Public Programs and Special Events

Exhibition

Turning Points in American History

10 June 2016 to 25 February 2017 Details

The MHS offers many engaging programs and special events.

September

Public Program The Past Has a Future 8 September 2016.Thursday, 5:00PM - 6:30PM Jonathan F. Fanton, President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Evidence of waning public interest in history appears widespread--in declining visits to historic ...

Evidence of waning public interest in history appears widespread--in declining visits to historic sites, falling numbers of college majors, and a general decline in reading for pleasure. But does that tell the whole story of American engagement with the past? Jonathan Fanton takes up the recurring challenges in the relationship between historians and the public, and looks toward a better future for the discipline from the perspective of a leading learned society that bridges the humanities, the sciences, and the public good.

A reception will precede this presentation at 4:30 PM.

More
Public Program Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson's Image in His Own Time 14 September 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Robert McDonald, United States Military Academy       Of all the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson stood out as the most ...

 

 

 

Of all the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson stood out as the most controversial and confounding. Loved and hated, revered and reviled, during his lifetime he served as a lightning rod for dispute. Jefferson anxiously monitored the development of his image. As president he even clipped expressions of praise and scorn from newspapers, pasting them in his personal scrapbooks. Historian Robert M. S. McDonald explores how Jefferson emerged as such a divisive figure. Bridging the gap between high politics and popular opinion, Confounding Father exposes how Jefferson’s bifurcated image took shape both as a product of his own creation and in response to factors beyond his control.

More
More Turning Points Member Event, Special Event More Turning Points: Documents & Artifacts That Didn't Make the Cut 15 September 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian As part of the Society’s 225th anniversary celebration, the Board of Trustees and the ...

As part of the Society’s 225th anniversary celebration, the Board of Trustees and the President of the Massachusetts Historical Society cordially invite MHS Fellows and Members to a special program, reception, and chance to view Turning Points in American History.

6:00 PM
More Turning Points: Documents & Artifacts That Didn’t Make the Cut
Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey
In his remarks, Peter Drummey will highlight some of the turning points that did not make it into the exhibition. Following the talk, head upstairs to view Turning Points in American History, socialize with friends, and enjoy a reception.

Seating is limited; RSVP by 9 September.

More
Public Program The Virgin Vote 21 September 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian         There was a time when young people were the most passionate ...

 

 

 

 

There was a time when young people were the most passionate participants in American democracy. In the second half of the nineteenth century--as voter turnout reached unprecedented peaks--young people led the way, hollering, fighting, and flirting at massive midnight rallies. Parents trained their children to be "violent little partisans," while politicians lobbied twenty-one-year-olds for their "virgin votes"—the first ballot cast upon reaching adulthood. In schoolhouses, saloons, and squares, young men and women proved that democracy is social and politics is personal, earning their adulthood by participating in public life. In a vivid evocation of this formative but forgotten world, Jon Grinspan recalls a time when struggling young citizens found identity and maturity in democracy.

More
Special Event Graduate Student Reception 22 September 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM Please RSVP   Calling all graduate students and faculty! Please join us on for our seventh annual Graduate Student ...

Calling all graduate students and faculty! Please join us on for our seventh annual Graduate Student Reception for students in history, American Studies, and related fields. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres as you meet colleagues from other universities working in your field. Take a behind-the scenes tour and learn about the resources the MHS offers to support your scholarship, from research fellowships to our seminar series.

RSVP to seminars@masshist.org

More
Public Program The History and Future of Mass Innovation 27 September 2016.Tuesday, 8:00AM - 9:30AM Please RSVP   This program will be held in the Stratton Student Center at MIT - 84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 Tim Rowe, Cambridge Innovation Center; Janice Bourque, Hercules Capital; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School; Travis McCready, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; and Robert Krim, Framingham State University     The first use of anesthesia. The first phone call. The first venture capital firm. ...

 

 

The first use of anesthesia. The first phone call. The first venture capital firm. The first same sex marriage. Massachusetts is home to more world changing innovations than almost anywhere else on the planet. Why has Boston been the key center of social and technological innovations? Can it maintain this momentum? What can community and business leaders and local governments do to nurture the factors that promote innovation? Local innovators, investors and influencers share their insights and perspectives on the history and future of innovation in this region.

More
October
Public Program John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit 3 October 2016.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. James Traub, The New York Times Magazine     John Quincy Adams was the last of his kind—a Puritan from the age of the ...

 

 

John Quincy Adams was the last of his kind—a Puritan from the age of the Founders who despised party and compromise, yet dedicated himself to politics and government. He was a brilliant ambassador and secretary of state, a frustrated president at a historic turning point in American politics, and a dedicated congressman who literally died in office—at the age of 80, in the House of Representatives, in the midst of an impassioned political debate. Adams’ numerous achievements—and equally numerous failures—stand as testaments to his unwavering moral convictions. John Quincy Adams tells the story of this brilliant, flinty, and unyielding man whose life exemplified political courage.

More
Public Program Turning Point: The U.S. Constitution 7 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Kyle Jenks, Reenactor   Kyle Jenks, a James Madison reenactor, will discuss Elbridge Gerry’s criticism of the ...

 

Kyle Jenks, a James Madison reenactor, will discuss Elbridge Gerry’s criticism of the Constitution.

More
Public Program Getting the MBTA Back-on-Track 12 October 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA Chief Administrator; James Rooney, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, Transportation & Sanitation    Boston has been ambitious and innovative in thinking about transportation, we were the ...

  

Boston has been ambitious and innovative in thinking about transportation, we were the first American city to build a subway and the Big Dig was the largest urban infrastructure project in American history. Today, the metro area boasts one of the highest percentages of commuters that use public transit in the nation and the population is growing. However, despite this groundbreaking history and widespread use, public transportation in Boston is facing serious challenges. Brian Shortsleeve, the Chief Administrator for the MBTA, will discuss the steps the T is taking to control expenses while providing improved service. He will be joined by James Rooney and Chris Osgood for a discussion of the history of the MBTA, how the current situation came to be, and what we can expect in the future.

More
Public Program Turning Point: Ether as an Anesthetic 14 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian       The use of ether as an anesthetic may have been the greatest innovation ...

 

 

 

The use of ether as an anesthetic may have been the greatest innovation American has given the world, its first use in surgery and the revolution it produced will be explained by Peter Drummey.

More
Wooden lily pads carved at the Eliot School in 1910 Public Program Art, Craft and Reform: The Eliot School, Manual Arts Training and the Arts and Crafts Movement 20 October 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Nonie Gadsden, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts The rapid rise of industrialization and immigration during the 19th century greatly affected ...

The rapid rise of industrialization and immigration during the 19th century greatly affected American society, especially in major cities such as Boston. Faced with the prospect of an unskilled or semi-skilled work force, many reform leaders sought out ways to provide the craft training that could benefit the well-being of the individual and society at large. In the 1870s, after 200 years of academic instruction, the Trustees of the Eliot School decided to explore more experimental modes of education to meet the new needs of its community. The School provided manual arts training for students of many backgrounds—from young boys and girls, to upper and middle class hobbyists, to immigrants seeking vocational education. Gadsden will place the efforts of the Eliot School in a larger context, exploring how the School related to rise of manual arts training and the advent of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

More
Public Program Helen F. Stuart and the Birth of Spirit Photography in Boston 21 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Felicity Tsering Chödron Hamer   Borne by the same ideas that founded Spiritualism in the nineteenth century, spirit ...

 

Borne by the same ideas that founded Spiritualism in the nineteenth century, spirit photographs are joint-portraits achieved posthumously, without use of a corpse, wherein the bereaved are visually united with the deceased. These enchanted mementos are said to have been ‘invented’ in 1861, in Boston, Massachusetts, by William H. Mumler. Spirit photographers typically worked with individuals who claimed mediumistic qualities in order to enable the appearance of the magical ‘extras’ of the deceased. The majority of mediums were women and the contributions of women to the production of spirit photography have been often limited to such enabling activities. Felicity Hamer argues for a more foundational placement of women within the narrative of personal mourning rituals.

 

Photo: Mrs. Helen F. Stuart, Woman at Table with Male Spirit, c. 1865. William L.Clements Library, University of Michigan 

More
More events
Public Program The Past Has a Future registration required at no cost 8 September 2016.Thursday, 5:00PM - 6:30PM Jonathan F. Fanton, President, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Evidence of waning public interest in history appears widespread--in declining visits to historic sites, falling numbers of college majors, and a general decline in reading for pleasure. But does that tell the whole story of American engagement with the past? Jonathan Fanton takes up the recurring challenges in the relationship between historians and the public, and looks toward a better future for the discipline from the perspective of a leading learned society that bridges the humanities, the sciences, and the public good.

A reception will precede this presentation at 4:30 PM.

close
Public Program Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson's Image in His Own Time registration required 14 September 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Robert McDonald, United States Military Academy

 

 

 

Of all the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson stood out as the most controversial and confounding. Loved and hated, revered and reviled, during his lifetime he served as a lightning rod for dispute. Jefferson anxiously monitored the development of his image. As president he even clipped expressions of praise and scorn from newspapers, pasting them in his personal scrapbooks. Historian Robert M. S. McDonald explores how Jefferson emerged as such a divisive figure. Bridging the gap between high politics and popular opinion, Confounding Father exposes how Jefferson’s bifurcated image took shape both as a product of his own creation and in response to factors beyond his control.

close
Member Event, Special Event More Turning Points: Documents & Artifacts That Didn't Make the Cut registration required at no cost 15 September 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian More Turning Points

As part of the Society’s 225th anniversary celebration, the Board of Trustees and the President of the Massachusetts Historical Society cordially invite MHS Fellows and Members to a special program, reception, and chance to view Turning Points in American History.

6:00 PM
More Turning Points: Documents & Artifacts That Didn’t Make the Cut
Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey
In his remarks, Peter Drummey will highlight some of the turning points that did not make it into the exhibition. Following the talk, head upstairs to view Turning Points in American History, socialize with friends, and enjoy a reception.

Seating is limited; RSVP by 9 September.

close
Public Program The Virgin Vote registration required 21 September 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Jon Grinspan, Smithsonian

 

 

 

 

There was a time when young people were the most passionate participants in American democracy. In the second half of the nineteenth century--as voter turnout reached unprecedented peaks--young people led the way, hollering, fighting, and flirting at massive midnight rallies. Parents trained their children to be "violent little partisans," while politicians lobbied twenty-one-year-olds for their "virgin votes"—the first ballot cast upon reaching adulthood. In schoolhouses, saloons, and squares, young men and women proved that democracy is social and politics is personal, earning their adulthood by participating in public life. In a vivid evocation of this formative but forgotten world, Jon Grinspan recalls a time when struggling young citizens found identity and maturity in democracy.

close
Special Event Graduate Student Reception Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 22 September 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM

Calling all graduate students and faculty! Please join us on for our seventh annual Graduate Student Reception for students in history, American Studies, and related fields. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres as you meet colleagues from other universities working in your field. Take a behind-the scenes tour and learn about the resources the MHS offers to support your scholarship, from research fellowships to our seminar series.

RSVP to seminars@masshist.org

close
Public Program The History and Future of Mass Innovation Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 27 September 2016.Tuesday, 8:00AM - 9:30AM This program will be held in the Stratton Student Center at MIT - 84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139 Tim Rowe, Cambridge Innovation Center; Janice Bourque, Hercules Capital; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School; Travis McCready, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center; and Robert Krim, Framingham State University

 

 

The first use of anesthesia. The first phone call. The first venture capital firm. The first same sex marriage. Massachusetts is home to more world changing innovations than almost anywhere else on the planet. Why has Boston been the key center of social and technological innovations? Can it maintain this momentum? What can community and business leaders and local governments do to nurture the factors that promote innovation? Local innovators, investors and influencers share their insights and perspectives on the history and future of innovation in this region.

close
Public Program John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit registration required 3 October 2016.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. James Traub, The New York Times Magazine

 

 

John Quincy Adams was the last of his kind—a Puritan from the age of the Founders who despised party and compromise, yet dedicated himself to politics and government. He was a brilliant ambassador and secretary of state, a frustrated president at a historic turning point in American politics, and a dedicated congressman who literally died in office—at the age of 80, in the House of Representatives, in the midst of an impassioned political debate. Adams’ numerous achievements—and equally numerous failures—stand as testaments to his unwavering moral convictions. John Quincy Adams tells the story of this brilliant, flinty, and unyielding man whose life exemplified political courage.

close
Public Program Turning Point: The U.S. Constitution this event is free 7 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Kyle Jenks, Reenactor

 

Kyle Jenks, a James Madison reenactor, will discuss Elbridge Gerry’s criticism of the Constitution.

close
Public Program Getting the MBTA Back-on-Track registration required 12 October 2016.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Brian Shortsleeve, MBTA Chief Administrator; James Rooney, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, Transportation & Sanitation

  

Boston has been ambitious and innovative in thinking about transportation, we were the first American city to build a subway and the Big Dig was the largest urban infrastructure project in American history. Today, the metro area boasts one of the highest percentages of commuters that use public transit in the nation and the population is growing. However, despite this groundbreaking history and widespread use, public transportation in Boston is facing serious challenges. Brian Shortsleeve, the Chief Administrator for the MBTA, will discuss the steps the T is taking to control expenses while providing improved service. He will be joined by James Rooney and Chris Osgood for a discussion of the history of the MBTA, how the current situation came to be, and what we can expect in the future.

close
Public Program Turning Point: Ether as an Anesthetic this event is free 14 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian

 

 

 

The use of ether as an anesthetic may have been the greatest innovation American has given the world, its first use in surgery and the revolution it produced will be explained by Peter Drummey.

close
Public Program Art, Craft and Reform: The Eliot School, Manual Arts Training and the Arts and Crafts Movement Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 20 October 2016.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Nonie Gadsden, Carolyn and Peter Lynch Curator of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts Wooden lily pads carved at the Eliot School in 1910

The rapid rise of industrialization and immigration during the 19th century greatly affected American society, especially in major cities such as Boston. Faced with the prospect of an unskilled or semi-skilled work force, many reform leaders sought out ways to provide the craft training that could benefit the well-being of the individual and society at large. In the 1870s, after 200 years of academic instruction, the Trustees of the Eliot School decided to explore more experimental modes of education to meet the new needs of its community. The School provided manual arts training for students of many backgrounds—from young boys and girls, to upper and middle class hobbyists, to immigrants seeking vocational education. Gadsden will place the efforts of the Eliot School in a larger context, exploring how the School related to rise of manual arts training and the advent of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

close
Public Program Helen F. Stuart and the Birth of Spirit Photography in Boston this event is free 21 October 2016.Friday, 2:00PM - 3:00PM Felicity Tsering Chödron Hamer

 

Borne by the same ideas that founded Spiritualism in the nineteenth century, spirit photographs are joint-portraits achieved posthumously, without use of a corpse, wherein the bereaved are visually united with the deceased. These enchanted mementos are said to have been ‘invented’ in 1861, in Boston, Massachusetts, by William H. Mumler. Spirit photographers typically worked with individuals who claimed mediumistic qualities in order to enable the appearance of the magical ‘extras’ of the deceased. The majority of mediums were women and the contributions of women to the production of spirit photography have been often limited to such enabling activities. Felicity Hamer argues for a more foundational placement of women within the narrative of personal mourning rituals.

 

Photo: Mrs. Helen F. Stuart, Woman at Table with Male Spirit, c. 1865. William L.Clements Library, University of Michigan 

close