January

MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 20 January 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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History of Women and Gender Seminar The "Woman Inventor" as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights in the 19th-Century United States 23 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Kara Swanson, Northeastern University School of Law Comment: Rebecca Herzig, Bates College After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the ...

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book project, this paper demonstrates how nineteenth-century American women mobilized patents granted to women as justification for civil rights claims. It identifies the creation of the “woman inventor” as a cultural trope and political weapon of resistance.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Conversation Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Award & Reception 25 January 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Tamara Plakins Thornton, University at Buffalo, and Catherine Allgor, MHS Please join us for a special evening in which Tamara Plakins Thornton will receive the 2017 Gomes ...

Please join us for a special evening in which Tamara Plakins Thornton will receive the 2017 Gomes Prize for Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a 19th-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life. Thornton will join MHS President and Dolley Madison biographer Catherine Allgor in a conversation about why historians become biographers. How do they pull off that transformation? Thornton and Allgor will explore what drew them to the life of a single individual after they had published “standard” historical monographs. They will address the sorts of novel challenges they faced as both scholars and writers— and the new intellectual pleasures they encountered.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 27 January 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Public Program, Conversation Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film 29 January 2018.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Martha McNamara, Wellesley College, and Karan Sheldon, Northeast Historic Film $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). The term “amateur film” conjures visions of shaky, out-of-focus images depicting family ...

The term “amateur film” conjures visions of shaky, out-of-focus images depicting family vacations and kids’ birthday parties, but early twentieth-century amateur filmmaking produced irreplaceable records of people’s lives and beloved places. This volume of essays, interprets a wide variety of visually expressive amateur films made in New England. Martha McNamara and Karan Sheldon will highlight three examples: the comedies of landscape architect Sidney N. Shurcliff, depictions of pastoral family life by Elizabeth Woodman Wright, and the chronicles of Anna B. Harris, an African American resident of Manchester, Vermont.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “Momentum Toward Evil Is Strong”: Poor Women, Moral Panics, and the Rise of Crime-Fighting Policing in Depression-Era America 30 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Anne Gray Fischer, Brown University Comment: Michael Willrich, Brandeis University Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and ...

Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and incompetent political liability to a professional crime-fighting regime. This essay explores the dramatic shift in public perception by studying the changing practices of Depression-era morality policing in Boston and Los Angeles—specifically, the police enforcement of morals misdemeanors, including vagrancy, disorderly conduct, lewdness, and prostitution, which disproportionately targeted poor women on city streets.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Indian Doctresses: Race, Labor, and Medicine in the 19th-century United States 31 January 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Angela Hudson, Texas A&M University This project focuses on women who worked as Indian doctresses and the clients who sought their care ...

This project focuses on women who worked as Indian doctresses and the clients who sought their care. The study strives to more fully integrate indigeneity into fields of study from which it is often absent, most notably labor history and the history of medicine.

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February
MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 3 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Early American History Seminar “We all agree to exclude...those of unsound mind”: Disability, Doctors, and the Law in the Early Republic 6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut Between 1790 and 1840, Americans deemed to be cognitively disabled lost the right to vote, marry, ...

Between 1790 and 1840, Americans deemed to be cognitively disabled lost the right to vote, marry, immigrate, obtain residency, and live independently. This paper charts these legal developments in Massachusetts as well as how disabled people used the courts to negotiate these constraints. Despite some successes, contesting incapacity became increasingly difficult towards the mid-nineteenth century when physicians became regular and trusted expert witnesses in court.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag John Winthrop, Benjamin Martin, & Worlds of Scientific Work 7 February 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Pierce Williams, Carnegie Mellon University Benjamin Martin was regarded by natural philosophers of his age as a showman and peddler of pseudo ...

Benjamin Martin was regarded by natural philosophers of his age as a showman and peddler of pseudo-scientific trinkets. At the same time, John Winthrop was working to elevate the North American colonies in the topography of learned culture. This project attempts to understand Winthrop's puzzling choice of Martin to refurbish Harvard's scientific instrument collection after the college laboratory burned to the ground in 1764.

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Public Program, Author Talk Reconsidering King Philip’s War 7 February 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Lisa Brooks, Amherst College, and Christine DeLucia, Mount Holyoke College There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). Two historians reexamine the narrative of one of colonial America’s most devastating conflicts ...

Two historians reexamine the narrative of one of colonial America’s most devastating conflicts. Lisa Brooks recovers a complex picture of war, captivity, and Native resistance during the “First Indian War” by relaying the stories of Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader, and James Printer, a Nipmuc scholar, whose stories converge in the captivity of Mary Rowlandson. Christine DeLucia offers a major reconsideration of the war, providing an alternative to Pilgrim-centric narratives that have dominated the histories of colonial New England, grounding her study in five specific places that were directly affected by the crisis, spanning the Northeast as well as the Atlantic world. These two works offer new perspectives. The program will include short presentations by both scholars followed by a conversation.

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Public Program, Author Talk Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America 8 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Douglas Egerton, Le Moyne College $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). One of the most treasured objects belonging to the Society’s collection is the battle sword of ...

One of the most treasured objects belonging to the Society’s collection is the battle sword of Robert Gould Shaw, the leader of the courageous 54th Massachusetts infantry, the first black regiment in the North. The prominent Shaw family of Boston and New York had long been involved in reform, including antislavery and feminism, and their son, Robert, took up the mantle of his family’s progressive stances, though perhaps more reluctantly. In this lecture, historian Douglas R. Egerton focuses on the entire Shaw family during the war years and how following generationshave dealt with their legacy.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 10 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager 13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of ...

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Author Talk Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of American Wealth & Populism in America’s First Gilded Age 15 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 Noam Maggor, Cornell University $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). Brahmin Capitalism explores how the moneyed elite of Boston mobilized to reinvent the American ...

Brahmin Capitalism explores how the moneyed elite of Boston mobilized to reinvent the American economy in the aftermath of the Civil War. With the decline of cotton-based textile manufacturing and the abolition of slavery, Maggor shows these gentleman bankers traveled far and wide in search of new business opportunities and found them in the mines, railroads, and industries of the Great West. They leveraged their wealth to forge transcontinental networks of commodities, labor, and transportation leading the way to the nationally integrated corporate capitalism of the 20th century.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 17 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Building Closed Presidents Day 19 February 2018.Monday, all day The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Presidents Day. 

The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Presidents Day. 

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Public Program, Author Talk Growing Up with the Country 20 February 2018.Tuesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 Kendra Field, Tufts University There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the ...

Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom’s first generation in the 50 years after emancipation. She traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black towns and settlements. When statehood, oil speculation, and segregation imperiled their lives, some launched a back-to-Africa movement while others moved to Canada and Mexico. Interweaving black, white, and Indian histories, Field’s narrative explores how ideas about race and color powerfully shaped the pursuit of freedom.

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Teacher Workshop Yankees in the West 21 February 2018.Wednesday, all day Please RSVP   Registration fee: $25 per person Explore the American West through the eyes of 19th-century New Englanders. Participants will read ...

Explore the American West through the eyes of 19th-century New Englanders. Participants will read the diaries and letters of Gold Rush hopefuls, intrepid train travelers, and tourists in search of “authentic” Native Americans. Using the Society’s current exhibition as our guide, we will investigate how writers, artists, and photographers sensationalized the frontier experience for eastern audiences and conceptualized the West for Americans who increasingly embraced the nation’s manifest destiny.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an additional fee).

Image: Front and back cover of a fold-out map of Yellowstone National Park, produced by the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1893. MHS Collections. 

 

Highlights:

  • View and analyze documents and artifacts from the Society's collections.
  • Follow New Englanders to the Gold Rush through their letters and diaires. 
  • Investigate the lives of women in the trans-Mississippi West. 
  • Explore portrayals of Native Americans captured by New England writers, painters, and photographers. 
  • Learn more about the Adams family's connection to the West. 


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Brown Bag Billets & Barracks: The Quartering Act & the Coming of the American Revolution 21 February 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM John McCurdy, Eastern Michigan University The arrival of British soldiers in the 1750s forced Americans to ask “where do soldiers ...

The arrival of British soldiers in the 1750s forced Americans to ask “where do soldiers belong?” This project investigates how they answered this question, arguing that it prompted them to rethink the meaning of places like the home and the city, as well as to reevaluate British military power.

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Public Program For the Union Dead: Bostonians Travel East in Search of Answers in the Post-Civil War Era 22 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Mark Rennella After the Civil War, artists and writers from Boston faced a question that haunted America: ...

After the Civil War, artists and writers from Boston faced a question that haunted America: what’s next? For cultural leaders like Charles Eliot Norton and Isabella Stewart Gardner, Reconstruction left them feeling directionless and betrayed. Shunning the Whig narrative of history, these “Boston Cosmopolitans” researched Europe’s long past to discover and share examples of civil society shaped by high ideals.

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Teacher Workshop Slavery & the U.S. Supreme Court 24 February 2018.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Please RSVP   Registration fee: $25 per person How did the personal and political philosophies of Justices John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, and ...

How did the personal and political philosophies of Justices John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, and Joseph Story influence their proslavery positions? Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College, will discuss why these three influential justices upheld the institution of slavery and continued to deny black Americans their freedom. Participants will connect these federal rulings to local court cases, as well as antislavery and abolitionist efforts to undermine these unpopular decrees.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an 

Highlights:

  • Meet Professor Paul Finkelman and discuss his new book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation's Highest Court. (Hardvard University Press, 2018)
  • Investigate the history of slavery and antislavery in Massachusetts. 
  • View and analyze documents and artifacts from the Society's collections


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Public Program, Author Talk Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court 26 February 2018.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Paul Finkelman, University of Pittsburgh School of Law There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War Chief Justices John Marshall ...

The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger B. Taney and Associate Justice Joseph Story upheld the institution of slavery in ruling after ruling. These opinions cast a shadow over the Court and the legacies of these men, but historians have rarely delved deeply into the personal and political ideas and motivations they held. In Supreme Injustice Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the incentives created by his private life.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Capitalism and Culture 27 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jonathan Cohen, University of Virginia, and Davor Mondom, Syracuse University Comment: Sven Beckert, Harvard University This panel examines the reaction against welfare state capitalism in the mid-20th century U.S., ...

This panel examines the reaction against welfare state capitalism in the mid-20th century U.S., looking at two companies that promoted themselves as bastions of free enterprise or as a solution to high state taxes. Mondom’s paper is “Capitalism with a Human Face: Amway, Direct Sales, and the Redemption of Free Enterprise.” Cohen’s essay is titled “Rivers of Gold: Scientific Games and the Spread of State Lotteries, 1980-1984.”

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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March
Dinner with Dolley Special Event Dinner with Dolley 1 March 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fund Giving Circle Members. Catherine Allgor, MHS President MHS Fund Giving Circle members are invited to a festive evening with good food,fine wine, and lively ...

MHS Fund Giving Circle members are invited to a festive evening with good food,fine wine, and lively conversation inspired by Dolley Madison. During dinner, MHS President Catherine Allgor, who is known for her published work on Dolley Madison, will provide history and fun facts about dining with Mrs. Madison. 

Dinner tickets are $100 per person. Please note that no tickets will be mailed; a master guest list will be at the door. 

Registration will open on 29 January.

This event is open only to MHS Fund Giving Circle Members. Join a Giving Circle today at www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 3 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Early American History Seminar, Environmental History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America 6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history ...

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag A Massachusetts Family's Exile & Return, 1775-1790 7 March 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM G. Patrick O'Brien, University of South Carolina After being forced to flee Marblehead in May 1775, the Robie family joined fellow refugees in ...

After being forced to flee Marblehead in May 1775, the Robie family joined fellow refugees in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In exile, each family member developed a unique perspective on his or her new home and outlook for the future. Repatriation further complicated these understandings and divided the family between two nations. This project explores how a family in exile struggled to maintain kinship networks while its members adapted to a new social environment.

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Public Program, Author Talk Chicago Renaissance: Literature & Art in the Midwest Metropolis 7 March 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Liesl Olson, Newberry Library There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). The remarkable cultural history of the great Midwestern city of Chicago contains some exceptional ...

The remarkable cultural history of the great Midwestern city of Chicago contains some exceptional modernist credentials. From the 1893 World’s Fair through mid-century, Chicago writers revolutionized literary forms during the first half of the 20th century, a period of sweeping aesthetic transformations all over the world. Olson’s enthralling study bridges the gap between two distinct and equally vital Chicago-based artistic “renaissance” moments: the primarily white renaissance of the early teens and the creative ferment of the “Black Metropolis” of Bronzeville.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 10 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Public Program, Conversation Grappling with Legacy 14 March 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Sylvia Brown in conversation with Edward Widmer There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). What fuels a family’s compulsion for philanthropy? Charitable giving is an intrinsic part of ...

What fuels a family’s compulsion for philanthropy? Charitable giving is an intrinsic part of our culture and its story can be told through a colorful, multifaceted family whose actions mirror America’s attitudes towards giving. Between 1638 and today, the Browns of Rhode Island have provided community leaders, endowed academic institutions, and transformed communities through art and architecture. However, they also have wrestled with society’s toughest issues slavery, immigration, child labor, inequality and with their own internal tensions. Sylvia Brown, of the family’s 11th generation, and Edward Widmer will explore this story.

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Teacher Workshop Monuments & Historical Memory 17 March 2018.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Please RSVP   Registration fee: $25 per person Who decides what should be remembered in public spaces? Is removing a monument the equivalent of ...

Who decides what should be remembered in public spaces? Is removing a monument the equivalent of erasing history, or should monuments change along with their communities? Join MHS in exploring how monuments and memorials can help students understand history, historical memory, and how national symbols play a critical role in articulating culture and identity.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an additional fee).

Image: Dedication of the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Boston, 31 May 1897, albumen print.

Highlights:

  • Explore WWII and Holocaust commemoration across the globe 
  • Learn about the history of Confederate monuments in America: When were they erected? Who built them? What do they signify? 
  • Discuss ways to engage students in conversation on current national debates over Confederate symbols in public spaces
  • Take a tour of Reconstruction-era Boston Monuments


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History of Women and Gender Seminar On Fantasy 20 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Fay House, Radcliffe Institute Rhae Lynn Barnes, Princeton University, and Emily Owens, Brown University Comment: Jasmine Johnson, Brown University This paper argues that fantasies of racial and gendered mastery—seen in law, racial ...

This paper argues that fantasies of racial and gendered mastery—seen in law, racial performance, and sexual violence—were important world-making tools in the nineteenth century. It looks at how white supremacist fantasies took shape in the courtroom and in blackface dramas, what their impact was, and how historians might begin to find and examine these fantasies in the archives.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Author Talk People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, & A New Movement for City Making 20 March 2018.Tuesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Karilyn Crockett There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). In 1948, inspired by changes to federal law, Massachusetts officials started to plan highways ...

In 1948, inspired by changes to federal law, Massachusetts officials started to plan highways circling and cutting through the heart of Boston. But when officials began to hold hearings in 1960 the people pushed back. The story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop a highway is one full of suspenseful twists and surprises. And yet the victory and its aftermath are undeniable: federally funded mass transit expansion, a linear central city park, and a highway-less urban corridor that serves as a daily reminder of the power of citizen-led city-making and has had lasting national implications.

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Biography Seminar “No Ideas But in Things”: Writing Lives from Objects 22 March 2018.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Deborah Lutz, University of Louisville; Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Amherst College; Susan Ware, Independent Scholar Moderator: Natalie Dykstra, Hope College Often a biographer confronts silences in the record of her subject, when part of the life story is ...

Often a biographer confronts silences in the record of her subject, when part of the life story is not documented with words. Mute sources—objects in the subject’s archive—can pose a challenge for interpretation, but also offer rich opportunities. How can biographers read objects as eloquent sources?

Panelists include Deborah Lutz, whose book The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects is a biography of the sisters centered on the humble objects they owned. Susan Ware, author of Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports, is using artifacts from the Schlesinger Library’s collections in her group biography of suffrage activists. Karen Sanchez-Eppler is writing In the Archives of Childhood: Playing with the Past, viewing children’s lives from material things. Natalie Dykstra, author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, will moderate.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 24 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar La Villanía Arizoniana: Disenfranchisement, Citizenship, and Defining the Body Politic in the Early 20th-Century US-Mexico Borderlands 27 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required John Bezis-Selfa, Wheaton College Comment: Alex Keyssar, Harvard Kennedy School In 1909 and 1912, the Arizona legislature enacted requirements that all voters be literate in ...

In 1909 and 1912, the Arizona legislature enacted requirements that all voters be literate in English, sparking a storm of multilingual protests in the papers and the courts. How and why Anglo-Arizonans took the right to vote from thousands of Mexican-American men and how Spanish-speakers fought back shows how conflicting views of race and ethnicity have influenced citizenship in the U.S.’s southwestern borderlands.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Learning the Values of a Dollar: Childhood & Cultures of Economy, 1825-1900 28 March 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Jaclyn Schultz, University of California at Santa Cruz Nineteenth-century children rarely had access to money, even when they worked. Yet, several forms ...

Nineteenth-century children rarely had access to money, even when they worked. Yet, several forms of authority instructed children in specific expectations of spending, saving, and giving. This talk explores how and why children were taught to interact with and value financial resources as well as how these lessons were racialized.

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Public Program, Conversation Protest & Citizenship 29 March 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Stephen Kantrowitz, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Crystal Feimster, Yale University; John Stauffer, Harvard University; and Chad Williams, Brandeis University This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities. Throughout American history many groups have struggled to establish their rights as citizens. While ...

Throughout American history many groups have struggled to establish their rights as citizens. While the United States was a grand experiment in republican government, in the beginning only a small percentage was allowed to participate. Over time, citizenship has grown, but this has often not been a simple or a smooth process. Join MHS for a panel discussion that will explore this history of citizenship and protest. How have groups throughout American history used agitation to help change the dialog about their position as citizens? How can this history help inform our views and reactions to the changing political climate we see today?

This program is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS 31 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led ...

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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April
Early American History Seminar Terror Twice Told: Popular Conventions, Political Violence, and the Coming of the Constitutional Crisis, 1780-1787 3 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Brendan McConville, Boston University Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary ...

As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary revolutionary institutions continued to operate as independent political actors. Between 1781 and at least 1786, committeemen and conventioneers launched forceful, violent efforts to reengineer American society. Committee-directed mobs expelled “tories” from many communities, and committeemen and conventioneers used both local laws and contract theory to legitimate these expulsions. This paper argues that the wave of political violence after the American victory at Yorktown in 1781 ultimately reflected conflicts within the American political community over who could be an American, what institutions constituted “the people” in a republic, and the character and limits of the “the people’s” power to form self-governing institutions. These disputes played an important role in creating the 1787 constitutional crisis.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Native Americans in the Antislavery Movement 4 April 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Natalie Joy, Northern Illinois University This presentation explores Native American participation in the American antislavery movement from ...

This presentation explores Native American participation in the American antislavery movement from the 1830s to the 1860s. In addition to attending meetings, Indians signed petitions, donated money, organized fundraising fairs, held positions in antislavery societies, and assisted fugitive slaves. Most significantly, they influenced abolitionist thought on a number of issues.

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Public Program This Land is Your Land Series: Private Land 4 April 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 This program is supported by the Barr Foundation Some of the early efforts to preserve open space for the physical and spiritual benefits offered by ...

Some of the early efforts to preserve open space for the physical and spiritual benefits offered by access to nature came from private organizations. Mount Auburn Cemetery was the first large-scale designed landscape open to the public in North America and as such began the rural cemetery movement that later led to public parks. In 1853 the Laurel Hill Association was founded in Stockbridge, inspiring a national Village Improvement Society movement. Later generations have benefited from the first private, statewide conservation and preservation organization, The Trustees of Reservations. Historic New England has saved traditional farms and Mass Audubon and other private organizations preserve and manage open space across the state. How common is this preservation by private organizations? How sustainable is this concept for future generations?

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Yankees in the West Exhibitionends Yankees in the West 6 April 2018.Friday, 10:00AM - 12:00PM Open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM For generations Americans have been fascinated with the American west. Depictions of the western ...

For generations Americans have been fascinated with the American west. Depictions of the western landscape flooded New England in the mid19th century, spurring a stream of western tourism. Yankees in the West draws from the Society's collections of letters, diaries, photographs, drawings, and artifacts to explore the ways New Englanders experienced the trans-Mississippi west in the late19th and early 20th centuries.

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Environmental History Seminar The Ice Trade: Frederic Tudor’s “Slippery Speculation” 10 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: David Spanagel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, ...

This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, described in 1806 by the Boston Gazette as a “slippery speculation.” What can the ice trade tell us about environmental, economic, political, and spatial change in nineteenth-century Boston and North America?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Building Closed Patriot's Day 16 April 2018.Monday, all day The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Patriot's Day. 

The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Patriot's Day. 

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History of Women and Gender Seminar Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the High School U.S. History Curriculum: A Conversation 17 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Fay House, Radcliffe Institute Wendy Bergeron, Winnacunnet High School; Marlin Kann, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School; Miriam Morgenstern, History UnErased; Susan Zeiger, Primary Source Moderator: Victoria Cain, Northeastern University All high school students in the United States study American history, and many of them seek mastery ...

All high school students in the United States study American history, and many of them seek mastery in the subject, which is the second most popular at the Advanced Placement level. Yet relatively few female actors appear in high school textbooks, and graduates arrive on college campuses with widely varying levels of exposure to the history of women, gender, and sexuality in America, especially prior to the 1990s. This panel discussion, featuring university faculty, secondary educators, and activist curriculum specialists, aims to seed an ongoing discussion between high school and post-secondary instructors of American history about gendering the U.S. History curriculum. What topics in women’s and gender history and in the history of sexuality get covered when, where, and how? How can college- and university-based scholars do more to connect their work with high school classrooms? How are secondary educators—and their students—advancing and reshaping the field?

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 10 PDPs with the completion of a lesson plan.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 20 January 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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History of Women and Gender Seminar The "Woman Inventor" as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights in the 19th-Century United States Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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23 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Kara Swanson, Northeastern University School of Law Comment: Rebecca Herzig, Bates College

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book project, this paper demonstrates how nineteenth-century American women mobilized patents granted to women as justification for civil rights claims. It identifies the creation of the “woman inventor” as a cultural trope and political weapon of resistance.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Conversation Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Award & Reception registration required at no cost 25 January 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Tamara Plakins Thornton, University at Buffalo, and Catherine Allgor, MHS

Please join us for a special evening in which Tamara Plakins Thornton will receive the 2017 Gomes Prize for Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a 19th-Century Man of Business, Science, and the Sea Changed American Life. Thornton will join MHS President and Dolley Madison biographer Catherine Allgor in a conversation about why historians become biographers. How do they pull off that transformation? Thornton and Allgor will explore what drew them to the life of a single individual after they had published “standard” historical monographs. They will address the sorts of novel challenges they faced as both scholars and writers— and the new intellectual pleasures they encountered.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 27 January 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Public Program, Conversation Aesthetics of the Everyday in New England Film registration required 29 January 2018.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Martha McNamara, Wellesley College, and Karan Sheldon, Northeast Historic Film $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

The term “amateur film” conjures visions of shaky, out-of-focus images depicting family vacations and kids’ birthday parties, but early twentieth-century amateur filmmaking produced irreplaceable records of people’s lives and beloved places. This volume of essays, interprets a wide variety of visually expressive amateur films made in New England. Martha McNamara and Karan Sheldon will highlight three examples: the comedies of landscape architect Sidney N. Shurcliff, depictions of pastoral family life by Elizabeth Woodman Wright, and the chronicles of Anna B. Harris, an African American resident of Manchester, Vermont.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “Momentum Toward Evil Is Strong”: Poor Women, Moral Panics, and the Rise of Crime-Fighting Policing in Depression-Era America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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30 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Anne Gray Fischer, Brown University Comment: Michael Willrich, Brandeis University

Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and incompetent political liability to a professional crime-fighting regime. This essay explores the dramatic shift in public perception by studying the changing practices of Depression-era morality policing in Boston and Los Angeles—specifically, the police enforcement of morals misdemeanors, including vagrancy, disorderly conduct, lewdness, and prostitution, which disproportionately targeted poor women on city streets.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Indian Doctresses: Race, Labor, and Medicine in the 19th-century United States this event is free 31 January 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Angela Hudson, Texas A&M University

This project focuses on women who worked as Indian doctresses and the clients who sought their care. The study strives to more fully integrate indigeneity into fields of study from which it is often absent, most notably labor history and the history of medicine.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 3 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Early American History Seminar “We all agree to exclude...those of unsound mind”: Disability, Doctors, and the Law in the Early Republic Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

Between 1790 and 1840, Americans deemed to be cognitively disabled lost the right to vote, marry, immigrate, obtain residency, and live independently. This paper charts these legal developments in Massachusetts as well as how disabled people used the courts to negotiate these constraints. Despite some successes, contesting incapacity became increasingly difficult towards the mid-nineteenth century when physicians became regular and trusted expert witnesses in court.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag John Winthrop, Benjamin Martin, & Worlds of Scientific Work this event is free 7 February 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Pierce Williams, Carnegie Mellon University

Benjamin Martin was regarded by natural philosophers of his age as a showman and peddler of pseudo-scientific trinkets. At the same time, John Winthrop was working to elevate the North American colonies in the topography of learned culture. This project attempts to understand Winthrop's puzzling choice of Martin to refurbish Harvard's scientific instrument collection after the college laboratory burned to the ground in 1764.

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Public Program, Author Talk Reconsidering King Philip’s War registration required 7 February 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Lisa Brooks, Amherst College, and Christine DeLucia, Mount Holyoke College There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

Two historians reexamine the narrative of one of colonial America’s most devastating conflicts. Lisa Brooks recovers a complex picture of war, captivity, and Native resistance during the “First Indian War” by relaying the stories of Weetamoo, a female Wampanoag leader, and James Printer, a Nipmuc scholar, whose stories converge in the captivity of Mary Rowlandson. Christine DeLucia offers a major reconsideration of the war, providing an alternative to Pilgrim-centric narratives that have dominated the histories of colonial New England, grounding her study in five specific places that were directly affected by the crisis, spanning the Northeast as well as the Atlantic world. These two works offer new perspectives. The program will include short presentations by both scholars followed by a conversation.

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Public Program, Author Talk Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America registration required 8 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Douglas Egerton, Le Moyne College $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

One of the most treasured objects belonging to the Society’s collection is the battle sword of Robert Gould Shaw, the leader of the courageous 54th Massachusetts infantry, the first black regiment in the North. The prominent Shaw family of Boston and New York had long been involved in reform, including antislavery and feminism, and their son, Robert, took up the mantle of his family’s progressive stances, though perhaps more reluctantly. In this lecture, historian Douglas R. Egerton focuses on the entire Shaw family during the war years and how following generationshave dealt with their legacy.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 10 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Author Talk Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of American Wealth & Populism in America’s First Gilded Age registration required 15 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 Noam Maggor, Cornell University $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

Brahmin Capitalism explores how the moneyed elite of Boston mobilized to reinvent the American economy in the aftermath of the Civil War. With the decline of cotton-based textile manufacturing and the abolition of slavery, Maggor shows these gentleman bankers traveled far and wide in search of new business opportunities and found them in the mines, railroads, and industries of the Great West. They leveraged their wealth to forge transcontinental networks of commodities, labor, and transportation leading the way to the nationally integrated corporate capitalism of the 20th century.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 17 February 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Building Closed Presidents Day 19 February 2018.Monday, all day

The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Presidents Day. 

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Public Program, Author Talk Growing Up with the Country registration required 20 February 2018.Tuesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 Kendra Field, Tufts University There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

Following the lead of her own ancestors, Kendra Field’s epic family history chronicles the westward migration of freedom’s first generation in the 50 years after emancipation. She traces their journey out of the South to Indian Territory, where they participated in the development of black towns and settlements. When statehood, oil speculation, and segregation imperiled their lives, some launched a back-to-Africa movement while others moved to Canada and Mexico. Interweaving black, white, and Indian histories, Field’s narrative explores how ideas about race and color powerfully shaped the pursuit of freedom.

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Teacher Workshop Yankees in the West Please RSVP   registration required 21 February 2018.Wednesday, all day Registration fee: $25 per person

Explore the American West through the eyes of 19th-century New Englanders. Participants will read the diaries and letters of Gold Rush hopefuls, intrepid train travelers, and tourists in search of “authentic” Native Americans. Using the Society’s current exhibition as our guide, we will investigate how writers, artists, and photographers sensationalized the frontier experience for eastern audiences and conceptualized the West for Americans who increasingly embraced the nation’s manifest destiny.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an additional fee).

Image: Front and back cover of a fold-out map of Yellowstone National Park, produced by the Northern Pacific Railroad, 1893. MHS Collections. 

 

Highlights:

  • View and analyze documents and artifacts from the Society's collections.
  • Follow New Englanders to the Gold Rush through their letters and diaires. 
  • Investigate the lives of women in the trans-Mississippi West. 
  • Explore portrayals of Native Americans captured by New England writers, painters, and photographers. 
  • Learn more about the Adams family's connection to the West. 


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Brown Bag Billets & Barracks: The Quartering Act & the Coming of the American Revolution this event is free 21 February 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM John McCurdy, Eastern Michigan University

The arrival of British soldiers in the 1750s forced Americans to ask “where do soldiers belong?” This project investigates how they answered this question, arguing that it prompted them to rethink the meaning of places like the home and the city, as well as to reevaluate British military power.

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Public Program For the Union Dead: Bostonians Travel East in Search of Answers in the Post-Civil War Era registration required at no cost 22 February 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Mark Rennella

After the Civil War, artists and writers from Boston faced a question that haunted America: what’s next? For cultural leaders like Charles Eliot Norton and Isabella Stewart Gardner, Reconstruction left them feeling directionless and betrayed. Shunning the Whig narrative of history, these “Boston Cosmopolitans” researched Europe’s long past to discover and share examples of civil society shaped by high ideals.

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Teacher Workshop Slavery & the U.S. Supreme Court Please RSVP   registration required 24 February 2018.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Registration fee: $25 per person

How did the personal and political philosophies of Justices John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, and Joseph Story influence their proslavery positions? Paul Finkelman, President of Gratz College, will discuss why these three influential justices upheld the institution of slavery and continued to deny black Americans their freedom. Participants will connect these federal rulings to local court cases, as well as antislavery and abolitionist efforts to undermine these unpopular decrees.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an 

Highlights:

  • Meet Professor Paul Finkelman and discuss his new book, Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation's Highest Court. (Hardvard University Press, 2018)
  • Investigate the history of slavery and antislavery in Massachusetts. 
  • View and analyze documents and artifacts from the Society's collections


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Public Program, Author Talk Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court registration required 26 February 2018.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Paul Finkelman, University of Pittsburgh School of Law There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

The three most important Supreme Court Justices before the Civil War Chief Justices John Marshall and Roger B. Taney and Associate Justice Joseph Story upheld the institution of slavery in ruling after ruling. These opinions cast a shadow over the Court and the legacies of these men, but historians have rarely delved deeply into the personal and political ideas and motivations they held. In Supreme Injustice Paul Finkelman establishes an authoritative account of each justice’s proslavery position, the reasoning behind his opposition to black freedom, and the incentives created by his private life.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Capitalism and Culture Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
27 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jonathan Cohen, University of Virginia, and Davor Mondom, Syracuse University Comment: Sven Beckert, Harvard University

This panel examines the reaction against welfare state capitalism in the mid-20th century U.S., looking at two companies that promoted themselves as bastions of free enterprise or as a solution to high state taxes. Mondom’s paper is “Capitalism with a Human Face: Amway, Direct Sales, and the Redemption of Free Enterprise.” Cohen’s essay is titled “Rivers of Gold: Scientific Games and the Spread of State Lotteries, 1980-1984.”

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Special Event Dinner with Dolley registration required 1 March 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fund Giving Circle Members. Catherine Allgor, MHS President Dinner with Dolley

MHS Fund Giving Circle members are invited to a festive evening with good food,fine wine, and lively conversation inspired by Dolley Madison. During dinner, MHS President Catherine Allgor, who is known for her published work on Dolley Madison, will provide history and fun facts about dining with Mrs. Madison. 

Dinner tickets are $100 per person. Please note that no tickets will be mailed; a master guest list will be at the door. 

Registration will open on 29 January.

This event is open only to MHS Fund Giving Circle Members. Join a Giving Circle today at www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 3 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Early American History Seminar, Environmental History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag A Massachusetts Family's Exile & Return, 1775-1790 this event is free 7 March 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM G. Patrick O'Brien, University of South Carolina

After being forced to flee Marblehead in May 1775, the Robie family joined fellow refugees in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In exile, each family member developed a unique perspective on his or her new home and outlook for the future. Repatriation further complicated these understandings and divided the family between two nations. This project explores how a family in exile struggled to maintain kinship networks while its members adapted to a new social environment.

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Public Program, Author Talk Chicago Renaissance: Literature & Art in the Midwest Metropolis registration required 7 March 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Liesl Olson, Newberry Library There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

The remarkable cultural history of the great Midwestern city of Chicago contains some exceptional modernist credentials. From the 1893 World’s Fair through mid-century, Chicago writers revolutionized literary forms during the first half of the 20th century, a period of sweeping aesthetic transformations all over the world. Olson’s enthralling study bridges the gap between two distinct and equally vital Chicago-based artistic “renaissance” moments: the primarily white renaissance of the early teens and the creative ferment of the “Black Metropolis” of Bronzeville.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 10 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Public Program, Conversation Grappling with Legacy registration required 14 March 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Sylvia Brown in conversation with Edward Widmer There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

What fuels a family’s compulsion for philanthropy? Charitable giving is an intrinsic part of our culture and its story can be told through a colorful, multifaceted family whose actions mirror America’s attitudes towards giving. Between 1638 and today, the Browns of Rhode Island have provided community leaders, endowed academic institutions, and transformed communities through art and architecture. However, they also have wrestled with society’s toughest issues slavery, immigration, child labor, inequality and with their own internal tensions. Sylvia Brown, of the family’s 11th generation, and Edward Widmer will explore this story.

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Teacher Workshop Monuments & Historical Memory Please RSVP   registration required 17 March 2018.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Registration fee: $25 per person

Who decides what should be remembered in public spaces? Is removing a monument the equivalent of erasing history, or should monuments change along with their communities? Join MHS in exploring how monuments and memorials can help students understand history, historical memory, and how national symbols play a critical role in articulating culture and identity.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an additional fee).

Image: Dedication of the Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Boston, 31 May 1897, albumen print.

Highlights:

  • Explore WWII and Holocaust commemoration across the globe 
  • Learn about the history of Confederate monuments in America: When were they erected? Who built them? What do they signify? 
  • Discuss ways to engage students in conversation on current national debates over Confederate symbols in public spaces
  • Take a tour of Reconstruction-era Boston Monuments


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History of Women and Gender Seminar On Fantasy Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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20 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Fay House, Radcliffe Institute Rhae Lynn Barnes, Princeton University, and Emily Owens, Brown University Comment: Jasmine Johnson, Brown University

This paper argues that fantasies of racial and gendered mastery—seen in law, racial performance, and sexual violence—were important world-making tools in the nineteenth century. It looks at how white supremacist fantasies took shape in the courtroom and in blackface dramas, what their impact was, and how historians might begin to find and examine these fantasies in the archives.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Public Program, Author Talk People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, & A New Movement for City Making registration required 20 March 2018.Tuesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Karilyn Crockett There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

In 1948, inspired by changes to federal law, Massachusetts officials started to plan highways circling and cutting through the heart of Boston. But when officials began to hold hearings in 1960 the people pushed back. The story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop a highway is one full of suspenseful twists and surprises. And yet the victory and its aftermath are undeniable: federally funded mass transit expansion, a linear central city park, and a highway-less urban corridor that serves as a daily reminder of the power of citizen-led city-making and has had lasting national implications.

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Biography Seminar “No Ideas But in Things”: Writing Lives from Objects Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
22 March 2018.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Deborah Lutz, University of Louisville; Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Amherst College; Susan Ware, Independent Scholar Moderator: Natalie Dykstra, Hope College

Often a biographer confronts silences in the record of her subject, when part of the life story is not documented with words. Mute sources—objects in the subject’s archive—can pose a challenge for interpretation, but also offer rich opportunities. How can biographers read objects as eloquent sources?

Panelists include Deborah Lutz, whose book The Brontë Cabinet: Three Lives in Nine Objects is a biography of the sisters centered on the humble objects they owned. Susan Ware, author of Game, Set, Match: Billie Jean King and the Revolution in Women's Sports, is using artifacts from the Schlesinger Library’s collections in her group biography of suffrage activists. Karen Sanchez-Eppler is writing In the Archives of Childhood: Playing with the Past, viewing children’s lives from material things. Natalie Dykstra, author of Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, will moderate.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 24 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar La Villanía Arizoniana: Disenfranchisement, Citizenship, and Defining the Body Politic in the Early 20th-Century US-Mexico Borderlands Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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27 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM John Bezis-Selfa, Wheaton College Comment: Alex Keyssar, Harvard Kennedy School

In 1909 and 1912, the Arizona legislature enacted requirements that all voters be literate in English, sparking a storm of multilingual protests in the papers and the courts. How and why Anglo-Arizonans took the right to vote from thousands of Mexican-American men and how Spanish-speakers fought back shows how conflicting views of race and ethnicity have influenced citizenship in the U.S.’s southwestern borderlands.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Learning the Values of a Dollar: Childhood & Cultures of Economy, 1825-1900 this event is free 28 March 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Jaclyn Schultz, University of California at Santa Cruz

Nineteenth-century children rarely had access to money, even when they worked. Yet, several forms of authority instructed children in specific expectations of spending, saving, and giving. This talk explores how and why children were taught to interact with and value financial resources as well as how these lessons were racialized.

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Public Program, Conversation Protest & Citizenship registration required at no cost 29 March 2018.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30. Stephen Kantrowitz, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Crystal Feimster, Yale University; John Stauffer, Harvard University; and Chad Williams, Brandeis University This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities.

Throughout American history many groups have struggled to establish their rights as citizens. While the United States was a grand experiment in republican government, in the beginning only a small percentage was allowed to participate. Over time, citizenship has grown, but this has often not been a simple or a smooth process. Join MHS for a panel discussion that will explore this history of citizenship and protest. How have groups throughout American history used agitation to help change the dialog about their position as citizens? How can this history help inform our views and reactions to the changing political climate we see today?

This program is made possible by a grant from Mass Humanities

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MHS Tour The History and Collections of the MHS this event is free 31 March 2018.Saturday, 10:00AM - 11:30AM

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.

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Early American History Seminar Terror Twice Told: Popular Conventions, Political Violence, and the Coming of the Constitutional Crisis, 1780-1787 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
3 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Brendan McConville, Boston University Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut

As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary revolutionary institutions continued to operate as independent political actors. Between 1781 and at least 1786, committeemen and conventioneers launched forceful, violent efforts to reengineer American society. Committee-directed mobs expelled “tories” from many communities, and committeemen and conventioneers used both local laws and contract theory to legitimate these expulsions. This paper argues that the wave of political violence after the American victory at Yorktown in 1781 ultimately reflected conflicts within the American political community over who could be an American, what institutions constituted “the people” in a republic, and the character and limits of the “the people’s” power to form self-governing institutions. These disputes played an important role in creating the 1787 constitutional crisis.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Brown Bag Native Americans in the Antislavery Movement this event is free 4 April 2018.Wednesday, 12:00PM - 1:00PM Natalie Joy, Northern Illinois University

This presentation explores Native American participation in the American antislavery movement from the 1830s to the 1860s. In addition to attending meetings, Indians signed petitions, donated money, organized fundraising fairs, held positions in antislavery societies, and assisted fugitive slaves. Most significantly, they influenced abolitionist thought on a number of issues.

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Public Program This Land is Your Land Series: Private Land registration required 4 April 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30 This program is supported by the Barr Foundation

Some of the early efforts to preserve open space for the physical and spiritual benefits offered by access to nature came from private organizations. Mount Auburn Cemetery was the first large-scale designed landscape open to the public in North America and as such began the rural cemetery movement that later led to public parks. In 1853 the Laurel Hill Association was founded in Stockbridge, inspiring a national Village Improvement Society movement. Later generations have benefited from the first private, statewide conservation and preservation organization, The Trustees of Reservations. Historic New England has saved traditional farms and Mass Audubon and other private organizations preserve and manage open space across the state. How common is this preservation by private organizations? How sustainable is this concept for future generations?

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Exhibition Yankees in the West this event is free 6 April 2018.Friday, 10:00AM - 12:00PM Open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM Yankees in the West

For generations Americans have been fascinated with the American west. Depictions of the western landscape flooded New England in the mid19th century, spurring a stream of western tourism. Yankees in the West draws from the Society's collections of letters, diaries, photographs, drawings, and artifacts to explore the ways New Englanders experienced the trans-Mississippi west in the late19th and early 20th centuries.

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Environmental History Seminar The Ice Trade: Frederic Tudor’s “Slippery Speculation” Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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10 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: David Spanagel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, described in 1806 by the Boston Gazette as a “slippery speculation.” What can the ice trade tell us about environmental, economic, political, and spatial change in nineteenth-century Boston and North America?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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Building Closed Patriot's Day 16 April 2018.Monday, all day

The MHS is CLOSED in observance of Patriot's Day. 

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History of Women and Gender Seminar Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the High School U.S. History Curriculum: A Conversation Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
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17 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Fay House, Radcliffe Institute Wendy Bergeron, Winnacunnet High School; Marlin Kann, Cambridge Rindge and Latin School; Miriam Morgenstern, History UnErased; Susan Zeiger, Primary Source Moderator: Victoria Cain, Northeastern University

All high school students in the United States study American history, and many of them seek mastery in the subject, which is the second most popular at the Advanced Placement level. Yet relatively few female actors appear in high school textbooks, and graduates arrive on college campuses with widely varying levels of exposure to the history of women, gender, and sexuality in America, especially prior to the 1990s. This panel discussion, featuring university faculty, secondary educators, and activist curriculum specialists, aims to seed an ongoing discussion between high school and post-secondary instructors of American history about gendering the U.S. History curriculum. What topics in women’s and gender history and in the history of sexuality get covered when, where, and how? How can college- and university-based scholars do more to connect their work with high school classrooms? How are secondary educators—and their students—advancing and reshaping the field?

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 10 PDPs with the completion of a lesson plan.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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    Key to event colors:
  • MHS Tours
  • Seminars
  • Public Programs
  • Brown Bags
  • Special Events