Environmental History Seminar

Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.

The Boston Environmental History Seminar is an occasion for scholars as well as interested members of the public to discuss aspects of American environmental history from prehistory to the present day. Presenters come from a variety of disciplines including history, urban planning, and environmental management. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year, and most focus on works in progress.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

Environmental History Seminar From Wilderness Environments to Well-Ordered Plantations: The Gifts of God Perfected by Industry 8 October 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. John Lauritz Larson, Purdue University Comment: Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University

This project is located at the intersection of environmental history and political economy.  The paper will consider how people understood what it meant to exploit natural resources in the early period as part of a much wider study of Americans’ engagement with the environment from the 17th through the 20th centuries. 

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Environmental History Seminar Making Land in Earthquake Country: Urban Development and Disaster in San Francisco 12 November 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Joanna Dyl, University of South Florida Comment: Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts—Boston

In San Francisco, an emphasis on filling in “water lots” characterized the earliest years of urban development in the late 1840s and early 1850s. This paper argues that ignorance does not fully explain San Franciscans’ apparent tendency to downplay or ignore the danger posed by the combination of made land and earthquakes.

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Environmental History Seminar Panel Discussion: Telling Environmental History 10 December 2013. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Brian Donahue, Brandeis University, Karl Haglund, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Megan Kate Nelson, Brown University, Aaron Sachs, Cornell University Moderator: Anthony N. Penna, Northeastern University

This panel discussion will explore different ways of presenting environmental history, including the use of GIS, the intersection of environmental history and planning history, incorporating visual materials, and environmental history as narrative. Please note: There are no precirculated papers for this program.

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Environmental History Seminar Out of the Blue: Nantucket and the Pacific World 14 January 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Edward D. Melillo, Amherst College Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut

Building upon insights from environmental history, migration studies, and cultural geography, this project argues that certain historical groups have displayed a rooted cosmopolitanism, which develops through sustained encounters with the peoples and environments of far-away places. Through whaling, Nantucket mariners came to know a distant ocean and its inhabitants in ways that were often more refined and subtle than many contemporaneous understandings of the Pacific World.

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Environmental History Seminar "A tacit proclamation of achievement by the Race": Landscapes Built With African American Civilian Conservation Corps Labor in the Rural Midwest 11 February 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Brian McCammack, Williams College Comment: Neil Maher, NJIT—Rutgers University Newark Federated History Department

In 1934, African American companies of the Civilian Conservation Corps, mainly composed of black Chicagoans, were in the midst of a massive civil engineering project in the wetlands and floodplains just north of Chicago. This paper seeks to show not only how these young men changed rural landscapes, but how those landscapes often changed them as well. It explores the understudied implications of tens of thousands of young African American men in unexpected places during the Depression years: the forests and fields of the rural North.

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Environmental History Seminar The Galveston Spirit: How a Hurricane Remade American Politics 11 March 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Summer A. Shafer, Harvard University Comment: Anthony N. Penna, Northeastern University

This project addresses the political economy of the Galveston “Great Storm” of 1900, still considered the deadliest natural disaster to date. Those who had failed to protect the island by taking preventative action utilized the post-disaster environment to seize control of vital municipal functions. Imagery of triumph over the storm played a powerful role in progressive politics as the “Galveston Spirit” seized the American imagination and helped to remake urban politics nationwide.

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Environmental History Seminar A Mountain in Winter: Wilderness Politics, Economic Development, and the Transformation of Whiteface Mountain into a Modern Ski Center, 1932-1980 8 April 2014. Tuesday, 5:15 PM - 7:30 PM Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Jonathan D. Anzalone, Stony Brook University Comment: Jim O’Connell, National Park Service

This paper examines the development of Whiteface Mountain as a skiing spot within the broader context of the Adirondack Park’s transformation into a playground for the masses.  Wilderness politics, class divisions, and the vicissitudes of nature combined to frustrate administrators and strain their relationship with business leaders, winter sports enthusiasts, and wilderness advocates. The debate sheds brighter light on disparate interpretations of modern recreation and economic development.

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More events
8 October 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

From Wilderness Environments to Well-Ordered Plantations: The Gifts of God Perfected by Industry

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
John Lauritz Larson, Purdue University Comment: Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

12 November 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

Making Land in Earthquake Country: Urban Development and Disaster in San Francisco

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Joanna Dyl, University of South Florida Comment: Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts—Boston

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

10 December 2013 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

Panel Discussion: Telling Environmental History

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Brian Donahue, Brandeis University, Karl Haglund, Department of Conservation and Recreation, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Megan Kate Nelson, Brown University, Aaron Sachs, Cornell University Moderator: Anthony N. Penna, Northeastern University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

There are no precirculated papers for this program.

14 January 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

Out of the Blue: Nantucket and the Pacific World

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Edward D. Melillo, Amherst College Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

11 February 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

"A tacit proclamation of achievement by the Race": Landscapes Built With African American Civilian Conservation Corps Labor in the Rural Midwest

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Brian McCammack, Williams College Comment: Neil Maher, NJIT—Rutgers University Newark Federated History Department

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

11 March 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

The Galveston Spirit: How a Hurricane Remade American Politics

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Summer A. Shafer, Harvard University Comment: Anthony N. Penna, Northeastern University

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.

8 April 2014 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Environmental History Seminar

A Mountain in Winter: Wilderness Politics, Economic Development, and the Transformation of Whiteface Mountain into a Modern Ski Center, 1932-1980

5:15 PM - 7:30 PM
Jonathan D. Anzalone, Stony Brook University Comment: Jim O’Connell, National Park Service

Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing seminars@masshist.org or phoning 617-646-0568.

Authors will not read their essays but will offer brief remarks; please read the paper ahead of time and come prepared to join in the discussion. If you are not a subscriber to the series (subscribers receive online advance access to the papers) you may pick up a copy at the MHS front desk on the day of the program. Please phone 617-646-0568 with any questions.


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