Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO Boston Convention & Exhibition Center June 14 -16, 2015

Archive | History

Boston for Nature Lovers

Boston for Nature Lovers

by Leigh Montgomery, Past-President, SLA New England and Librarian, The Christian Science Monitor

Here are just a few suggestions on how to enjoy the wide range of nature and landscape experiences in Boston, based on how much time you’d like to spend.

If you have 1 – 2 hours or less:

The Boston HarborWalk – just a few blocks from the Convention Center you can access the HarborWalk in the South Boston Section.  Here is Boston’s Harbor; a natural harbor and estuary, and one of the reasons for the settlement of the city and development as a major shipping port, then and now.

It is also a major environmental success story.  The water was so dirty after three centuries of dumping and runoff that it triggered a court-ordered cleanup, as well the Standells’ 1966 garage punk-turned Red Sox anthem ‘Dirty Water.’  Depending on how much time you have, walk north / left toward the Fort Point Channel and the North End, or south/right to see more along the South Boston and Dorchester section.  Or just sit on the deck in front of the I.C.A. to enjoy the sea breezes, coastal birds, harbor traffic, and the revived waterfront.

Rose Kennedy Greenway – Boston’s newest green space can be enjoyed just walking less than a mile over Seaport Boulevard.  You can also take the MBTA Silver Line there.  Enjoy a variety of beautiful plants, trees, and an unusual carousel which features species of New England.  You can appreciate the most aesthetic benefit of the Big Dig construction project, which deconstructed a rusted double-deck bridge and put 8-10 lanes of I-93 underground.

If you have 2-3 hours to spend:

Boston Common is the oldest park in the United States, used for many public purposes from grazing livestock to military exercises during the American Revolution to public addresses and demonstrations.  There is plenty of wildlife to see, largely in terms of birds, dogs, squirrels and people.  There aren’t any frogs in the Frog Pond – it is concrete, with children splashing in the summer and skating in the winter.  But it is pleasant to walk by.

This is about a 1.5 mile walk from the Seaport / Convention Center or 20 minutes on the MBTA Silver Line.

The Boston Public Garden, bisected from the Common by Charles Street, which was almost developed at several points in its history.  It has over 100 varieties of trees, some from the 19th century.  Its gorgeous gardens are inspired by its Victorian-era stewardship, and include roses, tulips(said to be the first imported into the U.S.) and tropical plants.  Tread its many paths to see beeches, willows, elms, which are identified with signage, or enjoy these from the water if you take a Swan Boat ride.

Arlington Street is the beginning of Back Bay.  If you plan to venture into Back Back, try a stroll along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, an elegant urban walk that is actually landfill; this was once a marshy inlet. In addition to trees and plants, there are nine monuments along this trail commemorating people and events in Boston area history. This is a link in the Emerald Necklace, the vision of preeminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, which comprises 1,200 acres in six parks over seven miles.

Charles River Esplanade – Cross Beacon Street at Arlington Street right outside the Public Garden to take the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge across Storrow Drive to the Esplanade.  Enjoy breezes from the Charles River and lots of sailboats.  The birds enjoy it too: there are many migratory waterfowl during the day, and night-herons fishing at night if you are there at dusk.

If you have more than 3 hours to spend:

Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Vast collection of trees from all over the world, from miniature bonsais to a Redwood. 187 species of birds have been observed here. Take the MBTA Orange Line to Forest Hills and follow the signs for the Arboretum.

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

Enjoy a special part of Boston; its 32-island park. The larger islands are a 30-45-minute ferry ride from the waterfront where you can enjoy a hike or a picnic, and appreciate the history of the city and its ecology, and leave every two hours.  The ferry departs every two hours and is on a spring schedule until June 20; the islands of Georges and Spectacle Islands are the two that are open in advance of that date.  Georges is the largest and visitors can explore structures from the Civil War, dominated by Fort Warren, a P.O.W. prison.  There is no fee for the park, though the round-trip ferry tickets are $17.  There are often ferry discounts in some of the Boston papers and promotional materials.

Directions: Take the HarborWalk if you have a few extra minutes, or the Seaport Blvd, or the MBTA Blue Line to the Aquarium stop.  The Boston Harbor Ferry leaves from Long Wharf.

Fort Point Pier

Attention kayakers: Boston is apparently the only major metropolitan area with a public canoe/kayak/SUP launch that also has parking, so if you have brought your own kayak and vehicle, you can put in right there.  Explore the 32 Boston Harbor islands at your leisure, and watch for harbor seals!

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Day Trip to Newport, RI on Wednesday June 17th

Day Trip to Newport, RI on Wednesday June 17th

On Wednesday June 17, the Division of Museums, Arts and Humanities (DMAH) and the New England Chapter are partnering to offer a day trip to Newport, Rhode Island.  The bus will leave the convention center at 8:00am and return by 4:00pm.  

Participants will visit the newly remodeled International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum. Guided by an expert, attendees will have special access to the collections, exhibits, and Information Research Center which includes the library, archives, and reading room.

After the tour, there will be time for lunch on your own and some exploration of historic Newport on foot. The Hall of Fame is ideally set in the heart of town within walkable distance to virtually all of the attractions, including the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk where many of the largest “cottages” can be seen.  For more about Newport, visit

Tickets are limited and must be purchased in advance.  Questions? Contact Joy Banks, SLA-MAHD Chair and 2015 Program Planner at

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African American History in Boston

African American History in Boston

This post was written by Claudette Newhall, Librarian at the Congregational Library and Archives

Did you know Massachusetts was the first state in the country to officially abolish slavery? It happened in 1783 after two slaves, Elizabeth “Mumbet” Freeman and Qwok Walker, successfully sued in separate cases for their freedom.  African Americans’ role in Boston has been vast. Crispus Attucks, Phillis Wheatley, David Walker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Bob Moses, and President Barack Obama have all settled in Boston at some point in their lives.  Here are some noteable places to visit if you’re interested in learning more about African American History.

The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest museum dedicated to preserving, conserving and interpreting the contributions of African Americans. The museum includes two national historic landmarks, exhibits, tours, gift store, and holds events.
Location: 14A Beacon Street, 1st floor, Boston
Museum Admission: $5.00,  Seniors 62+: $3.00

African Meeting House is one of the national historic landmarks a part of the Museum of African American History. Built in 1806; “it is the oldest black church edifice still standing in the United States.” The church was a forum for abolitionists and was used to recruit black men to join the Union Army during the Civil War.  Boston is the home of noted abolitionists William Henry Garrison and Sen. Charles Sumner. The latter was a part of an infamous incident on the Senate floor. He was caned by a South Carolina representative for defending slavery.  Check out the Boston Public Gardens for statues of both men.  
Location:  46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill, Boston    617-720-2991

Abiel Smith School is one of the national historic landmarks a part of the Museum of African American History.  Opened in 1835, it was the first public school to serve black children.
Location:  46 Joy Street, Beacon Hill, Boston    617-720-2991

Black Heritage Trail is a way to see historic landmarks of the black community during the 19th and early 20th century.  National Park Service Ranger led walking tours are free. You can also download self-guided walking tours for 99 cents.

Massachusetts Historical Society has an extensive African American collection that covers slavery through the Civil Rights Movement.  African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts is a web presentation that brings together historical manuscripts and rare published works that serve as a window upon the lives of African Americans in Massachusetts from the late seventeenth century through the abolition of slavery under the Massachusetts Constitution in the 1780s.
Location:  1154 Boylston Street, Boston    617.536.1608

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Archives are located at Boston University’s Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. Dr. King, a Boston University alum, in 1964 donated his papers to the university. Currently this archives contains 83,000 items.  The Exhibit can be viewed Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Free of charge.
Location:  Boston University, Mugar Memorial Library, The Martin Luther King Jr. Reading Room – 3rd floor,  771 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston    617-353-3710

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Boston for Genealogists and Family Historians

Boston for Genealogists and Family Historians

This post was written by Sharon Christenson and Hope Tillman, members of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists

Massachusetts is a great place to research your family history. Together with other Massachusetts ports, Boston has served as a major gateway for immigration to New England since the early 1600s. A large number of others made their way to Massachusetts from New York and Canada. Do plan ahead to make the most of your visit. You may find it useful to purchase the Legacy QuickGuide: Massachusetts Genealogy ($2.95  PDF Download Edition) to facilitate your research.

Where to go in Boston

This map will show you where these places are in relation to the convention center.

New England Historical Genealogical Society (NEHGS)  (99 Newbury Street, Back Bay. Closed Sunday and Monday)
NEHGS is America’s leading research center for genealogists. Access millions of documents, manuscripts, records, books, microfilms, photographs, artifacts, electronic resources, and other items that preserve and reveal our nation’s history. NEHGS genealogists, archivists, and librarians are available to assist patrons with their research inquiries and provide orientations to the library collections.  Buy a day pass for $15. Membership includes remote access to the NEHGS American Ancestors online databases.

Boston Public Library (700 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Back Bay.  Monday through Sunday hours)
A comprehensive collection of governmental records, city and town directories, New England newspapers, family and town histories, and more. See the guide to their resources on their web site. Most Massachusetts newspapers can be researched on microfilm in the Microtext Department. These are not generally available online. See also

Massachusetts Historical Society (1154 Boylston Street. Closed Sundays. Call ahead! 617.536.1608)
The library is free and open to researchers of all ages and levels of interest in American history six days a week. The library does not lend materials, but any person interested in using the collections can register as a researcher and use materials in the library.

Massachusetts State Library (24 Beacon Street, State House, Room 341. Closed Saturday and Sunday)
Collection includes Massachusetts town reports, historical newspaper collections, city directories, voting lists and related materials. Search the Library’s online public catalog for specific holdings.

Massachusetts Archives (220 Morrissey Boulevard)
The Massachusetts Archives is the repository for Massachusetts vital records (births, marriages and deaths) for the period between 1841 and 1920. Do peruse their guide to genealogical resources on the web site.

Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (150 Mt. Vernon St., Dorchester. Closed Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, limited hours on remaining days. Call ahead! 617-740-2600)
Repository for all Massachusetts birth, marriage and death records from 1921 to the present.

University of Massachusetts Boston (100 Morrissey Boulevard.  Contact Archives staff to make a research appointment:
Archival and Manuscript Collections collection: areas of concentration include social welfare agencies, community organizations and alternative movements and local history. The records of local 19th and early 20th century private social welfare and charitable organizations provide a history of the work of these agencies and of the people they served. The agencies include orphanages, settlement houses, and social welfare institutions in the Boston area. Searchable finding aids, some items online.

Beyond Boston

American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA)
The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) library houses the largest and most accessible collection of printed materials from first contact through 1876 in what is now the United States, the West Indies and parts of Canada.

Berkshire Athenaeum (Western Massachusetts, in Pittsfield)
Call ahead, talk to a reference librarian about the local history collection ((413) 499-9480).

Cape Cod Genealogical Society Library (Dennis Port, MA)
The society’s Genealogy Room is located in the Dennis Public Library. CCGS Volunteers are available to assist patrons in all aspects of genealogy research. A handout packet of useful genealogical forms and information is available for beginning researchers.

General Society of Mayflower Descendants Library (Plymouth, MA)
Each year, thousands of hopeful genealogy seekers travel to Plymouth to look for a link to the Mayflower.  A knowledgeable staff, headed up by the Historian General, is available to assist those who visit. Friendly volunteers willingly show guests around and help to find valuable documentation. 

National Archives and Records Administration(Waltham, MA)
Repository of federal records, including population censuses for all states, passenger arrival records for Boston and other New England ports, New England naturalization records, and more. t.

Old Colony Historical Society  (Taunton, MA)
Specializing in primary sources prior to 1850 for Southeastern Massachusetts, OCHS offers comprehensive genealogical research material for both novice and experienced genealogists. Genealogical research fees are $7 per day. Though not necessary, if you would like to schedule a research appointment with a member of the staff please contact the main office.

The Irish Ancestral Research Association (Auburndale, MA)
Visitors may use the books and newsletters in TIARA’s library for research by appointment. Explore the website for information on available resources and the catalog at:  Contact Joan Callahan ( for an appointment. She recommends having done some basic research before visiting.

Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum (Salem, MA)
Search the catalog, special collections, and digitized materials for relevant genealogical resources. Research visit requires an appointment.

W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts  (Amherst, MA)
The Library’s numerous books, magazines, journals, newspapers, government documents, and maps are especially strong in Massachusetts and New England history. Although the Library does not specifically collect genealogical materials, the research quality and the variety of its historical collections guarantee they are of particular interest to genealogists.

Worcester Public Library (Worcester, MA)
Strong local history resources including foreign language newspapers of ethnic communities.

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Taxonomy of SLA2015: Sound like a local before you arrive

Taxonomy of SLA2015: Sound like a local before you arrive

by Jacob Ratliff, the Archivist/Taxonomy Librarian at the National Fire Protection Association (Located in Quincy). Feel free to listen to him talk nerdy about video games and information on twitter: @Gameronomist.

I have lived in the greater Boston area for about 4 years now, and learning to “Speak Bostonian” is an important part of being accepted by the city. To help out all my info pro peeps, I have created a beginners guide to not sounding like a tourist. If you have advanced questions about sounding like a Bostonian, I will consult with the experts (My Wife and her family) and get back with you.

Boston Phrases

Bang a left – It is not just making a left turn, it is to make a left as soon as the light goes green and before the oncoming traffic has a chance to react to the light changing to green. (from UrbanDictionary)

Beantown – What tourists call Boston.

Broons – The Boston Bruins, the local NHL team.

Bubblah – Drinking fountain.

Celts – The Boston Celtics, the local NBA team.

Carriage – Shopping cart.

Cellah – Basement. “I’m goin’ down cellah for some wine.”

Cruisah – Police car.

Dunkies – Dunkin Donuts; generally refers to the coffee. (Beware, a “regular” is 2 cream to sugar. Have to ask for black.)

Elastic – Rubber band.

Frappe – A milkshake has ice cream, a frappe is usually just heavy cream.

Jimmies – Chocolate sprinkles for your ice cream.

Masshole – A Boston driver.

Maine-iacs – A driver from Maine.

Nackins – Napkins.

No’reaster – A large storm that usually comes from the North East.

Packy – Package store, a colloquial term for the liquor store.

Pats – The New England Patriots, the local NFL team.

Pissah – Great/Awesome. ex. “SLA 2015 is gonna be a pissah of a time.”

Pockabook – (1) Pocketbook. (2) Purse.

Rotary – A roundabout or traffic circle.

Scrod – Catch of the day, can be many different kinds of fish. Almost always fresh, but not

always the same kind of fish.

Soder – A soda, pop, or tonic.

Spukie – Kind of like a hoagie, grinder or sub.

Wicked – A term that adds emphasis to a statement; similar to “Hella” on the west coast. ex. “That’s a wicked good pizza”

Whiffle –  A men’s haircut, usually done with electric clippers.

Boston Places and Towns (by pronunciation)

Want to sound like a local even though you’re only here for a short time? Make sure to pronounce these towns and places correctly, or you’ll be marked as a tourist.

Ahboretum – The Arnold Arboretum.

Bahnstible – Barnstable, MA.

Bahstin – Boston.

Comm Av. – Commonwealth Avenue.

Chattim – Chatham, MA.

Chuck Town – Charles Town, Boston.

Conkidd – Concord, MA.

Dahchestah – Dorchester, MA.

Dot  – A nickname for Dorchester, MA, or “Dot Ave” for Dorchester Avenue.

Dovah – Dover, MA.

Evrit – Eerett, MA.

Glossta – Gloucester, MA.

Hahwitch – Harwich, MA.

JP – Jamaica Plain, MA.

Kenmah – Kenmore Square, Boston.

Lemminstah – Leominster, MA.

Mass Av. – Massachusetts Avenue.

Meffid – Medford, MA.

New Hamshah – New Hampshire.

New’n – Newton, MA.

Peebahdee – Peabody, MA.

The Pru – The Prudential Center in Boston.

Quinzee – Quincy, MA.

Rhodeyelin – Rhode Island.

Rozzie – Roslindale, MA.

Ruhveea – Revere, MA.

Sherbern – Sherborn, MA.

Summaville – Somerville, MA.

The T – The public transportation system.

Vahmont – Vermont.

Vinyid – Martha’s Vineyard.

Wahttatown – Watertown, MA.

Wintrup – Winthrop, MA.

Whistah – Worcester, MA.

Woobin – Woburn, MA.

Southie – South Boston, MA.

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