This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

With at least one event happening each day from 1 March to 5 March, everyone should be able to make it in to the MHS for an event this week:

Tuesday, 1 March at 12:00 PM the next installment of the lunchtime mini-course series offers “What does Massachusetts have to do with … the French Revolution?”presented by
Sara Martin and Sara Sikes of the Adams Papers Editorial Project.

Wednesday, 2 March there are two programs. At noon Andrew W. Mellon fellow Rachel Herrmann, University of Texas at Austin, will present her research on “Food and War: Indians, Slaves, and the American Revolution” at a brown bag lunch program. And at 6:00, there will be a screening of Hit and Run History a film by Andrew Buckley tracing the voyage of the ship Columbia. Refreshments will be served at 5:30 PM.

Thursday, 3 March there is one event in the building, and another MHS co-sponsered event at Old South Meeting House. At noon Lou Sideris, Chief of Planning and Communications, Minute Man National Historical Park will present a lecture at Old South Meeting House (directions) on “Landscape of Memory — A Sense of Place.” And back at 1154 Boylston at 5:15, the Boston Early American History Seminar continues with MHS/NEH longterm fellow Rachel T. Van presenting the paper “The Woman Pigeon: Sociability, Sexuality, and the Anglo-American Community in Canton and Macao”. Robert P. Forbes, University of Connecticut – Torrington will give the comment.

Friday, 4 March at 12:00 PM, Malcolm and Mildred Freiberg Fellowship recipient Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, will present a brown-bag lunch program on her research “‘What Are You Reading, What Are You Saying’: American Reading and Writing Practices, 1760-1860.”

Finally on Saturday, 5 March we again have two programs. Our 90 minute Saturday building tour starts in the front lobby at 10:00 AM. And at 2:00 PM the next installment in the “Dangers and Denials” Conversation Series brings Bruce Ackerman, Yale Law School, to the MHS for a conversation about “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic.”

We hope to see lots of new and familiar faces at the many events this week.

Discovering the New England Watch and Ward Society

By Anna J. Cook

One aspect of working at a research library that I enjoy immensely is seeing the fruits of our researchers’ labor in the form of published works. I recently had the pleasure of reading historian Neil Miller’s recently published history Banned in Boston: The Watch and Ward Society’s Crusade against Books, Burlesque, and the Social Evil (Boston: Beacon Press, 2010). This slim volume chronicles the activities of the New England Watch and Ward Society, a private organization with considerable political influence in the Boston area and throughout the region, between 1878 and 1967.

Part of Miller’s research took place here at the MHS, where we hold the Godfrey Lowell Cabot Papers. Cabot was a prominent member of the Watch and Ward, to which he began donating funds in the early 1890s. He joined the Watch and Ward in 1900, served as treasurer from 1915 to 1940, and remained active into the 1950s [1]. Of the 73 boxes of material in the Godfrey Lowell Cabot papers, only two boxes are directly related to the Watch and Ward Society between 1913 and 1921. Yet those two boxes offer researchers a wide range of documentary evidence concerning the Watch and Ward’s activities during this period. My own perusal of the collection this week turned up a few documents that hint at some fascinating stories.

For example, there is an invoice from The Morgan-Boylston Detective Agency for expenses related to “Case 1172” during the fall of 1917. These expenses included taxi hire, car and boat fares, a railroad trip from Boston to New York City, room at a hotel, and unspecified “entertainment.” $10.00 in cash was also paid out to a Mr. H.

A more descriptive report from the same case is found in another folder, and it becomes clear that the investigators are seeking out information concerning the activities taking place at a certain hotel where “it is claimed many high jinks times used to occur.” The author of the report (“Operative #38”) observes, “I attended a banquet on business one night in almost the same room pointed out by Mrs. Moore, if not the same one, when girls in pink skin tights danced the ‘Hoochy Koochy’ on the dining table.”

The Watch and Ward was not only interested in illegal activities, but also in monitoring the efforts of “good people” and institutions involved in public health. On 16 April 1918, J. Frank Chase, the secretary of the Watch and Ward, wrote a letter describing his visit to the Old Army Medical Museum in Washington D.C. for a screening of “Fit to Fight,” a propaganda film that was part of the military’s attempt to combat “the Social Diseases.” While he approved of the general effort, Chase was critical of certain aspects of the film:

Realizing the difficulties of the subject and how mistakes are inevitable and the diversity of opinion even among good people as to the details and the methods of doing this necessary work, I am loathe to criticize the work accomplished. Yet, I must urge one criticism of the method. It concerns the unwisdom [sic] of putting on exhibition at the very beginning or at all the picture of a nude woman of full front view, as is done in this film.

While he acknowledges the “nude” is, in fact, a statue of Venus, he argues that its manner of display is troubling. It “does not declare itself as a statue until after such a time as gives the mind a chance to conclude ‘Here is the picture of a naked woman,’ and to gasp at the boldness.”

It is unclear from the existing correspondence whether anyone in the War Department was similarly offended by the film, or whether Chase’s objection to it had any effect on future screenings.

These are just a few examples of the primary source materials to be found in the Cabot papers related to Watch and Ward efforts. You can read more about the Watch and Ward in Miller’s new book, Banned in Boston. The Geoffrey Lowell Cabot papers are open and available for research in the Library’s reading room.

[1] Neil Miller, Banned in Boston, 47.

Spotlight on Collections: The Lodge Papers, Part 3

By Tracy Potter

Last time in Spotlight on Collections, I wrote about the history of the Cabot and Lodge families and touched briefly on Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924). Today I will further discuss Henry Cabot Lodge and his political and historical importance to both United States and world history.

Henry Cabot Lodge (HCL) was born in Boston in 1850. In 1871, he married Anna “Nannie” Davis. They had three children, including George Cabot Lodge who became a well known poet and the father of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (HCL II) During his early years at Harvard College, HCL began a friendship with one of his history professors, Henry Adams. Later, while in law school, HCL went on to work for Adams (unpaid) as assistant editor at the North American Review. HCL obtained a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1874 and continued on at Harvard University to obtain one of the first PhDs for history awarded in the United States in 1876. After obtaining his PhD, HCL returned to Harvard as a lecturer of American history and began writing a biography about his great-grandfather entitled Life and Letters of George Cabot. He later wrote biographies about Alexander Hamilton, Daniel Webster, and George Washington.

HCL began his political career serving in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1880-1881. In 1884 he became a delegate-at-large at the Republican National Convention where he developed a close friendship with fellow delegate-at-large Theodore Roosevelt of New York. During the convention both men faced a difficult decision: support the unpopular traditional party politics or the more popular party reformers. A reform movement had taken hold in the Republican Party by 1884, advocating for less corruption within party. When it became clear that the reformers would abandon party loyalty and support the Democratic nominee for president, both Roosevelt and Lodge made an unpopular choice. They remained loyal to their party supporting the Republican nominee, James Blaine, with the hope of initiating more change from within the party. This decision resulted in resentment from their reformer friends and constituents.

HCL’s and Roosevelt’s trial by fire cemented their respect for each other and their friendship, which would last through times of political partnerships and disagreements until Roosevelt’s death in 1919. The Republican National Convention of 1884 also set the tone for HCL’s political career. He was never afraid to give his opinion, to choose the unpopular choice (risking the backing of his constituents and even his own party), or to change his mind after further investigation. It was this type of politics that often alienated his constituents and fellow politicians.

In 1887 HCL was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served until 1893. At that time he was elected to the US Senate and served there until his death in 1924. As a senator, HCL’s interests rested in foreign affairs. He often loudly advocated for issues he felt strongly towards such as a stronger US Navy, civil service reform, the federal supervision of national elections in the South, and the building of the Panama Canal. HCL just as forcefully campaigned against issues he did not agree with such as the direct election of senators by the people and the creation of the League of Nations. HCL was very vocal about his views, never pulling his punches in speeches regarding presidential policies or when confronted by disapproving pacifists. In the end, although not loved by all, HCL did a great deal for Massachusetts and for the United States as a whole (much more than I can touch on here), carrying on the legacy of the Cabot and Lodge families.

As the brevity of this blog post provides terribly inadequate space to fully describe HCL’s influence on the United States, you may wish to delve deeper into his world by reading more about his life in the following publications:

Lodge, Henry Cabot. Early Memories. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.

Thomas, Evan. The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898. New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2010.

Washburn, Charles G. “Memoir of Henry Cabot Lodge.” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 58 (1925): 324-376.

Join me on March 9th when I write about the connection between Henry Cabot Lodge and the MHS, and give an overview of his collections held by the MHS.


Happy Presidents’ Day

By Elaine Grublin

Most people who are familiar with the MHS know that two of our most well-known collections are the Adams Family Papers and the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts.  Between these two collections, the MHS holds a large corpus of papers belonging to three American presidents: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and John Quincy Adams.  These collections contain items written by the individual men and members of their families throughout their lifetimes, including the years they served as President of the United States.   

But did you also know that the MHS holds some volume of manuscript material written by each man that has held the office of president through to George Herbert Walker Bush?

We most definitely do.  Although we do not hold documents written by all of these men during their presidential terms, we do have materials authored by them during their lifetimes sprinkled throughout our collections.  Most of these items are letters held in the individual collections of the men and women that received them.  Other items are materials collected by third parties contained in autograph collections.   

On this Presidents’ Day as you think about the lives of the men that have held this highest office, take a few minutes to peruse the Presidential Letters at the Massachusetts Historical Society.  This collection guide, completed in 2010, is a roadmap to finding manuscript materials authored by American presidents in our collections.  If you have any questions about any materials in this guide — if you would like to plan a visit to view any of the items, or would like to request copies to be sent to you — please contact our library staff at  


This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

Another busy week for programs at the MHS:  


Wednesday, 23 February at 12:00 PM, Paine Publication Fund fellow Edward W. Hanson presents his brown-bag lunch, “Crime in the Early Republic: Robert Treat Paine as Massachusetts Attorney General.”  Bring a lunch and join in the conversation.

Thursday, 24 February at 5:15 PM, The Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar continues with Christopher Capozzola, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, presenting his paper “How Filipino Veterans Joined the Greatest Generation: Transnational Politics and Postcolonial Citizenship, 1945 – 2009.”  Margot Canady of Princeton University will give the comment.   

Friday, 25 February at 12:00 PM, Alan Hoffman, president of the Massachusetts Lafayette Society, will present a lunchtime program Lafayette and the Farewell Tour: Odyssey of an American Idol.  

And finally, our Saturday building tour starts at 10:00 AM.  

Dangers and Denials: Cautionary Tales for Our Times

By Kathleen Barker

On Thursday, February 10, Boston University Professor Andrew Bacevich joined us for the first event in our new conversation series, “Dangers and Denials: Cautionary Tales for Our Times.” Over the next few months, the MHS will host several programs that will examine what happens when evidence from the past is disregarded as nations fall prey to the seductions of greed, power, and ambition. Is this time really different or is it the result of a repeating pattern that we have ignored to our peril?

The conversation centered on ideas explored by Professor Bacevich in his most recent book Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War. The program began with a discussion of the sources that contributed to the militarization of United State foreign policy after World War II. These mutually-reinforcing conditions, including the rhetoric of American exceptionalism, economic expansion, and the growth in military and government bureaucracy in the second half of the twentieth century, have kept America on a constant cycle of foreign intervention and war. Why, he asked, has there been no effective counter to this perpetual movement towards war and violence abroad? The answer to breaking this cycle, he argued, will not come from leaders in Washington, but from the people, who need to demand and bring about change.

When discussing America’s role (or potential role) in contemporary world affairs, professor Bacevich reminded the crowd of a speech given by John Quincy Adams before the House of Representatives on July 4, 1821. Discussing America’s global persona, Secretary of State Adams argued that while America was the “well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all,” she did not go abroad “in search of monsters to destroy.” In response, several audience members asked how Adams’s insightful observations on nineteenth-century policy could be adapted to present-day American policy. For example, how (or should) the United States respond to the revolutionary events taking place in Egypt? Bacevich argued that although the United States has no real ability to affect events in that country, our government should play close attention to the eventual role of the Egyptian military, which receives weapons, training, and financial support from our nation’s military-industrial complex.

Professor Bacevich offered his own thoughts on the war in Afghanistan as the conversation drew to a close. He asserted that intervention in Afghanistan is not of vital national interest to the United States. Is our presence there, he asked, really the best use of our nation’s resources? Should a sense of moral obligation to the people of Afghanistan take precedence over our moral obligation to other peoples? America has bigger questions to consider, according to Bacevich, including how our nation can share the responsibility for maintaining order in the world with other parties, especially given the dwindling resources available to us. What can we — as citizens and as a nation — do to combat the growth of anti-western jihadism? These and other challenges loom large on America’s horizon.

Given audience response, it’s clear that our new conversation series is off to an exciting start. We hope you will join us for our next conversation at 2:00 P.M. on Saturday, March 5, 2011. Bruce Ackerman, a professor of law and political science at Yale will be on hand to discuss his latest book, The Decline and Fall of the American Republic.

February’s Fellows

By Elaine Grublin

Keeping the reader services staff on their toes, three short-term fellows and one New England Regional Fellowship Consortium recipient are in residence at the MHS this February. Here is a look at what they are working on:

Marc Friedlaender Fellowship recipient Marc-William Palen, University of Texas at Austin, arrived early in the month to work on his project “The Cleveland ‘Conspiracy’: Mugwumpery, Free Trade Ideology, and Foreign Policy in Gilded-Age America.” Palen began his visit by working through an impressive list of almost two dozen late 19th century pamphlets, and has been working primarily with the papers of Edward Atkinson for the past week. He also plans to also work with the Henry Cabot Lodge Papers, George Bancroft Papers, and the Adams Family Papers (among others) during his time at the MHS.

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship recipient Rachel Herrmann, University of Texas at Austin, also arrived at the beginning of the month to delve into “Food and War: Indians, Slaves, and the American Revolution.” In her first two weeks at the MHS Herrmann focused her research in the papers of Henry Knox, William Hudson Ballard, and John Sullivan. This week she has worked with the Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians and Others in North America Records and the microfilm edition of Revolutionary War Orderly Books at the Massachusetts Historical Society . She also plans to consult the Benjamin Lincoln Papers, Timothy Pickering Papers, Moses Greenleaf papers, and several other relevant collections during her visit.

Edward Hanson received the Paine Publication Fund Fellowship to continue his work editing the papers of Robert Treat Paine for publication. During this visit to the MHS library, Hanson, who has been working with the Paine papers since the late 1980s and co-edited with Stephen T. Riley the material for volumes 1 & 2 (1992), and edited volume 3 (2005), has been working with material from the Robert Treat Paine Papers held at the MHS preparing material for the 4th & 5th volumes in the series.

Finally, Joshua Smith, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, recipient of an award from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC), returned to the MHS this past Monday to complete his fellowship research toward his project, “Yankee Doodle Upset: New England’s Yankee Identity in the War of 1812.” Smith settled into his research consulting the Binney Family Papers and the Orderly Book of the Alfred Company of Cavalry. Later in the week he plans to work with the Vaughn Family Papers and the Caleb Strong Papers. Smith will also be visiting the Maine Historical Society and Mystic Seaport as part of his NERFC fellowship.

This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

Mark your calendars and plan to attend one or more of our events this week:

Monday, 14 February, at noon Marc Friedlaender Fellowship recipient Marc-William Palen, University of Texas at Austin, presents his brown bag
“The Cleveland ‘Conspiracy’: Mugwumpery, Free Trade Ideology, and Foreign Policy in Gilded Age America.”

Thursday, 17 February, at 6:00 PM, Beverly Wilson Palmer, Editor, Charles Sumner Papers will present a special lecture“To Place the Federal Govt on the Side of Freedom”: Remembering Charles Sumner. This event is co-sponsored by the Charles Sumner Bicentennial Committee. Prior to the lecture light refreshements will be served beginning at 5:30 PM.

Friday, 18 February, at noon Joshua Smith, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, will present his research “Franks and Beans on Saturday Night: Yankee Ethnicity Considered” at a brown bag lunch.

And do not forget our Saturday building tour starts at 10:00 AM.

Reader Services Welcomes New Staff Members

By Anna Cook

This week the Library Reader Services staff welcomes two new Library Assistants onto their team: Andrea Cronin and Betsy Boyle. Both Andrea and Betsy come to us from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Simmons College and are beginning their careers as librarians with a special interest in archives and research libraries.

Andrea began her studies in the summer of 2010 and hopes to complete her degree with a concentration in Archives Management by January 2012. In addition to her coursework at Simmons, she has completed two internships as part of the Archives program. The first internship took place here at the Massachusetts Historical Society in Collections Services, where she impressed her supervisors with her keen interest in primary source materials and the speed with which she mastered new skills. She is currently an intern at the Baker Business Library (Harvard University). She completed her undergraduate degree in History and Creative Writing at George Washington University in 2010 and is particularly interested in Eastern European and Russian history. As a staff with backgrounds in mostly American, British, and Western European history, we are excited about the new areas of historical expertise that Andrea brings to the team.  An historian to the bone, she recently noted that her birthday falls on the same day as the Boston Massacre (though needless to say not the same year!). She has plans to continue on with her education and eventually earn her Ph.D.

Betsy completed her Master’s in Library Science last spring. Her library experience includes two years as part of the Reference and Collections Services teams at the Simmons College Beatley Library, a summer assistantship at the Frances Loeb Library (Harvard School of Design) and volunteer work at the Boston Public Library’s digitization lab and the Multnomah County Library special collections in Portland, Oregon. While living in Portland she also worked as a bookseller at the famous Powell’s Books. Betsy’s background is in photography and teaching. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Art and Literature from the University of California (Santa Cruz) in 1994 and completed a Master of Fine Arts in Photography at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2002. We are excited to welcome someone so knowledgeable about art and art history onto our staff and expect that Betsy will be a valuable resource in the months to come helping us to highlight the non-manuscript and non-print aspects of the MHS collections.

Both Andrea and Betsy will be seen regularly by visitors to the library as they staff the front desk, the reading room, and the reference desk. In coming weeks, they will also begin working with off-site researchers by telephone and email, assisting patrons with reference questions and requests for materials. 

Please join us in giving them a warm welcome!

Spotlight on Collections: The Lodge Papers, Part 2

By Tracy Potter

Continuing our series on the Henry Cabot Lodge & and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. collections, let us look at how the Cabot and Lodge families connect to Massachusetts and each other.

The elder Henry Cabot Lodge was the son of John Ellerton Lodge and Anna Sophia Cabot, a marriage that brought together two prosperous families. Anna Cabot descended from a John Cabot who emigrated from England at the beginning of the 18th century, married into a prominent family, settled in Salem, Mass., and built a fortune in shipping. Later generations of this family line expanded into Beverly and continued to prosper as cotton merchants. George Cabot of Beverly, the great-grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge, served his country – and his own fortunes — during the Revolutionary War as a “patriot privateer,” and was later elected to the convention to form the constitution of Massachusetts. In 1791 he was appointed to the U.S. Senate, and had some influence on the creation of the Treasury Department.

The Lodges arrived in Boston quite by accident in 1791, almost a century after the first Cabots arrived. Giles Lodge, a London merchant (and future the grandfather of Henry Cabot Lodge), was traveling on business in Santo Domingo in 1791, when the Haitian Revolution broke out. He was able to find safe passage off the island on an American vessel, which brought him to Boston. Realizing the business opportunities in the city, he chose to settle in Boston and prospered, never returning to England again. In 1842 his son, John Ellerton Lodge – who it is said built one of the largest fortunes in Massachusetts at that time – married Anna Sophia Cabot, uniting the Lodge and Cabot names.

Henry Cabot Lodge was the second child of John Ellerton Lodge. His sister Elizabeth was seven years older. Cabot followed in his great-grandfather’s footsteps, obtaining political renown as a U.S. senator. He was also a noted historian and close friend and confidant of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The MHS holds several collections related to the early Lodge family including:

John Ellerton Lodge letterbooks, 1844-1861; Microfilm: P-33, 6 reels

George Cabot Lodge papers, 1873-1909; Microfilm: P-317

Be on the look out — the next installment in the Lodge series will appear on February 23rd.