This Week @MHS

Here is a look at what is going on this week:

On Tuesday, 12 March, at 5:15 PM: Biological Exchange in the Pacific World in the Age of Industrial Sugarcane Plantations with Lawrence Kessler, Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, and comment by Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut. This paper traces how sugarcane planters directed circulations of plant and animal species in the Pacific World. This new biological exchange served the political and economic interests of the plantation owners and their allies. Planters, however, were unable to control the biological exchange processes they created. This paper thus argues that through the creation of new patterns of biological exchange, sugarcane plantations induced ecological changes throughout the Pacific World. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Thursday, 14 March,  6:00 PM: The Great Molasses Flood Revisited: Immigrants in an Industrial Accident, with Stephen Puleo; Marilynn Johnson, Boston College; Jim Vrabel; and moderator Peter Drummey, MHS. Nearly 60 percent of Italian immigrants living in the North End in the early 20th century lacked legal citizenship, diminishing their political voice when the Purity Distilling Company erected a shoddily built molasses tank in their densely populated neighborhood. The tragedy that followed is a central event in Boston’s urban and immigrant history and still elicits questions as to the rights of non-citizen residents and the responsibilities of city governments to protect vulnerable communities. The final panel in our Molasses Flood Series will explore the social and political dimensions of immigration in Boston’s past, present and future. This program is a collaboration between the MHS and Old South Meeting House. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. 

On Saturday, 16 March, 10:00 AMThe History & Collections of the MHS. This is a 90-minute docent-led walk through of our public rooms. The tour is free and open to the public. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or

On Saturday, 16 March, 10:00 AMPrimary Sources for Fashion & Costume History Research with Kimberly Alexander, University of New Hampshire, and Sara Georgini, MHS. Antique textiles, images of historical figures, and material culture hold a wealth of information that can enrich personal stories, explain relationships, and contextualize the world that people occupied. However, these sources can seem daunting to explore. Two experts on fashion and material culture will guide you through unraveling the stories woven into history’s fabric. Please note that registration for this program is now closed.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Saturday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts.

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.