Research seminars--conversations with one or more presenters that usually focus on a precirculated paper--take place between late September and early May. Programs are offered in five different series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender, and the New England Biography Seminar. Learn more about each series and subscribe to receive advance copies of the papers that will be discussed.

 

RSVP required. Please email seminars@masshist.org or phone 617-646-0568.

March

Environmental History Seminar Fear of an Open Beach: The Privatization of the Connecticut Shore and the Fate of Coastal America 10 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of ...

This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of municipalities to protect exclusionary laws from the effects of civil rights movements. It argues that overdeveloped coastlines have been the product of racial and class segregation; thus, the battle over public access to the nation’s shoreline during the 1970s sheds light on the roots of the environmental crisis facing America’s coast.

details
Environmental History Seminar An Enervating Environment: Altered Bodies in the Lowcountry and the British West Indies 17 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Katherine Johnston, Columbia University Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts - Boston Rescheduled from February 10. This paper examines the interactions between humans ...

Rescheduled from February 10.

This paper examines the interactions between humans and the environment in the eighteenth century. Both Britons and creoles believed in a close connection between bodies and place, and colonists tried to change the environment based on those perceptions. That interaction created concern for Caribbean inhabitants who attempted to manage the environment to promote their health while noting the environmental changes their actions caused.

details
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Remaking Boston's Chinatown: Race, Place, and Redevelopment after World War II 24 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Thomas Chen, Brown University Comment: Jim Vrabel, author of A People's History of the New Boston This paper examines how Boston’s Chinese American community confronted urban change in the ...

This paper examines how Boston’s Chinese American community confronted urban change in the decades after World War II. Focusing on contests over Chinatown space and place, it explores how postwar formations of Chinese American identity and community were intertwined with the urban transformation that Boston and other American cities underwent in this period.

details
Early American History Seminar Frontiers and Geopolitics of Early America 31 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Patrick Spero, Williams College Comment: Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College This essay investigates the use of the term “frontier” in its colonial context to show ...

This essay investigates the use of the term “frontier” in its colonial context to show that the word conveyed a potent message that affected the political development of British North America. More than just an etymological exercise, the research shows how governmental and social understandings of frontiers and their specific locations influenced official policies and settler action. It argues that a disagreement over the location and treatment of the imperial frontier in the 1760s created a crisis of empire in the years preceding Independence. The essay ends with an examination of changes to the word’s meaning within American society in the early national period.

details
April
Biography Seminar Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter 2 April 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Dava Sobel in conversation with Susan Ware A conversation with the author of Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the ...

A conversation with the author of Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, and Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, on the subject of writing scientific biography.

details
Environmental History Seminar Legacy Pollution Issues in Energy Development: The Cases of Manufactured Gas and Natural Gas 14 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University Patrick Malone, Brown University This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy ...

This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy transitions and their legacy. The cases will focus upon the manufactured gas industry with Massachusetts examples and conventional natural gas development in western Pennsylvania.

details
History of Women and Gender Seminar Mildred Jefferson and the Right to Life Revolution of 1976 23 April 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jennifer Donnally, Hollins University Sara L. Dubrow, Williams College Dr. Mildred Faye Jefferson was an African American Republican who became a pivotal leader of the ...

Dr. Mildred Faye Jefferson was an African American Republican who became a pivotal leader of the American conservative movement when she presided over the National Right to Life Committee, the largest anti-abortion organization in the United States, from 1974 to 1978. As president, Jefferson prioritized a lobbying campaign to cut federal Medicaid funding of abortion for poor, minority, and underage women. This paper focuses on Mildred Jefferson and the anti-abortion Medicaid campaign to illustrate how conservative minority women employed categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality to break down existing political coalitions and forge new alliances, paving the way for the Reagan Revolution of 1980.

details
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Due Credit: Chinese Workers and the Central Pacific Railroad 28 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Manu Vimalassery, Barnard College Hidetaka Hirota, Columbia University It is commonplace to remember Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad as part of a pageant of ...

It is commonplace to remember Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad as part of a pageant of
national belonging. But if we focus on imperialism and capitalism, rather than belonging, how might we
remember Chinese migrant labor on the Central Pacific differently? This talk will consider Chinese
railroad labor in relation to the history and politics of imperialism, race, and freedom, in a context of
global Chinese and South Asian indentured labor migrations. Chinese workers’ migration debts, as well
as their racialization and community institutions, provided means of labor control, exploitation, and
differentiation that were at the heart of Central Pacific Railroad business strategies. These strategies
displaced risk and violence onto Chinese workers in order to concentrate profit and power at the upper
echelons of corporate decision-making.

details
May
Early American History Seminar "All Manner of Slavery Servitude Labour Service Bondage and Hire": Varieties of Indian and African Unfreedom in Colonial New England and Jamaica 5 May 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Linford Fisher, Brown University Comment: Jennifer Anderson, SUNY - Stonybrook New England and Jamaica seemed worlds apart during the colonial period, on the surface at least. But ...

New England and Jamaica seemed worlds apart during the colonial period, on the surface at least. But is it possible that there was more than meets the eye? This paper investigates varying ways that people of color labored in Jamaica and New England, and how these unfree circumstances changed over time.

details
More events
Environmental History Seminar Fear of an Open Beach: The Privatization of the Connecticut Shore and the Fate of Coastal America 10 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

This essay traces the rise of private beaches along the Connecticut shore and the efforts of municipalities to protect exclusionary laws from the effects of civil rights movements. It argues that overdeveloped coastlines have been the product of racial and class segregation; thus, the battle over public access to the nation’s shoreline during the 1970s sheds light on the roots of the environmental crisis facing America’s coast.

close
Environmental History Seminar An Enervating Environment: Altered Bodies in the Lowcountry and the British West Indies 17 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Katherine Johnston, Columbia University Conevery Bolton Valencius, University of Massachusetts - Boston

Rescheduled from February 10.

This paper examines the interactions between humans and the environment in the eighteenth century. Both Britons and creoles believed in a close connection between bodies and place, and colonists tried to change the environment based on those perceptions. That interaction created concern for Caribbean inhabitants who attempted to manage the environment to promote their health while noting the environmental changes their actions caused.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Remaking Boston's Chinatown: Race, Place, and Redevelopment after World War II 24 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Thomas Chen, Brown University Comment: Jim Vrabel, author of A People's History of the New Boston

This paper examines how Boston’s Chinese American community confronted urban change in the decades after World War II. Focusing on contests over Chinatown space and place, it explores how postwar formations of Chinese American identity and community were intertwined with the urban transformation that Boston and other American cities underwent in this period.

close
Early American History Seminar Frontiers and Geopolitics of Early America 31 March 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Patrick Spero, Williams College Comment: Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College

This essay investigates the use of the term “frontier” in its colonial context to show that the word conveyed a potent message that affected the political development of British North America. More than just an etymological exercise, the research shows how governmental and social understandings of frontiers and their specific locations influenced official policies and settler action. It argues that a disagreement over the location and treatment of the imperial frontier in the 1760s created a crisis of empire in the years preceding Independence. The essay ends with an examination of changes to the word’s meaning within American society in the early national period.

close
Biography Seminar Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter 2 April 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Dava Sobel in conversation with Susan Ware

A conversation with the author of Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time, and Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love, on the subject of writing scientific biography.

close
Environmental History Seminar Legacy Pollution Issues in Energy Development: The Cases of Manufactured Gas and Natural Gas 14 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University Patrick Malone, Brown University

This paper will present two case studies concerning the environmental impacts of past energy transitions and their legacy. The cases will focus upon the manufactured gas industry with Massachusetts examples and conventional natural gas development in western Pennsylvania.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Mildred Jefferson and the Right to Life Revolution of 1976 23 April 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Jennifer Donnally, Hollins University Sara L. Dubrow, Williams College

Dr. Mildred Faye Jefferson was an African American Republican who became a pivotal leader of the American conservative movement when she presided over the National Right to Life Committee, the largest anti-abortion organization in the United States, from 1974 to 1978. As president, Jefferson prioritized a lobbying campaign to cut federal Medicaid funding of abortion for poor, minority, and underage women. This paper focuses on Mildred Jefferson and the anti-abortion Medicaid campaign to illustrate how conservative minority women employed categories of race, class, gender, and sexuality to break down existing political coalitions and forge new alliances, paving the way for the Reagan Revolution of 1980.

close
Immigration and Urban History Seminar Due Credit: Chinese Workers and the Central Pacific Railroad 28 April 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Manu Vimalassery, Barnard College Hidetaka Hirota, Columbia University

It is commonplace to remember Chinese labor on the transcontinental railroad as part of a pageant of
national belonging. But if we focus on imperialism and capitalism, rather than belonging, how might we
remember Chinese migrant labor on the Central Pacific differently? This talk will consider Chinese
railroad labor in relation to the history and politics of imperialism, race, and freedom, in a context of
global Chinese and South Asian indentured labor migrations. Chinese workers’ migration debts, as well
as their racialization and community institutions, provided means of labor control, exploitation, and
differentiation that were at the heart of Central Pacific Railroad business strategies. These strategies
displaced risk and violence onto Chinese workers in order to concentrate profit and power at the upper
echelons of corporate decision-making.

close
Early American History Seminar "All Manner of Slavery Servitude Labour Service Bondage and Hire": Varieties of Indian and African Unfreedom in Colonial New England and Jamaica 5 May 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
Linford Fisher, Brown University Comment: Jennifer Anderson, SUNY - Stonybrook

New England and Jamaica seemed worlds apart during the colonial period, on the surface at least. But is it possible that there was more than meets the eye? This paper investigates varying ways that people of color labored in Jamaica and New England, and how these unfree circumstances changed over time.

close

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