This Week @ MHS
On Tuesday, 15 April, Gloria Whiting of Harvard University presents "'How can the wife submit?' African Families Negotiate Gender and Slavery in New England." This seminar is part of the History of Women and Gender series and is rescheduled from 13 February 2014. Whiting's paper discusses the various ways in which the everyday realities of slavery shaped gender relations in Afro-New England families. While the structure of slave families in the region was unusually matrifocal, these families nonetheless exhibited a number of patriarchal tendencies. Enslaved African families in New England therefore complicate the assumption of much scholarship that the structure of slave families defined their normative values. Barbara Krauthamer of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will provide comment. Please note that this seminar takes place at the Schlesinger Library and begins at 5:30PM. Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 617-646-0568.
And on Friday, 18 April, stop by the Society at 2:00PM for a free gallery talk as Samantha Anderson of Northeastern University presents "The Battles of the 54th: Norther Racism and the Unequal Pay Crisis." When Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew proposed to raise the first military unit consisting of black soldiers during the Civil War, he was assured by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that the men would be paid, clothed, and treated in the same way as white troops. As the recruiting posters and newspaper advertisements stated, this included a state bounty and a monthly pay of $13. In July of 1863, an order was issued in Washington fixing the compensation of black soldiers at the laborers' rate of $10 per month. This amount was offered on several occasions to the men of the 54th, but was continually refused. Governor Andrew and the Massachusetts legislature, feeling responsible for the $3 discrepancy in pay promised to the troops, passed an act in November of 1863 providing the difference from state funds. The men refused to accept this resolution, however, demanding that they receive full soldier pay from the federal government.
Learn more about this pay controversy, and how it was resolved, through items on display in our current exhibition Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial.
Finally, please note that the Society is closed on Monday, 21 April, in observance of Patriot's Day. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, 22 April.
| Published: Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 12:00 PM
This Week @ MHS
The Red Sox are back in town, increasing foot traffic around the Society. This week, though, is a quiet one at the MHS, with only two events on the schedule.
If you are headed to Fenway Park on Tuesday, 8 April, why not stop by the MHS on the way for a free seminar? Starting at 5:15PM, Jonathan Anzalone of Stony Brook University presents "A Mountain in Winter: Wilderness Politics, Economic Development, and the Transformation of Whiteface Mountain into a Modern Ski Center, 1932-1980." Comment provided by Jim O'Connell, National Park Service. This seminar - part of the Environmental History series - examines the development of Whiteface Mountian as a skiing spot with 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. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
On Saturday, 12 April, there will be a free tour that is open to the public. The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led tour of the Society's home at 1154 Boylston Street. The tour explores all of the public space in the building, touching on the history, art, architecture, and collections of the Society. No reservation required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour. For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or email@example.com.
Finally, remember to visit the MHS soon to see the current exhibition, "Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus-Saint Gaudens' Shaw Memorial." This exhibit, organized by the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C., is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM, through 23 May.
| Published: Sunday, 6 April, 2014, 12:00 PM
Are We All Created Equal?
By Kathleen Barker, Education Department
In the introduction to his 1903 book The Souls of Black Folk; Essays and Sketches W.E.B. Dubois argued that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Is that problem still with us today, or do twenty-first-century Americans face a different challenge with respect to race and social justice? This is just one of the intriguing questions we will discuss next Wednesday, 2 April, at the final session of our film & discussion series, “Created Equal.” Facilitated by Joanne Pope Melish, author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and "Race" in New England, 1780-1860, this series was made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
These public programs center on four nationally-acclaimed documentary films that address various aspects of the long Civil Rights movement. (Visit the Created Equal website to learn more about each film, including how to view it online.) Our first event, on 12 February, explored the issue of marriage, and the laws that regulate who can marry whom. In 1958, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were married in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the couple lived in Virginia, where it was technically illegal for them to live as a married couple because Mildred was of African American and Native American descent and Richard was white. The Lovings’ case, which was eventually heard by the Supreme Court of the United States, raised many issues—in the 1950s and in our discussion—about the definition of rights and how the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does (or does not) protect certain rights.
On 12 March, we moved backwards in time to discuss the abolitionist movement using the three-part PBS film The Abolitions. Participants enjoyed debating the methods used by filmmakers to bring this era to life. A fruitful discussion about the film, its intended audience, and “traditional” narratives of American history took up most of the evening. Why, for example, was Frederick Douglass the only back abolitionists mentioned? Here in Boston and New England we recognize the important contributions made by African Americans such as Lewis and Harriet Hayden, and William Cooper Nell. Participants were distressed to find that these local protagonists were left out of the narrative! We ended the program with this provocative inquiry: were the abolitionists successful?
Our last event will address two important post-Civil War issues. We will watch clips from Slavery by Another Name, which describes the huge system of forced, unpaid labor, mostly affecting Southern black men, that lasted until World War II. We will also view segments of Freedom Riders, a film that celebrates the Freedom Rides of 1961, and the often terrifying conditions faced by black and white volunteers as they attempted to desegregate public spaces in the Deep South. It’s not too late to join us! Contact the Education Department (firstname.lastname@example.org) to register, or visit our web calendar to learn more about the program.
| Published: Monday, 31 March, 2014, 8:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
March draws to a close, finally seeming to trade its lions for lambs. As April arrives we have a slew of programs at the Society this week. So, let us waste no time and get right to it.
Kicking things off on Tuesday, 1 April, stop by at noon for a special author talk with Larry Ruttman who will discuss his book American Jews & America's Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. Ruttman's talk will look at the four main subjects of his work: baseball, American Jewish life in the United States over the last century, American history, and the revealing personal lives of people involved with the game. This talk is free and open to the public.
And on Tuesday evening, beginning at 5:15PM, is the latest in the Early American History Seminar series. In this edition, Jeff Perry of Purdue University presents "From 'Disturbers' to Protectors of the Peace: Baptist Church Discipline and Legalities on the Trans-Appalachian Frontier." In his paper, Perry considers how the instability engendered by the missionary movement and the rise of competing religious sects impacted individual churches' visions of their own authority and their role in regulating their wider communities. In so doing, he speaks to the constantly changing nature of secular and religious authority in the United States. Comment provided by Stephen A. Marini, Wellesley College. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
At noon on Wednesday, 2 April, pack a lunch and come by for a Brown Bag talk. This time, long-term research fellow Chris Cameron, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, presents part of his research for "Liberal Religion and Slavery in America, 1775-1865." His talk explores the disparate ways that liberal ministers engaged with the institution of slavery, whether as pro-slavery thinkers, colonizationists, or radical abolitionists. Cameron also examines the theological underpinnings of liberals' views on slavery, as well as the differences between Unitarian, Universalist, and Transcendentalists' engagement with the institution. This event is free and open to the public.
That evening, beginning at 5:30PM, is a film screening and discussion, part of "Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle," a series made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. "Created Equal: Slavery by Another Name & The Freedom Riders" will feature clips from two films, one based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, and the other based on Raymond Arsenault's 2007 book Freedom Riders. Both films can be viewed in their entirety at createdequal.neh.gov. Joanne Pope Melish is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and a visiting scholar in American Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860, and she will facilitate the discussion for the evening. Registration for the event is required at no cost. To Reserve: Click here to register online or call the MHS reservations line at 617-646-0560.
The second seminar of the week will take place on Thursday, 3 April, and is part of the History of Women and Gender series. Beginning at 5:30PM, "'Talents Committed to Your Care': Reading and Writing Antislavery" explores the historically contingent identities and the material texts that men and women produced in and through their engagement with a remarkably rich transatlantic literary culture. In looking not only at the cultivation of individual identities but also at the establishment of collective ties, it will be measuring the degree to which gender played a foundational role. Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, will present the material while Elizabeth Maddock Dillon of Northeastern University will provide comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
Finally, on Saturday, 5 April, come by at 10:00AM for The History and Collections of the MHS, a 90-minute tour of the Society's public rooms led by a docent or MHS staff member and touching on the history of the Society, and the art and architecture of building at 1154 Boylston Street. The tour is free and open to the public. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour. For more information, please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or email@example.com.
Also, do not forget to visit the MHS to see the current exhibition, "Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus-Saint Gaudens' Shaw Memorial." This exhibit, organized by the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C., is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM, through 23 May.
| Published: Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 12:00 PM
This Week @ MHS
As spring struggles to take hold we are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that the potential storm does not interrupt any of the programs on tap this week.
First up, on Tuesday, 25 March, is "Boston's Chinatowns and Recent Senior Migration," the next edition of our Immigration and Urban History Seminar series. Presented by Nicole Newendorp of Harvard University, the discussion centers on the life ways and services available to low-income, primarily non-English speaking Chinese seniors who live in Boston's downtown Chinatown and Quincy, a satellite Chinatown in the suburbs. In so doing, it re-focuses attention away from the traditional question of defining Chinatown through residential space to the problem of defining community more generally for a heterogeneous group of migrants with a rich diversity of life experiences. Wing-Kai To of Bridgewater State University will provide comment and the talk begins at 5:15PM. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
Then, on Thursday, 27 March, there is a special event for new Members and Fellows of the Society."New Faces & New Acquisitions" begins at 5:30PM and is a unique opportunity for new Fellows and Members to learn more about and view a selection of the Society's most recent acquisitions, including letters from a stunning collection of Adams and Cranch family correspondence and items from the Civil War archives of Capt. Luis F. Emilio of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. There will also be a reception and the chance to view the current exhibition, Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial. Registration is required at no cost. Please call 617-646-0560 or register online by clicking here. For more information about becoming a Member, click here.
Finally, on Saturday, 29 March, there will be no public tour. Instead, beginning at 12:00PM is a special public program: "Tell It With Pride." Visitors are invited to enjoy an afternoon program of exhibition tours and special talks at the MHS related to the Tell It With Pride exhibition currently on display. The afternoon will feature a presentation from the men of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment Company A, time to view the exhibition and to converse with the men of the 54th Regiment, and two lectures. The first lecture, starting at 2:00PM, is from author Kathryn Greenthal and titled "Augusts Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial: Its Context and Its Creation." The second lecture, starting at 3:00PM, is "Consecration and Monument: Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment," presented by Henry Duffy, Curator of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, NH. This program is presented in partnership with the Friends of the Public Garden. To Reserve: Click here to register online or call the MHS reservations line at 617-646-0560. Please register if you plan to attend ANY part of this program (even if you can not join us for the entire afternoon).
| Published: Sunday, 23 March, 2014, 12:00 PM