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Febnruary 2015

God Save the People! Opens 27 February

Boston Massacre engraving by Paul RevereTo tell the story of the coming of the American Revolution in Boston, God Save the People! From the Stamp Act to Bunker Hill follows the evolution of colonial thought and political action through the letters and diaries of men and women caught up in the conflict, together with political cartoons, newspapers, maps, artifacts, and portraits. This is the story of celebrated Sons and Daughters of Liberty along with forgotten patriots who died for a country-to-be, brothers who served against each other in the courtroom, propagandists and war profiteers, merchants whose enterprise was threatened by political chaos, young lovers divided by battle lines, and a teenage African American poet who had to sail to England to secure her freedom. The exhibition is on display at the Society 27 February through 4 September, Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

MHS Fellows and Members are invited to an exhibition preview and reception at 6:00 PM on Thursday, 26 February. Registration is required for the MHS Fellows and Members exhibtion preview.

From the Stacks: Deliberate Spinsterhood in the 19th Century

MHS stacksMaria Denny Fay (1820-1890) was an attractive, accomplished young woman living in Cambridge, Mass. But in spite of pressure to get married and a pool of eligible suitors, she decided to remain single, telling her brother that she was "created entire" and didn't need "a better or worse half." The only unmarried sibling in the large and prominent Fay family, Maria later became a benefactor of Radcliffe College. Read more about Maria Denny Fay.

Landscape Architects Series Begins 4 March

Muddy RiverJoin us for a series of programs on some of New England's most distinguished landscape architects. The series has been made possible by the generous underwriting of Stephen Stimson Associates Landscape Architects and is cosponsored by the Friends of Mount Auburn and the Nichols House Museum. Charles Eliot & the Modernization of Boston's Landscape with Anita Berrizbeitia kicks off the series on 4 March. The Brookline Troika with Keith Morgan will take place on 11 March and Landscape Architect Arthur Shurcliff with Elizabeth Hope Cushing will take place on 18 March. Each program begins with a reception at 5:30 PM followed by the talk at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 fee for each program (attend all three for $20). There is no fee for members of the Friends of Mount Auburn, the Nichols House Museum, or MHS Fellows and Members.

Investment Management in Boston: A History Now Available

Investment Management in BostonFrom the China Trade, to the "Boston trustee" and the "Prudent Man Rule," to today's mutual funds and venture capital, the Hub has been a leader in financial innovation and stability. Investment Management in Boston, by David Grayson Allen, chronicles this long history in a volume published in cooperation with the MHS and underwritten by generous contributions. The product of years of research, it is based in part on interviews with key leaders in financial management during the twentieth century. We are pleased to announce that the book is now available from the University of Massachusetts Press. A reception to celebrate the book launch will be held at the Society on Monday, 6 April at 5:30 PM. Please call 617-646-0515 for more information.

American Revolution Conference and Keynote Address

2015 conference"So Sudden an Alteration": The Causes, Course, & Consequences of the American Revolution
9 to 11 April

A limited number of spaces are still available for this three-day conference on the American Revolution, which will focus on key themes intended to inspire future scholarship. For more information and to register online, visit

In nine sessions, attendees will discuss pre-circulated scholarly papers, which will not be read at the program. The conference will feature a keynote address by Woody Holton, "'Not Yet': The Originality Crisis in American Revolution Studies," and a proposal by Boston University Professor of History Brendan McConville, "In the Year One: The Revolution Reconsidered." It will also include an introduction to the digital collection Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr. Sponsors include the David Library of the American Revolution, the MHS, the Lowell Institute, Boston University, and Williams College.

RSVP to Attend the Woody Holton Lecture "'Not Yet': The Originality Crisis in American Revolution Studies,"
9 April at 5:00 PM

The public is invited to attend the conference keynote address by Woody Holton. A reception will follow. Holton is the McCausland Professor of History at the University of South Carolina and the author of Abigail Adams. There is no charge for the program, but seating is limited and registration is required. Phone 617-646-0568 or e-mail to attend.

Seminar Series Invite Proposals for 2015-2016

MHS Seminar RoomWe continue to accept proposals for 2015-2016 for four of the five seminar series we host each year, the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, and the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender (in collaboration with the Schlesinger Library). Each series focuses on the discussion of a pre-circulated research paper. The essayist and an assigned commentator offer remarks, then the discussion is opened to the floor. To view the current series, please visit

If you wish to be considered for a slot, please send your CV and a one-page précis of your paper by 15 March to Conrad E. Wright, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215, or to Please indicate the series for which you are submitting your proposal and state when your paper will be available for distribution.

Object of the Month

First to Fly for France: Frazier Curtis and the Birth of the Lafayette Flying Corps

Barographic readingThis is a barographic reading of a training flight, probably made by Frazier Curtis at a French aviation school at Pau early in 1915. A barograph is a recording barometer that reports both the height of a flight, measured by changes in atmospheric pressure, and a flight's endurance, recorded by the advance of a clockwork mechanism. Pilots at Pau had to prove that they could attain a height of 6,500 feet and maintain it for an hour before they were ready for active duty. Read more about Frazier Curtis and his interest in aviation.

Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice

February 1865: "Slavery is dead – dead – dead"

Brooks diaryWilliam Gray Brooks diary 5, pages 1031-1032 with entries for 1-4 February 1865

"As the official information of the signing of the amendment to the Constitution by the President abolishing slavery forever in the States came yesterday, a salute of 100 guns was fired on the Common and the bells of the City rung one hour by request of the Governor," writes William Gray Brooks, a Boston merchant, in his diary entry for 2 February 1865, describing the euphoric reaction of many in the city of Boston to the news of the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Brooks reveals both personal and political interest in the progress of the Civil War throughout his diary. Read more about William Gray Brooks.

Opening 27 February

God Save the People! From the Stamp Act to Bunker Hill

stampTo tell the story of the coming of the American Revolution in Boston, this exhibition follows the evolution of colonial thought and political action through the letters and diaries of men and women caught up in the conflict, together with political cartoons, newspapers, maps, artifacts, and portraits. The exhibition is on display at the Society 27 February through 4 September.

Explore the coming of the American Revolution through these online displays. Perspectives of the Boston Massacre is an interactive website that allows visitors to examine materials offering a range of perspectives related to the events of 5 March 1765. The Siege of Boston presents more than one dozen accounts written by individuals personally engaged in or affected by the Siege which occurred from April 1775 to March 1776. The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr., presents the complete four volume set of Revolutionary-era Boston newspapers and pamphlets assembled, annotated, and indexed by Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a shopkeeper in Boston. Discover the fears, friction, and turmoil that shaped these times with The Coming of the American Revolution, a web display of newspapers, official documents, and personal correspondence arranged into fifteen key topics.

The exhibition galleries are open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

MHS Events Calendar

The MHS will be closed on Monday, 16 February, for Presidents' Day.

Tuesday, 17 February 12:00 PM

Author Talk
The Great Catastrophe: Armenians & Turks Come to Terms with Genocide, Memory, & Identity
Thomas de Waal, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Thursday, 19 February 6:00 PM

Author Talk
The Culinary Lives of John & Abigail Adams: A Cookbook
Rosana Y. Wan, independent author
This program is part of the Adams Family series
Pre-talk reception at 5:30
There is a $10 fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members)
Registration required: The Culinary Lives of John & Abigail Adams

Tuesday, 24 February 5:15 PM

Immigration and Urban History Seminar
"I Had Ample Opportunity to Notice the City as It then Was": Social & Economic Geographies in New York City, 1783–1830
Steven Carl Smith, Providence College
Comment: Joshua Greenberg, Bridgewater State College
Registration required: "I Had Ample Opportunity"

Thursday, 26 February 6:00 PM

Special Event
God Save the People! MHS Fellows and Members Preview Reception
This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members
Registration required: God Save the People!

Saturday, 28 February 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History and Collections of the MHS

Tuesday, 3 March 5:15 PM

Early American History Seminar
Degrees of Britishness: The People of Albany, New York, & Questions of Cultural Community Membership, 1763–1775
Elizabeth M. Covart, Boston, Massachusetts
Comment: Lisa Wilson, Connecticut College
Registration required: Degrees of Britishness

Wednesday, 4 March 12:00 PM

John Quincy Adams & the Paradox of Anglo-American Relations in the Early Republic: The London Years, 1815–1817
Robert Shimp, Boston University

Wednesday, 4 March 6:00 PM

Author Talk
Charles Eliot & the Modernization of Boston's Landscape
Anita Berrizbeitia, Harvard Graduate School of Design
This program is part of the Landscape Architects Series
Pre-talk reception at 5:30
There is a $10 fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members, members of Mount Auburn Cemetery, and members of the Nichols House Museum)
Registration required: Charles Eliot

Saturday, 7 March 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History and Collections of the MHS

Tuesday, 10 March 5:15 PM

Environmental History Seminar
Fear of an Open Beach: The Privatization of the Connecticut Shore & the Fate of Coastal America
Andrew W. Kahrl, University of Virginia
Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Registration required: Fear of an Open Beach

All events are free and open to the public and held at the MHS unless otherwise noted. Reservations are requested for most events. There is a charge to receive seminar papers in advance.

For complete event and RSVP information, visit the MHS online calendar:

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