Research seminars--conversations with one or more presenters that usually focus on a precirculated paper--take place between late September and early May. Programs are offered in five different series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender, and the New England Biography Seminar. Learn more about each series and subscribe to receive advance copies of the papers that will be discussed.

 

RSVP required. Please email seminars@masshist.org or phone 617-646-0568.

September

History of Women and Gender Seminar Developing Women: Global Poverty, U.S. Foreign Aid, and the Politics of Productivity in the 1970s 29 September 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Radcliffe, Fay House, Sheerr Room, 10 Garden St. in Cambridge Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale University Comment: Priya Lal, Boston College “Developing Women” is a chapter of a book-in-progress on U.S. involvement in campaigns ...

“Developing Women” is a chapter of a book-in-progress on U.S. involvement in campaigns to end global poverty in the 1970s and 1980s. This chapter focuses on the  “women in development” movement of the 1970s. It shows how indigent women came to be seen as potential “income generators” who were central to anti-poverty programs.

More
October
Early American History Seminar Reconsidering Slavery and Slave Law in Early Massachusetts 4 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Holly Brewer, University of Maryland Comment: Annettte Gordon-Reed, Harvard Law School The consensus among historians has largely been that Massachusetts was unexceptional in its ...

The consensus among historians has largely been that Massachusetts was unexceptional in its attitudes towards slavery; recent scholarship contends that the colony laid a foundation for enslavement and perpetuated its practices elsewhere. However, this paper emphasizes that there was considerable resistance to ideas of forced labor embedded within Puritan ideology as it offers a nuanced reading of the Massachusetts policy debates of the 1640s during the critical first period of slavery in the colonies.

More
Environmental History Seminar Uniting the United States with Lightning: Capitalism, Environments, and the Transcontinental Telegraph System in the United States, 1844-1861 11 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Edmund Russell, Boston University Comment: Merritt Roe Smith, MIT In 1861, the transcontinental telegraph was completed, allowing signals to be transmitted through ...

In 1861, the transcontinental telegraph was completed, allowing signals to be transmitted through wires from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This system, often overshadowed by the transcontinental railroad, advanced three great projects of American history: expanding capitalism, building the state, and conquering nature with technology. This essay focuses on the models of capital accumulation employed in building the telegraph and on the financial models and environments that made regional telegraph networks with different features.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “A Shiftless, Undesirable Class”: The Sexual Policing of Miami’s Bahamian Community in the Early Twentieth Century 25 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Julio Capó, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Michael Bronski, Harvard University This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, ...

This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, which chronicles the transnational forces that helped shape Miami's queer world from 1890 to 1940. In this chapter, Capó traces how urban authorities policed the perceived "suspect" sexualities of Miami's temporary and permanent settlers from the Bahamas and how their increased migration similarly informed gender and sexual norms on the archipelago.

More
November
Early American History Seminar Rape, Recourse, and the Law of Seduction in the Early Republic 1 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required John Wood Sweet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut In New York City in 1793 Henry Bedlow was tried for, but not convicted of, the rape of Lanah Sawyer. ...

In New York City in 1793 Henry Bedlow was tried for, but not convicted of, the rape of Lanah Sawyer. This paper questions the success of the civil lawsuit for seduction that Sawyer’s step-father, John Callanan, brought one year later. The case offers a window into the use of civil law in sexual assault cases and prompts readers to consider how women struggling for recourse can become pawns in battles between men over money and masculine honor.

More
Biography Seminar Conversation with Fredrik Logevall 10 November 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Fredrik Logevall, Harvard University Moderator: Carol Bundy Carol Bundy (The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64) ...

Carol Bundy (The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64) will moderate this discussion with Fredrik Logevall, the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Professor of History at Harvard University. His book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History. Logevall will discuss his current book project, a biography of John F. Kennedy.

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Environmental History Seminar Panel: Native Peoples, Livestock, and the Environment 15 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Katrina Lacher, University of Central Oklahoma, and Strother Roberts, Bowdoin College Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs In 1808, John Palmer Parker inaugurated rapid changes to Hawaii’s economy by building a beef ...

In 1808, John Palmer Parker inaugurated rapid changes to Hawaii’s economy by building a beef and hide industry that would facilitate the U.S. annexation of the archipelago. Lacher’s essay, “The Paniolos of Parker Ranch: Cattle Ranching on the Slopes of Mauna Kea,”  examines this site of environmental transformation and cultural exchange. Roberts’s paper, “A Dog’s History of Early New England: Indigenous Dogs in the Societies and Ecology of the Northeast,” argues that dogs should be considered as Native American livestock that were raised to fulfill a wide variety of tasks including serving as hunting partners and sources of meat. The essay further considers the mutal influences of European contact, the dog population, other wildlife, and human disease.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar French Canadians and the Transnational Church: The Landscape of North American Catholicism, 1837-1901 29 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Patrick Lacroix, University of New Hampshire Comment: Edward O’Donnell, College of the Holy Cross Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. ...

Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. between 1837 and 1929. Most of them settled in New England, where their ideas about nationalism and the doctrine of ultramontanism rocked the Catholic establishment in the last two decades of the 19th century. This paper explores the influence of immigration on larger debates over North American Catholicism. It examines the response of the New England episcopacy, whose Americanism helped to preserve the structure and ideas of the Irish-American religious establishment.

More
December
Early American History Seminar Panel: Loyalism 6 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Liam Riordan, University of Maine at Orono, and Christina Carrick, Boston University Comment: Steve Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist ...

Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist Biography” argues that loyalism’s deep colonial roots, wartime travails, and British Atlantic diaspora are its most important qualities. Hutchinson’s place at the center of our understanding of the subject causes us to lose critical aspects of the loyalist experience. Carrick’s essay, “‘The earlier we form good Connections the better’: David Greene's Loyalist Merchant Network in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” explores how some Loyalist refugees, like Greene, found ways to develop new prospects and connections while in exile. After returning to Boston in 1785 Greene used his social and commercial connections to the wartime enemy to make himself appealing in the new Republic.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: The History of Black Feminisms 8 December 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Françoise Hamlin, Brown University, Tanisha C. Ford, University of Delaware, and Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research Moderator: Kali Nicole Gross, Wesleyan University A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and ...

A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and pay tribute to the scholarship of Leslie Brown of Williams College. Ford is the author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul. Hamlin is the author of Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II, while Lindsey’s forthcoming book is Colored No More: New Negro Womanhood in the Nation’s Capital.

More
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Recreation and Regional Planning 13 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Elsa Devienne, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Princeton University, and Garrett Nelson, Dartmouth College Comment: Brian Donahue, Brandeis University Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los ...

Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Beaches, 1920s-1970s” examines the beaches as urban spaces whose modernization had profound consequences for the working-class. The beach clean-up and enlargement turned a popular shoreline into a semi-privatized playground for the white middle class. Nelson’s essay, “Assembling the Metropolis, Arresting the Metropolis: Competing Unit Geographies of Boston and Its Region, 1890-1930,” approaches parks as landscapes that express attitudes toward community, polity, and territory. By examining Sylvester Baxter’s metropolitan parks and Benton MacKaye’s Bay Circuit, it explores the intellectual tensions between Progressivism and the radical cultural regionalism that followed.

More
More events
History of Women and Gender Seminar Developing Women: Global Poverty, U.S. Foreign Aid, and the Politics of Productivity in the 1970s Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
29 September 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Radcliffe, Fay House, Sheerr Room, 10 Garden St. in Cambridge Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale University Comment: Priya Lal, Boston College

“Developing Women” is a chapter of a book-in-progress on U.S. involvement in campaigns to end global poverty in the 1970s and 1980s. This chapter focuses on the  “women in development” movement of the 1970s. It shows how indigent women came to be seen as potential “income generators” who were central to anti-poverty programs.

close
Early American History Seminar Reconsidering Slavery and Slave Law in Early Massachusetts Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
4 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Holly Brewer, University of Maryland Comment: Annettte Gordon-Reed, Harvard Law School

The consensus among historians has largely been that Massachusetts was unexceptional in its attitudes towards slavery; recent scholarship contends that the colony laid a foundation for enslavement and perpetuated its practices elsewhere. However, this paper emphasizes that there was considerable resistance to ideas of forced labor embedded within Puritan ideology as it offers a nuanced reading of the Massachusetts policy debates of the 1640s during the critical first period of slavery in the colonies.

close
Environmental History Seminar Uniting the United States with Lightning: Capitalism, Environments, and the Transcontinental Telegraph System in the United States, 1844-1861 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
11 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Edmund Russell, Boston University Comment: Merritt Roe Smith, MIT

In 1861, the transcontinental telegraph was completed, allowing signals to be transmitted through wires from the Atlantic to the Pacific. This system, often overshadowed by the transcontinental railroad, advanced three great projects of American history: expanding capitalism, building the state, and conquering nature with technology. This essay focuses on the models of capital accumulation employed in building the telegraph and on the financial models and environments that made regional telegraph networks with different features.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “A Shiftless, Undesirable Class”: The Sexual Policing of Miami’s Bahamian Community in the Early Twentieth Century Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
25 October 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Julio Capó, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Michael Bronski, Harvard University

This chapter is drawn from Professor Capó’s forthcoming book, Welcome to Fairyland, which chronicles the transnational forces that helped shape Miami's queer world from 1890 to 1940. In this chapter, Capó traces how urban authorities policed the perceived "suspect" sexualities of Miami's temporary and permanent settlers from the Bahamas and how their increased migration similarly informed gender and sexual norms on the archipelago.

close
Early American History Seminar Rape, Recourse, and the Law of Seduction in the Early Republic Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
1 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM John Wood Sweet, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut

In New York City in 1793 Henry Bedlow was tried for, but not convicted of, the rape of Lanah Sawyer. This paper questions the success of the civil lawsuit for seduction that Sawyer’s step-father, John Callanan, brought one year later. The case offers a window into the use of civil law in sexual assault cases and prompts readers to consider how women struggling for recourse can become pawns in battles between men over money and masculine honor.

close
Biography Seminar Conversation with Fredrik Logevall Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
10 November 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Fredrik Logevall, Harvard University Moderator: Carol Bundy

Carol Bundy (The Nature of Sacrifice: A Biography of Charles Russell Lowell, Jr., 1835-64) will moderate this discussion with Fredrik Logevall, the Laurence D. Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Professor of History at Harvard University. His book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History. Logevall will discuss his current book project, a biography of John F. Kennedy.

close
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Native Peoples, Livestock, and the Environment Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
15 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Katrina Lacher, University of Central Oklahoma, and Strother Roberts, Bowdoin College Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs

In 1808, John Palmer Parker inaugurated rapid changes to Hawaii’s economy by building a beef and hide industry that would facilitate the U.S. annexation of the archipelago. Lacher’s essay, “The Paniolos of Parker Ranch: Cattle Ranching on the Slopes of Mauna Kea,”  examines this site of environmental transformation and cultural exchange. Roberts’s paper, “A Dog’s History of Early New England: Indigenous Dogs in the Societies and Ecology of the Northeast,” argues that dogs should be considered as Native American livestock that were raised to fulfill a wide variety of tasks including serving as hunting partners and sources of meat. The essay further considers the mutal influences of European contact, the dog population, other wildlife, and human disease.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar French Canadians and the Transnational Church: The Landscape of North American Catholicism, 1837-1901 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
29 November 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Patrick Lacroix, University of New Hampshire Comment: Edward O’Donnell, College of the Holy Cross

Roughly 900,000 French Canadians left their homes in search of better opportunities in the U.S. between 1837 and 1929. Most of them settled in New England, where their ideas about nationalism and the doctrine of ultramontanism rocked the Catholic establishment in the last two decades of the 19th century. This paper explores the influence of immigration on larger debates over North American Catholicism. It examines the response of the New England episcopacy, whose Americanism helped to preserve the structure and ideas of the Irish-American religious establishment.

close
Early American History Seminar Panel: Loyalism Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
6 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Liam Riordan, University of Maine at Orono, and Christina Carrick, Boston University Comment: Steve Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Riordan’s essay, “Revisiting Thomas Hutchinson: The Strengths and Weaknesses of Loyalist Biography” argues that loyalism’s deep colonial roots, wartime travails, and British Atlantic diaspora are its most important qualities. Hutchinson’s place at the center of our understanding of the subject causes us to lose critical aspects of the loyalist experience. Carrick’s essay, “‘The earlier we form good Connections the better’: David Greene's Loyalist Merchant Network in the Revolutionary Atlantic,” explores how some Loyalist refugees, like Greene, found ways to develop new prospects and connections while in exile. After returning to Boston in 1785 Greene used his social and commercial connections to the wartime enemy to make himself appealing in the new Republic.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: The History of Black Feminisms Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
8 December 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Françoise Hamlin, Brown University, Tanisha C. Ford, University of Delaware, and Treva Lindsey, Ohio State University and the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research Moderator: Kali Nicole Gross, Wesleyan University

A conversation about black feminisms that will encompass issues of identity, class, and culture and pay tribute to the scholarship of Leslie Brown of Williams College. Ford is the author of Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul. Hamlin is the author of Crossroads at Clarksdale: The Black Freedom Struggle in the Mississippi Delta After World War II, while Lindsey’s forthcoming book is Colored No More: New Negro Womanhood in the Nation’s Capital.

close
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Recreation and Regional Planning Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
13 December 2016.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Elsa Devienne, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Princeton University, and Garrett Nelson, Dartmouth College Comment: Brian Donahue, Brandeis University

Devienne’s essay, “Shifting Sands: A Social and Environmental History of Los Angeles’s Beaches, 1920s-1970s” examines the beaches as urban spaces whose modernization had profound consequences for the working-class. The beach clean-up and enlargement turned a popular shoreline into a semi-privatized playground for the white middle class. Nelson’s essay, “Assembling the Metropolis, Arresting the Metropolis: Competing Unit Geographies of Boston and Its Region, 1890-1930,” approaches parks as landscapes that express attitudes toward community, polity, and territory. By examining Sylvester Baxter’s metropolitan parks and Benton MacKaye’s Bay Circuit, it explores the intellectual tensions between Progressivism and the radical cultural regionalism that followed.

close

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