Subscribe to this seminar series for $25, and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

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The Boston Area Early American History Seminar provides a forum for local scholars as well as members of the general public to discuss all aspects of North American history and culture from the first English colonization to the Civil War. Six to eight sessions take place annually during the academic year. Programs are not confined to Massachusetts topics, and most focus on works in progress.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

October

Early American History Seminar Copley’s Cato or, The Art of Slavery in the Age of British Liberty 6 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jane Kamensky, Harvard University Comment: David L. Waldstreicher, Graduate Center, CUNY These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color,  ...

These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color, pull at a knotty thread in Copley’s biography as it did through his world: the tangle of slavery and liberty. We follow the artist as he became, like many in his place and time, an owner of men and women. Shortly thereafter, the painter pioneered images that revolutionized the portrayal of people of African descent in Western art. Our discussion will explore the seeming contradiction between the roles bondspeople played in Copley’s American household and upon his epic British canvases.

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November
Early American History Seminar Peter Faneuil’s World: The Huguenot International and New England, 1682-1742 3 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Owen Stanwood, Boston College Comment: Wim Klooster, Clark University Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city ...

Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city's most famous buildings. Fewer know about the context of the family's migration to New England. The Faneuils were just one of the many Huguenot families to settle in the region, and their story demonstrates that Boston was not an isolated Puritan bastion, but an important node in an interconnected Protestant Atlantic world.

More
December
Early American History Seminar Faces, Beauty, and Brains: Physiognomy and Female Education in Post-Revolutionary America 1 December 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Rachel Walker, University of Maryland Comment: Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science&rdquo ...

This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science” of interpreting facial features—to distinguish between the minds of men and women. The work examines diaries of several “female physiognomists” who focused on evaluating the intellectual capacities of other educated women. Ultimately, the research traces how different groups of individuals used physiognomy to make sense of human nature.

More
January
Early American History Seminar The Providence of John and Abigail Adams 19 January 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Sara Georgini, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society Comment: Chris Beneke, Bentley University Asked for a religious affiliation, many Americans now begin their reply with, “Well, I was ...

Asked for a religious affiliation, many Americans now begin their reply with, “Well, I was raised…” but family stories of religious life in American history are curiously rare. Providentialist Christianity led the Adamses out of England in 1638, through the Revolution, and, fitfully, into the early republic. Colonists-turned-citizens such as John and Abigail Adams sampled a range of religions, developing a cosmopolitan Christianity. What did it mean for the Adamses of Massachusetts to be “raised” Christian in America?

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February
Early American History Seminar Sound Believers: Rhyme and Right Belief 2 February 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Wendy Roberts, University at Albany, SUNY Comment: Stephen A. Marini, Wellesley College This essay examines the connection between poetry and evangelicalism in the eighteenth and early ...

This essay examines the connection between poetry and evangelicalism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It argues that the far-reaching social transformations precipitated by evangelical awakenings depended upon the development of revival poetry. Studying both the first and second “Great Awakenings,” the work explores how both ministers and lay people helped to create a distinct style of Christian poetry.

More
March
Early American History Seminar “Unawed by the Laws of their Country”: The Role of English Law in North Carolina’s Regulator Rebellion 1 March 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Abigail Chandler, University of Massachusetts—Lowell Comment: Hon. Hiller Zobel, Masschusetts Superior Court This project explores the use of English legal and political traditions in the three-year Regulator ...

This project explores the use of English legal and political traditions in the three-year Regulator Rebellion of North Carolina. The essay will address how these traditions impacted the motivations and justifications of both Regulators and the North Carolina government, while simultaneously incorporating a wider discussion of English identity and American colonists in the 1760s.

More
April
Early American History Seminar Constructing Castle William: An Intimate History of Labor and Empire in Provincial America 5 April 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jared Hardesty, Western Washington University Comment: Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire This seminar will examine the tumultuous construction of Castle William, a fort meant to protect ...

This seminar will examine the tumultuous construction of Castle William, a fort meant to protect Boston Harbor. Begun in 1701, this five-year project was fraught with corruption, labor strife, supply shortages, ineptitude, and tension between colonial desires and imperial ambition. Hardesty will explore the fort as a microcosm of imperial reform and as a lens into post-Glorious Revolution attempts to build empire in Massachusetts and other mainland colonies.

More
May
Early American History Seminar “They bid me speak what I thought he would give”: The Commodification of Captive Peoples during King Phillip’s War 3 May 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Joanne Jahnke Wegner, University of Minnesota Comment: Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College This essay will address the systems of human trafficking that circulated both Native American and ...

This essay will address the systems of human trafficking that circulated both Native American and English captives during King Phillip’s War. Using the examples of Mary Rowlandson and King Phillip’s nameless son, the study explores the processes that turned captive peoples into commodities exchangeable for currency, material goods, or other humans. It argues that this commodification facilitated the circulation, exchange, and exploitation of captive peoples through human trafficking during King Phillip’s War.

More
More events
Early American History Seminar Copley’s Cato or, The Art of Slavery in the Age of British Liberty Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 6 October 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jane Kamensky, Harvard University Comment: David L. Waldstreicher, Graduate Center, CUNY

These pages from several chapters of Kamensky’s manuscript, Copley: A Life in Color, pull at a knotty thread in Copley’s biography as it did through his world: the tangle of slavery and liberty. We follow the artist as he became, like many in his place and time, an owner of men and women. Shortly thereafter, the painter pioneered images that revolutionized the portrayal of people of African descent in Western art. Our discussion will explore the seeming contradiction between the roles bondspeople played in Copley’s American household and upon his epic British canvases.

close
Early American History Seminar Peter Faneuil’s World: The Huguenot International and New England, 1682-1742 Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 3 November 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Owen Stanwood, Boston College Comment: Wim Klooster, Clark University

Almost every Bostonian knows the name of Peter (or Pierre) Fanueil, the namesake of one of the city's most famous buildings. Fewer know about the context of the family's migration to New England. The Faneuils were just one of the many Huguenot families to settle in the region, and their story demonstrates that Boston was not an isolated Puritan bastion, but an important node in an interconnected Protestant Atlantic world.

close
Early American History Seminar Faces, Beauty, and Brains: Physiognomy and Female Education in Post-Revolutionary America Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 1 December 2015.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Rachel Walker, University of Maryland Comment: Robert A. Gross, University of Connecticut

This project explores how early republican Americans used physiognomy—the “science” of interpreting facial features—to distinguish between the minds of men and women. The work examines diaries of several “female physiognomists” who focused on evaluating the intellectual capacities of other educated women. Ultimately, the research traces how different groups of individuals used physiognomy to make sense of human nature.

close
Early American History Seminar The Providence of John and Abigail Adams Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 19 January 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Sara Georgini, Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society Comment: Chris Beneke, Bentley University

Asked for a religious affiliation, many Americans now begin their reply with, “Well, I was raised…” but family stories of religious life in American history are curiously rare. Providentialist Christianity led the Adamses out of England in 1638, through the Revolution, and, fitfully, into the early republic. Colonists-turned-citizens such as John and Abigail Adams sampled a range of religions, developing a cosmopolitan Christianity. What did it mean for the Adamses of Massachusetts to be “raised” Christian in America?

close
Early American History Seminar Sound Believers: Rhyme and Right Belief Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 2 February 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Wendy Roberts, University at Albany, SUNY Comment: Stephen A. Marini, Wellesley College

This essay examines the connection between poetry and evangelicalism in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It argues that the far-reaching social transformations precipitated by evangelical awakenings depended upon the development of revival poetry. Studying both the first and second “Great Awakenings,” the work explores how both ministers and lay people helped to create a distinct style of Christian poetry.

close
Early American History Seminar “Unawed by the Laws of their Country”: The Role of English Law in North Carolina’s Regulator Rebellion Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 1 March 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Abigail Chandler, University of Massachusetts—Lowell Comment: Hon. Hiller Zobel, Masschusetts Superior Court

This project explores the use of English legal and political traditions in the three-year Regulator Rebellion of North Carolina. The essay will address how these traditions impacted the motivations and justifications of both Regulators and the North Carolina government, while simultaneously incorporating a wider discussion of English identity and American colonists in the 1760s.

close
Early American History Seminar Constructing Castle William: An Intimate History of Labor and Empire in Provincial America Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 5 April 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jared Hardesty, Western Washington University Comment: Eliga H. Gould, University of New Hampshire

This seminar will examine the tumultuous construction of Castle William, a fort meant to protect Boston Harbor. Begun in 1701, this five-year project was fraught with corruption, labor strife, supply shortages, ineptitude, and tension between colonial desires and imperial ambition. Hardesty will explore the fort as a microcosm of imperial reform and as a lens into post-Glorious Revolution attempts to build empire in Massachusetts and other mainland colonies.

close
Early American History Seminar “They bid me speak what I thought he would give”: The Commodification of Captive Peoples during King Phillip’s War Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 3 May 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Joanne Jahnke Wegner, University of Minnesota Comment: Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College

This essay will address the systems of human trafficking that circulated both Native American and English captives during King Phillip’s War. Using the examples of Mary Rowlandson and King Phillip’s nameless son, the study explores the processes that turned captive peoples into commodities exchangeable for currency, material goods, or other humans. It argues that this commodification facilitated the circulation, exchange, and exploitation of captive peoples through human trafficking during King Phillip’s War.

close

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