This Week @ MHS
The Society is CLOSED on Monday, 19 February, for Presidents Day.
It is a holiday-shortened week but there is still plenty of action happening here at the Society. Below are details for what we have on tap.
- Tuesday, 20 February, 6:00PM : Kendra Field's epic family history, Growing Up with the Country, chronicles the westward migration of freedom's first generation in the 50 years after emancipation. Fields traces the journey of her ancestors 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 shape the pursuit of freedom.
This talk is open to the public. Registration is required with a fee of $10 (no charge for MHS Members and Fellows or EBT cardholders). Pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM, followed by the program at 6:00PM.
- Wednesday, 21 February : All K-12 educators are invited to register for Yankees in the West, an all-day teacher workshop. Using the Society's current exhibition as a guide, participants 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.
Registration is required for this program with a fee of $25 per person.
- Wednesday, 21 February, 12:00PM : "Billets & Barracks: The Quartering Act & the Coming of the American Revolution" is a Brown Bag talk with John McCurdy of 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.
This talk is free and open to the public.
- Thursday, 22 February, 6:00PM : 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. "For the Union Dead: Bostonians Travel East in Search of Answers in the Post-Civil War Era" is a public talk with Mark Rennella.
This program is open to all, free of charge, though registration is required. Click on the link and look for the Register button.
- Saturday, 24 February, 9:00AM : The second teacher workshop this week examines how the personal and political philosophies of Justices John Marshall, Roger B. Taney, and Joseph Story influenced their proslavery positions. In "Slavery & the U.S. Supreme Court," 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. Registration is required with a fee of $25 per person.
There is no public tour this week.
| Published: Sunday, 18 February, 2018, 12:00 AM
When the Harlem Renaissance Meets Jim Crow
By Susan Martin, Collections Services
Your reference to the southerners regard, or rather, disregard of the Negro [--] I experienced a rather amusing incident a few weeks ago.
This passage comes from a letter written by African-American artist Meta Warrick Fuller on 5 January 1928 and recently acquired by the MHS. Fuller’s correspondent was Marion Colvin Deane, a white Canadian woman who worked at Virginia’s historically black Hampton Institute. Deane was an avid collector of autographs, particularly those of famous black writers, artists, educators, intellectuals, and activists. She wrote to Fuller, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, Walter F. White, and many others soliciting autographs for her collection.
Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) was an accomplished and acclaimed black sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance, though her work spanned the decades both before and after that era. Born in Philadelphia, her early artistic promise was nurtured by her family, and she studied art in Philadelphia before traveling to France in 1899 to attend the Académie Colarossi and the École des Beaux-Arts. In France, she met and was mentored by Auguste Rodin. Her work was exhibited alongside older and more established contemporaries like John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt, and she would go to win many commissions and awards over her lifetime.
In 1928, when Marion C. Deane wrote to her, Fuller was living in Framingham, Mass. with her husband Solomon Carter Fuller and their three sons. She worked in her own private studio behind the house.
Fuller began her reply to Deane by apologizing for her handwriting and thanking Deane for “the kind interest and regard – may I be worthy of them.” Then, in response to a comment by Deane on Southern racial animosity, she described a recent “amusing incident” on a Framingham bus. Returning from a shopping trip and finding the bus crowded, Fuller opted to sit in the back, although for her this was “contrary to custom.” From there, she overheard “a youngish sort of woman”—a white woman presumably visiting from the South—talking to a friend.
I could still hear the conversation – she spoke of how strange it seemed to see colored people mingling with white people – in schools – restaurants and the like – she would go out if one sat down at a table with her – it didn’t seem right.
And what was Fuller’s reaction? Maybe not what you’d expect.
It all impressed me as very funny – and mischief got the better of me – I wrote on a slip of paper ‘God made man of one flesh[.]’ I rolled it up, and as I passed on my way out dropped it in her lap. I was convulsed at the expression of surprise when she saw what I had done, but I left the car before she had time to read it. I have not since seen the woman with whom she was talking but I am curious to know what she did after reading it.
The MHS currently holds no other papers of Meta Warrick Fuller, so this letter is a very welcome addition to our collection. It’s also a fascinating record of racial attitudes in the years between the Plessy v. Ferguson “separate but equal” decision and the height of the civil rights movement in America.
| Published: Friday, 16 February, 2018, 9:48 AM
Barbara Hillard Smith’s Diary, February 1918
By Lindsay Bina, Intern, and Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services
Today we return to the 1918 diary of Newton teenager Barbara Hillard Smith. You may read our introduction to the diary, and Barbara’s January entries, here:
January | February | March | April
May | June | July | August
September | October | November | December
We will be following Barbara throughout 1918 with monthly blog posts that present Barbara’s daily life -- going to school, seeing friends, playing basketball, and caring for family members -- in the words she wrote a century ago. Here is Barbara’s February, day by day.
* * *
FRI. 1 FEBRUARY
School. Took care of sonny. Gas froze. Pegs over night.
Worked. Took care of Polly Godfrey. Seminary with Mother
Sunday School. Hung around
School. Dentist. Dr. Ashland engaged.
School. Bitterly Cold, “Sick.” Rosa Allen’s
School. Took care of sonny
School. Rosa Allen’s. Took care of sonny
School. Took care of sonny.
Got my dress. Burton Holme’s Lecture. Sailor’s Dance. Met Mr. Wood
Church. Sunday School. Aunt Mable’s. Met Sailor at the Station
School. Took care of sonny
TUES. 12 LINCOLN’S BIRTHDAY
School. Basket Ball. Mother went to New York
School. Took care of Sonny
School. Mrs. Moody to Basket Ball. Mother came home
School. Took care of Sonny. Swimming
Hung around. Over to Pegs. Plays at the Seminary
Sunday School. Dr. Scott teacher. Studied
School. Took care of the Baby.
School. Basket Ball. Papa sick. Sessions with the Doctor
Stayed to look after papa. Mrs. Reed’s
Took care of papa. Took care of sonny. Red Cross play.
FRI. 22 WASHINGTON’S BIRTHDAY
Mrs. Reed’s in the morning. Home in afternoon. Masquerade
Babys in the morning. In town in the afternoon
Helped Mother. Studied
Toothache. Dentist. He goes to hospital soon. Married probably in Aug. Papa better. Sonny.
Toothache again. Dentist can’t do anything about it. Mrs. Reeds.
Got class pins. Subscribed to Newtonian. Mrs. Reeds. Papa out. Tooth still at it.
School. Basketball. Papa seems much better.
* * *
If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.
*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The catalog record for the Barbara Hillard Smith collection may be found here.
| Published: Wednesday, 14 February, 2018, 12:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
At the Society this week, we'll be talking about capitalists and fishermen, as well as hosting our building tour. Read on for more information.
- Tuesday, 13 February, 5:15PM : Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman-turned-public servant. In his positions as Director of Fisheries, head of Public Works, and eventually, governor of Massachusetts, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. The seminar this week comes from the Environmental History series and is called "Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager." This paper, presented by Benjamin Kochan of Boston University, 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 email@example.com or call (617) 646-0579.
Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
- Thursday, 15 February, 6:00PM : Brahmin Capitalism: Frontiers of American Wealth & Populism in America's First Gilded Age is the title of a recent work authored by Noam Maggor of Queen Mary University, London, and is the subject of this author talk. The work explores how they moneyed elite of Boston mobilized to reinvent the American economy in the aftermath of the Civil War, traveling far and wide in search of new business opportunities following the decline of cotton-based textile manufacturing and the abolition of slavery. They found these opportunities in the mines, railroads, and industries of the Great West, leveraging their wealth to forge transcontinental networks of commodities, labor, and transportation leading the way to the nationally integrated corporate capitalism of the 20th century.
This talk is open to the public and registration is required with a fee of $10 (no charge for MHS Members and Fellows or EBT cardholders). A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM, followed by the speaking program at 6:00PM.
- Saturday, 17 February, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led tour through the public rooms here at the Society. The tour is free and open to the public with no need for reservations for individuals or small groups. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley in advance at 617-646-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.
Please note that the Socety is CLOSED on Monday, 19 February, for Presidents' Day. Normal hours resume on Tuesday, 20 February.
| Published: Sunday, 11 February, 2018, 12:00 AM
Fetched from the Stacks : "Every breed of dog known"
Well, maybe that title is a little bit ambitious. But, in recognition of the 142nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – taking place this weekend – today we are looking at collections items featuring canines, particularly images of dogs that are in the stacks here at the MHS (the images, not the dogs).
In 1845, Sir John Franklin, English rear admiral and explorer, led an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. However, his journey met with disaster and, three years later, the remains of he and his crew were found in the Canadian Arctic.1 Of the several search and rescue missions put together to find Franklin and his men, one was carried out by the H.M.S. Enterprise and included some four-legged crew members.
"Daddy," the Esquimaux dog of H. M. S. "Enterprise," sent in search of Sir John Franklin.
According to a bit of text that is alongside the above image
The intelligence of the Esquimaux dogs, and their utility, is well known. The portrait of "Daddy" represents a faithful companion of Captain Collinson, who accompanied him 2000 miles, and of whom many anecdotes might be narrated; but one of the most interesting attaches to a dog of Capt. Penny, "Sultan," who saved the life of one of Sir John Ross' men who had indulged too freely on a visit to the Felix, when in winter quarters. The man alluded to was found by Sultan floundering in the snow at midnight, and, by his repeated intimations of something having occurred, induced some of the men to leave the ship and follow him to the spot. A few minutes more and life would have been extinct.
The following images have much less information to go along with them, but you can click on the links to see what we know.
High life : from the picture in the Vernon Gallery [graphic] / E. Landseer, R. A. painter ; H. Beckwith engraver
Fox-hunting, p. 1 / [graphic] Howitt in et f.
First aid / [graphic] Diana Thorne
Finally, we can connect all of this to another recent post published here on the Beehive. A few weeks ago we learned a bit about the famed showman P. T. Barnum, his lavish estate called Iranistan, and how he managed to attract the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind, to perform in America. [See: “No Mere Adventurer…”]
Today, we probably associate Barnum most closely with the rise of the traveling circus, but did you know he also dabbled in dog shows?
Small broadside advertising "A Great National Dog Show."
As manager of Boston's Aquarial Gardens, Barnum arranged for a six-day show, "including every breed of dog known," with prize money going to the top two or three finishers in each category. Those who did not finish in the top tier were given "elegantly engraved Diplomas" as evidence of the quality of their canines. Among the various breeds and classes to be judged at this event were Newfoundlands, Pointers, Coach Dogs, and Esquimaux Dogs (just like "Daddy"). Below is an example of a prize diploma.
An elegantly engraved Diploma, "Awarded by the judges to S. Hammond Esq. for his Blenheim Spaniel."
Based on the information provided in the advertisement above, Mr. Hammond stood to win $10 for his best-specimen spaniel. However, the last page of the three-page ad also lays out some stipulations from Mr. Barnum. To wit:
Should the Manager desire to retain the Cash Premium Dogs on exhibition from and including June 23rd until and including Saturday June 28th, he shall have the right to do so, he continuing to provide the proper care, food and water for the Dogs FREE, and continuing to admit exhibitors of said dogs free during the time above specified.
Ever the entrepreneur and showman, it makes sense that Barnum would retain the right to attract more viewers for these prize-winning dogs. Cash paid is cash earned, I suppose.
These are just a few examples of animal illustrations available here at the MHS. Try searching our online catalog, ABIGAIL, to see what else you can find, then consider Visiting the Library to work with material in our reading room!
1. "Sir John Franklin," Encyclopaedia Britannica, Accessed 2018-02-10 at https://www/britannica.com/biography/John-Franklin
| Published: Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 4:15 PM