Reference Collection Development: Watch This Space for New Titles!
By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services
During the past fiscal year, the MHS used income from hosting the GLCA Boston Summer Seminar to increase our reference collection development efforts. As a research library, it is crucial for the MHS to have up-to-date scholarly and reference works that support in-depth exploration and analysis of our manuscript, print, and art and artifact collections. In recent years we have depended primarily on the generosity of donors to add recent publications to our collection. We are excited that the Boston Summer Seminar income allowed us to be more proactive in strengthening our scholarly and reference holdings.
During the winter of 2016, our reader services team reviewed and updated the reference collection development policy, identified priority areas for acquisition, and surveyed trade publications for relevant titles. In June we were able to purchase over fifty titles in the following key areas: artifacts and material culture reference works, art and photography history and reference, Boston and local history, environmental history, immigration and emigration, New England in a global context, research fellows’ publications, World War I, research strategies and techniques, and twentieth century political and social history. Most of these titles are now cataloged and available upon request for review in the MHS library’s reference or reading rooms.
Beginning in September, reader services team members will highlight some of these newly-acquired works here on The Beehive, in the form of summary reviews paired with suggestions for which MHS collections might benefit from consultation with the work under review. We hope that these short reviews will encourage you to explore our scholarly and reference holdings for titles that support your work with our rare and unique collections material.
The MHS library also continues to welcome the donation of recent scholarly works that make use of or fit with our holdings, as well as being open to suggestions for titles that may be useful additions to our scholarly and reference collection. Offers of donation or suggestions for acquisition should be directed to the reference librarian Anna Clutterbuck-Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
| Published: Friday, 26 August, 2016, 12:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
It's another quiet week at the MHS as far as programs go. Here is what lies ahead:
- Wednesday, 24 August, 12:00PM : Join us for a Brown Bag lunch talk with Kenyon Gradert of Washington University in St. Louis as he presents "The Puritan Imagination in Antislavery New England." Gradert's talk will exlpore why antebellum Americans reached for the Puritans in the fight against slavery and why this matters for scholarship of American history and culture.
- Saturdya, 27 August, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or email@example.com.
While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Turning Points in American History.
| Published: Sunday, 21 August, 2016, 12:00 AM
Death of a Party
By Dan Hinchen, Reader Services
"At seven minutes to three o'clock on the afternoon of Monday, Oct. 20, 1902, the National Club of Massachusetts committed suicide by voting itself out of existence. The scene of the tragedy was Room 12, Young's Hotel, Boston. Twenty-one members, four less than a quorum, agreed with unanimity and composure to commit this act. A few minutes later, twenty-one gentlemen dispersed to their usual occupations so quietly that neither the elevator boy nor the waiters, nor the lynx-eyed clerks of the hotel, suspected what had been done. The newspapers took no notice of the suicide. The police did not exercise their ingenuity in inventing a theory as to its motive, or debate whether the weapon used were sharp or blunt. To this day, the coroner has ordered no 'quest. And yet, for the historian, the National Club may be of interest, because of the great crisis out of which it sprang. That is why I have been so precise in specifying time and place and circumstance; and why it seems right to give the Society for safe keeping this collection, unfortunately incomplete, of papers refering to the Club and to is parent, the National Party of 1900. Antiquaries today spend their lives gathering similar material about political organizations long past; and in due season our time will be antiquity to a new age."
From "The Suicide of a Political Infant" by William R. Thayer, found in the National Party records, 1900-1903.
If you want to learn more about the demise of this political movement, consider Visiting the Library!
| Published: Saturday, 20 August, 2016, 12:39 PM
“Have you look’d at this Universe, through the Telescopes of Herschell?”
By Rhonda Barlow, Adams Papers
The Juno space probe began orbiting Jupiter on July 4, 2016, and already has transmitted images of the planet’s moons and famous Great Red Spot. The study of the planets is not new, however, and when he was in England, John Adams had the opportunity to meet one of the most famous astronomers of his day.
In 1781, astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, an accomplishment that earned him the patronage of King George III. Herschel set up his telescopes near Windsor, the summer home of the king.
John Adams seems to have been impressed. In 1786 he wrote, “Herschell indeed with his new Glass, has discovered the most magnificient Spectacle that ever was seen or imagined.” He tipped his hat to Herschel when writing his Defence of the American Constitutions: “A prospect into futurity in America, is like contemplating the heavens through the telescopes of Herschell: objects, stupendous in their magnitudes and motions, strike us from all quarters, and fill us with amazement!”
Adams had the opportunity to look through Herschel’s telescopes himself. He was supposed to accompany his friend Benjamin Vaughan to Windsor on the evening of April 1, 1787. A few days later, Vaughan wrote that although Adams had been unable to attend, “Dr. Herschell will always of course be happy to see his Excellency;—but the longer the visit is deferred, the more will be there to see. The most proper time is, the first quarter of the moon, whenever the visit is intended.”
What could have kept John Adams from an opportunity to look through Herschel’s telescopes? Adams explained in a brief note:
“I am very much mortified to loose the Pleasure and Advantage of an Excursion to Windsor, to see Mr Herschell in Such Company: but the State of my Family is Such that I cannot justify leaving it.— Mrs Smith is in Travel and the Anxiety occasioned by this Event has made Mrs Adams so much worse, that I should be very bad Company at Windsor, and what is more decisive, it becomes my Duty to Stay at home.”
Mrs. Smith—his only daughter, Nabby—was “in travel,” meaning she was in labor, and Abigail was understandably anxious about the birth of her first grandchild. As usual, John Adams knew where his duty lay—the volcanoes on the moon would have to wait.
Although we do not know when Adams finally looked through Herschel’s telescopes, we do know that he maintained his interest in astronomy. In 1813, Adams wrote to John Quincy, “Have you look’d at this Universe, through the Telescopes of Herschell? What am I and all my Posterity? What is this Globe of Earth? What is the Solar System?”
For more on the Adamses and astronomy see here.
| Published: Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 10:43 AM
This Week @ MHS
As August begins its slow descent into September it is pretty quiet at the Society. This week we have only a Brown Bag lunch and a tour:
- Wednesday, 17 August, 12:00PM : This week's Brown Bag talk is given by Jonathan Lande of Brown University. "Disciplining Freedom: Union Army Slave Rebels and Emancipation in the Civil War Courts-Martial" offers a new interpretation of the history of black Union soldiers by placing the troops' service in the context of slave-soldiers' service and emancipation throughout the Atlantic, reexamining the political structure involved in arming slaves and the experiences of soldiers serving in the U.S. Colored Troops. This talk is free and open to the public.
- Saturday, 20 August, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led walk through the public spaces of the Society's building on Boylston St. The tour is free and open to the public with no need for reservations for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more, please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley in advance at 617-646-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you are here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Turning Points in American History.
| Published: Sunday, 14 August, 2016, 12:00 AM