Historic Dates

April 9th 2015
...for April 9, 2015 150 years ago today Robert E Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, bringing an end to four years of war that caused 600,000 deaths.  The generosity and forbearance of the victors in the American Civil War has no historical precedent: there were no executions; Confederate soldiers were allowed to keep their property; Confederate prisoners were released as soon as they swore an oath to never again fight against the U. S. government. When Union soldiers began to... Read Post
February 7th 2015
For today, February 7. Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens. He remains one of the most beloved and influential novelists in English and was born this day in 1812 in Portsmouth, England. Recommended related reading from SPL: The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin or his novel Bleak House.   Feb. 7, 1601: Shakespeare's Richard II is performed at the Globe by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Since the play is about the overthrow of a monarch and the Earl of... Read Post
July 21st 2014
This year a number of books on the First World War have been published in recognition of its upcoming 100th anniversary: on July 28, 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, sparking a chain reaction of hostilities. Serbia's ally, Russia, declared war on Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary's ally, Germany, then declared war on Russia and Russia's ally France. Then German troops swept through neutral Belgium to invade France.  In response to the violation of Belgium's neutrality and sovereignty... Read Post
July 16th 2014
JFK, Jr and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy on their wedding day

Today was a tragic day in US History when John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and her older sister Lauren died when the airplane JFK, Jr. was piloting when down in the Atlantic near Martha’s Vineyard. A massive search/rescue/recovery mission was undertaken to find the plane and bring home their bodies. This sad story captivated the world over for many days. But, it was not the only thing that happened on this... Read Post
July 1st 2014
July 4 is coming up, a day for fireworks, cookouts and spending time with friends.   Here's a brief guide to local fun on Independence Day. Somerville's July 4th festivities will be Thursday evening at Trum Field. Live music  starts at 6:15, fireworks at 9:15. Everything you need to know, including rain date information, is here. If you want to go to the banks of Charles, hear the Boston Pops and see fireworks you need to read this guide by cbslocal. You could also listen to the Pops and see... Read Post
May 5th 2014
For most of us today is just another Monday, or at most an excuse to go out for Mexican food tonight or make a margarita at home. For Mexican-Americans and Mexicans residing in the US, today is a celebration of Mexican heritage. But what is Cinco de Mayo? The holiday commemorates the highly unlikely victory of a Mexican army over invading French forces on May 5, 1862, near the city of Puebla, Mexico. Here's the background: after the U.S. invasion of 1846-48 and two civil wars, the Mexican... Read Post
April 15th 2014
  Flags will fly at half mast around the City today in remembrance of the victims and families of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings.  For details about support services available to community members on the one-year anniversary of these tragic events, click here. In Boston, a tribute ceremony for survivors and first responders will be held at the Hynes Convention Center at 12:00 p.m.  You can watch the ceremony online here.  Community members are also invited to gather along Boylston Street... Read Post
November 22nd 2013
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963  still haunts our collective imagination, and rightly so.  It was the moment when the entire nation was forced to confront the violence endemic to American life, when people sitting in their own homes watched murder happen. Stephen King's novel 11/22/63 was one of the popular books of 2011. Twenty-five years after nomination for the National Book Award, Don DeLillo's Libra still  provokes reflection. References both serious and... Read Post
September 11th 2013

You can see footage of today's ceremony marking the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks  here. If you want to participate in tonight's vigil, it starts at 6 pm at the Cedar Street entrance to the Community Path. Middle East expert Juan Cole notes that the FBI still hasn't released documents that could demonstrate how "un-Islamic" the 9-11 hijackers are. You can examine three very different perspectives on the attacks here, here and here. And over at the Washington Monthly, they've... Read Post

August 28th 2013

One of the transformative moments in American history occurred on August 28, 1963.  Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and spoke to roughly 250,000 people, calling for full civil rights for African-Americans. The "I Have a Dream Speech" is one of the pinnacles of American oratory, and as a statement of American ideals is second only to the Declaration of Independence. If you would like to know more about King and the Civil Rights Movement, we've got a... Read Post

July 4th 2013
  The Gift Outright BY ROBERT FROST The land was ours before we were the land’s. She was our land more than a hundred years Before we were her people. She was ours In Massachusetts, in Virginia, But we were England’s, still colonials, Possessing what we still were unpossessed by, Possessed by what we now no more possessed. Something we were withholding made us weak Until we found out that it was ourselves We were withholding from our land of living, And forthwith found salvation in... Read Post
June 15th 2013
The library will be closed Monday, June 17, in honor of Bunker Hill Day.
November 23rd 2011
Thanksgiving

Our mother has given away our meal to an elderly woman three houses down, her husband passing some time in the night. With the woman's children already

en route, my mother swaddled our turkey in aluminum foil, stacked the tins of buttered rolls, and sealed casseroles beneath glass-top lids. As the assailable son,

I was enlisted at once, carrying over dish upon dish, my brother and his bride allowed to sleep in. I expected to see the postures of... Read Post