The Boston Area 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. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

 

There will be six sessions in the 2017-2018 academic year, and one roundtable hosted jointly with the Environmental History Seminar. Download, print, and circulate the series calendar!


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 Monday prior to the program. Subscribe to this seminar series and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend! 

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

 

Are you a graduate student or faculty member? Then join us on Sept. 28th for the eighth annual Graduate Student Reception, where you can meet scholars in your fields, enjoy food and drinks, and explore the MHS!

October

Early American History Seminar John Marshall, Slaveowner and Jurist 3 October 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Paul Finkelman, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Comment: R. Kent Newmyer, University of Connecticut This chapter from Finkelman’s forthcoming book examines the personal and professional life of ...

This chapter from Finkelman’s forthcoming book examines the personal and professional life of Chief Justice John Marshall in the context of his relationship to slavery. Though previous studies downplay Marshall’s slavery jurisprudence and his slaveholding, this paper argues that Marshall as a Supreme Court justice always favored slavery over freedom, and that this reflected his personal investment, emotional and economic, in slavery.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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November
Early American History Seminar British Caledonia: English America and the Scottish Darien Project, 1675-1702 7 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Craig Gallagher, Boston College Comment: Hannah Muller, Brandeis University Beginning in 1695, Scots at home and abroad flocked to support their country's nascent colony on ...

Beginning in 1695, Scots at home and abroad flocked to support their country's nascent colony on the Darien isthmus in Panama. This paper argues that Scots’ enthusiasm for the Darien project stemmed not from national impulses, but from a desire to define their status in a liberal, Protestant British Atlantic World alongside their colonial American allies and patrons.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579. Please note that unlike other sessions in the series, this session begins at 5:30 pm.

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December
Early American History Seminar Petitions and the Cry of Sedition 5 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Adrian C. Weimer, Providence College Comment: Walter Woodward, University of Connecticut In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and ...

In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and women expressed keen dissatisfaction with the monarchy or General Court, leading to trials over seditious speech. The rich theological language in the petitions and feisty curses in the trial records offer an unrivaled glimpse into the significance of religion for the mobilization of local political communities in this tumultuous era.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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February
Early American History Seminar The Category of Disability in Colonial America 6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the ...

From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the United States, used for both social welfare and exclusion. The market for disability-related products and services boomed. This increasingly standardized and medicalized category of disability sheds new light on questions of citizenship, state formation, market growth, medicine, and social belonging, while also exposing the deep intersections of disability and American nation-building.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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March
Early American History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America 6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: TBD This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history ...

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
April
Early American History Seminar Terror Twice Told: Popular Conventions, Political Violence, and the Coming of the Constitutional Crisis, 1780-1787 3 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Brendan McConville, Boston University Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary ...

As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary revolutionary institutions continued to operate as independent political actors. Between 1781 and at least 1786, committeemen and conventioneers launched forceful, violent efforts to reengineer American society. Committee-directed mobs expelled “tories” from many communities, and committeemen and conventioneers used both local laws and contract theory to legitimate these expulsions. This paper argues that the wave of political violence after the American victory at Yorktown in 1781 ultimately reflected conflicts within the American political community over who could be an American, what institutions constituted “the people” in a republic, and the character and limits of the “the people’s” power to form self-governing institutions. These disputes played an important role in creating the 1787 constitutional crisis.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
May
Early American History Seminar The Time of Anarchy: the Susquehannock Scattering and the Crisis of English Colonialism, 1675-1685 1 May 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Matthew Kruer, University of Chicago Comment: Linford Fisher, Brown University Part of a larger book project, this paper argues that the seemingly distinct conflicts across the ...

Part of a larger book project, this paper argues that the seemingly distinct conflicts across the English colonies in the 1670s were actually connected by the political initiatives of the scattered Susquehannock Indians. The dispersion of the Susquehannocks caused instability in surrounding Native American and colonial societies, drawing them into a spiral of violence interrupted only by Susquehannock success, which brought stability to the northeast and shattered the southeast.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
More events
Early American History Seminar John Marshall, Slaveowner and Jurist Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 3 October 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Paul Finkelman, University of Pittsburgh School of Law Comment: R. Kent Newmyer, University of Connecticut

This chapter from Finkelman’s forthcoming book examines the personal and professional life of Chief Justice John Marshall in the context of his relationship to slavery. Though previous studies downplay Marshall’s slavery jurisprudence and his slaveholding, this paper argues that Marshall as a Supreme Court justice always favored slavery over freedom, and that this reflected his personal investment, emotional and economic, in slavery.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar British Caledonia: English America and the Scottish Darien Project, 1675-1702 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 7 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Craig Gallagher, Boston College Comment: Hannah Muller, Brandeis University

Beginning in 1695, Scots at home and abroad flocked to support their country's nascent colony on the Darien isthmus in Panama. This paper argues that Scots’ enthusiasm for the Darien project stemmed not from national impulses, but from a desire to define their status in a liberal, Protestant British Atlantic World alongside their colonial American allies and patrons.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579. Please note that unlike other sessions in the series, this session begins at 5:30 pm.

close
Early American History Seminar Petitions and the Cry of Sedition Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 5 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Adrian C. Weimer, Providence College Comment: Walter Woodward, University of Connecticut

In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and women expressed keen dissatisfaction with the monarchy or General Court, leading to trials over seditious speech. The rich theological language in the petitions and feisty curses in the trial records offer an unrivaled glimpse into the significance of religion for the mobilization of local political communities in this tumultuous era.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar The Category of Disability in Colonial America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the United States, used for both social welfare and exclusion. The market for disability-related products and services boomed. This increasingly standardized and medicalized category of disability sheds new light on questions of citizenship, state formation, market growth, medicine, and social belonging, while also exposing the deep intersections of disability and American nation-building.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: TBD

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar Terror Twice Told: Popular Conventions, Political Violence, and the Coming of the Constitutional Crisis, 1780-1787 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 3 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Brendan McConville, Boston University Comment: Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut

As the revolutionary war ended, members of committees, conventions and other extraordinary revolutionary institutions continued to operate as independent political actors. Between 1781 and at least 1786, committeemen and conventioneers launched forceful, violent efforts to reengineer American society. Committee-directed mobs expelled “tories” from many communities, and committeemen and conventioneers used both local laws and contract theory to legitimate these expulsions. This paper argues that the wave of political violence after the American victory at Yorktown in 1781 ultimately reflected conflicts within the American political community over who could be an American, what institutions constituted “the people” in a republic, and the character and limits of the “the people’s” power to form self-governing institutions. These disputes played an important role in creating the 1787 constitutional crisis.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar The Time of Anarchy: the Susquehannock Scattering and the Crisis of English Colonialism, 1675-1685 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 1 May 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Matthew Kruer, University of Chicago Comment: Linford Fisher, Brown University

Part of a larger book project, this paper argues that the seemingly distinct conflicts across the English colonies in the 1670s were actually connected by the political initiatives of the scattered Susquehannock Indians. The dispersion of the Susquehannocks caused instability in surrounding Native American and colonial societies, drawing them into a spiral of violence interrupted only by Susquehannock success, which brought stability to the northeast and shattered the southeast.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close