Massachusetts Historical Review : Its Origins and Legacy
By Katheryn Viens, Research
To most MHS members, the Massachusetts Historical Review is the annual publication that appears in their mailboxes every autumn, with a glossy, colorful cover and intriguing historical content. Few members know its rich history or visualize its exciting prospects for the future. As we typeset the forthcoming issue and develop essays for future volumes, this seems a good time to reflect on the MHR’s heritage and legacy.
In 1859, the members of the MHS decided to launch a new publication. Since 1792, the year after the Society’s founding, members had been “multiplying the copies” of items in the archives by issuing Collections volumes. Now, as the country approached a civil war, Boston was growing dramatically, from a town of fewer than 20,000 in 1790 to a city of almost 180,000. The Society’s collection, too, had ballooned with the 1857 acquisition of the more than 4,600 volumes in the library of Thomas Dowse. The men who made up the Society now represented a wider range of interests, and they decided to apply the best practices of corporate business to the conduct of the MHS.
A new publication would document the Society’s “proceedings” and include an annual report. It would contain transcripts of the lectures that members offered when they gathered for meetings. A commitment to publish these talks could have resulted in a series of dry volumes—but what a roster of historians would appear in the pages of the Proceedings! Over nearly 140 years, until 1998, the deep leather chairs, madeira, and slanting sunlight of the Society’s afternoon meetings yielded the wisdom of Henry Adams, Oscar and Lillian Handlin, Edmund Morgan, and Bernard Bailyn, to name just a handful of the illustrious historians represented in the Proceedings’ pages.
Enter the 1990s. Computers and the internet transformed the way in which the MHS related to the outside world. Alongside our expanding research programs, including fellowships, conferences, and seminars, the Proceedings came to feel constrained. The MHS made the decision to end its publication and invite the wider possibilities of an annual journal that would accept outside submissions and, in its design, serve as an ambassador of the Society’s vibrant mission. The Massachusetts Historical Review was born.
Two decades later, the MHR features scholarship on all historical periods, from across the country and overseas. This takes the form of essays, photo-essays, historical documents, and review articles authored by both eminent scholars and those new to the field. There have been themed issues and a recent special issue on the occasion of the Society’s 225th anniversary, “Massachusetts and the Origins of American Historical Thought.” The forthcoming issue will include essays on the Harlem Renaissance artist Cloyd Lee Boykin, who taught in Boston, colonial Massachusetts Governor Thomas Pownall, and the 1975 Edelin manslaughter trial. Essays demonstrate the influence of Massachusetts across the nation and around the world.
As with the Proceedings, the Research Department acquires and develops the content for the MHR, while the Publications Department handles the copyediting, design, and indexing. Throughout this process, the MHS staff maintains a commitment to scholarly excellence. They send each essay to at least two peer reviewers in a “double-blind” process, and the editors and authors work together to revise and edit the contributions.
Now available online (as are the Proceedings), the MHR has a wider reach than ever before. It takes its place comfortably among a range of professional journals in major research libraries. And it offers a pleasant read in a comfy chair on a quiet afternoon, perhaps alongside a little glass of good madeira.
| Published: Friday, 8 June, 2018, 1:15 PM
Announcing 2018-2019 Research Fellowships
By Alexis Buckley, Research
Each year the MHS grants a number of research fellowships to scholars from around the country. Our four fellowship programs bring a wide variety of researchers to the MHS. See the list of incoming 2018-2019 fellows and their project titles below. You can learn more about each fellow’s research at their MHS brown bag lunch talk—keep an eye on the calendar to find out when they’ll present!
This year we offered 23 short-term fellowships to scholars whose research brings them to the MHS, including a new fellowship for a project on American religious history, the C. Conrad and Elizabeth H. Wright Fellowship. (See page 8 of our last newsletter for details!)
We talked about our collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities in our last blog post. This collaboration allows us to offer long-term fellowships, where the researchers spend 4-12 months as part of the MHS community. We also partner with the Boston Athenaeum to offer a Loring fellowship for a researcher studying the Civil War, its causes and consequences. The Athenaeum’s Civil War collections are anchored by its holdings of Confederate states imprints, the largest in the nation. The Society’s manuscript holdings on the Civil War include diaries, photographs, correspondence from the battlefield and the home front, papers of political leaders, and materials on black regiments raised in Massachusetts.
The MHS is also proud to be a founding member of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, a collaboration of over two dozen major cultural institutions across New England. Each year, the Consortium offers fellowships to researchers whose projects bring them to NERFC member archives. This year, 11 of the 2018-2019 NERFC fellows will be researching at the MHS.
We are looking forward to welcoming all our 2018-2019 research fellows, and learning more about their work on 20th-century reform movements, 17th-century mercantilism, and all points in between!
Suzanne and Caleb Loring Fellows on the Civil War, Its Origins, and Consequences
Dis-Union: Disability Cultures and the American Civil War
MHS Short-term Fellowships
African-American Studies Fellow
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood: Nineteenth Century Black Children’s Cultural and Political Resistance
Andrew Oliver Fellow
Hard Money: The Making of a Specie Currency, 1828-1860
Andrew W. Mellon Fellows
University of Notre Dame
Communities of Difference in 19th Century Irish-America
The Memory of Copley: Afterlives of the American Portrait, 1774-1920
University of California, Los Angeles
Persistent Archives and the Early Americas, 1600-1830
Sensory Experiences of Daily Life at New England Hospitals for the Insane
University of Toronto
Odor and Power in the Americas
University Medical Center Göttingen
Moral Measurements: Wilbur Olin Atwater and the Making of the American Diet
The Reception of European Biblical Scholarship in Early North America
American Travelers in the Middle East, 1830s-1930s
Ecology of Utopia: Environmental Discourse and Practice in Antebellum Communal Settlements
Benjamin F. Stevens Fellow
University of Connecticut
A West Indian Jubilee in America: Mapping August First in New England
C. Conrad & Elizabeth H. Wright Fellow
Claremont Graduate University
The World Becomes Round: Early Encounters between Bombay Parsis & Yankee Merchants, 1771-1861
Louis Leonard Tucker Alumni Fellows
University of Connecticut
The Night Watch of Early Boston, 1662-1776
Images Abroad: Henry Adams and the Picturing of Modernism
Pennsylvania State University
The American Debate over the China Relief Expedition of 1900
Malcolm and Mildred Freiberg Fellow
University of California, Berkeley
Renaissance Books in Early America: John Winthrop Jr. and Italian Occultism
Marc Friedlaender Fellow
The Shade of Private Life: The Right to Privacy and the Press in American Art, 1875-1900
Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Fellow
Roberto Flores de Apodaca
University of South Carolina
“Alas my Backsliding Hart!”: Religious Worldview and Culture of New England Continentals 1775-1783
Ruth R. & Alyson R. Miller Fellows
Russell Sage College
Boston meets Brahmin: Massachusetts Women in Gandhi’s India
Southern Methodist University
“[A]s if she were born to empire”: Isabella, the Bildungsroman, and the Establishment of a New American Society Identity in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s The Linwoods
W. B. H. Dowse Fellows
University of California, Santa Cruz
Indigenous Land Ownership in the Praying Towns of the New England Borderlands: Indigenous Lives Lands and Legacies of Seventeenth Century Massachusetts
The End of War: Indians, Empires, and Identity in the American Northeast, 1713-1727
MHS-NEH Long-term Fellowships
Mint Conditions: The Politics and Geography of Money in Britain and Its Empire, 1650-1760
North Carolina State University
Things Set Apart: An Alternative History of the Separation of Church and State
New England Regional Fellowship Consortium Fellows
The “‘right’ to indulge in the act of sexual intercourse”: Unmarried People, Sex, and the Laws on Contraception in Massachusetts (1960- 1972)
University of Alabama
A Struggle Against Fate: The Opponents of Manifest Destiny and the Collapse of the Continental Dream, 1846-1871
Lady Governors of the British Empire
Technische Universität Darmstadt
The Study of Human Sex Problems: A History of American Sexual Science, 1895–1945
University of California, Berkeley
American Silver, Chinese Silverwares, and the Global Circulation of Value
University of Rhode Island
Passing Transcendental: Harvard, Heresy, and the Modern American Origins of Unbelief
Alexey Krichtal (MHS)
Johns Hopkins University
Liverpool, Slavery, and the Atlantic Cotton Frontier, c. 1763-1833
Katherine McIntyre (MHS)
Maroon Ecologies: Albery Allson Whitman and the Place of Poetry
Gwenn Miller (MHS)
College of the Holy Cross
“You Will Bring Opium to Canton”: John Perkins Cushing and Boston’s Early China Trade
Joshua Morrison (MHS)
University of Virginia
Cut from the Same Cloth: Salem, Zanzibar, and American-Omani Trade (1820-1870)
Peter Olsen-Harbich (MHS)
College of William and Mary
A Meaningful Subjection: Coercive Inequality and Indigenous Political Economy in the Colonial American Northeast
Camille Owens (MHS)
Blackness and the Human Child: Race, Prodigy, and the Logic of American Childhood
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights
College of William and Mary
Inter-American Connections: North-South American Networks in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions
George Washington University
Separate and Unequal: The Rise of Special-Selection Programs in Boston, 1950–2000
State University of New York, Albany
Itinerant Politics: Settler Colonialism and the Evangelical Long Poem
Pictures: Charles Dana Gibson, John Sloan, and the Making of Modern Americans
C. Ian Stevenson (MHS)
“Army Tales Told While the Pot Boiled”: The Civil War Vacation in Architecture and Landscape, 1880-1910
Hannah Tucker (MHS)
University of Virginia
Masters of the Market: Mercantile Ship Captaincy in the Colonial British Atlantic, 1607-1774
Thomas Whitaker (MHS)
The Missionary Republic: The Rise of Evangelical Missions in the United States, 1789-1819
Washington University in St. Louis
Shuffling, Shouting, and Wearing Down: Rethinking the Techniques of Protest in Welfare Rights Organizations
Nathaniel Windon (MHS)
Pennsylvania State University
Gilded Old Age: Inheritance and American Literature, 1877-1918
State University of New York, Buffalo
Fourteenth: Vermont’s Struggle For and Against Democracy, 1775-1875
Colonial Society of Massachusetts Fellowship
Andrew Rutledge (MHS)
University of Michigan
“We have no need of Virginia Trade”: New England Tobacco in the Atlantic World
| Published: Friday, 27 April, 2018, 10:43 AM
Welcome to Our 2018-2019 MHS-NEH Fellows!
By Lex Buckley, Research Dept.
The Massachusetts Historical Society’s Research Department is pleased to announce our two 2018-2019 MHS-NEH Long-Term Fellows, Mara Caden and Brent Sirota. Mara Caden will be researching the mint and early economic conditions in New England, and revising her book manuscript, which comes out of her Yale University dissertation, “Mint Conditions: The Politics and Geography of Money in Britain and Its Empire, 1650-1750.” Brent Sirota is an associate professor at North Carolina State University, and will be researching and writing his second monograph, Things Set Apart: An Alternate History of the Separation of Church and State, examining how people in the 18th- and 19th-century British Atlantic maintained their religion separate from the state after 1689.
Caden and Sirota join a renowned group of current and former MHS-NEH fellows. The long-term fellowship began in 2002, and the National Endowment for the Humanities has helped to support long-term fellows every year since. NEH support has allowed the MHS to have fellows spend four to twelve months as not only researchers, but as part of the scholarly and collegial fabric of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Our 2017-2018 fellows have presented at MHS seminars and brown bag lunches, and prior fellows have presented at MHS conferences and elsewhere in the city of Boston during their tenure here, and often return to the MHS to serve on committees for seminars, conferences, and future fellowship selections. As well as taking the opportunity to share their research and historical expertise in these formal settings, our MHS-NEH fellows—many of whom are established scholars in their fields—also foster an intellectual atmosphere at the Society by taking local graduate students and short-term fellows under their wing. They attend other researchers’ presentations, invite them for coffee, and offer advice on archives to visit, collections to search, and ways to read documents, artifacts, and silences. Our long-term fellows come from History, English, Political Science, Drama, and other fields, and their innovative methods and deep understandings of their field have broadened research horizons for younger fellows and students for over a decade.
Of course, such erudite scholars also use their long-term fellowships to research and write, and have published impressive works on a wide variety of subjects. From the fellowship’s first year in 2002-2003, we had Walter Woodward, who was working on Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676. There is 2003-2004 fellow Woody Holton’s research project, “Minds Afire,” now the book, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution; Lisa Wilson’s A History of Stepfamilies in Early America; Lisa Tetrault’s The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898; Vincent Carretta’s biography of Phyllis Wheatley; Martha Hodes’s Mourning Lincoln; Linford Fisher’s The Indian Great Awakening; and many, many more stellar works produced and forthcoming. (Keep an eye on our fellows’ publications page to read what comes out next!)
In sum, we couldn’t be more excited to have Caden and Sirota join an already prestigious array of long-term fellows in enriching the field with the scholarship they’ll produce here, and enriching the MHS with the expertise that they’ll share with young fellows and researchers during their stay. And we couldn’t offer any of this without the generous support and encouragement from the National Endowment for the Humanities!
(For more on the National Endowment for the Humanities, see their webpage. For more on our long-term MHS-NEH fellowships and past recipients, please visit http://www.masshist.org/2012/research/fellowships/long-term.)
| Published: Friday, 16 March, 2018, 10:36 AM
MHS Programs Explore Aspects of African American History
By Gavin Kleespies, Public Programs
This past November, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar spoke at the MHS about their new book The Annotated African American Folktales. This publication presents nearly 150 African American stories, among them familiar Brer Rabbit classics, but also stories like “The Talking Skull” and “Witches Who Ride,” as well as out-of-print tales from the 1890s’ Southern Workman. Professor Gates’ reflections on how folktales weaved into his own personal history made the power of these stories very real, while professor Tatar helped place these stories in historical context and as a part of the American literary tradition.
Both Gates and Tatar are faculty members at Harvard University. Professor Tatar is the John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures. She chairs the Program in Folklore and Mythology, where she teaches courses in German Studies, Folklore, and Children’s Literature. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, a literary scholar, a journalist, a cultural critic, and an Overseer and long term friend to the MHS.
For the audience, it was a captivating opportunity to hear new tales and revisit some familiar stories. These folktales are so full of wisdom, humor, whimsy, and intelligence that anyone who reads or hears them must understand that they should hold a prominent place in the Western literary canon. However, the personal stories of when these tales were first heard or memories of them being shared made the evening truly special.
Kicking off African American History Month, we have made this program available to all on our website. Over the course of the month we are hosting several programs that explore aspects of African American history.
February 8 - 6:00 pm
Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America with Douglas Edgarton (Le Moyne College)
One of the most treasured objects belonging to the Society’s collection is the battle sword of Robert Gould Shaw, the leader of the courageous 54th Massachusetts infantry, the first black regiment in the north. The prominent Shaw family of Boston and New York had long been involved in reform, from antislavery to feminism, and their son, Robert, took up the mantle of his family’s progressive stances, though perhaps more reluctantly. In this lecture, historian Douglas R. Egerton focuses on the entire Shaw family during the war years and how preceding generations have dealt with their legacy.
$10 (free for MHS members)
February 20 - 6:00 pm
Growing Up with the Country with Kendra Field (Tufts University)
Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom’s first generation in the fifty years after emancipation. Field traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black towns and settlements. When statehood, oil speculation, and segregation imperiled their lives, some launched a back-to-Africa movement, while others moved on to Canada and Mexico. Interweaving black, white, and Indian histories, Field’s narrative explores how ideas about race and color powerfully shaped the pursuit of freedom.
$10 (free for MHS members)
February 26 - 6:00 pm
Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court with Paul Finkelman (Gratz College)
The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War—Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger B. Taney and Associate Justice Joseph Story—upheld the institution of slavery in ruling after ruling. These opinions cast a shadow over the Court and the legacies of these men, but historians have rarely delved deeply into the personal and political ideas and motivations they held. In Supreme Injustice Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the incentives created by his private life.
| Published: Monday, 5 February, 2018, 12:00 AM
Bring Your Students to MHS!
By Kate Melchior, Center for the Teaching of History
December is knockingon the door which means that the Center for the Teaching of History at the MHS is wrapping-up its inaugural semester of class visits! This fall, the MHS hosted a number of programs for middle school, high school, and college students who want to learn about primary sources and experience the work of historians first-hand.
Students getting up close and personal with MHS documents.
Our collection of Revolutionary War-era material is popular with middle and high school classes who come to MHS to learn about the real people behind Boston’s Freedom Trail. For example, Cohasset-based Chris Luvisi’s AP US History class examined artifacts and documents related to the Boston boycott of British goods in the 1760s and 1770s, including the 1767 “Address to the Ladies” which encouraged Boston women to forgo imported British luxuries in order to appear “Fair, charming, true, lovely, and cleaver” to young men. After taking on identities of Boston craft workers, merchants, shopkeepers, and domestic housewives, students voted on whether to support or ignore the nonimportation agreement. While most students supported the boycott in theory, a number of them admitted that they would likely keep buying their imported tea under the table!
Students were excited to get a close look at a bottle of tea leaves collected from Dorchester Neck the morning after the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
Vincent Bradley’s AP US History class from Catholic Memorial School also engaged with the history of the Revolution, this time through the perspective of John Adams. Students explored how Adams’ views on protest and dissent changed over time by looking at his opinions on the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Shay’s Rebellion, and the Alien and Sedition Acts. Bradley’s class also saw historians in action while participating in one of MHS’ Brown Bag Lunches, where they heard Kabria Baumgartner from the University of New Hampshire speak about her current research on Black girlhood and the desegregation of Massachusetts public schools. Catholic Memorial students asked Professor Baumgartner questions about her work and listened as she workshopped her research with other local historians and visitors.
Students deciphered John Adams's notes from the Boston Massacre trials to learn about his motivation for defending British soldiers.
As the state coordinators for Massachusetts History Day, the Center for the Teaching of History (CTH) also helps many students learn research strategies for their upcoming projects. Megan Brady’s eighth grade history club from the John F. Kennedy School in Somerville came in on a Saturday so that they could learn about the collections at MHS and practice working with primary sources. Her students, whose National History Day interests range from early Pilgrim-Wampanoag relations to LGBTQ History in the 1920s, posed thoughtful questions to Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey while looking at Sarah Gooll Putnam’s Civil War-era childhood diary and a daguerreotype of author and reformer Annie Fields, who lived in a “Boston marriage” with her partner Sarah Orne Jewett for decades. You can learn more about National History Day and find inspiration for your own projects at the Massachusetts History Day website, the National History Day site, or at our own Center webpage.
Sarah Gooll Putnam's diary entry on 14 April 1865. The young artist drew her own expression at hearing of President Lincoln's asssassination to illustrate how she felt at the news.
The Center sometimes partners with Library Reader Services to help host college visits as well, which gives the perfect excuse to explore more specific and unusual themes in the MHS collections. Erika Boeckeler brought two of her Northeastern University classes this fall to explore Children’s Literature and Shakespeare in America, leading to rediscovery of gems in our stacks such as a homemade morality tale titled “Adventures of a ruffle” that was written by Anne Harrod Adams, John and Abigail’s daughter-in-law! On another day, Cathy McCarron’s class joined us from Middlesex Community College to explore Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker’s court petitions for manumission and their leadership in ending slavery in Massachusetts. We discussed the different types of primary sources that illustrate the lives of individuals who previously lacked a voice in traditional historical narratives.
If you would like to bring students to visit us, or have the Center for the Teaching of History come to you, please contact the Center for the Teaching of History at email@example.com. All of our student programs are free of charge, and we would love to work with you to create a memorable program with your class! For more information on our programming, visit the Center at http://www.masshist.org/teaching-history.
| Published: Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 12:00 AM