History Drawn with Light

By Carol Knauff

Seth Eastman on Dighton RockIn 1840, almost as soon as photography arrived in America, the Massachusetts Historical Society began to collect images of notable figures, artifacts, and landscapes recorded with “the pencil of nature.” Examples of these early photographs will be on display through 3 June, 2011 in the Society’s exhibition, History Drawn with Light: Early Photographs from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Visitors can view one of Boston’s oldest photographs, taken of the Old Feather Store by MHS Member Francis C. Gray, together with portraits and views by early daguerreotype artists such as Albert S. Southworth and Josiah J. Hawes, and the later work of professional and amateur photographers who documented 19th-century American history as it unfolded. The exhibition is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 1 PM to 4 PM.

Read more in a recent review of the exhibition History Framed by New Technology by Mark Feeney of the Boston Globe.

This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

Join us on Thursday, 31 March @ 12:15 at the Old South Meeting House for the final installment in the A Nation Born: The Battles of Lexington and Concord series.  In this session filmmaker Bestor Cram shares clips from his award-winning documentary Unfinished Symphony, as well as his experiences as part of the events on Memorial Day 1971 when nearly 500 Vietnam Veterans and townspeople were arrested for camping on Lexington Green, the very spot where the American Revolution began .

And on Saturday, 2 April, our weekly building tour begins in the front lobby at 10:00AM.  This 90 minute tour offers an opportunity to learn about the history and collections of the MHS. 

Scholars Convene for M.H.S. Conference on Recent Immigration

By Kate Viens

On April 7-9, 2011, scholars from across the U.S. will gather at the MHS—the nation’s oldest historical society—to discuss a question of compelling current interest for American life: What is new about recent immigration? Representatives of city and state agencies, elected officials, and non-profit organizations that work with immigrants have also confirmed their attendance at “What’s New about the New Immigration to the U.S.? Traditions and Transformations since 1965.”

Our goal? To understand not only the current state of U.S. immigration but how we arrived at it. We want to ascertain what is truly new about the new immigration, both documented and undocumented, how it compares to earlier migration waves, and what its consequences have been.

Since 1968, when the Hart-Celler Act, which replaced national quotas with priorities that emphasized education, jobs, and professional skills, went into effect, its provisions have governed immigration at a time when the subject has been intensely controversial. The end of the Vietnam War brought waves of refugees from Southeast Asia. Later, large numbers of arrivals came from the Caribbean, Central and South America, South Asia, East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union.

All of this is prelude to today’s public and political discourse on immigration in multiple contexts including public funding for education and services, national security, states’ rights, and civil and religious liberties. The importance of understanding America’s collective values and direction is keenly felt by a new generation of Americans who find themselves in the midst of emerging majority minority communities and media headlines over topics such as Arizona’s immigration law.

Thursday’s evening’s keynote address speaks to the heart of these issues. “U.S. Refugee Policy in the Post-Cold War Era: Balancing Humanitarian Obligations and Security Concerns” will be presented by Maria Christina Garcia of Cornell University, the author of Seeking Refuge: Central American Immigration to Mexico, the United States, and Canada (2006). This event is open to the public free of charge.

The public is also welcome to register to attend the scholarly sessions on Friday and Saturday. Presenters will include Thomas Adams of Tulane University, Caroline Brettell of Southern Methodist University, Marc S. Rodriguez of the University of Notre Dame, and Xiao-huang Yin of Michigan State University. All told, the conference includes nearly two dozen scholars from across the nation and from half a dozen fields—history, political science, sociology, urban planning, anthropology, and ethnic studies—researchers who are some of the leading commentators on this topic today.

For more information, including a list of presenters and their topics and a detailed schedule, please visit. http://www.masshist.org/events/conferences.cfm.

2010 National Humanities Medals Awarded

By Carol Knauff

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama presented the 2010 National Humanities Medals to ten individuals honored for their outstanding achievements in history, literature, education, and cultural policy. We offer our congratulations to the five MHS Fellows to be honored:

  • – MHS Trustee Bernard Bailyn for illuminating the nation’s early history and pioneering the field of Atlantic history;
  • Daniel Aaron for his contributions to American literature and culture;
  • Jacques Barzun for his distinguished career as a scholar, educator, and public intellectual;
  • Stanley Nider Katz for a career devoted to fostering public support for the humanities; and
  • Gordon S. Wood for scholarship that provides insight into the founding of the nation and the drafting of the U.S. Constitution.

Spotlight on Collections: Henry Cabot Lodge, Part V

By Tracy Potter

Over the last few segments of Spotlight on Collections, I focused on the life and career of Henry Cabot Lodge (HCL). Now I turn to his grandson Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (HCL II) who left just as big a footprint on United States and world history as his grandfather.

HCL II was born on 5 July 1902 in Nahant, Massachusetts. He was the son of the well known poet George Cabot Lodge and Matilda Elizabeth Frelinghuysen Davis. After the death of his father, the family moved to Paris for two years, from 1912 until the beginning of World War I in 1914. To escape the war, the family returned to Massachusetts. Like his grandfather, HCL II attended Harvard University, graduating in 1924. In 1926 he married Emily Sears and they had two sons.

Seven years after his marriage to Emily Sears, in 1933, the people of Massachusetts elected HCL II to the Massachusetts legislature, where he served until 1936. In 1936 he was elected to the United States Senate. He served in the Senate until 1944 at which time he met with President Franklin Roosevelt to ask the President’s blessing for him to join the war. The President gave his consent and HCL II was on a plane to England when the Senate heard of his resignation. HCL II’s decision to join the army to fight in World War II made him the first senator to resign his seat in the Senate for battle since the Civil War.

After his return from serving in Europe, HCL II ran for and won a seat in the United States Senate in 1946. His time serving in WWII gave him a new perspective on life and politics. During the remainder of his time in the Senate, HCL II became a moderate Republican often voting against the Republican Party line (an estimated 40% of the time). He also found it easy to gather support for bills he introduced into the Senate from members of the Democratic Party. In 1952 HCL II decided to back General Dwight D. Eisenhower as the next U.S. President. He was involved in Eisenhower’s campaign from the beginning. He convinced the General he should run in the first place then became his manager during the 1952 Republican convention. Throughout the year he focused all his attention on the presidential campaign leaving little room for his own campaign to keep his seat in the Senate. By November 1952, HCL II lost his Senate seat to an up and coming Democrat named John F. Kennedy.

In 1953, Eisenhower began HCL II’s international career by appointing him a U.S. representative to the United Nations. HCL II remained in this position until 1960 when he ran as vice president on Richard Nixon’s presidential ticket. In an interesting coincidence, Nixon and HCL II lost to the young and charismatic senator that replaced HCL II in the Senate in 1952, John F. Kennedy. Kennedy, understanding the value of HCL II’s experience both in politics and in foreign relations, appointed him Ambassador to the Republic of Vietnam in 1963. HCL II arrived in South Vietnam in the midst of very turbulent times. Over the next four years he served under Kennedy and then Lyndon B. Johnson in Vietnam helping Johnson plan and execute the troop escalation until 1967.

Between 1968 and his retirement in 1977, three U.S. presidents called on HCL II to serve his country on the international stage including Lyndon B. Johnson who appointed HCL II as Ambassador to Germany in 1968, and Richard Nixon who appointed HCL II as the leader to the unsuccessful American delegation to the Vietnam peace negotiations in Paris in 1969. Both Nixon and Gerald Ford appointed HCL II as an occasional special envoy to the Vatican. In 1977 HCL II quietly retired to his home in Beverly, Mass.

Republican to the core, HCL II had the knack of crossing political and international lines always in an attempt to better the lives of the people of the United States and of Massachusetts. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, he was never afraid to speak his mind or fight for what he believed in even if it was against the status quo. These qualities helped him excel as a senator and as an ambassador.

For more information about HCL II see:

Lodge, Henry Cabot. The Storm has Many Eyes. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc., 1973).

Miller, William J. Henry Cabot Lodge: A Biography. (New York: James H. Heineman, Inc., 1967).

Richardson, Elliot L. “Memoirs: Henry Cabot Lodge” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 97, (1985): 149-152.

Join me on April 6th as I discuss HCL II’s connection with the MHS.

This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

We have another week of exciting events happening both at the MHS and at Old South Meeting House. 

Tuesday, 22 March, at 6:00 PM, Walt Woodward, State Historian of Connecticut presents a talk focused on his recent publication Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676. A pre-event reception begins at 5:30 PM.

And again on Thursday, 24 March, we have two events.  The daytime event, which begins at 12:15 PM, takes place at Old South Meeting House.  This lunchtime lecture features Jayne Gordon and Kathleen Barker of the Massachusetts Historical Society presenting Grandfathers; Grandsons: Parkers, Emersons and the Legacy of RevolutionThis lecture is the fourth installment of the A Nation Born: The Battles of Lexington and Concord series co-sponsered by Old South Meeting House. 

On Thursday evening at 5:15, you can join us back at 1154 Boylston Street as Mary Anne A. Trasciatti, Hofstra University, presenting her paper “Athens or Anarchy? Soapbox Oratory and the Early Twentieth-Century American City” as part of the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar.  Michael Willrich, Brandeis University, will give the comment. 

Brian Gratton Presents @ Brown Bag Lunch Talk

By Anna J. Cook

On Wednesday, March 16, short-term fellow Brian Gratton presented the preliminary results of his research here at the MHS, working with the papers of Massachusetts politician Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924). Dr. Gratton is a Professor of history at Arizona State University, specializing in the history of immigration and ethnicity in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. His work at the MHS explores Lodge’s role within the Republican party in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century debates about race and immigration restriction.

Dr. Gratton used the formal portion of his talk to describe how the rhetoric of immigration restriction in Lodge’s political and personal writing (and speaking) shifted between the late-1880s and the mid-1890s from a near-total silence on the question of race, which Gratton describes as “not eerie — scary! … [an] almost pure form of political correctness,” to an argument for immigration restriction that relies on “good” and “bad” immigrants based on race and ethnicity.

During the late 1880s, Lodge relied on a primarily economic rationale for immigration restriction, attempting to persuade working-class constituents in Massachusetts that immigration restriction, like tariffs on imported goods, protected their jobs and their wages. Among working class voters, even those who had themselves immigrated or were the children of immigrants, the economic justification for immigration restriction had some limited success. However, the economic frame became problematic because it offered politicians, and their supporters, no way to differentiate between “good” and “bad” immigrants, and ultimately lost them support of those who feared their own ethnic communities would be targeted for restriction.  In the early 1890s, the language shifted subtly to distinguish between groups of immigrants understood to be part of the “founding” or “native” American ethic groups – Anglo-Saxon groups that, with some fancy footwork was amended to include Irish-Americans – and groups of immigrants deemed suspect.  The suspect groups, during this period, would have included Italians, Poles, European Jews, Eastern Europeans, and immigrants from Japan and China.

Dr. Gratton suggest that, on a national scale, the frame shifted from economics to race in stages, whereby first target groups were identified based on their willingness to accept lower wages (at least on its face an economic rationalization), and then gradually the discussion shifted to emphasize the group’s citizenship potential (or lack thereof) and questions of character.  Literacy tests proved a useful way of implementing de facto exclusion by race and ethnicity because the majority of Irish and German immigrants, by the late 1800s, were able to pass the tests, while Southern and Eastern Europeans and Chinese and Japanese immigrants were much less likely to meet the requirements.

Conversation following the presentation focused on the way these shifting discourses concerning race and ethnicity operated within the framework of Massachusetts state politics and on the national stage. Audience members also suggested possible avenues in to discovering the less public version of Lodge’s views on race and ethnicity, perhaps through reading the private writings of family and friends.

If you missed this brown-bag lunch, mark your calendar for April 6, when Dr. Linford Fisher will present “The Land of the Unfree: Africans, Indians, and the Varieties of Slavery and Servitude in Colonial New England.”

MHS Open House: The Coming of the Civil War

By Carol Knauff

1154 Boylston StreetJoin us this Saturday at our Open House as we kick off our commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. Marking the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War–a conflict that changed the course of the nation’s development–the Open House will offer visitors an opportunity to learn more about the Civil War through the Society’s collections, programs, and services.

The Open House will take place from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and a variety of activities geared towards the Civil War will be offered throughout the day.

•    At 11:00 AM, visitors are invited to “Discoveries and Methods: Civil War Research at the MHS,” a lively discussion between four different MHS researchers as they share insights and discoveries stemming from their use of the Society’s Civil War resources.
•    At 1:00 PM, Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey will present an exhibition talk focused on photographs from the Abolitionist movement and the Civil War.
•    Starting in the front lobby at 10:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 2:00 PM, tours of the Society’s public rooms will give visitors a taste of the history and collections of the MHS.
•    Visit our newly refurbished gallery to view History Drawn with Light: Early Photographs from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society and its iconic photographs of from the Abolitionist movement together with images of soldiers, camps, and battlefields of the Civil War.
•    “‘Oil and water are not more contrary…than North and South’: Three Generations of Adamses on Slavery and Sectionalism” will be on display along with a presentation of on-going Civil War projects at the MHS.
•    Enjoy refreshments throughout the day and visit our information table to learn about MHS resources, upcoming programs, and membership.

For more information e-mail rsvp@masshist.org.

This Week @ MHS

By Elaine Grublin

If you are looking for some midday excitement, plan on joining us for one of our lunchtime programs this week. And do not forget that Saturday, we have a full day of events planned for the MHS open house.

Tuesday, 15 March  at 12:00 PM, the Collection Services Department presents the next installment in our mini-course series. Bring your lunch and learn “What does Massachusetts have to do with … Tahiti, Pirates, and Graham Crackers?” Beverages will be provided.  

Wednesday, 16 March at 12:00 PM Twentieth-Century History Fellowship recipient Brian Gratton, Arizona State University, presents his research “Henry Cabot Lodge and the Politics of Immigration Restriction” at a brown bag lunch program. 

We have another offsite program on Thursday, March 17th.  At 12:15,  J.L. Bell, author of the blog Boston 1775, moderates the panel discussion “Where Did It Begin?” a look at the question of whether the Revolution began in Lexington or Concord.  This programs is part of the A Nation Born: The Battles of Lexington and Concord series co-sponsered by the Old South Meeting House, and will take place at Old South.

And on Saturday, bring the family, the neighbors, and all other history lovers you know to 1154 Boylston Street for the annual MHS Spring Open House: the Coming of the Civil War.  The building will be open to the public from 10:00 AM to 3:00PM, with tours, discussion panels, and lectures planned throughout the day.  See a schedule of the day’s events here.

Welcome Short-Term Fellow Brian Gratton

By Anna J. Cook

This week, the MHS staff welcomes Brian Gratton, Professor of History at Arizona State University, as the recipient of our 2010-2011 Twentieth-Century History Fellowship. Dr. Gratton, who received his Ph.D. in 1980 from Boston University, studies immigration and ethnicity in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. His recent publications and research focus on the experience of immigrant elders, 1880 to the present, and on the teaching of U.S. history with a particular emphasis on the American Southwest.

Dr. Gratton’s MHS fellowship project, titled “Henry Cabot Lodge and the Politics of Immigration Restriction,” examines the role of Massachusetts historian and politician Henry Cabot Lodge (1850-1924) in Progressive-era battles over legal restrictions on immigration. Lodge fought for three decades in support immigration restriction, a goal finally realized in the Emergency Quota Act of 1921, which dramatically reduced the number of immigrants streaming into the United States. Using Lodge as an entry-point for reconstructing the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century debates about immigration, Gratton hopes to better illuminate the political thinking among Republicans, Lodge’s party, on race and ethnicity in politics during this period. He will be working primarily with the Henry Cabot Lodge papers.

Dr. Gratton will be giving a brown bag lunch talk about his research at the MHS on Wednesday 16 March from 12:00-1:00pm. The event is free and open to the public.

The MHS staff welcomes Dr. Gratton back to Boston and wishes him a fruitful research visit.