This Week @MHS

This is a busy week at the MHS. Take a look at what is planned:

On Monday, 14 October, from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM: Opening Our Doors Celebration. The MHS will join its neighboring cultural institutions for a day of free history, art, music, and cultural happenings in the Fenway neighborhood. With over 20 different museums, venues, colleges, and organizations participating, there will be something for everyone. View Fenway Connections, an exhibition put together by the MHS and the Fenway Studios, take part in a family-friendly art project that is part of our Remember Abigail celebration, and join us for a historic walking tour of the Fenway neighborhood.

On Tuesday, 15 October, at 5:15 PM: “Ladies Aid” as Labor History: Working Class Formation in the Interwar Syrian American Mahjar with Stacy Fahrenthold, University of California, Davis, and comment by Ilham Khuri-Makdisi, Northeastern University.
Founded in 1917, the Syrian Ladies Aid Society of Boston (SLAS) provided food, shelter, education, and employment to Syrian workers. Volunteers understood the SLAS as both a women’s organization and a proletarian movement led by Syrian women. Drawing from SLAS club records, private family papers, activist correspondence, and the Syrian press, this essay calls attention to the role women played in working class formation in the Arab American diaspora, and argues for a class-centered reassessment of “ladies aid” politics. This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. It is is co-sponsored by the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society & Culture. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

On Wednesday, 16 October, at 12:00 PM: The Last & Living Words of Mark: Following the Clues to the Enslaved Man’s Life, Afterlife, & to his Community in Boston, Charlestown, & South Shore Massachusetts with Catherine Sasanov, Independent Researcher. Mark, a blacksmith, husband, and father, might have slipped from public memory if not for his brutal end: his body gibbeted for decades on Charlestown Common for the poisoning of his enslaver, John Codman. This project, grounded in Mark’s testimony, approaches “legal” and other documents as crime scenes; attention to clues, connections, and seemingly insignificant details unlock important, previously unrecognized aspects of Mark’s world, thwarting their original intent: the enforcement of slavery’s status quo. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 16 October, at 6:00 PM: Housing as History: Villa Victoria & the Fenway Community Development Corporation with Mario Luis Small, Harvard University; Mathew Thall, Fenway CDC; and Mayra I. Negrón-Roche, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción. In the 1960s and 1970s Boston struggled to stem urban flight and a landscape of deteriorating housing stock. Massive redevelopment projects, such as the razing of the West End, sent shockwaves through the city. By the mid-1960s, the South End found itself the focus of redevelopment plans. A group of mostly Puerto Rican residents began to meet and then incorporated as the Emergency Tenants’ Council, which became Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, Inc. (IBA). In 1969, following a widespread campaign, the IBA won the right to serve as the developer for their neighborhood and; using the architecture of Puerto Rico as inspiration, built Villa Victoria. A few years later and few blocks away, the Fenway neighborhood faced the Fenway Urban Renewal Plan (FURP), which planned to clear sections of the neighborhood. local residents sued the city to block FURP and won the right to have a neighborhood-elected board become part of the decision-making process. Out of these efforts came the Fenway CDC with a mission to develop and maintain affordable housing and advocate on behalf of a vibrant and diverse community. This is part two of a series of four programs that is made possible by the generosity of Mass Humanities and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. It will be held at Blackstone Community Center, 50 W. Brookline Street, Boston. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM.

On Thursday, 17 October, at 5:15 PM: The World Comes to Lowell: Building a Digital Immigration History Website with Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts–Lowell, and Ingrid Hess, University of Massachusetts–Lowell. Based at the University of Massachusetts–Lowell, this digital project provides an entry point to the immigrant and refugee history of Lowell with an eye toward greater New England. An interdisciplinary team of faculty and students created the website content and produced the motion graphics to present supporting photographs, maps, and links to additional resources. The site is designed to be a tool for educators and a resource for interested community members. This is part of the Boston-Area Seminar on Digital History Projects series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Saturday, 19 October, at 10:00 AM: The 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, 19 October, at 4:00 PM: Legacies of 1619: Afro-Native Connections with Christine DeLucia, Williams College; Kendra Field, Tufts University; and moderator Catherine Allgor, MHS. Even before the arrival of enslaved Africans, Native Americans were forced into bondage and transported far from their homes in North America. Even as the Native populations were decimated and displaced, the communities that survived remained a refuge for African Americans. These distinct communities forged familial, social, and cultural bonds with each other over time. This program will explore the complex relationship between African Americans, Native Americans, the institution of slavery, and these groups’ attempts to seek equal rights in American society. This program is part two of a series of four programs co-sponsored by the Museum of African American History and the Roxbury Community College. There will be a pre-talk reception at 3:30.

Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Pop-Up Display
Abigail Adams urged her husband to “Remember the Ladies” and made herself impossible to forget. But Abigail is memorable for more than her famous 1776 admonition. This final Remember Abigail display uses documents and artifacts through the ages to consider the way Abigail viewed her own legacy and to explore how and why we continue to Remember Abigail. Join us for gallery talks on 25 October and 22 November at 2:00 PM.

Fenway Connections, an exhibition by the MHS and the Fenway Studios closes on Saturday, 19 October
The Fenway Studios is the only purpose-built structure in the United States designed to provide work and living space for artists that is still used for its original intent. It was modeled after 19th-century Parisian atelier studios but took the additional step of encouraging studio-design suggestions from the founding artists. This temporary exhibition will celebrate the history and evolution of Fenway Studios by shining a light on contemporary work produced by current members alongside rarely shown paintings from the MHS collection created by past Fenway Studios artists.