The State Library’s holdings include an extensive and unique collection of Massachusetts historical, cultural, and legislative material. These resources include rare books, manuscripts, images, broadsides, scrapbooks, and souvenirs.
Among the most noteworthy items are Governor Bradford’s manuscript “Of Plimoth Plantation,” a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence, manuscript journals of the House and Senate, the medal presented to Senator Sumner by the government of Haiti, and the Colonel Alfred S. Hartwell Papers. The Library has produced a video highlighting some of the treasures in its collection.
The State Library's collection of rare books is especially strong in Massachusetts and New England history, politics, law, and biography. It includes a comprehensive selection of early printings of Massachusetts laws, legislative documents and journals, and other state documents.
In addition to the Bradford manuscript, the library holds manuscript collections of a number of state commissions and committees, individuals, and local companies, as well as papers of state legislators. The Library also holds scrapbooks on a variety of events, topics, and individuals -- from Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy -- dating from 1850 to 1985. Guides to some of the manuscript collections are available in the Library’s online repository, DSpace.
Many of the Library’s image collections center on the State House, including its construction and history, and on legislators and other political figures. These include a sizeable collection of photographs of state legislators between the 1850s and the early 20th century. The Library also has photographs of about 8,500 World War I soldiers from Massachusetts.
In addition to these photograph collections, the Library has a substantial collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and pamphlets about the State House and Massachusetts political figures known as the Burrill File.
The State Library has a large selection of historic newspapers covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. This collection primarily focuses on newspapers from Massachusetts. These items are available upon request in the Library's Reading Room and Special Collections Department.
These documents were typically posted on walls for a variety of purposes including governmental communications, political elections and memorials, odes, and addresses. Most of this collection contains materials from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries and documents events surrounding the American Revolution and the Civil War. Approximately 100 of these broadsides are available in the Library’s online repository, DSpace.
The Library holds approximately sixty souvenir collections, which include posters, programs, calendars, postage stamps, puzzles, mugs, t-shirts, and other artifacts. The items were produced primarily to commemorate a significant event, such as the anniversary of a town's founding, or to promote the work of a state agency or civic group. Included within the souvenir collection is a group of materials from programs and events held specifically in the State House.
This information is provided by The State Library of Massachusetts.