This Week @ MHS

By Dan Hinchen

March draws to a close, finally seeming to trade its lions for lambs. As April arrives we have a slew of programs at the Society this week. So, let us waste no time and get right to it.

Kicking things off on Tuesday, 1 April, stop by at noon for a special author talk with Larry Ruttman who will discuss his book American Jews & America’s Game: Voices of a Growing Legacy in Baseball. Ruttman’s talk will look at the four main subjects of his work: baseball, American Jewish life in the United States over the last century, American history, and the revealing personal lives of people involved with the game. This talk is free and open to the public.

And on Tuesday evening, beginning at 5:15PM, is the latest in the Early American History Seminar series. In this edition, Jeff Perry of Purdue University presents “From ‘Disturbers’ to Protectors of the Peace: Baptist Church Discipline and Legalities on the Trans-Appalachian Frontier.” In his paper, Perry considers how the instability engendered by the missionary movement and the rise of competing religious sects impacted individual churches’ visions of their own authority and their role in regulating their wider communities. In so doing, he speaks to the constantly changing nature of secular and religious authority in the United States. Comment provided by Stephen A. Marini, Wellesley College.  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.

At noon on Wednesday, 2 April, pack a lunch and come by for a Brown Bag talk. This time, long-term research fellow Chris Cameron, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, presents part of his research for “Liberal Religion and Slavery in America, 1775-1865.” His talk explores the disparate ways that liberal ministers engaged with the institution of slavery, whether as pro-slavery thinkers, colonizationists, or radical abolitionists. Cameron also examines the theological underpinnings of liberals’ views on slavery, as well as the differences between Unitarian, Universalist, and Transcendentalists’ engagement with the institution. This event is free and open to the public.

That evening, beginning at 5:30PM, is a film screening and discussion, part of “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” a series made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. “Created Equal: Slavery by Another Name & The Freedom Riders” will feature clips from two films, one based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Douglas Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, and the other based on Raymond Arsenault’s 2007 book Freedom Riders. Both films can be viewed in their entirety at Joanne Pope Melish is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kentucky and a visiting scholar in American Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860, and she will facilitate the discussion for the evening. Registration for the event is required at no cost. To Reserve: Click here to register online or call the MHS reservations line at 617-646-0560.

The second seminar of the week will take place on Thursday, 3 April, and is part of the History of Women and Gender series. Beginning at 5:30PM, “‘Talents Committed to Your Care’: Reading and Writing Antislavery” explores the historically contingent identities and the material texts that men and women produced in and through their engagement with a remarkably rich transatlantic literary culture. In looking not only at the cultivation of individual identities but also at the establishment of collective ties, it will be measuring the degree to which gender played a foundational role. Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, will present the material while Elizabeth Maddock Dillon of Northeastern University will provide comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.

Finally, on Saturday, 5 April, come by at 10:00AM 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

Also, do not forget to visit the MHS to see the current exhibition, “Tell It With Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus-Saint Gaudens’ Shaw Memorial.” This exhibit, organized by the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, D.C., is open to the public Monday-Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM, through 23 May.