Exhibitions & Ongoing Events

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February 2012

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  • Brown BagScience in the American Style, 1690-1820: Texts, Objects, and Ideas...
    Brown BagScience in the American Style, 1690-1820: Texts, Objects, and Ideas in Popular Practice
    12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Robyn McMillin, University of Oklahoma

    McMillin investigates a diverse cast of characters and range of scientific activities, demonstrating that engagement with scientific ideas and practices extended deep into American life.

    this event is free details
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          • Member EventA Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1...
            Member EventA Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885
            6:00 PM - 8:00 PM NOTICE: THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT

            MHS Fellows and Members are invited to attend a special preview of the Society's winter exhibition. The evening will begin with remarks by guest curator and MHS Fellow Natalie Dykstra and will be followed by a reception, book signing, and exhibition viewing.

            free eventregistration required at no cost details
          • ExhibitionA Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1...
            begins ExhibitionA Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885
            9 February 2012 to 2 June 2012 Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

            A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover AdamsView photographs taken by Clover Adams, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials.

            this event is free details
          • History of Women and Gender SeminarPerforming Civil Rights: Black Women Entertainers, the "Long" Civil...
            History of Women and Gender SeminarPerforming Civil Rights: Black Women Entertainers, the "Long" Civil Rights Movement, and Second Wave Feminism
            5:30 PM - 7:30 PM This program will be held at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe. Ruth Feldstein, Rutgers University at Newark Comment: Daphne Brooks, Princeton University. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
            Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
            details
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                      • Author Talk, Brown Bag, Public ProgramDr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth...
                        Author Talk, Brown Bag, Public ProgramDr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty
                        12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Samuel Forman

                        Celebrate the publication of a new biography of Dr. Joseph Warren and learn more about the Society's collection of Warren materials.

                        this event is free details
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                                • Immigration and Urban History SeminarThe "Coddling Controversy": Italian POWs on Boston's World War II H...
                                  Immigration and Urban History SeminarThe "Coddling Controversy": Italian POWs on Boston's World War II Homefront
                                  5:15 PM - 7:15 PM Anne Marie Reardon, Brandeis University Comment: Stephen Puleo, author of The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                  Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                  details
                                • Brown BagAmerican Citizens of the World: The Politics of Peace Reform, 1815-...
                                  Brown BagAmerican Citizens of the World: The Politics of Peace Reform, 1815-1870
                                  12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Margot Minardi, Reed College

                                  This project centers on a tension between national and cosmopolitan conceptions of citizenship: peace advocates saw themselves as “citizens of the world” even as they made frequent appeals to the special role of the U.S. and its citizens in brokering peace among the world’s peoples.

                                  this event is free details
                                • Author Talk, Public ProgramNew Israel / New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America
                                  Author Talk, Public ProgramNew Israel / New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America
                                  6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Michael Hoberman, Fitchburg State University

                                  Michael Hoberman, 2008-2009 MHS-NEH Fellow, will discuss how Puritans thought and wrote about Jews in order to resolve their own theological and cultural dilemmas.

                                   

                                  free eventregistration required at no cost details
                                this event is free Exhibition

                                Like a Wolf for the Prey: The Massachusetts Historical Society Collection Begins

                                1 September 2011 to 17 March 2012
                                Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                In 1790, the Rev. Jeremy Belknap proposed a "Plan for an Antiquarian Society" that would actively collect materials for a "complete history" of the new nation. A year later, Belknap's plan became the "Historical Society"--now the Massachusetts Historical Society--the oldest historical organization in the Western Hemisphere. The ten original members donated books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps and atlases, almanacs, printed sermons, manuscripts, and examples of early Massachusetts coinage from their personal collections. From September 2011 through March 2012, view a selection of the Society's earliest acquisitions in the new Treasures Gallery. The exhibition is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

                                The MHS exhibition complements "Making History: Antiquaries in Britain," an exhibition celebrating the tercentenary of the Society of Antiquaries of London, now on display at the McMullen Museum at Boston College until December 11, 2011.

                                1 February 2012 this event is free Brown Bag

                                Science in the American Style, 1690-1820: Texts, Objects, and Ideas in Popular Practice

                                12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
                                Robyn McMillin, University of Oklahoma

                                This project argues that the study of early American science needs to move beyond the long shadow of Benjamin Franklin and his kite. McMillin therefore investigates a much more diverse cast of characters and range of scientific activities, demonstrating that engagement with scientific ideas and practices extended deep into American life. This gives us a rich understanding of what science was, who practiced it, the many ways it circulated, and its power, first in connecting a broad public to British mores and later, by contributing to the creation of a separate identity as U.S. citizens.

                                2 February 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Author Talk, Public Program

                                Thomas Jefferson's Granddaughter in Queen Victoria's England: The Travel Diary of Ellen Wayles Coolidge, 1838-1839

                                6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
                                Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Ann Lucas Birle, International Center for Jefferson Studies

                                Ellen Wayles Coolidge arrived in London in June 1838 at the advent of Queen Victoria's reign--the citizens were still celebrating the coronation. During her nine-month stay, Coolidge kept a diary that reveals the uncommon education of her youth, when she lived and studied at Monticello with her grandfather, Thomas Jefferson. Birle, editor of the travel diary, will discuss Coolidge's experience abroad and the ways in which her connection to her home and family influenced her perceptions of herself and womanhood in general. As Birle will demonstrate, even as Coolidge's views of herself and other woman changed over time, she continued to define herself in terms of her  connection to Jefferson.

                                Reservations requested: please call 617-646-0560 or click on the ticket icon above to register online.

                                7 February 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Early American History Seminar

                                Marital Infidelity and Espionage in the Siege of Boston

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                J. L. Bell, Boston 1775 Comment: Robert Allison, Suffolk University

                                This paper will examine patterns in the popular linkage between marital and political infidelities over a range of espionage cases from the start of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new findings about such spies as Dr. Benjamin Church, Benjamin Thompson, and the Rev. John Carnes, it will address the topic from multiple perspectives, including actual cases, the use of marital disloyalty as a metaphor for political disloyalty, and how stories of family splits were hidden, preserved, or retold. Each side of the political conflict tried to portray the other's leaders, up to and including Thomas Gage and George Washington, as unfaithful husbands. Betrayal in the home, such reports suggested, led to betrayal of the public. Some men involved in espionage did indeed make a habit of extramarital affairs, but others appear to have undertaken their risky ventures to support their wives and children. Both at the time and in later generations, Americans have been selective about which family splits they recorded, and thus which side's agents appeared most treacherous.

                                8 February 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Member Event

                                A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885

                                6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
                                NOTICE: THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT

                                Mrs. Pratt, Mrs. Howe, and Alice Pratt on rocks at Smith's Point, photograph by Clover Adams, 1883.The preview of the Society's winter/spring exhibition is sold out. If you wish to add your name to the waiting list please e-mail Carol Knauff at cknauff@masshist.org. If space becomes available, we will contact you after 2 PM on February 8.

                                 

                                 

                                Special Event for MHS Fellows and Members

                                MHS Fellows and Members are invited to attend a special preview of the Society's winter exhibition. The evening will begin with remarks by guest curator and MHS Fellow Natalie Dykstra and will be followed by a reception, book signing, and exhibtion viewing.

                                The striking photographs of Clover Adams, wife of historian and writer Henry Adams, capture iconic moments of Gilded Age Boston and Washington, D.C., while also opening pathways to her long-concealed inner life. Her photographs tell a story—her story. This exhibition features many of Clover's images, some of which have not been shown publicly, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials.

                                This event launches Natalie Dykstra's new book, Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life, to be published February 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

                                this event is free Exhibition

                                A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885

                                9 February 2012 to 2 June 2012
                                Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover AdamsThe striking photographs of Clover Adams, wife of historian and writer Henry Adams, capture iconic moments of Gilded Age Boston and Washington, D.C., while also opening pathways to her long-concealed inner life. Her photographs tell a story—her story. This exhibition features many of Clover's images, some of which have not been shown publicly, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials.

                                At the heart of Clover’s story is a mystery: just when she found a powerful way through photography to document her life, it started to unravel. On a gloomy Sunday morning in December 1885, Clover committed suicide by drinking from a vial of potassium cyanide, a chemical used to develop photographs. Henry Adams commissioned a bronze statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens to mark his wife’s grave in Washington’s Rock Creek Cemetery. But he rarely spoke of her and never mentioned her in his Pulitzer prize-winning The Education of Henry Adams.

                                What got lost—until now—was the remarkable story of how Clover, in the last years of her life, discovered with her camera an eloquent means with which to express herself.

                                9 February 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                History of Women and Gender Seminar

                                Performing Civil Rights: Black Women Entertainers, the "Long" Civil Rights Movement, and Second Wave Feminism

                                5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
                                This program will be held at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe. Ruth Feldstein, Rutgers University at Newark Comment: Daphne Brooks, Princeton University.

                                During the period that scholars have identified as the "long civil rights movement," black women entertainers were among the performers who used their status as celebrities to support black activism, and who made political struggles meaningful to Americans and non-Americans who never participated in marches or other protests. In public performances and political protests-and crucially, in the myriad instances when the lines between those blurred-women entertainers such as Lena Horne, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll and Miriam Makeba (to name a few) drew attention to unequal relationships between blacks and whites and to relationships between men and women. This paper analyzes how black women performed civil rights in ways that made gender central to a broader vision of black liberation. It suggests that black women entertainers were central to the simultaneous development of black activism in the "long civil rights movement" as well as second wave feminism.

                                11 February 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                The tour is free and open to the public. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour.  For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                17 February 2012 this event is free Author Talk, Brown Bag, Public Program

                                Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty

                                12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
                                Samuel Forman

                                Image of book cover for "Dr. Joseph Warren" by Sam FormanJoseph Warren (1741-1775) is acknowledged as a pivotal personality in early Revolutionary Era events, yet details of his agency have remained elusive. Famous in his own time and throughout the Early Republic, he is now barely remembered as the hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill, and as the person who sent Paul Revere on his iconic ride. Recounting his story has always been hampered by a paucity of primary sources. Warren's cryptic and incomplete medical account books at the Massachusetts Historical Society remain the largest trove of his primary source documents. Sam Forman describes novel analytic techniques applied to MHS Warren-related manuscript and relic holdings, and how they provided the keys to a fascinating life.

                                Samuel A. Forman is an historian, physician, educator, and businessman. He is the author of the just-released Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty. Based on new scholarship, it is the first full biography of this intriguing Founding figure to appear in 50 years and only the third ever written. He maintains the website Dr. Joseph Warren on the Web, which provides the extensive research material on which his new biography is based.

                                18 February 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                The tour is free and open to the public. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour.  For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                20 February 2012 Building Closed

                                Presidents' Day

                                all day
                                21 February 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Environmental History Seminar

                                Backwater: Making Space for Slavery in the Red River Valley, 1803-1850

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                Katherine Stevens, Harvard University Comment: Megan Kate Nelson, Harvard University

                                "Backwater" tells the story of the expansion of slavery along the Red River of Louisiana with attention to the questions and concerns of environmental history. The essay's central character is a phenomenon called the Great Raft, a one-hundred-mile morass of tangled driftwood trees, shrubs, and silt in the middle of what should have been the Red River's main channel. The Raft influenced the lives of all parties involved in the transformation of the Red River into cotton country. Native polities, emigrant planters, slaves forced to emigrate, Indian agents, creole traders, steamboat captains, and inventors all had their lives shaped by the Raft.  

                                For the most part, the histories of these many actors on the leading edge of plantation slavery have been told separately. Histories of Indian Removal focus on politics either within Indian nations or in U.S. policy. Histories of slaves and slaveholders tend to focus on the plantation without asking how plantation spaces were made in the first place. Histories of technology focus on coteries of inventors, often removing them from the political and material worlds in which they worked. What these separate narratives share, however, is a story of environmental transformation. "Backwater" brings these actors together through the Raft and through an 1830s federal project to "permanently" remove it.

                                23 February 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Conversation, Public Program

                                Faith Healing, Vaccination, and the First Amendment: A Conversation with Alan Rogers

                                6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
                                Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Alan Rogers, Boston College Moderated by Steve Marini, Wellesley College

                                Professor Alan Rogers’s research and teaching focuses on the U.S. Constitution and American legal history. His most recent book and a cluster of scholarly articles focused on the death penalty in Massachusetts. He is currently working on two projects: the contested intersection of faith healing and the First Amendment; and a history of the anti-vaccination movement from 1721 to the present, for which he was awarded a New England Regional Consortium Fellowship. His most recent book is Murder and the Death Penalty in Massachusetts.

                                Considering the Common Good: What We Give Up/What We Gain

                                In this conversation series, facilitated by Professor Stephen Marini of Wellesley College, guests will address issues of self-interest and shared sacrifice, private concerns and community benefits, and the intersection of individual and collective goals. Using historical and contemporary examples, each guest will illustrate approaches, promises, successes and failures. In the ensuing conversations, guests and audience members will explore the challenges and choices involved in defining and balancing individual freedom and the common good.

                                Reservations requested: please call 617-646-0560 or click on the ticket icon above to register online.

                                25 February 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                The tour is free and open to the public. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour.  For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                28 February 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Immigration and Urban History Seminar

                                The "Coddling Controversy": Italian POWs on Boston's World War II Homefront

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                Anne Marie Reardon, Brandeis University Comment: Stephen Puleo, author of The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day

                                In early 1944, Italian POWs arrived in Boston to serve in Italian Service Units (ISUs), wearing simplified American military uniforms and doing essential wartime work locally in exchange for increased liberty. Their presence, and more specifically, their level of freedom, led to a local (and eventually national) outcry, accusing the U.S. Army of "coddling" the enemy. Yet the content of these accusations and their rebuttals, couched starkly in the terms of "friends" vs. "enemies," reveals larger ethnic and racial conflicts within the city's fractured wartime social structure over who was fully "American" and deserving of that identity's perceived "rights" in terms of quality jobs, adequate housing, and free personal association.

                                29 February 2012 this event is free Brown Bag

                                American Citizens of the World: The Politics of Peace Reform, 1815-1870

                                12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
                                Margot Minardi, Reed College
                                29 February 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Author Talk, Public Program

                                New Israel / New England: Jews and Puritans in Early America

                                6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
                                Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Michael Hoberman, Fitchburg State University

                                The New England Puritans’ fascination with the legacy of the Jewish religion has been well documented, but their interactions with actual Jews have escaped sustained historical attention. New Israel/New England tells the story of the Sephardic merchants who traded and sojourned in Boston and Newport between the mid-seventeenth century and the era of the American Revolution. It also explores the complex and often contradictory meanings that the Puritans attached to Judaism and the fraught attitudes that they bore toward the Jews as a people.

                                More often than not, Michael Hoberman shows, Puritans thought and wrote about Jews in order to resolve their own theological and cultural dilemmas. A number of prominent New Englanders, including Roger Williams, Increase Mather, Samuel Sewall, Benjamin Colman, Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and Ezra Stiles, wrote extensively about post-biblical Jews, in some cases drawing on their own personal acquaintance with Jewish contemporaries.

                                Reservations requested: please call 617-646-0560 or click on the ticket icon above to register online.


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