Creative & Original Programming at the MHS

By Gavin Kleespies, Director of Programs, Exhibitions and Community Partnerships

The MHS offers a variety of creative and original programs throughout the year. Here is a look back at some of the original programs we hosted in the winter and spring as well as an overview of a few programs that are coming up this summer. Stay tuned for more information about a series we are planning for fall 2019 that explores the history of subsidized housing in Boston.

This winter, we partnered with the Old South Meeting House to host a three part series on the history of the Great Molasses Flood. These discussions commemorated the 100th anniversary of the disaster and addressed the critical social themes raised and the aftermath. Many who know of the Flood perceive the events as almost tragi-comedy or as an anomalous catastrophe outside the bounds of historical contextualization. In fact, the Flood, and the trials that followed, bring up many questions as to how we frame or mythologize historical events, the responsibilities of businesses and government oversight, and the rights and status of immigrant communities. Our panelists included local scholars and activists along with  Stephen Puleo, the author of the seminal book on the Molasses Flood titled, Dark Tide as well as many other books on Boston area history. Hundreds of people attended these talks where they had the chance to engage in thoughtful dialogue, share their stories or insights, and pose questions to the panelists.

Great Molasses Flood program
The Great Molasses Flood Revisited

In February, we hosted a program with Prof. Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University; Michael Tomasky, editor of Democracy; and radio personality Robin Young, WBUR and NPR, to discuss how political polarization has led our country to a state of almost complete dysfunction. The conversation was steered by Robin Young giving Zelizer and Tomasky the chance to reflect on past political strife as well as modern day gerrymandering and conflicts within parties which force both sides towards the extremes. The conversation that ensued was a great example of using history to explain current events.

In May, the panel discussion Boston Women Designers: Then and Now offered a creative and original look at how gender norms have been changing in the field of design in Boston. MHS President Catherine Allgor began the program with a historical note about women designers in Boston. The discussion that followed explored how the field has changed and what walls still need to come down. We partnered with the Fenway Alliance and the Boston Preservation Alliance to produce the show, which helped us reach new audiences and sparked a lively set of questions at the end.

Panelists - Boston Women Designers
Boston Women Designers, 14 May 2019

On Saturday, 1 June, the official historian of the Boston Red Sox, Gordon Edes, will join panelists Leigh Montville, Jane Leavy, and John Thorn, the official historian of Major League Baseball, in a discussion to mark 100 years since the sale of Babe Ruth to the Yankees. For many, this infamous sale was the catalyst of a nearly century long losing streak and still stokes a rivalry between the New York and Boston teams. At the time, Red Sox owner, Henry Frazee, justified the move stating: “With this money the Boston club can now go into the market and buy other players and have a stronger and better team in all respects than we would have if Ruth had remained with us.”[1] In fact, it was widely speculated that the princely sum paid for Ruth ultimately financed Frazee’s ventures as a Broadway producer and was never used to replenish Red Sox talent. Regardless, the deal left Boston fans to look on with irony, superstition, or just plain frustration as the Red Sox failed to bring a World Series pennant home to Boston for another 86 years.

The Sale of the Century panel is just one of the exciting original public programs offered by the MHS this summer. In July, we will host a series of talks on the early China trade in Massachusetts, drawing on the expertise of local scholars and curators who will examine the ways in which the China trade helped shape the global profile of the Bay State. This series of programs is especially important to the MHS community because of its strong ties to our collection. In 1984, the China Trade Museum of Milton converted to the Forbes House Museum. In the process, it gave the bulk of its manuscript collection to the MHS. Art and objects headed to the Peabody Essex Museum. For the first panel talk in the series, Layla Bermeo, Assistant Curator of Paintings at the MFA; Karina Corrigan, Curator of Asian Export Art at PEM; and Peter Drummey, the Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the MHS, will take a closer look at the art inspired by the trading period along with intersections between these prominent collections.

Click on the links below for more information about these programs. And visit our online calendar for a look at everything we have planned in the coming months.

Sale of the Century: How the Red Sox Peddled Babe Ruth to the Yankees

The Legacy of the China Trade in Massachusetts: Art, Artifacts, & Manuscripts in Local Collections

The Legacy of the China Trade in Massachusetts: The Emergence of a Global Boston

The Legacy of the China Trade in Massachusetts: Families, Fortunes, & Foreign Luxuries

[1] O’Leary, James C. “Red Sox sell Babe Ruth for $100,000 cash.” Boston Globe. 6 January 1920: bostonglobe.com. Web. 29 May 2019

Announcing the 2019-2020 MHS Research Fellows

by Katy Morris, Research Coordinator & Book Review Editor

As an institution that has collected since 1791, the MHS offers spectacular opportunities to conduct cutting-edge research on the nation’s past. Our collections consist of manuscripts, portraits and artifacts, photographic images, newspapers, maps, and the personal papers of three presidents. These carefully preserved items lay nestled in their designated folders, boxes, and storage rooms awaiting the curious minds and discerning eyes of scholars who will ask questions that lead to new ways of telling the American story.

Every year, the Research Department at the MHS administers roughly a quarter million dollars in research support to help scholars from all career stages access our remarkable collections. These fellowships range from short-term funding (4-8 weeks) to long-term residency (4 to 12 months). Hundreds of graduate students, historians, literary scholars, art historians, and independent researchers submit their applications for consideration. Our selection committees review these diverse proposals and carefully select the very best for funding. We look for projects that make good use out of our collections, that thoughtfully present their ideas, and that make significant contributions to their particular field of study.

After months of review, we are proud to announce the fellowship winners for the 2019-2020 year. This cohort of fellows explores a wide variety of topics, such as the histories of motherhood, race and citizenship, empire and colonialism, maritime cultures, twentieth-century politics, popular literature, education, domesticity, abolition, Jewish identity, animals and the environment, medicine, and sexuality. Over the next year, these research fellows will travel to the archive to comb through the documents and artifacts that shed light on the past. They will stumble upon new discoveries, labor patiently over seemingly impenetrable records, and spend long hours interpreting the past.

They will also join the humming research community at the MHS. In additional to administering fellowship awards, the Research Department offers a range of programming that bring together academics and the public to workshop research projects, talk shop, and enjoy history together. At brown bag lunch talks and seminar sessions, research fellows will have the opportunity to share their work and connect with other scholars. Keep an eye on our calendar and come join the conversation.

Congratulations to our incoming fellows – we can’t wait to learn more about your work!

MHS Research Fellows, 2019-2020

MHS-NEH Long-Term Fellows

Lauren Duval
American University
The Home/Front: Gender, Domestic Space, & Military Occupation in the American Revolution

Sean Griffin
Lehman College
Labor, Land, and Freedom: Antebellum Labor Reform & the Rise of Antislavery Politics

Peter Wirzbicki
Princeton University
The Abolitionist Nation: An Intellectual History of Nation, Democracy, & Race During Reconstruction, 1863-1877

Kelly O’Donnell
Thomas Jefferson University
Hippocratic Vows: How the Doctor’s Wife Transformed American Medicine

Suzanne & Caleb Loring Fellowship on the Civil War, Its Origins, and Consequences

Kevin Hooper
University of Oklahoma
Seizing Citizenship: African Americans, Native Americans, & the Pursuit of Citizenship in the Antebellum United States

MHS Short-Term Fellows 2019-2020

African American Studies Fellowship
Aston Gonzalez
Salisbury University
Brilliant Contests: Black Genius during the Long Nineteenth Century

Andrew Oliver Research Fellowship
Chip Badley
University of California, Santa Barbara
The Practiced Eye: Painting & Queer Personhood in Nineteenth-Century America

Benjamin F. Stevens Fellowship
David J. Gerleman
George Mason University
History on the Hoof: New England’s Horse and Cattle Industry During the American Civil War

Conrad & Elizabeth H. Wright Fellowships
Kristen Beales
The College of William & Mary
Thy Will Be Done: Merchants and Religion in Early America, 1720-1815”

Malcolm & Mildred Freiberg Fellowship
Lance Boos
Stony Brook University
Print & Performance: The Development of a British Atlantic Musical Marketplace in the Eighteenth Century

Marc Friedlaender Fellowship
Miriam Liebman
City University of New York
A Tale of Two Cities: American Women in Paris and London, 1780-1800

Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Fellowship
Catherine Treesh
Yale University
Creating a Continental Community: Committees of Correspondence & the American Revolution

Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Fellowship
Thomas Rider
University of Wisconsin – Madison
War by Detachment: the Continental Army & Petite Guerre

Ruth R. Miller Fellowships
Abena Boakyewa-Ansah
Vanderbilt University
The Currency of Freedom: Black Women & the Making of Freedom During the American Civil War

Erica Schumann
Binghamton University
A Republic of Numbers: Enumeration and Ideology in the Early American Household

B. H. Dowse Fellowships
Nicholas Garcia
University of California, Davis
The New England Company & the Rise of English Colonialism

James Farwig
Ohio State University
‘Any Indyan which they shall attain to’: Slavery & Early Intercultural Contact in North America and the Caribbean

Andrew W. Mellon Fellowships
Yuri Amano
Johns Hopkins University
Bodies in Pain: The Medical Culture of Sympathy in the United States (1830-1865)

Elizabeth Herbin-Triant
University of Massachusetts Lowell
The Lords of the Lash & Loom: Abolitionists, Anti-Abolitionists, & the Business of Manufacturing Slave-Grown Cotton

Samantha Payne
Harvard University
The Last Atlantic Revolution: Race & Reconstruction in Cuba, Brazil, & the United States, 1865-1912

Patrick Browne
Boston University
The Ordeal of Homecoming: Northern Civilians & the Social Response to the Returning Union Veteran

Matthew Gallman
University of Florida
Loyal Dissenters, Angry Copperheads, & Violent Resisters: The Northern Democratic Party & the American Civil War

Michael D’Alessandro
Duke University
Staged Readings: Contesting Class in Popular American Literature & Theatre, 1830-1875

Todd Whelan
Graduate Theological Union
Calling the Unconverted: Jews, Indians, & Missionary Publishing in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1649-1830

Madeline Zehnder
University of Virginia
Pocket-Sized Nation: Cultures of Portability in America, 1790-1840

Lila Teeters
University of New Hampshire
Native Citizens: The Fight Over Native American Citizenship in the United States, 1866-1924

Louis Leonard Tucker Alumni Fellowship
Hannah Smith
University of Minnesota
The ‘Midwifery Debates’ in Britain & Early America

Yoav Hamdani
Columbia University
Uncle Sam’s Slaves: Slavery in the United States Regular Army, 1797-1865

New England Regional Fellowship Consortium

Asaf Almog
University of Virginia
Looking Backward in a New Republic: Conservative New Englanders & American Nationalism, 1793-1854

Kathryn Angelica
University of Connecticut
Career Activists: Women’s Organization & Social Reform in New England, 1830-1890

Catherine Baker
Independent scholar
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

Lilian Barger
Independent scholar
A Cultural History of Feminist Thought & the Gender Revolution, 1750-2000

Lucian Bessmer
Harvard University
What Should We Teach Our Teachers? The Changing Educational Priorities in New England, 1950-1990

Nicole Breault
University of Connecticut
The Night Watch of Early Boston

Lily Brewer
University of Pittsburgh
Contemporary Landscape: Photography & the Post-9/11 United States Frontier

Robert S. Bridges
University of Georgia
‘Dragged up hither from the sea’: The New Bedford Whaling Industry & Linkages to Capitalist Development

Emily Clark
Johns Hopkins University
Renouncing Motherhood: Women’s Sexualities & Labors in Eighteenth-Century New England

Christopher Costello
University of California San Diego
A Vast Consolidation: Everyday Agents of Empire, the United States Navy, & the Processes of Pacific Expansion, 1784-1861

Mary Eyring
Brigham Young University
Saltwater: Globalizing Early American Grief

Andrew Fogel
Purdue University
Comics & the Politics of Jewish Identity in America, 1938-1955

Elizabeth Groeneveld
Old Dominion University
Embodying Lesbianism: How 1980s Lesbian-Made Pornography Reimagined Sex & Power

Cory Haala
Marquette University
The Progressive Center: Midwestern Liberalism in the Age of Reagan, 1978-1992

Amber Hodge
University of Mississippi
The Meat of the Gothic: Animality & Social Justice in United States Fiction & Film of the Twenty-First Century

Chad Holmes
West Virginia University
Sheriffs, Capitalism, & Civil Society in Early Republic New England

Kevin Hooper
University of Oklahoma
Seizing Citizenship: African Americans, Native Americans, & the Pursuit of Citizenship in the Antebellum United States

Jared Lucky
Yale University
Cattle, Empire, & ‘Cowboys’ in Colonial New England

Matthew Marsh
University of North Dakota
Byzantium in the Long Late Antiquity

John Morton
Boston College
To Settle the Frontier on Sober Principles: Power, Faith, & Nationality in the New England-Maritime Borderlands

Kevin Murphy
State University of New York at Stony Brook
Coercion & Sworn Bond in the Eighteenth-Century British Atlantic

Minami Nishioka
University of Tennessee Knoxville
Civilizing Okinawa: Intimacies Between the American & Japanese Empires, 1846-1919

Leslie-William Robinson
Brown University
Morale & the Management of Men: The Control, Resistance, & Rebellion of Soldier-Workers in Early Twentieth-Century America

Peter Wirzbicki
Princeton University
The Abolitionist Nation: An Intellectual History of Nation, Democracy, & Race During Reconstruction, 1863-1877

Dylan Yeats
New York University
Shaping Northern Political Culture: Evangelical Networks & the Politics of State Building, 1790-1840

The 2019 Season of National History Day in Massachusetts

By Elyssa Tardif, Director of Education

The 2019 season of National History Day in Massachusetts is nearing its end, and we are so proud of the 5,900 students who participated across the state as well as their incredible teachers! This year’s theme was “Triumph and Tragedy,” which inspired students to tackle some of the more complex historical moments and figures in history. Projects ranged in topic and include an exhibit on the Harlem Hellfighters; a website on Comfort Women and the Creation of the Korean Council; a performance on the friendship between Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren; and a documentary on the Woburn Cancer Cluster.

This year, 791 students competed in the regional competitions in March, and 333 students competed at the state competition in April. There are 70 students who will compete at the national competition which will take place in College Park, Maryland, in June.

Students presenting at National History Day in Massachusetts
National History Day in Massachusetts student participants

We are very pleased to report that 64 schools participated in the NHD program this year. This is a 20% increase from last year! With generous funding from the Mass Cultural Council and Mass Humanities, we have been able to expand the program by offering introductory workshops to new schools and will continue this work next year to reach even more students and teachers.

We celebrated the National History Day program at the Massachusetts State House on 22 April, in commemoration of the beginning of public education in America that took place in 1635 with the founding of the Boston Latin School. The State House event was sponsored by Rep. Chynah Tyler, and we were joined by our partners at Mass Cultural Council as well as Sen. Jason Lewis, Rep. Alice Peisch, Rep. Elizabeth Poirier, and Rep. Peter Capano.

Photo of 22 April 2019 event at the State House
National History Day celebration at the Massachusetts State House, 22 April 2019

We welcome members of the public to learn more about the NHD program.  There is no better way than to serve as a judge at one of our competitions! Please contact us at education@masshist.org for more information.