The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

MHS Painting Featured in Missouri Classroom

Last semester, students in Professor Norton Wheeler’s Age of Jefferson and Jackson course at Missouri Southern State University (Joplin, Missouri) read a critical edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Blithedale Romance (1852) alongside nonfiction works such as Sean Wilentz’s The Rise of American Democracy (2006). Hawthorne’s novel draws heavily on his own experience at Brook Farm, a short lived utopian community established in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, where he lived in 1841. Wheeler observed to me by email:

My students enjoyed the novel, along with documents detailing connections of Hawthorne, George Ripley, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and others to the historical Brook Farm. They found the social and cultural history embedded in these texts to be a helpful complement to the political history they had been reading.

To help his students visualize the setting of the novel, Professor Wheeler contacted us to obtain a digital image of one of our two paintings of Brook Farm by Josiah Wollcott, Brook Farm with Rainbow, painted by the artist in 1845 and pictured above (his second rendering can be viewed here).


Wheeler sent us a photograph of his students in class, with the painting hung on the wall (right corner of bulletin board), for us to share with you here at The Beehive.

In addition to Wollcott’s two paintings, the Massachusetts Historical Society holds a collection of Brook Farm records and the papers of founder George Ripley, as well as memoirs, pamphlets, and other materials related to the West Roxbury utopian experiment. We also hold several early editions of The Blithedale Romance, the full text of which can be read online through Project Gutenberg, or downloaded in a variety of formats from the Internet Archive.


permalink | Published: Friday, 15 February, 2013, 8:00 AM