This Week @ MHS

By Dan Hinchen

It is time again for the roundup of events taking place at the Society in the week ahead. In addition to seminars, brown bags, and tours, be sure to come in anytime Monday – Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM, to see our current exhibition, “Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial.” The exhibit is free and open to the public and is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

On Tuesday, 4 March, Seth Rockman of Brown University brings us the next Early American History seminar. “Negro Cloth: Mastering the Market for Slave Clothing in Antebellum America” ties together the effort of a Northern firm to break into the business of making textiles for slaves; the politics of the slave plantation; and the national debate over tariffs. Rockman’s project brings together the studies of material culture, the history of capitalism, and comparative slavery, emphasizing the design history of plantation textiles and the circuits of social knowledge that linked plantation to factory. David Quigley of Boston College will provide comment. The seminar begins at 5:15PM and is free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.

Wednesday, 5 March, marks the anniversary of the Boston Massacre but the Brown Bag lunch talk of the day focuses on events that occurred 95 years later. Come by at noon as long-term research fellow Michael Vorenberg, Brown University, presents “The Appomattox Effect: Searching for the End of War in the American Civil War and Beyond.” Americans tend to mark the surrender at Appomattox as the end of the Civil War, but the last battle came more than a month later, the last surrender a month after that, and the official “cessation of hostilities” more than a year later. A similar Appomattox effect shapes the way Americans think of other wars, making people assume, even when well-known facts indicate otherwise, that wars have discrete, identifiable endpoints. This lunch discussion raises some of the issues associated with identifying the end of any U.S. war in light of the search for an end of the Civil War. This talk is free and open to the public.

On Thursday, 6 March, the Society hosts a special event titled “A Traveled First Lady: An Evening with Louisa Catherine Adams.” In this program, editors Margaret Hogan and C. James Taylor selected excerpts from diaries and memoirs of Adams’s most revealing comments on life at European courts, the difficulty of being an outsider, Abigail Adams’s Quincy, and the importance of society and etiquette in early Washington D.C. She is best remembered as one the capital’s most accomplished hostesses as hundreds of guests regularly attended her Tuesday evenings of conversation, music, dancing, and refreshments. Join the editors for a social evening with Louisa. There will be conversation and refreshments—but no dancing! Margaret A. Hogan is an independent editorial consultant and the former Managing Editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society. C. James Taylor is Editor in Chief of the Adams Papers. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM and the discussion begins at 6:00PM. To Reserve: There is a $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members). Click here to register online or call the MHS reservations line at 617-646-0560.

And last but not least, come by on Saturday, 8 March, for The History and Collections of the MHS, a 90-minute tour of the Society’s public rooms led by a docent or MHS staff member and touching on the history of the Society, and the art and architecture of building at 1154 Boylston Street. 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