The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @MHS

This week we have a pair of Brown Bag talks, two evening programs, the first seminar in a new series, and a sold out tour. Details below:

- Monday, 15 October, 12:00 PM: Examining Land Ownership in the Praying Towns of New England with Taylor Kirsch, University of California, Santa Cruz. Across the tumultuous borderlands of 17th-century Southern New England, a diverse indigenous population numbering in the thousands carved out space for themselves via an unlikely colonial project, “praying towns.” This talk explores the complexities of indigenous land tenure within these communities, and its role in shaping the cultural, political, and spiritual landscape of New England.

- Monday, 15 October, 6:00 PM: "All Legislative Powers…" Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution Then & Now with Margaret H. Marshall, Choate, Hall, & Stewart, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts; Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University, and Pulitzer Prize recipient. Join us for a thought-provoking conversation on the history surrounding the issues that are framed by Article 1 of the Constitution, which established the U.S. Congress and defined its powers, including the rights to tax, raise armies, and regulate commerce and naturalization. Marshall and Rakove will discuss the historical context in which the article was drafted in the 1780s, as well as the current meaning and impact of the article in contemporary legal thought and practice. The Massachusetts Constitution will serve as counterpoint to the national story. This event will take place at The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 136 Irving Street, Cambridge, Mass. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:00 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. 

- Wednesday, 17 October, 12:00 PM: “Watering of the Olive Plant”: Catechisms & Catechizing in Early New England with Roberto Flores de Apodaca, University of South Carolina. Early New Englanders produced and used an unusually large number of catechisms. These catechisms shaped relations of faith for church membership, provided content for missions to the Indians, and empowered lay persons theologically to critique their ministers. This talk explores the content and the function of these unique, question and answer documents.

- Wednesday, 17 October, 6:00 PM: The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress & the Road to Civil War with Joanne Freeman, Yale University. Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. Pistols were drawn and knives brandished in an attempt to intimidate fellow congressmen into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

- Thursday, 18 October, 5:15 PM: Losing Laroche: The Story of the Titanic’s Only Black Passenger with Kellie Carter Jackson, Wellesley College, and comment by Saje Mathieu, University of Minnesota. Losing Laroche is the first in-depth study of the only black family on board the RMS Titanic. The story of the Haitian Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche and his descendants is largely unknown and troubles the assumption of an all-white Titanic narrative.This paper seeks to understand the possibilities of black advancement in the Titanic moment and throughout the Diaspora. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

- Saturday, 20 October, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join us for a 90-minute docent-led tour of our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or

- Saturday, 20 October, 10:00 AM: Tour of Longfellow Bridge with Miguel Rosales. Please note that this program is SOLD OUT. After five years and over $300 million worth of construction and refurbishment, the beautiful and historic Longfellow Bridge is once again fully operational. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century and designed with an eye towards the greatest infrastructure projects of Europe, the Longfellow Bridge has long been one of the most striking and beloved landmarks in Boston. Architect and urban designer Miguel Rosales has been involved in this restoration project for close to 15 years and will lead visitors on an in-depth tour of this exceptional bridge.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

permalink | Published: Monday, 15 October, 2018, 1:00 AM