The MHS offers many engaging programs and special events.

January

Public Program Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention 17 January 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College Law School $10 registration fee per person. (No Charge for MHS Members or Fellows) James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned ...

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation. No document provides a more complete record of the deliberations in Philadelphia. But how reliable is this account? In an unprecedented investigation Mary Sarah Bilder reveals that Madison revised the Notes to a far greater extent than previously recognized. Madison’s Hand offers a biography of a document that, over two centuries, developed a life and character all its own.

More
Public Program 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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
February
Public Program 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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
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

More
Public Program 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.

More
Public Program 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.

More
More events
Public Program Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention 17 January 2018.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:30PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Mary Sarah Bilder, Boston College Law School $10 registration fee per person. (No Charge for MHS Members or Fellows)

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation. No document provides a more complete record of the deliberations in Philadelphia. But how reliable is this account? In an unprecedented investigation Mary Sarah Bilder reveals that Madison revised the Notes to a far greater extent than previously recognized. Madison’s Hand offers a biography of a document that, over two centuries, developed a life and character all its own.

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
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.

close
Public Program 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.

close
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

close
Public Program 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.

close
Public Program 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.

close

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