This Week @MHS

Please note that the MHS is closed on Monday, 18 February; the building will open at 5:00 PM for visitors attending the evening program. Here is a look at what is going on this week:

  • Monday, 18 February, at 6:00 PM: Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson & America’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation with Steve Luxenberg, Washington Post Associate Editor. Steve Luxenberg presents a myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced “separation” and its pernicious consequences. Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

  • Tuesday, 19 February, at 5:30 PM: Panel: Feminist Economics with Danielle L. Dumaine, University of Connecticut, and Julie R. Enszer, University of Mississippi, with comment by Juliet Schor, Boston College. These papers begin a conversation on the intersection of the study of the women’s liberation movement with the history of capitalism. Danielle Dumaine’s paper, “Sisterhood of Debt: Feminist Credit Unions, Community, and Women’s Liberation,” examines the role of Feminist Credit Unions in the women’s liberation movement. Julie Enszer’s paper, “‘a feminist understanding of economics based on a revolutionary set of values’: Feminist Economic Theories and Practices,” looks at the feminist organizations that created the Feminist Economic Network. This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. Seminars are free and open to the public. This seminar will take place at the Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute.

  • Wednesday, 20 February, from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM: Teaching the Industrial Revolution in Massachusetts. Lowell’s water-powered textile mills catapulted the nation–including immigrant families and early female factory workers–into an uncertain new industrial era. Nearly 200 years later, the changes that began here still reverberate in our shifting global economy. Hosted in partnership with the Tsongas Industrial History Center, this workshop will explore the history of industrial growth in New England and its impact on immigration, labor movements, women’s rights, and communities in New England and beyond. This program is open to all who work with K-12 students. Teachers can earn 22.5 Professional Development Points or 1 graduate credit (for an additional fee). There is a $25 per person fee. This workshop will be held at the Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell, Mass. For questions, contact Kate Melchior at education@masshist.org or 617-646-0588.

  • Thursday, 21 February, at 5:15 PM: Mourning in America: Black Men in a White House with Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard Kennedy School, and comment by Elizabeth Hinton, Harvard University. This paper focuses on the 1980s HUD Scandal, wherein contractors, developers, lobbyists, HUD officials, and others misappropriated billions in federal monies set aside for low-income housing. Of particular interest are the intertwined stories of two African Americans: Samuel R. Pierce, Ronald Reagan’s HUD Secretary, and Kimi Gray, a Washington, D.C. public housing activist. In exploring these narratives, this paper aims to complicate our understanding of the “Black 1980s,” the Ronald Reagan-led White House, and democracy in post-civil rights America. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

  • Thursday, 21 February, at 6:00 PM: Uncivil Society with Julian E. Zelizer, Princeton University; Michael Tomasky, Democracy; and Robin Young, WBUR and NPR. American political discourse has become so dysfunctional it is hard to imagine reaching a national consensus on almost anything. Longstanding historical fault lines over income inequality, racial division, gender roles, and sexual norms coupled with starkly different senses of economic opportunity in rural and urban America have fueled a polarized political landscape. Julian E. Zelizer, Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974, and Michael Tomasky, If We Can Keep It: How the Republic Collapsed and How it Might Be Saved, and Robin Young, co-host of Here & Now on WBUR and NPR, will discuss how we got here and if there is a way back. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

  • Saturday, 23 February, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.   

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.

This Week @MHS

Here are the programs on the schedule for coming week:

  • Monday, 11 February, at 6:00 PM: Lincoln & the Jews: A History
    with Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University. Historian Jonathan D. Sarna reveals how Lincoln’s remarkable relationship with American Jews impacted both his path to the presidency and his policy decisions as president. Expressing a uniquely deep knowledge of the Old Testament, employing its language and concepts in some of his most important writings, Lincoln also befriended Jews from a young age, promoted Jewish equality, and appointed numerous Jews to public office.A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

  • Tuesday, 12 February, at 5:15 PM: Amputated from the Land: Black Refugees from America & the Neglected Voices of Environmental History with Bryon Williams, Academy at Penguin Hall, and comment by John Stauffer, Harvard University. This paper focuses on dictated narratives from the 1840s and ‘50s, accounts delivered by blacks who fled the U.S. to settle in the wilds of Ontario. These first-person accounts of environmental encounter and expertise are unrivaled in depth, breadth, and detail among black ecological writing of any era. New environmental histories need such accounts that not only counter dominant American environmental and political myths, but offer black-lived stories of environmental belonging and agency. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

  • Wednesday, 13 February, at 6:00 PM: Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Ceremony with Douglas L. Winiarski and Stephen Marini. Please join us for a special evening in which Douglas L. Winiarski will receive the 2018 Gomes Prize for Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in 18th-Century New England. Winiarski will join historian Stephen Marini in a conversation about religious revivalism and the shaping influence of religious awakenings on faith and culture in eighteenth-century New England.A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. W

  • Saturday, 16 February, at 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join us for a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

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. 

Please note that the MHS will be closed on Monday, 18 February. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

This Week @MHS

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

  • On Monday, 4 February, at 6:00 PM: Mentioning Unmentionables: An Exploration of Victorian Underclothes with Astrida Schaeffer. Nineteenth century fashion shaped and added to the body in a variety of ways. This inside tour of the myths and realities of Victorian corsets, crinolines, bustles and more introduces ladies who challenge our stereotype of the tiny-waisted, fainting Victorian woman, shares what critics thought of these fashion trends, and reveals the clever illusions that made waists seem smaller than they really were. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).
  • On Tuesday, February, at 5:15 PM: Colonial Mints & the Rise of Technocratic Expertise in the British Atlantic, 1650-1715 with Mara Caden, MHS-NEH Fellow, and comment by Penelope Ismay, Boston College. Governors, assemblies, and inhabitants of Britain’s American colonies routinely tried to set up mints to coin money during the seventeenth century, including in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This paper explains why every effort to establish a mint in British America failed, with the exception of the Boston mint, and why the mint in Boston was shut down in the 1680s. It explores the ways in which the Officers of the Royal Mint employed technical knowledge to curtail monetary autonomy in Britain’s overseas dominions. Finally, it examines the rise and fall of a strategy that colonial governments used to try to attract foreign coins to their shores in lieu of minting their own money. This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.
  • On Wednesday, 6 February, at 12:00 PM: To Make a Breathing Picture: John Singleton Copley’s Disturbingly Vital Portraits in Enlightened Boston with Caroline Culp, Stanford University. This talk uncovers a peculiar desire of mid-18th century art: to make pictures so realistic they seemed to live and breathe. Focusing on Boston artist John Singleton Copley and poet Phillis Wheatley, among other cultural figures, it explores superstitious beliefs that lingered in an enlightened, empirical, and rational citizenry. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.
  • On Saturday, 9 February, at 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 abentley@masshist.org.

 

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.

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on:

– Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern University, and comment by Heather Hendershot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Uncertainty about media technology’s affective and political power plagued post-World War II efforts to expand media use in schools around the nation. Would foundations or federal agencies use screen media to strengthen participatory democracy and local control or to undermine it? Was screen media a neutral technology? This paper argues that educational technology foundered or flourished not solely on the merits of its pedagogical utility, but also as a result of changing ideas about the relationship between citizenship and pictorial screen media. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 30 January, 12:00 PM: Superannuated: Old Age & Slavery’s Economy with Nathaniel Windon, Pennsylvania State University. Plantation owners demarcated elderly enslaved laborers as “superannuated” in their logbooks. This talk examines some of the implications of locating the origin of old age on the antebellum American plantation.This is part of the brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

– Thursday, 31 January,  6:00 PM: The Great Molasses Flood Revisited: Misremembered Molasses, with Stephen Puleo; Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute of Technology; Gavin Kleespies, MHS; and moderator Rev. Stephen T. Ayres. The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, when remembered, is often interpreted in a dismissive, comical manner. How does this case compare with other incidences of historical events that are interpreted or “curated” at the expense of accuracy and respect for human experience? How can we bring complexity back to events that have long been relegated to the realm of local folklore? Local scholars will discuss the question of misunderstood history by looking at the Great Molasses Flood, the fight for women’s suffrage and Leif Erickson. This program is a collaboration between the MHS and Old South Meeting House and is made possible with funding from the Lowell Institute. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. This program will be held at Old South Meeting House.

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.

This Week @MHS

Please note that the Society is CLOSED on Monday, 21 Janaury. Normal hours resume on Tuesday. Here are the programs on the schedule for coming week:

– Tuesday, 22 January, 5:30 PM: How to Be an American Housewife: American Red Cross “Bride Schools” in Japan in the Cold War Era with Sonia Gomez, University of Chicago, and comment by Arissa Oh, Boston College. In 1951, the American Red Cross in Japan began offering “schools for brides,” to prepare Japanese women married to American servicemen for successful entry into the United States. This paper argues that bride schools measured Japanese women’s ability to be good wives and mothers because their immigration to the US depended on their labor within the home as well as their reproductive value in the family. This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

– Thursday, 24 January, 5:30 PM: Writing Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom with David Blight, Yale University, and host Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice. Join us for a conversation with David Blight about the challenges of writing his biography of Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave who became America’s greatest orator of the 19th century. Blight, a prolific author and winner of the Bancroft Prize among other awards, has spent a career preparing himself for this biography, which has been praised as “a stunning achievement,” “brilliant and compassionate,” and “incandescent.” Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice, will host. This is part of the New England Biography Seminar series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

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.

This Week @MHS

We have two seminars and an evening talk scheduled at the MHS this week. 

– Tuesday, 15 January, 5:15 PM: Camp Benson & the “GAR Camps”: Recreational Landscapes of Civil War Memory in Maine, 1886-1910 with Ian Stevenson, Boston University, and comment by Ian Delahanty, Springfield College.This chapter examines sites where veterans transitioned the Civil War vacation toward a civilian audience: Camp Benson, where several Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) posts built a campground, and at the “GAR Camps” where a single veteran proprietor built rental cottages. The chapter asks why postwar civilians would want to mimic the veteran desire to associate healthful destinations with wartime memory. How do these outdoor landscapes explain the nation’s healing process from the Civil War? This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 16 January,  6:00 PM: Breaking the Banks: Representations & Realities in New England Fisheries, 1866–1966 with Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut. Matthew McKenzie weaves together the industrial, cultural, political, and ecological history of New England’s fisheries through the story of how the Boston haddock fleet rose, flourished, and then fished itself into near oblivion before the arrival of foreign competition in 1961. This fleet also embodied the industry’s change during this period, as it shucked its sail-and-oar, hook-and-line origins to embrace mechanized power and propulsion,more sophisticated business practices, and political engagement. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

– Thursday, 17 January, 5:15 PM: Race, Empire, & the Erasure of African Identities in Harvard’s “National Skulls” with Christopher Willoughby, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, with comment by Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard University. In 1847, John Collins Warren gave his anatomical collection to the Harvard medical school, including a collection of “national skulls.” This paper analyzes how skulls from the black Atlantic were collected and dubbed “African,” to show that medical schools were intimately connected to the violence of slavery and empire, and to posit a method for writing the history of racist museum exhibitions that does not continue the silencing of black voices at the heart of those exhibitions. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

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. 

Please note that the building will be closed on Monday, 21 January. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

This Week @MHS

Happy 2019! Here is a look at what is going on at the MHS this week:

– Tuesday, 8 January, 5:15 PM: The Consecration of Samuel Seabury & the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807 with Brent Sirota, North Carolina State University, and comment by Chris Beneke, Bentley University. Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office of bishops, American Methodists and Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans all established some form of episcopal superintendency after the Peace of Paris. This paper considers how the making of American episcopacy and the controversies surrounding it betrayed a lack of consensus regarding the relationship between church, state and civil society in the Protestant Atlantic.This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 9 January, 12:00 PM: The Octopus’s Other Tentacles: The United Fruit Company, Congress, Dictators, & Exiles against the Guatemalan Revolution with Aaron Moulton, Stephen F. Austin University. With the 1954 U.S. government-backed overthrow of Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz, scholars have focused on ties between the State Department, the CIA, and el pulpo, the octopus, the United Fruit Company. This talk reveals how the Company’s influence reached further to Boston-based congresspersons, Caribbean Basin dictators, and Guatemalan exiles. This is part of the brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, 9 January,  6:00 PM: American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, & Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic with Victoria Johnson, Hunter College. The legacy of the long-forgotten early American visionary Dr. David Hosack includes the establishment of the first botanical garden in the United States as well as groundbreaking advances in pharmaceutical and surgical medicine. His tireless work championing public health and science earned him national fame and praise from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander von Humboldt, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Alongside other towering figures of the post-Revolutionary generation, he took the reins of a nation. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

– Saturday, 12 January, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.   

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.

This Week @MHS

It is our last week of programming at the MHS for 2018. Join us for a seminar, a Saturday tour, or stop by to see our current exhibition.

– Tuesday, 18 December, 5:30 PM: Transgender History & Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation with Genny Beemyn, University of Massachusetts–Amherst; Laura Peimer, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Sari L. Reisner, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and moderator Jen Manion, Amherst College. This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public health? How do changes in popular usage and attitudes about terminology facilitate or hinder research? In what ways does transgender studies intersect with women’s and gender history and other feminist scholarly concerns? This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. Seminars are free and open to the public. This seminar will take place at the Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute.

– Saturday, 22 December, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

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. 

Please note that the building will be closed 24 December through 1 January. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

 

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program at the MHS this week!

– Tuesday, 11 December, 12:00 PM: Robert Treat Paine’s Life & Influence on Law with Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General; Alan Rogers, Boston College; Christina Carrick, Assistant Editor, The Papers of Robert Treat Paine, and moderator Catherine Allgor, MHS President. Join us for a special event with the current Attorney General looking at the first Massachusetts Attorney General’s life and influence on law and order during the Revolutionary era. This event celebrates the completion of the five-volume series The Papers of Robert Treat Paine. A pre-talk reception begins at 11:30 AM; the speaking program begins at 12:00 PM. This program is free and open to the public.

– Tuesday, 11 December, 5:15 PM: A Nice History of Bird Migration: Ethology, Expertise, & Conservation in 20th Century North America with Kristoffer Whitney, Rochester Institute of Technology, and comment by Marilyn Ogilvie, University of Oklahoma.This paper focuses on the historical relationships between migratory birds, scientists, and amateur experts in 20th-century North America, especially Margaret Morse Nice. Nice, simultaneously a trained ornithologist and an enthusiastic amateur across disciplines, almost single-handedly introduced the American ornithological community to European ethology. Her bird-banding work exemplified the tensions in natural history around expertise, gender, and conservation.This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 12 December, 12:00 PM: Ecology of Utopia: Environmental Discourse and Practice in Antebellum Communal Settlements with Molly Reed, Cornell University. During the 1840s, members of short-lived intentional communities debated strategies for “getting back to nature” and explored emerging meanings of “natural” through radical hygiene, diet, and agricultural practices. This talk examines how Transcendentalist and Fourierist communitarians articulated human-environment relationships in terms that reflected and informed their visions for social change.This is part of the brown-bag lunch program.

– Wednesday, 12 December, 6:00 PM:  No More, America with Peter Galison, Harvard University; Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard University. In 1773, two graduating Harvard seniors, Theodore Parsons and Eliphalet Pearson, were summoned before a public audience to debate whether slavery was compatible with “natural law.” Peter Galison’s short film, “No More, America” co-directed with Henry Louis Gates, reimagines this original debate to include the powerful voice of Phillis Wheatley, an acclaimed poet, then-enslaved, who lived just across the Charles River from the two Harvard students. Join us for a film screening followed by a discussion between Peter Galison and Henry Louis Gates. A pre-program reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

– Saturday, 15 December, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

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. 

Please note that the library will open at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, 11 December and will close at 3:30 PM on Thursday, 13 DecemberTake a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

This Week @MHS

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

– Monday, 3 December, 6:00 PM:  Rochambeau: The French Military Presence in Boston with Robert Selig, The Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail. In July 1780, the French troop transport Île de France sailed into Boston Harbor. Thus began 30 months of uninterrupted French military presence in Boston as the city became the most important French base in North America until Christmas Day 1782, when a fleet under Admiral Vaudreuil sailed from Boston for the West Indies carrying the comte de Rochambeau’s infantry. This talk provides an in-depth look at this little-known episode in Massachusetts and Boston history. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

 – Tuesday, 4 December, 5:15 PM: “Attend to the Opium”: Boston’s Trade with China in the Early 19th Century with Gwenn Miller, College of the Holy Cross, and comment by Dael Norwood, University of Delaware. The opium trade is the nefarious flip-side of the opulence of the American China trade. The involvement of so many Boston families in this trade would contribute to the growth of the city and its institutions by the end of the nineteenth century. Homes decorated with Chinese art, porcelains, silks, and meticulously curated gardens were made possible by profits initially rooted in the fur trade, and in large part sustained by opium.This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 5 December, 12:00 PM: Seas of Connection: Narratives of Migration through Local American Wards with Nicholas Ames, University of Notre Dame. Mass emigration during the 19th and early 20th centuries produced rapidly shifting cityscapes across America. This talk investigates changes at the neighborhood (ward) level in three industrial American communities, Pittsburgh, PA, Cleveland, OH, and Clinton, MA, to understand the impact of historic Irish immigrants on community development within “quintessential” America. This is part of the brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

– Wednesday, 5 December, 6:00 PM: MHS Fellows & Members Holiday PartyMHS Fellows and Members are invited to the Society’s annual holiday party. Please note that the event is SOLD OUT.

– Thursday, 6 December, 6:00 PM: Boston in the Great War: Manuscripts & Artifacts of World War I with facilitator Bruce J. Schulman, Boston University. Prof. Bruce Schulman and students from Boston University will present a collection of artifacts and documents from the holdings of the MHS. From printed propaganda and personal recollections to battle plans and victory gardens, this presentation and virtual exhibit will explore the many ways in which Bostonians were affected by the Great War. Light refreshments will be served after the presentation. This program is free and open to the public.

– Friday, 7 December, 12:00 PM: Sylvia Plath’s Letters & Traces with Peter K. Steinberg, Co-Editor of the two-volume edition of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. In this talk, Peter K. Steinberg will discuss his role in editing the two-volume Letters of Sylvia Plath, published recently by HarperCollins. He will also highlight the professional and personal responses to Plath in her lifetime, as well as share an archival discovery made on a piece of carbon typing paper. This is part of the brown-bag lunch program.

– Saturday, 8 December, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

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.