mills starting at the age of 10 in 1935. It is among other publications the library has about the Lowell Mills and its will workers.
Harriet Hanson Robinson.
From The Belles of New
, by William Moran, 2002

The Boston Globe recently featured an article (12/15/2013) about Charles Dickens reading and borrowing passages from the Lowell Offering, especially stories about ghosts, and turning them into A Christmas Carol. The two researchers Natalie McKnight, an English professor and a dean at Boston University and Chelsea Bray, a former BU undergraduate and current Boston College Graduate student came up with this theory. The two plan to publish their argument in a book about Dickens in Massachusetts. 

Some argue that A Christmas Carol was taken from the story of Lazarus in the bible or from Dickens own The Pickwick Papers. However, McKnight feels that A Christmas Carol is closer to The Lowell Offering in tone, structure, and theme. The article also points out that it was common in that time period to borrow from other people and not credit them.

The State Library has books by or about Charles Dickens. Books about Dickens visit to Massachusetts in 1842 include: 

The latter is a satire on the dinner given in Boston to Charles Dickens in 1842.

Other books by or about Dickens include: 

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian