The Beehive: Official Blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society The official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society, covering MHS events and activities. en-us Fri, 01 May 2009 00:00:00 GMT Sun, 07 Feb 2016 05:00:00 GMT (Elaine Grublin) This Week @ MHS <p>On the calendar this week we have a pair of seminars, a pair of public programs, and a free tour. Here's how it all shakes out:</p> <p>- Tuesday, 9 February, 5:15PM : Join us for an <a href="/2012/calendar/seminars/environmental-history">Environmental History seminar</a> discussion with presenter Laura J. Martin of Harvard University, and commentor Brian Payne of Bridgewater State University. The talk focuses on Martin's paper, "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1678">The History of Ecological Restoration: From Bombs to Bac-O-Bits</a>," which explores the intellectual and cultural history of ecological restoration from 1945 to 1965. Seminars are free and open to the public; <a href="" target="_blank">RSVP required</a>. <a href="/calendar/seminars/environmental-history">Subscribe</a> to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.</p> <p>- Thursday, 11 February, 5:30PM : Laura Briggs of UMass-Amherst presents "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1684">All Politics are Reproductive Politics: Welfare, Immigration, Gay Marriage, Foreclosure</a>" as part of the <a href="/2012/calendar/seminars/women-and-gender">History of Women and Gender seminar series</a>. The project looks at the collision of two forces - increasing unpaid care burdens, and ever more need for wage labor - and how they have radically reconfigured both families and political common sense in particularly racialized ways over the last forty years. Suzanna Danuta Walters of Northeastern University provides comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; <a href="" target="_blank">RSVP required</a>. <a href="/calendar/seminars/environmental-history">Subscribe</a> to receive advance copies of the seminar papers. <strong>This event takes place at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard.</strong></p> <p>- Thursday, 11 February, 6:00PM : "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1779">Culture of Modernism</a>" is the second of a four-part series on the topic of Modernism. This talk features author Alexandra Lange; Jane Thompson of the Thompson Design Group; and Michael Kubo of Collective-LOK. There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30PM. Registration is required for this program. <strong>This program takes place at the Concord Museum.</strong></p> <p>- Friday, 12 February, 2:00PM : "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1780">Jefferson's Journey to Massachusetts: The Origin of the Coolidge Collection at the MHS</a>" is a free gallery talk focused on our current exhibition, <a href="/2012/calendar/event?event=1759">The Private Jefferson</a>. Stephen T. Riley Librarian, Peter Drummey, explains the provenance of this collection and how the largest collection of this Virginian's private papers arrived at the MHS. This talk is free and open to the public. </p> <p>- Saturday, 13 February, 10:00AM : <span style="font-size: 14px;"><a href="/calendar/event?event=1824">The History and Collections of the MHS</a> is a docent-led walk through 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 <a href=""></a>. </span><span style="font-size: 14px;">While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our </span><a style="font-size: 14px;" href="/2012/calendar/event?event=1759">current exhibition</a><span style="font-size: 14px;">.</span></p> Sun, 07 Feb 2016 05:00:00 GMT Dan Hinchen Curiosities and Monstrosities <p>Coming up with good ideas for the Beehive is something I often have trouble with. I want to present something that is, hopefully, engaging and/or entertaining, but I try not to duplicate what others are doing or have done in the past. Occasionally, I can rely on a strange or out-of-the-ordinary reference question to provide fodder. Other times I stumble upon things in the stacks when looking for something else. But there are still those times when I just cannot seem to think of something good.</p> <p>Before you continue, dear reader, full disclosure: this is one of those times where inspiration is at a minimum. </p> <p>As I sat trying to think of ideas, I opened our online catalog, <a href="">ABIGAIL</a>, to brainstorm and see if I could think of any odd subject headings I wanted to explore. There, in that sentence, lay the answer. I typed in "oddities" to see what we might have in our holdings with that tag. The number of results I got with that search was a big fat goose egg. Thankfully, ABIGAIL, though often cruel in her adherence to a controlled vocabulary, offered me a bit of help and gave me another term that I should look into: "Curiosities and Wonders." </p> <p>And so I was off, looking into what curious and wondrous items the MHS holds. There are 33 titles associated with that subject heading in the catalog, with further subdivisions pointing to specific geographic locations (Lawrence and Boston, MA; NY, NY; Great Britain), photographs, even juvenile literature. Confining myself to the original 33, I started browsing the titles for common themes or links among them. It was soon apparent that we had a decent little number of items relating to the grotesque, freakish, and monstrous. </p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/museum1.jpg" alt="" width="374" height="612" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Opened by Daniel Bowen in 1795, the Columbian Museum showcased a broad range of curiosities: waxen figures of John Adams; larger-than-life depictions of Scriptural scenes, like David and Goliath; and exhibitions of various animals. "A procupine, a bear, a raccoon, and a rabbit were announced by their proprietor as 'very great curiosities.' There was an elephant which, in conformity with the habits of the day, drank 'all kinds of spirituous liquors;' and the public were assured that 'thirty bottles of porter, of which he draws the corks himself, is not an uncommon allowance.'... spectators were informed that 'he will probably live between two and three hundred years,' -- an announcement which shows that the effect of alcohol upon animal tissue was not then so well understood as it is thought to be at present."<sup>1</sup> The Columbian Museum operated until 1825 when the collections were acquired by Ethan Allen Greenwood for his New England Museum.</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/serpent2.jpg" alt="" width="398" height="602" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: left;">This broadside relates a piece of correspondence written by Samuel Hanson to his brother. Hanson, along with two other soldiers, is ordered to travel from Louisville, KY, to New Orleans in order to assist General Jackson there. Along the way, the three men stop for a night in the town of Versailles, KY, on the Ohio River. They are told tales of an enormous serpent that has been menacing the town and eating livestock. With all the able-bodied men of the town already off in New Orleans to join in the fighting, the townspeople aske these three soldiers to help them get rid of the threat. They agree and, the next day head out with their two dogs to search for the beast in the woods. After some time, they finally find "a monster, of the serpent kind, full twenty-two feet length, and the thickest part of his body of the size of the thigh of one our largest men! his eye sparkling like fire, and venomously shooting forth his forked tongue..." The men eventually succeeded in killing the beast and taking its head. </p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/lady2.jpg" alt="" width="212" height="614" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: left;">Finally, this broadside caught my eye mainly because of the image that dominates the center. However, after a closer look, it is the feature at the bottom that really stands out. Upon closer reading, we find that the audience has the opportunity to see a living man who, early in life, promised to be a robust man later on. However, due to some unexplained circumstance, the man lost all flesh and was, seemingly, a living skeleton, and one that could play the violin, to boot!</p> <p style="text-align: left;">Clicking through ABIGAIL with little direction can yield some interesting and entertaining items. Take a trip down the rabbit hole, see what you find, and then <a href="">visit the library</a>!</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><sup>1.</sup> Winsor, Justin, <em>The Memorial History of Boston : including Suffolk County, Massachusetts</em>, Boston: Osgood, 1881</p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> Fri, 05 Feb 2016 05:00:00 GMT Dan Hinchen, Reader Services The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship <p class="Standard">The <a href="">Fay-Mixter family papers</a> here at the MHS includes a folder of material related to the fascinating story of the <em>Wanderer</em>, a luxury yacht refitted as a slave ship in 1858 to engage in the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade. The importation of slaves to America was <a href="">prohibited</a> by the U.S. Congress fifty years before, but smuggling was common. Multiple sources cite the <em>Wanderer</em> as the last known ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States.</p> <p class="Standard">By all accounts, the <em>Wanderer</em> was a very fast vessel, capable of sailing up to 20 knots. William C. Corrie of Charleston, S.C. purchased the yacht in early 1858. He and his business partner, Charles Augustus Lafayette Lamar--;cotton planter, radical Fire-Eater, pro-slavery secessionist--;immediately began refitting the yacht for its nefarious purpose. Their work aroused the suspicions of officials in New York, who temporarily seized the ship for inspection. Newspaper articles <a href="">speculated</a> (rightly, it turned out) about the true reason for the modifications, excessive provisions, and foreign crew. But with no definite proof, the ship was released.</p> <p class="Standard">The ship sailed on 3 July 1858, arriving at the African coast in September. Corrie got past the British and American anti-slavery patrols stationed there, according to one account, primarily using a charm offensive--;friendly dinner parties, etc. The crew of the <em>Wanderer</em> claimed to be on a pleasure cruise up the Congo River. They even sailed under the pennant of the New York Yacht Club. And it worked: the vessel was apparently never inspected.</p> <p class="Standard">The <em>Wanderer</em> returned to the U.S. on 28 Nov. 1858, landing at Jekyll Island off the coast of Georgia with over 400 African captives. Dozens had died en route. The arrival of these new slaves, along with some questionable documentation, attracted the attention of the authorities, and the jig was up. The ship was seized and the conspirators arrested. In May 1860, Lamar, Corrie, and others were tried for piracy in federal court in Savannahand acquitted. One of the judges in the case was Lamar's father-in-law.</p> <p class="Standard">The <em>Wanderer</em> material forms part of the Fay-Mixter collection because James Story Fay held a bond of indemnity for the ship. The papers include twelve letters to Fay's colleague E. D. Brigham in Boston, dated 5 Jan.-10 Apr. 1860, in the run-up to the trial. During this time, Charles Lamar regained possession of the ship and sent it to Havana, under the care of C. R. Moore, to be sold. Three of the letters were written by Moore in Havana, and these are, I think, the most interesting of the group.</p> <p class="Standard">Moore praised the speed and agility of the <em>Wanderer</em>, but not its mission: "She is one of the finest little vessels that it was ever my fortune to get on board of, and I wish she could be in some legitimate business, that I could sail her." He had "fixed her up like a fiddle" and thought he could get $18,000-20,000.</p> <p class="Standard">Because of its history, the <em>Wanderer</em> held a certain fascination. Moore received many visitors onboard, including American tourists and British lords, all curious to see the famous ship. But selling proved difficult. The vessel was simply "to[o] expensive and to[o] notorious." Moore felt the watchful eyes of the English and Spanish fleets and guessed that the English in particular resented the ship. He wrote: "I am asked all kinds of questions here and have to be carefull what I say."</p> <p class="Standard">In his letters to Brigham, Moore discussed his future plans and weighed his options. More than once, he expressed a desire to captain the <em>Wanderer</em>, but he refused to resort to the slave trade, which was still legal in Cuba. He had received offers:</p> <p class="Standard" style="text-align: center;">"There was some parties offered me $16,000 to go to the Coast [of Africa]. I refused. [] If I cannot get a livelihood without going in a Guineaman I will starve in the streets although I am no abolitionist. [] I will stay [in Havana] until I feel that its unhealthy for me to stay. You know I am fat and hot weather and musketoes operate bad on a fat man. [] I love the Wanderer but I cannot feel she will ever give me any permanent business."</p> <p class="Standard" style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p class="Standard">In his third and longest letter, dated 10 Apr. 1860, Moore painted a broader picture of the slave trade in Havana:</p> <p class="Standard" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 14px;">"They prefer the old vessels here for the Coast and there are 7 or 8 fitting out here for the Coast. The ship Erie cleared yesterday, and everybody knows where she is bound. The Captain an American, Gordon his name, cleared before the Consul without difficulty. The Gov Gen is poor and winks at it. He gets $50 a head. I have had offers to go in this vessel, they would bye her for me, but I have tried to live an honest life so far and as long as I have sailed out of Boston. If the Merchants will not give me legitimate employment I will starve before I will go after blackbirds, although I do not think a negro as good as a white man, and am not an abolitionist. But when I coil my ropes up for the last time, I shall feel happyer if I have lived and practised the precepts that my parents taught me."</span></p> <p class="Standard" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 14px;"><br /></span></p> <p class="Standard">The more I researched the <em>Wanderer</em> and the people connected to it, the more interesting the story became. A biography of Charles Lamar, for example, could fill volumes. C. R. Moore described rumors of the firebrand's colorful exploits: "What I can learn about the young man is not much to his credit [] They tell me here that he is a remarkable small man always carryes Revolvers in his belt has shot 1 or 2 men []" The rumors were apparently well-founded; in the month of May 1860 alone, Lamar was not only tried for piracy, but also participated in a prison break and a duel!</p> <p class="Standard">The <em>Wanderer</em> was seized once more by the U.S. government in 1861 for use against the Confederacy during the Civil War. After the war, it passed into private hands and sailed commercially for a few years before sinking off the coast of Cuba. For more information, see <a href=""><em>The Slave Ship Wanderer</em></a> by Tom Henderson Wells (Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press, 1967) and <a href=""><em>The Wanderer: The Last American Slave Ship and the Conspiracy That Set Its Sails</em></a> by Erik Calonius (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2006).</p> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 05:00:00 GMT Susan Martin, Collections Services This Week @ MHS <p>At the top of the list this week is our recently unveiled exhbition! Come by anytime Mon-Sat, 10:00AM-4:00PM, to take a look at <a href="/2012/calendar/event?event=1759">The Private Jefferson</a>. The exhibit is free to the public and will remain on display through 20 May 2016. </p> <p>There are four other items on the calendar this week for public consumption:</p> <p>- Tuesday, 2 February : There is an <a href="/2012/calendar/seminars/early-american-history">Early American History seminar</a> beginning at 5:15PM. "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1669">Sound Believers: Rhyme and Right Belief</a>" is presented by MHS-NEH long-term fellow Wendy Roberts, SUNY-Albany. Roberts' project examines the connection between poetry and evangelicalism in the 18th and early-19th centuries. Stephen A. Marini of Wellesley College provides comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; <a href="" target="_blank">RSVP required</a>. <a href="/calendar/seminars/early-american-history">Subscribe</a> to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.</p> <p>- Wednesday, 3 February : Starting at noon is a <a href="/calendar/brown-bags">Brown Bag</a> talk given by independent scholar Robert G. Mann. His work, "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1797">Making Another Massachusetts of South Carolina: Reconstruction in the Sea Islands</a>," evaluates the achievements and disappointments of a unique, integrated community centered around Beaufort, South Carolina, in the years 1863-1880 through the intertwined stories of three Massachusetts men and one former slave. This talk is free and open to the public. </p> <p>- Wednesday, 3 February : Join us for the first of a four part series on Modernism, "<a href="/calendar/event?event=1778">Brutalism to Heroic</a>." This conversation features Mark Pasnik, AIA, Over, Under; Chris Grimley, AIA, Over,Under; and Michael Kubo, Collectiove-LOK. There is a pre-talk reception that begins at 5:30PM with the talk beginning at 6:00PM. Registration is required for this event. </p> <p>- Saturday, 4 February : The History and Collection of the MHS is a docent-led tour that is free and open to the public. Spend about 45 minutes learning about the Society and touring the library area and then take the opportunity to visit our exhibition space. No need for reservations for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact Curator of Art, Anne Bentley, in advance at <a href=""></a> or 617-646-0508.</p> Sun, 31 Jan 2016 05:00:00 GMT Dan Hinchen Margaret Russell’s Diary, January 1916 <p><span style="font-size: 14px;">After receiving positive feedback on last year's serial documenting a journey up the Nile by an anonymous diarist, I decided to repeat the format in 2016 but with a very different type of diary from the MHS collections.</span></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/russelljan16-3.jpg" alt="" width="348" height="352" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Between 1913-1922, Margaret Russell kept track of her activities in Ward's line-a-day diaries pre-formatted to accommodate five years worth of daily records. As historian Molly McCarthy documents in her <a href="">history of the daily planner</a>, these standard blank books rose in popularity toward the end of the 19th century. The Samuel Ward Company of Boston, Massachusetts copyrighted their format in 1892, offering a "condensed, comparative record for five years" with the tagline, "nulla dies sine linea (not a day without a line)." Russell's volume, which she began filling in 1913 at the age of fifty-five, offers prefatory instructions for the inexperienced diarist:</p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/russelljan16-2.jpg" alt="" width="344" height="508" /></p> <p> </p> <p>Russell appears to have found satisfaction in keeping her line-a-day record, because three years later in January 1916 she is still diligently writing daily in her Ward's volume. The first month of the year is punctuated by poor weather and ill-health, as well as a full slate of social activities. While brief, in aggregate form the diary entries grant us view of daily life for a white, upper middle-class woman in middle age, living in Boston in the second decade of the twentieth century.</p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: left;"><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span><em>1 Jan. Saturday. Snowing & raining. Ear & Eye hosp. & errands. Went to Cambridge to see Katey & Aunt E--. Concert with Mrs. Schelling & Mrs. Sears.*</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>2 Jan. Sunday - Church - Lunched at H.G.C.'s. Family to dine & then to Slater musical. Gov. W-- very prominent.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>3 Jan. Monday - Hosp. meeting. [word] lunch at Marian's. Botany lecture & drove to Swampscott. Very heavy roads.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>4 Jan. Tuesday - Paying bills - walked downtown to Dr. Crockett for third time about my ear. Lafayette Fund show with Georgie.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>5 Jan. Wednesday - dancing - Ward lecture. Throat sore again. Going to [word] I put up car.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>6 Jan. Thursday. Felt poorly with [word] cold. Went to tableaux with Marian R. A beautiful show.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>7 Jan. Friday Walked for errands & Dr. Crockett who says I better go to Woodstock to have [word]. Stayed at home all the afternoon.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>8 Jan. Saturday. Mr. Surette's first lecture very interesting. Went to Ellen's dancing school. Meant to go to assembly but throat prevented.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>9 Jan. Sunday - Felt feverish so stayed in all day. Family to dine.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>10 Jan. Warm & rainy. Drove to Cambridge with Miss A-- for botany lecture with slides. Much depressed by my ignorance.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>11 Jan. Monday-Felt very poorly. Dr. C.sent me home & I passed the P.M. on my couch with pleasure. Gave up dinner at Burr's.<span style="font-size: 14px;"> </span></em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>12 Jan. Wednesday - In the house all day this is the fourth sustained attack I have had.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/russelljan16-1.jpg" alt="" width="326" height="340" /></p> <p> </p> <p><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span><em>13 Jan. In the house - better.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>14 Jan. In the house. Sat in the window for a short time.Miss A- sent for as sister has pneumonia but she died before Miss A- got there.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>15 Jan. So cold I gave up going out but sat in the window in the warm sun. Susan Bradley came to see me.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>16 Jan. Sunday - did not go out. Mr Fenno came to call & family came to dine.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>17 Jan. Monday - very cold & windy but drove to May R.'s birthday lunch and back .Botany lesson here. Ellen & teacher to play here.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>18 Jan. Tuesday - lovely cold day.Feel better at last. Sat in the open window & went to Swampscott in P.M. Roads very good.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>19 Jan. Wednesday. Went to Mrs.Ward's lecture.Llunched at Chilton. Lecture at Art [word] & tea for Emily [word] at Mrs. T. Motley's.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>20 Jan. Thursday - Errands but began to snow and then rain so stayed at home in the P.M. Feeling better.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>21 Jan. Friday. Went to concert & took Mrs.Hadder</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>22 Jan. Saturday Went to Mrs.Tyson's in the P.M. did not feel so well.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>23 Jan. Sunday Stayed in bed till dinner time & felt better. Family to dine.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>24 Jan. Monday. Stayed in bed in the morning. Botany lesson & then rested.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>25 Jan. Monday. Sat in the window & after lunch went to drive. Really warm. Gave up Lyman dinner.<span style="font-size: 14px; white-space: pre;"> </span></em></p> <p><em><span style="font-size: 14px; white-space: pre;"> </span><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>26 Jan. Wednesday.Drove morning & afternoon & feel better.</span></em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>27 Jan.Thursday. Drove in the morning & went to bank. Lunch club at [word]. Went to see Dr. Balch who says I must be careful.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>28 Jan. Friday - [word] not get up in the A.M. Lunched at Bell's - took a drive & feel better.</em></p> <p style="text-align: left;"><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>29 Jan.Saturday-Mrs.Tyson's in the A.M. To see Dr. Balch who called in Dr. W.D. Smith in consultation. Both say be careful.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>30 Jan. So tired after yesterday's performance that I stayed in bed until P.M. Lucy Bradley & Jessie came to call. Family to dine.</em></p> <p><em><span style="white-space: pre;"> </span>31 Jan. Monday -Feel better. Had my hair washed. Lunch at Marian's & home for botany lesson. Rested. Mrs. McL-- called home.</em></p> <p> </p> <p>Join me once a month throughout the year as we continue to follow Margaret Pelham Russell's daily activities as she recorded them one hundred years ago.</p> <p>If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please <a href="">visit the library</a> or <a href="">contact</a> a member of the library staff for further assistance.</p> <p> </p> <p><em>*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original.</em></p> <p> </p> Fri, 29 Jan 2016 18:49:17 GMT Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services