Resources on Massachusetts Political Figures in the State Library

The State Library has a substantial collection of digital and print materials relating to Massachusetts public officials and legislative districts

Overview of the Collections

Legislative Souvenirs and “Bird Books”
Published under several different names, these volumes include photographs and biographical information about state legislators, constitutional officers, and the executive council. The legislative souvenirs, published between 1892 and 1917, also include photographs of the Massachusetts State House and offices. The “Bird Books,” as they are popularly known, started publication in the early 20th century and continue to the present day. They include one-page biographies with photographs of Massachusetts officials elected at the Federal and State level.

Manual for the Use of the General Court
First issued in the early 19th century, this publication includes facts and figures about Massachusetts. It provides lists of cities and towns with their legislative district and respective Representative and Senator. This resource is particularly useful for determining who served in a particular district or municipality. It also lists members of legislative committees, governor’s staff, judges, and county officials, as well as historical lists of justices, governors, senators, and other major office holders.

Massachusetts Registers
Published between 1767 and 1878 under several names, the Massachusetts Registers are early almanacs and include lists of county and state officials, lawyers, sheriffs, churches and ministers. These volumes are available in the Library’s Special Collections Department.

Legislative Photograph Collection
Available in the Library’s Special Collections Department, this collection contains albums and loose photographs of legislators and officers of the General Court from the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

Legislative Biographical File
This card file contains basic biographical information such as years of service, political party (when available), education, occupation, birth and death dates, and other relevant information for all members of the General Court and Constitutional offices from 1780 to the present.

Political Almanac
This resource provides one-page summaries of legislators, and includes photographs, biographical information, and key role call votes. It also includes one-page profiles of executive branch officials and the duties of their office.

Legislative Manuscript Collections
The Library’s Special Collections Department holds the papers of former state legislators who have donated materials to the Library. These collections provide insight into the issues of the time and the day-to-day workings of legislative offices. Included in the collections are correspondence, research materials, working papers, etc. Collections often focus on significant pieces of legislation and issues of particular concern to a legislator.

Burrill File
This file is a subject collection of materials concerning Massachusetts history and politics and contains photographs, news clippings, correspondence, pamphlets, etc. on selected legislators. Available for use in the Special Collections Department of the State Library, a guide is available online.


Publications

Legislators of the Massachusetts General Court 1691-1780: A Biographical Dictionary
by John Schutz

This book provides short biographical entries for Massachusetts legislators from 1691-1780.

Leading the Way: A History of the Massachusetts General Court 1629-1980
by Cornelius Dalton

Published by the Massachusetts Secretary of State, this resource contains brief biographies of Senate Presidents and House Speakers.

Additional Resources for Overview of the Collections

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