This Week @ MHS

By Dan Hinchen

As we edge closer to the New Year, the MHS offers a slew of public programming this week.

First up, on Tuesday, 10 December, is a panel discussion. “Telling Environmental History,” will explore different ways of presenting environmental history, including the use of GIS, the intersection of environmental history and planning history, incorporating visual materials, and environmental history as narrative. Anthony Penna of Northeastern University will moderate the panel comprised of Brian Donahue of Brandeis University, Karl Haglund of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, Megan Kate Nelson of Brown University, and Aaron Sachs of Cornell University. Seminars are free and open to the public though, RSVP required. Discussion begins at 5:15PM.

On Wednesday, 11 December, at 12:00PM is a Brown Bag lunch talk focused on a piece of colonial history. Christine DeLucia, Mount Holyoke College, presents “The Memory Frontier: Memorializing King Philip’s War in the Native Northeast.” The late 17th-century conflict known as King Philip’s War has haunted colonial New Englanders and diverse tribal communities.  Their remembrances of this violence have taken shape in highly local ways, through material objects, performances, and stories about landscapes.  This study highlights the importance of such overlooked sources for understanding the persistent, widespread effects of warfare and settler colonialism in the Northeast. Brown Bag talks are free and open to the public so come on in and have a piece of history with your lunch.

Also on Wednesday is a public program presented by students of the Boston University course “Making History.” During this presentation, “Making History: The Salem Witch Trials in Documents & Artifacts,” the students discuss the MHS exhibition that they have researched and compiled. The semester-long project on Salem and the wider fear of witches in England and colonial America includes work on letters and diaries, sermons, early printed books, and objects form the period. James H. Johnson, who teaches the course and will facilitate the program, is Professor of History and a prize-winning author. This program is free and open to the public though registration is required. Pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM and the program starts at 6:00. To register at no cost, please call 617-646-0560 or email

And on Thursday, 12 December, join us for the second seminar of the week, this time a part of the History of Women and Gender series. Beginning at 5:30PM, Amy Kesselman of SUNY, New Paltz, presents “Women versus Connecticut: Insights from the Pre-Roe Abortion Battles.” In the early 1970s lawsuit Abele v. Markle, Women versus Connecticut coupled litigation with grassroots organizing in a strategy that stimulated public discussion of reproductive rights and brought women’s experiences of Connecticut’s abortion laws to bear on what went on in the courtroom. The story illustrates the role of the feminist reproductive rights movement in shaping Roe v. Wade. Linda Gordon of New York University will provide comment for the discussion. This seminar is free and open to the public, RSVP required.

Rounding out the week on Friday, 13 December, is our final public program of 2013. Come in at 2:00PM as Michael Wheeler shines a spotlight on our current exhibition with “Patriotic Banding: Red, White, and Blue.” In the federal period (1790-1820), wealthy Boston merchants expanded trade to the West Indies and China. As part of this trade, they imported rare and expensive lumber into Boston. Mechanical inventions and the harnessing of waterpower made sawing this lumber into thin veneers possible. Inlay makers, were able to dye, stack, and cut those veneers into decorative geometric bandings which cabinetmakers used as inlays in neoclassical furniture. Guest speaker Michael Wheeler has recently discovered that red, white, and blue banding was made in Boston during the federal period. In his presentation, he will take us through his discovery and research, followed by a gallery tour of the inlaid furniture in our exhibition and his example of modern patriotic banding.This program is free and open to the public.

And thus ends our schedule of programs for this calendar year. Begin planning for the New Year now and resolve to check out our online calendar for Seminars, Brown Bags, and other assorted Public Programs coming up in 2014. And remember that our current exhibition, “The Cabinetmaker & the Carver: Boston Furniture from Private Collections” remains on display six days per week until 17 January.

Please note that the Society will be closed beginning Tuesday, 24 December, and will reopen on Thursday, 2 January. The exhibition galleries will be open Thursday, 26 December – Saturday, 28 December, and again on Monday, 30 December, from 10:00AM until 4:00PM.