The Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar provides a forum for local scholars as well as members of the general public to discuss all aspects of North American history and culture from the first English colonization to the early republic. Programs are not confined to Massachusetts topics, and most focus on works in progress.


Most seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a pre-circulated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. Each session is followed by a reception with light refreshments.



Attendance is free and open to everyone. Subscribers who remit $25 for the year will receive early online access to any pre-circulated materials. Subscriptions also underwrite the cost of the series. Pre-circulated materials will be available to non-subscribers who have RSVP’d for a session on the day prior to the program. Subscribe to this seminar series and you will receive access to the seminar papers for SIX series: the Boston Seminar on African American History, the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History, the Boston Seminar on Environmental History, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture, and our new Seminar on Digital History. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these four fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

 

Join the mailing list today by emailing seminars@masshist.org.

 

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship. Subscribe

September 2019
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Toward the Sistercentennial: New Light on Women’s Participation in the American Revolution 26 September 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Woody Holton, University of South Carolina Mary Bilder, Boston College Law This essay offers new insight on some of the iconic stories of women’s involvement in the ...

This essay offers new insight on some of the iconic stories of women’s involvement in the American Revolution. For example, it (1) documents disputes among the Patriot boycotters of 1769 and 1770 (male vs. female, enslaved vs. free, and northern vs. southern) and 2) describes the male-on-male conflicts that led to and resulted from Esther Reed’s famous Ladies Association of 1780.

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November 2019
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Native Lands and American Expansion in the Early Republic 5 November 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Emilie Connolly, New York University; Franklin Sammons, University of California, Berkeley Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut In the Early Republic, Americans pressed against the borders of the new nation to expand their ...

In the Early Republic, Americans pressed against the borders of the new nation to expand their control over Native lands. This panel examines these interactions between Native tribes and the land-hungry white settlers and speculators to discuss issues of agency, financial stability, and legal precedent. Emilie Connolly considers the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree between the Seneca and Founding Father Robert Morris in New York State. Franklin Sammons looks at the illegal “Yazoo Land Sales” in Georgia.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Murder at the Manhattan Well: The Personal and the Political in the Election of 1800 19 November 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Paul Gilje, University of Oklahoma Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College In 1800, journeyman carpenter, Levi Weeks, was accused of murdering Guliema Sands, a young woman ...

In 1800, journeyman carpenter, Levi Weeks, was accused of murdering Guliema Sands, a young woman living in the same boarding house. Using the trial transcript, this paper places the lives of Weeks and Sands in a larger context: Weeks as an artisan in a dynamic economy and Sands as a poor unattached woman amidst changing ideas about sexuality. The author also relates the trial to the New York election that occurred a month later.

More
December 2019
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Who Was “One-Eyed” Sarah? Searching for an Indigenous Nurse in Local Government 10 December 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Gabriel J. Loiacono, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut This essay considers the life of an indigenous woman, known as “One-Eyed” Sarah, who ...

This essay considers the life of an indigenous woman, known as “One-Eyed” Sarah, who provided full-time nursing care to poor communities in early nineteenth-century Providence, RI. The only historical sources that describe Sarah’s work never provide her last name or details beyond the description “Indian.” So who was she, and how do we tell her story? Using sometimes patchy sources of non-elite people, the author hopes to gain new insights into social welfare history and explore how ordinary women made the poor law function.

More
January 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Supplying Slavery: Jamaica and British Imperial Trade, 1752-1769 7 January 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Peter Pellizzari, Harvard University Comment: Richard Dunn, American Philosophical Society Historians have long understood the economic importance of Jamaica to the eighteenth-century British ...

Historians have long understood the economic importance of Jamaica to the eighteenth-century British empire, but the vast profits that the island's sugar-slave complexes produced could only have existed with the supplies and provisions provided by mainland colonists in North America. Newly collected data from nearly 10,000 British naval office shipping lists for Kingston, Jamaica provide a re-assessment of the size, nature, and value of this trade. The shipping lists reveal not only how deeply committed the mainland was to supplying Jamaican slavery, but also suggests that we reconsider the island as a powerful regional hub within the larger British Atlantic economy, one in which North America figured as an important hinterland.

More
March 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar The 1621 Massasoit-Plymouth Agreement and the Genesis of American Indian Constitutionalism 3 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Daniel R. Mandell, Truman State University Comment: Linford Fisher: Brown University On March 22, 1621, Wampanoag sachem Massasoit agreed to a pact of mutual sovereignty and defense ...

On March 22, 1621, Wampanoag sachem Massasoit agreed to a pact of mutual sovereignty and defense with Plymouth. At the same time, Massasoit promised to send his people who injured Englishmen to stand trial in their courts. While apparently contradictory, Plymouth’s acknowledgment of Wampanoag sovereignty and claim of the right to judge such conflicts reflected emerging international law and English legal norms, and created a constitution for Native-English relations that held for decades. Although King Philip’s War destroyed this agreement, similar political and jurisdictional arrangements continued to dominate British America and were reflected in U.S. Indian policy through the 1820s.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/ehs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar The Metabolism of Military Forces in the War of Independence: Environmental Contexts and Consequences 10 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM David Hsiung, Juniata College Comment: James Rice, Tufts University In order to function during the War of Independence, armies and navies needed multiple sources of ...

In order to function during the War of Independence, armies and navies needed multiple sources of energy—food, firewood, work animals (which also needed food), ammunition, and more. How did specific natural environments, both proximate and distant, fuel those military metabolisms? How did such actions affect those environments in the decades and centuries that followed? This paper is the seed of a book proposal that, when watered by your feedback, will germinate come summertime.

More
April 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar “Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99 7 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University Comment: Jeffrey Ravel, MIT As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have ...

As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related to race and slavery. By contrast, the American stage grappled with the choice to perpetuate a slave system within a democracy. Some performances hinted at slavery’s cruelty, some depicted newly-freed black characters living happily alongside whites, and others proposed returning blacks to the continent as the solution for a dilemma Thomas Jefferson described as holding “a wolf by the ears.” This paper explores the black revolutionary figure on the U.S. and French stages during the last decade of the eighteenth century, as both nations struggled to put their principles of universal freedom into practice.

More
May 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Honoring Daniel K. Richter: McNeil Center Alumni Discuss Their Research and Experiences 12 May 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Sari Altshuler, Northeastern University; Chris Parsons, Northeastern University; Joseph Rezek, Boston University; Hunt Howell, Boston University; Jen Manion, Amherst College; Elizabeth Ellis, New York University; and Alicia DeMaio, Harvard University Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native ...

Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native American and Early American history. More than just serving as a premier academic as the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, however, Prof. Richter has also been a dedicated mentor and teacher. Through his work as the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Richter has advised and inspired generations of young scholars and convened thought-provoking conferences that have sparked new avenues of research. In this last program of the seminar season, seven former students discuss their latest research and reflect on how Prof. Richter influenced their work and understanding of history.

More
More events
Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Toward the Sistercentennial: New Light on Women’s Participation in the American Revolution 26 September 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Woody Holton, University of South Carolina Mary Bilder, Boston College Law Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg

This essay offers new insight on some of the iconic stories of women’s involvement in the American Revolution. For example, it (1) documents disputes among the Patriot boycotters of 1769 and 1770 (male vs. female, enslaved vs. free, and northern vs. southern) and 2) describes the male-on-male conflicts that led to and resulted from Esther Reed’s famous Ladies Association of 1780.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Native Lands and American Expansion in the Early Republic 5 November 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Emilie Connolly, New York University; Franklin Sammons, University of California, Berkeley Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg

In the Early Republic, Americans pressed against the borders of the new nation to expand their control over Native lands. This panel examines these interactions between Native tribes and the land-hungry white settlers and speculators to discuss issues of agency, financial stability, and legal precedent. Emilie Connolly considers the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree between the Seneca and Founding Father Robert Morris in New York State. Franklin Sammons looks at the illegal “Yazoo Land Sales” in Georgia.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Murder at the Manhattan Well: The Personal and the Political in the Election of 1800 19 November 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Paul Gilje, University of Oklahoma Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg

In 1800, journeyman carpenter, Levi Weeks, was accused of murdering Guliema Sands, a young woman living in the same boarding house. Using the trial transcript, this paper places the lives of Weeks and Sands in a larger context: Weeks as an artisan in a dynamic economy and Sands as a poor unattached woman amidst changing ideas about sexuality. The author also relates the trial to the New York election that occurred a month later.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Who Was “One-Eyed” Sarah? Searching for an Indigenous Nurse in Local Government 10 December 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Gabriel J. Loiacono, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020//eahs_banner.jpg

This essay considers the life of an indigenous woman, known as “One-Eyed” Sarah, who provided full-time nursing care to poor communities in early nineteenth-century Providence, RI. The only historical sources that describe Sarah’s work never provide her last name or details beyond the description “Indian.” So who was she, and how do we tell her story? Using sometimes patchy sources of non-elite people, the author hopes to gain new insights into social welfare history and explore how ordinary women made the poor law function.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Supplying Slavery: Jamaica and British Imperial Trade, 1752-1769 7 January 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Peter Pellizzari, Harvard University Comment: Richard Dunn, American Philosophical Society Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

Historians have long understood the economic importance of Jamaica to the eighteenth-century British empire, but the vast profits that the island's sugar-slave complexes produced could only have existed with the supplies and provisions provided by mainland colonists in North America. Newly collected data from nearly 10,000 British naval office shipping lists for Kingston, Jamaica provide a re-assessment of the size, nature, and value of this trade. The shipping lists reveal not only how deeply committed the mainland was to supplying Jamaican slavery, but also suggests that we reconsider the island as a powerful regional hub within the larger British Atlantic economy, one in which North America figured as an important hinterland.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar The 1621 Massasoit-Plymouth Agreement and the Genesis of American Indian Constitutionalism Register registration required at no cost 3 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Daniel R. Mandell, Truman State University Comment: Linford Fisher: Brown University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

On March 22, 1621, Wampanoag sachem Massasoit agreed to a pact of mutual sovereignty and defense with Plymouth. At the same time, Massasoit promised to send his people who injured Englishmen to stand trial in their courts. While apparently contradictory, Plymouth’s acknowledgment of Wampanoag sovereignty and claim of the right to judge such conflicts reflected emerging international law and English legal norms, and created a constitution for Native-English relations that held for decades. Although King Philip’s War destroyed this agreement, similar political and jurisdictional arrangements continued to dominate British America and were reflected in U.S. Indian policy through the 1820s.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar The Metabolism of Military Forces in the War of Independence: Environmental Contexts and Consequences Register registration required at no cost 10 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM David Hsiung, Juniata College Comment: James Rice, Tufts University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/ehs_banner.jpg

In order to function during the War of Independence, armies and navies needed multiple sources of energy—food, firewood, work animals (which also needed food), ammunition, and more. How did specific natural environments, both proximate and distant, fuel those military metabolisms? How did such actions affect those environments in the decades and centuries that followed? This paper is the seed of a book proposal that, when watered by your feedback, will germinate come summertime.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar “Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99 Register registration required at no cost 7 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University Comment: Jeffrey Ravel, MIT Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related to race and slavery. By contrast, the American stage grappled with the choice to perpetuate a slave system within a democracy. Some performances hinted at slavery’s cruelty, some depicted newly-freed black characters living happily alongside whites, and others proposed returning blacks to the continent as the solution for a dilemma Thomas Jefferson described as holding “a wolf by the ears.” This paper explores the black revolutionary figure on the U.S. and French stages during the last decade of the eighteenth century, as both nations struggled to put their principles of universal freedom into practice.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Honoring Daniel K. Richter: McNeil Center Alumni Discuss Their Research and Experiences Register registration required at no cost 12 May 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Sari Altshuler, Northeastern University; Chris Parsons, Northeastern University; Joseph Rezek, Boston University; Hunt Howell, Boston University; Jen Manion, Amherst College; Elizabeth Ellis, New York University; and Alicia DeMaio, Harvard University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native American and Early American history. More than just serving as a premier academic as the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, however, Prof. Richter has also been a dedicated mentor and teacher. Through his work as the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Richter has advised and inspired generations of young scholars and convened thought-provoking conferences that have sparked new avenues of research. In this last program of the seminar season, seven former students discuss their latest research and reflect on how Prof. Richter influenced their work and understanding of history.

close