Upcoming Programs at the MHS

by Gavin W. Kleespies, Director of Programs, Exhibitions and Community Partnerships

Though summer is coming to a close, we are looking forward to an exciting set of programs we have planned for the fall. The season includes two original series as well as a number of great talks. Here is an overview of the series as well as a look at a couple of September programs.

Legacies of 1619 Series – Launches on 7 September
In 1619, the first enslaved Africans arrived in English North America. To mark the 400th anniversary of this event, the MHS offers four public programs to discuss the history of Africans and African Americans in the American past. Each program features leading scholars who will elaborate on a theme from the perspective of the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. The series is cosponsored by the Museum of African American History and Roxbury Community College. Each program begins with a reception at 3:30 PM and is followed by the panel discussion at 4:00 PM.

  • Saturday, 7 September: Recognition & Resilience with Kerri Greenidge, Tufts University; David Krugler, University of Wisconsin—Platteville; Peter Wirzbicki, Princeton University; and moderator Robert Bellinger, Suffolk University. This program will take place at the Museum of African American History, 46 Joy Street.
  • Saturday, 19 October: Afro-Native Connections with Christine DeLucia, Williams College; Kendra Field, Tufts University; and moderator Catherine Allgor, MHS. This program will take place at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street.
  • Saturday, 16 November: Black Radicalism / Black Power with John Stauffer, Harvard University; Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, University of Connecticut; Adriane D. Lentz-Smith, Duke University; and moderator Valerie Roberson, Roxbury Community College. This program will take place at Roxbury Community College, 1234 Columbus Avenue.
  • Saturday, 14 December: Citizenship & Belonging with Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut; Elizabeth Herbin-Triant, University of Massachusetts—Lowell; Hasan Jeffries, Ohio State University; and moderator Valerie Roberson, Roxbury Community College. This program will take place at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street.

 

Housing as History Series – Launches on 2 October

This four-part series will look at the history of six housing sites across the city and examine the conditions for affordable and public housing today, highlighting the challenges—and opportunities—that lie ahead for Boston. The series is cosponsored by Mass Humanities and the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.  Each program begins with a reception at 5:30 PM and is followed by the panel discussion at 6:00 PM.

  • Wednesday, 2 October: Columbia Point & Commonwealth with Lawrence Vale, MIT, and Jane Roessner. This program will take place at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street.
  • Wednesday, 16 October: Villa Victoria & Fenway Community Development Corporation with Mario Luis Small, Harvard University; Mathew Thall, Fenway CDC; and Mayra I. Negrón-Roche, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción. This program will take place at Blackstone Community Center, 50 W. Brookline Street.
  • Wednesday, 13 November: Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative & Orchard Gardens with Karilyn Crockett, MIT; Tony Hernandez, Dudley Square Neighborhood Initiative; and Valerie Shelley, Orchard Gardens Resident Association . This program will take place at the DeWitt Center, 122 Dewitt Drive.
  • Wednesday, 20 November: New Directions for Boston’s Subsidized Housing: Learning from the Past with William McGonagle, Boston Housing Authority; Soni Gupta, The Boston Foundation; Lawrence J. Vale, MIT; Sandra Henriquez, Detroit Housing Authority; and moderator David Luberoff, Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University. This program will take place at the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street.

 

Can They Do It? Divisions of the Road to the 19th Amendment on 21 September
Our current exhibition will close with a panel discussion exploring divisions on the road to the 19th Amendment. On Saturday, 21 September, at 3:00 PM, the MHS and The Greater Boston Women’s Vote Centennial will present Can They Do It? Divisions on the Road to the 19th Amendment featuring Allison K. Lange, Corrine T. Field, Manisha Sinha, and Barbara F. Berenson. The women’s suffrage movement was not always a cohesive or inclusive space for everyone who fought for the vote, nor did the 19th Amendment bring about political enfranchisement for all women. Conflicts around political philosophy, campaign tactics, and most notably, issues of race led to a movement that was deeply fractured. Our panel will further examine the divisions inherent in the movement and will look at how other social reform activists have historically struggled with coalition building and intersectionality. The event will take place at the Massachusetts Historic Society.

The Arts & Crafts Houses of Massachusetts on 25 September
On Wednesday, 25 September, at 6:00 PM, author Heli Meltsner will present The Arts & Crafts Houses of Massachusetts: A Style Rediscovered. Ms. Meltsner will look at how, at the opening of the 20th century, Massachusetts architects struggled to create an authentic new look that would reflect their clients’ increasingly informal way of life. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement in England, the result was a charming style that proved especially appropriate for the rapidly expanding suburbs and vacation houses in the state.

Visit www.masshist.org/events for more information and to register.

This Week @MHS

Here is a look at what is happening at the MHS this week:

On Wednesday, 21 August, at 12:00 PM: To “Watch” & “Gall” the Enemy: George Washington Wages Petite Guerre with Thomas Rider, University of Wisconsin – Madison. Petite guerre or partisan warfare was a critical component of eighteenth-century armed conflict. Historians of the American Revolution, however, have frequently understated and mischaracterized petite guerre as conducted in that war. This discussion will explain petite guerre within an eighteenth-century military context and explore how George Washington’s Continental Army learned to wage it. This is part of our brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public. 

From Thursday, 22 August to Friday, 23 August, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM: Immigration Policy in American History. This workshop will explore the long history of immigration policy in the United States and its legacy in politics today. Our discussions will cover the wave of Irish immigration to Boston in the mid 19th century, along with the parallel Know-Nothing anti-immigration movement, and debates over immigration restriction in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as well Progressive Era efforts to “Americanize” immigrants. This workshop will draw on items from the Society’s rich holdings to help put contemporary debates in context. The workshop is open all who work with K-12 students. Teachers can earn 45 Professional Development Points or 2 graduate credits (for an additional fee). There is a $40 per person registration fee.

On Friday, 23 August, at 12:00 PM: History on the Hoof: New Perspectives on Animal Research during the Civil War Era with David J. Gerleman. The Civil War affected America’s farmers in profound ways and especially the horse, cattle, and dairy industries. Modern civilization’s reliance on the combustion engine has rendered fully comprehending of those changes increasingly difficult. This talk will provide an overview of the changing husbandry and care practices of America’s livestock industry from the 1850s through war’s end in 1865. This is part of our brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public. 

On Saturday, 24 August 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.

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Featuring dynamic imagery from the collection of the MHS, the exhibition illustrates the passion on each side of the suffrage question. For over a century, Americans debated whether women should vote. The materials on display demonstrate the arguments made by suffragists and their opponents. While women at the polls may seem unremarkable today, these contentious campaigns formed the foundations for modern debates about gender and politics.

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

Decoding Black Masculinity: Love & Medicine in the Diary Entries of Edwin Clarence Howard

by Crystal Lynn Webster, University of Texas at San Antonio, African American Studies Fellow at the MHS

“Beautiful morning-as usual, went to see my patients. I am feeling quite depressed in spirits today; what can be the matter with me? I hope it is not love for her who has treated me so badly. Indeed I trust that is fast dissolving. I must endeavor to arouse myself and look on the bright side of everything.”

Edwin Clarence Howard who composed these sentences, was the nineteen-year-old son of a prominent 19th-century African American family. Throughout his personal diary, he reflected on his daily rituals, medical studies, and on love during his time spent Liberia in 1865. In this way, the diary, which is part of the DeGrasse-Howard papers, provides a rare portrait of a Black, highly educated, young man’s life from his own words. Indeed, Howard continually offers the reader sincere glimpses into the interiority of the self. But this insight is veiled in secrecy. Howard composed much of his diary in a code.

At cursory glance, many of the words filling the pages of the diary appear to be written in a jumbled gibberish. This is perhaps why the diary of such an important individual and historical experience has passed from hand to hand and without published record. However, Howard’s code is a rather simple composition; a mere shift to the right of each letter in the alphabet reveals his clandestine message. For example, a commonly written word throughout the diary, “gdq” translates to “her.” It was indeed this word that allowed me to crack the code. Nevertheless, Howard would have expended a rather concerted effort to continuously write in such a code, especially taking care to transition in and out of it in specific moments. These shifts also indicate his own conscientiousness concerning the subject of the code, specifically his love life.

Early in his diary he describes an evening with “her” spent together, in code, “locked in each other’s arms.” Howard utilizes both the alphabetic shift and French to record a conversation in which she confessed, “I am yours.” Throughout the diary, the code is brought out for moments like this spent with her. Howard did not obscure other certain sensitive subjects, like the birth of a child whose paternity was questioned, and he includes the expected father’s initials. The code is most consistently deployed when describing walks, secret meetings, and stolen kisses with “her.” These reflections make up approximately half of the diary. The remaining passages include interesting observations of patients, diagnoses, and experiments while he studied medicine in Liberia.

Howard does not reveal why he chose to conceal these interactions. The reader may never know. Historical context can provide some possibilities. At the time, such behavior between two people who were not married may have violated social rules of engagement. He was also a young African American who was meant to be studying medicine, perhaps not fraternizing with an unmarried (or perhaps married?) woman. Even more so, he was in Liberia, and the racial identity of the woman is not revealed and had she been white, it would indeed provide a very serious incentive for anonymity.

Although the code is rather straightforward, the process of decoding the diary is arduous. The reader must decode both his handwriting and alphabetic shift, a method that is compounded by the fact that he sometimes erred in his own coding. Even still, without the code the diary provides an important personal reflection on African American history, colonization, and medical studies. Perhaps one day an electronic resource or software will make the decoding process of the entire diary simple and complete. Until then, much of Edwin Clarence Howard’s secrets remain secret, except to those with patience and intrigue enough to dive into the joy, heartbreak, and historical significance of an important figure’s life and love.

Abigail Adams’s “curious conversation” with Thomas Jefferson

by Hobson Woodward, Series Editor, Adams Family Correspondence

Volume 14 of the Adams Family Correspondence, published by Harvard University Press, arrived in the Adams Papers offices last month. Spanning the period October 1799 through February 1801, the volume chronicles the final months of Abigail and John Adams’s public service. Among the 277 documents included in the book is one that records a “curious conversation” between Abigail and the family’s former friend and political rival, Thomas Jefferson. The conversation took place at a dinner party in January 1801. A month earlier, presidential electors had cast their ballots. While the official election results would not be announced until 11 February, John Adams’s loss was already widely presumed. Ultimately, it was the House of Representatives that determined the outcome of the election of 1800, casting 36 ballots before breaking the electoral tie between Jefferson and Aaron Burr on 17 February. Thus, the tension of the moment makes the conversation between Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson all the more extraordinary.

25 January 1801 letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams
Letter from Abigail Adams to Thomas Boylston Adams, 25 January 1801

Abigail enclosed her transcript of the conversation with a 25 January 1801 letter to her son Thomas Boylston, telling him that it “was not heard by any one but ourselves, as we spoke low.” The enclosure relates an impressive exchange on Washington politics, where the president’s wife and one of the contenders for his replacement offered their impressions of a partisan Congress and ruminated on the characters of particular members. The give-and-take was frank, unrestrained. Thomas Jefferson said he avoided attending the House of Representatives, writing, “I am sure there are persons there who would take a pleasure in saying something, purposely to affront me.” Abigail Adams was equally candid, noting, “Some are mere Brutes, others are Gentlemen— but party Spirit, is a blind spirit.”

enclosure, Adams Family Papers, MHS
enclosure, Adams Family Papers, MHS

The conversation then turned to the Senate’s debate over the ratification of the Convention of 1800, an agreement that ended the Quasi-War and resulted from John Adams’s decision to send a second peace mission to France. Thomas Jefferson believed the Senate would not give its advice and consent, a position that surprised Abigail Adams given that mercantile interests favored ratification. If defeat did occur, Abigail claimed the fault would lay with Federalists allied with Alexander Hamilton, who had opposed the president’s diplomatic efforts. “There have always been a party determined to defeat it from the first sending the Mission,” Abigail said, adding, “I Mean the Hamiltonians; they must abide the concequences.”

The conversation came to a close when the vice president attempted to broach the subject of what the House would do about the deadlocked presidential election. There, the First Lady declined to respond. The election “is a subject which I do not chuse to converse upon,” Abigail claimed. Instead, she offered a telling anecdote:

I have heard of a Clergyman who upon some difficulty amongst his people, took a text from these words—“and they knew not what to do”—from whence he drew this      inference, []that when a people were in such a Situation, that they do not know what         to do; they should take great care that they do not do—they know not what.”

To that, Abigail wrote, “he laught out, and here ended the conversation.”

enclosure, Adams Family Papers, MHS
enclosure, Adams Family Papers, MHS

Future volumes of Adams Family Correspondence will include letters between Abigail Adams and Thomas Jefferson both before and after the breach in their relationship that lasted from 1804 to 1813. The letters provide fascinating insight into the friendship between the Adamses and Jefferson, though none reveal quite the same rapport as Abigail did when she took up her quill to transcribe her “curious conversation” with Thomas Jefferson.

The Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society gratefully acknowledges the generous support of our sponsors. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Packard Humanities Institute. The Florence Gould Foundation and a number of private donors also contribute critical support. All Adams Papers volumes are published by Harvard University Press.

This Week @MHS

This week we have two brown-bag lunch presentations, a teacher workshop in Springfield, and a Saturday art tour. Here’s a look at what is planned:

On Wednesday, 14 August, from 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM: National History Day in Massachusetts workshop. Join us for an introductory workshop that will provide the tools and strategies for implementing the National History Day curriculum in the classroom. With generous support from Mass Humanities, we will be offering educators a $150 stipend and 22.5 Professional Development Points upon completion of this workshop. The workshop is open to educators in grades 6 to 12 and will take place at the Mason Square Branch of the Springfield City Library (765 State Street, Springfield, MA).

On Wednesday, 14 August, at 12:00 PM: Collecting Music in Revolutionary America with Lance Boos, Stony Brook University. By the 1760s, a robust market for sheet music made newly-composed British songs widely available for musically literate American consumers to collect, perform, and imbue with personal and political meaning. This talk addresses the development of this musical marketplace through its merchants, songs, and collectors who adapted the music to suit their changing cultural and political needs.  This is part of our brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public. 

On Friday, 16 August, at 12:00 PM: New England & Haiti with Asaf Almog, University of Virginia.This talk looks at New England’s political elite and its conception of race, as shown through its view of the Haitian Revolution, and later the Republic of Haiti. The talk will discuss and complicate a common binary between abolitionism on the one side and hardening racist consensus on the other usually found in the literature. This is part of our brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public. 

On Saturday, 17 August 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.

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Featuring dynamic imagery from the collection of the MHS, the exhibition illustrates the passion on each side of the suffrage question. For over a century, Americans debated whether women should vote. The materials on display demonstrate the arguments made by suffragists and their opponents. While women at the polls may seem unremarkable today, these contentious campaigns formed the foundations for modern debates about gender and politics.

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

“I Never Saw Such Slaughter”: The Civil War Letters of Dwight Emerson Armstrong, Part V

Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator

This is the fifth post in a series. Read Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV.

Dwight Armstrong letter, 5 July 1862
Dwight Emerson Armstrong letter to his sister Mary (Armstrong) Needham, 5 July 1862

I am well, only some tired. I wish I could tell you what has been done here on this Peninsula for the last ten days but it would fill a volume. Many bloody battles have been fought, and it does seem as if it was about time this was stopped. […]  I wish you could have had one look at that battle field just after dark. It was an awful sight. Great streams of fire bursting from the mouths of these ugly looking cannons; shells screaming, and bursting, all around, and a roar like a thousand thunders, continually filling the air, made such a sight and sound as is seldom seen or heard.

These words were written by Dwight Emerson Armstrong of the 10th Massachusetts Infantry in a letter to his sister Mary (Armstrong) Needham dated 5 July 1862. Since his last letter, Dwight had fought in several battles and skirmishes near Richmond, Va., one after the other in quick succession, culminating in the Battle of Malvern Hill. This series of engagements became known as the Seven Days Battles. Union troops were now “taking breath” in the relative safety of camp at Harrison’s Landing on the James River.

The MHS collection of Dwight’s letters unfortunately doesn’t include Mary’s replies, but we know she had some questions, which he answered when he wrote next two weeks later. What had the Union gained in those brutal seven days? Dwight replied, “I dont think we have made out much of anything.” Would they attempt to take Richmond again? Not likely, until reinforcements arrived. What were the prospects for peace? Dwight was understandably cynical.

When there is a union between the Powers of Light and Darkness you may look for Union between the North and South and not till then. […] A few weeks more of such fighting as the last week was, will pretty much use up the present generation.

At just 22 years old, Dwight was now an experienced soldier and had learned a lot. For example, he admitted that he’d underestimated the enemy.

The rebels are no cowards, and mean to fight to the last. They are perfectly desperate in battle, and care very little for bullets. Their Generals seem to care no more, for the lives of their men, than they would for the lives of so many flies. […] They would march their men in 5 or 6 great long lines, one behind the other, straight up to our batteries, that at every moment mowed them down by hundreds, I never saw such slaughter.

The 10th Regiment was stationed at Harrison’s Landing from 2 July to 16 August 1862, when it pulled up stakes and headed north. During the summer and fall of that year, Dwight wrote less frequently, only about once a month, due to the regiment’s many relocations and engagements. He was near enough to hear the fighting at Antietam, Md., on 17 September, but by the time the 10th was ordered to the field, that bloody battle was essentially over. Dwight saw only the aftermath, but the scene made a distinct impression.

I went around on the battle field, after the fighting was over, and the sights beat all that I ever saw. Men lay piled up in winrows and dead horses broken cannons, and everything else; covered the ground. […] I suppose this war is to go on until, all the men each side can raise are killed off, and then they will be satisfied.

A new concern cropped up in Dwight’s letters at this time—his brothers. He was disheartened by the news that his older brother, Timothy Martin Armstrong, had enlisted. Another brother, Joel Mason Armstrong—Mason, as he was called—also enlisted on 5 September 1862, according to that invaluable reference Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Mason was a carpenter in Sunderland, Mass., and would serve in the 52nd Massachusetts Infantry until he was mustered out the following summer. You can read a little more about Mason in A Record of Sunderland in the Civil War (p. 14).

However, Timothy never enlisted, as far as I can tell. This is confirmed in a letter from Dwight to Mary on 25 November 1862. Dwight regretted that Mason had gone to war, but was relieved Tim was staying out of it.

I think one out of the three, ought to know enough to stay at home and not come off here to quarrel about politics; that is all the fuss is about any way. It is just like two parties going to town-meeting, and getting into a knock-down fight, about their opinions. Perhaps it was not so when the war first commenced, but it is now.

Both Tim and Mason would live into their seventies, dying in the early years of the 20th century.

It was two days before Thanksgiving 1862, and Dwight found himself even farther from home than the previous year. He realized his earlier optimism was misguided and the war would likely drag on for some time.

I hope you’ll join me for the next installment of Dwight’s story here at the Beehive.

@JQAdams_MHS Celebrating 1 Decade of Diary Entries on Twitter!

by Alexandra Bush, Digital Production Assistant

Screenshot of JQA Twitter page
@JQAdams_MHS Twitter Page

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the @JQAdams_MHS Twitter feed, which tweeted its first entry from John Quincy Adams’ line-a-day diary on 5 August 2009! The MHS staff has diligently posted one entry every day since, exactly 200 years after each was recorded by JQA, e.g. posting his 5 August, 1809 entry on 5 August, 2009 and so on. Since then we have accompanied him through all manner of wild weather, meetings, portrait sittings, evening walks, trips abroad, political debates, astronomical observations, and more. While JQA’s line-a-day entries aren’t exactly verbose, they provide an evocative look into his daily life.

The journey began in 2009, or 1809 for JQA, on the eve of his tenure as the United States’ ambassador to Russia, where he dined with Czar Alexander I and negotiated and signed the Treaty of Ghent. Next we followed him to London upon his appointment as envoy and ambassador to Great Britain in 1815/2015, marking the beginning of a years-long string of complaints about the dreary weather. JQA became Secretary of State to President James Monroe in 1817/2017, whereupon he returned to Washington, D.C. These past few years have seen JQA firmly establishing his presence in the capitol; assisting in matters of international relations, helping to formally define the borders of the United States, and baring his soul to the world every summer morning during his nude Potomac swims. What’s in store for the future? Only time—or our meticulously digitized, transcribed, and fully searchable web database of each of his diaries from 1779 to 1848—will tell.

Our followers’ impressions of JQA’s succinct line-a-day entries are one of the best parts of this venture. It is wonderful to see how words written 200 years ago can still be impactful today.

@Loiarchives writes:
@JQAdams_MHS Dear JQA, why do I find your tweets so calming? 

@SpiritbearNY writes:
Huh. He felt about his journal, which consumed his mornings, the way many of us feel about our use of social media. At least he was documenting history, though, not rage tweeting about his political enemies. 🙄

@fararelliott writes:
I love JQA – a bath is essential to celebrating Independence Day.

@k59griffie writes:
Another luscious word from the diary of @JQAdams_MHS : “underwitted.” He has given me two great words:  vagarious and underwitted.  I am happy.

Sometimes, though, the voice of a long-dead historical figure on a modern social media site can be a little confusing.

@AngusDoubleBeef asks:
Is this really John Quincy Adams or like a fan account?

Regardless of your views on the possibility of tweeting from beyond the grave, we encourage anyone with a Twitter account to follow @JQAdams_MHS. Join us as we finish out his Secretary of State years and celebrate his presidency in 2025! None of this would have been possible without the tireless work of the members of the Adams Papers Editorial Project, whose long hours of transcription provide us with a constantly growing source of fascinating JQA writings. You can find images and transcriptions of JQA’s diary including line-a-day entries, long-form entries, drafts, and more, on the MHS website. See full page images here http://www.masshist.org/jqadiaries/php/ and transcriptions of long entries here https://www.masshist.org/publications/jqadiaries/index.php.

This Week @MHS

Here’s a look at what is planned at the MHS this week:

On Wednesday, 7 August and Thursday, 8 August, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM: The Reconstruction Era: History & Legacy. This workshop will explore the era and legacy of Reconstruction in American history and society, from the aftermath of the war to the role it plays in current issues today. We will discuss the effects of Reconstruction on African American and Native American communities, its civic and legal legacies, memory of the period and of the violence that followed, and local heroes who fought for civil rights in the wake of the Civil War. This program is open to all K–12 educators. Teachers can earn 45 Professional Development Points and 2 graduate credits (for an additional fee). There is a $50 per person registration fee.

On Friday, 9 August, at 12:00 PM: Cotton Mather’s Biblia Americana 1693-1728: America’s First Bible Commentary & Storehouse of Early-Modern Learning with Jan Stievermann, Heidelberg University. With the ongoing edition of Cotton Mather’s massive Biblia Americana scholars of early America are now gaining access to the first comprehensive Bible commentary produced in the colonies. This talk will give an introduction to the riches of the Biblia as a source for the study of colonial New England and its place in early-modern intellectual history.  This is part of our brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public. 

On Saturday, 10 August 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.

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Featuring dynamic imagery from the collection of the MHS, the exhibition illustrates the passion on each side of the suffrage question. For over a century, Americans debated whether women should vote. The materials on display demonstrate the arguments made by suffragists and their opponents. While women at the polls may seem unremarkable today, these contentious campaigns formed the foundations for modern debates about gender and politics.

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

George Hyland’s Diary, August 1919

By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Today, we return to the diary of George Hyland. If this is your first time encountering our 2019 diary series, catch up by reading the January, February, March, April, May, June, and July 1919 installments first!

August if full of fruits and vegetables from the garden: cucumbers, blackberries, apples and pears, “lettuice,” green beans, turnips, beets, and potatoes. George is also offered a peck of clams that he turns down because “I do not do any cooking” (though on another date he mentions making moss pudding). George is winding down his three month tenancy at “the James place,” with its spacious garden, and toward the end of the month begins moving his belongings into new quarters above J. H. Vinal’s store. On August 10th he has his picture taken. On August 16th he takes the train to Boston and — amidst other errands — attempts to learn why he was not called into service during the Great War. On August 24th a “thunder tempest” rolls through that he reports in his diary was “very destructive … in all parts of New Eng.” Throughout the month, George finds an hour or more most nights to play upon his guitar.

Enjoy another month with George as we close out the summer and head into autumn.

* * *

PAGE 339 (cont’d)

Aug 1. rain all forenoon. Spent forenoon at Charles’s. Had dinner there. In aft. worked 3 hours for Fred J. Bailey’s at N. Scituate Beach digging and filling up a trench. Elmer Ramsdel laid and fitted the pipes (tiles) trench about 45 or 50 ft. long. fin. the job. rode down and back in auto. aft. par. clou. to clear. W.S. at the seashore. 3 seaplanes passed there this aft. low down over the water. Mrs. M.G. Seaverns gave me a banana early in eve. I gave her some lettuice [sic] — from my garden. Eve. clear. W.N.W. Charles called here in eve.

2d. In forenoon worked at home (on James place) mowing with scythe, lawn mower, sickle and shears. In aft. went to Rockland via Norwell and Hanover. Charles, Lucy, Ellen, Uncle Samuel, Irene, and I rode there with George Hardwick — in his large auto. Emeline and Henrietta and Ethel also went there — at Edmund’s. Fine weather, W.N.W. clear, arr. home about 4:10 P.M., then worked on the place 2 hours. Sarah rode from Geo. Hardwick’s place with us — to Charlie’s place — and went back with them (Ellen and Irene). Fine eve. clear, cool. Played on the guitar 1 hour late in eve.

3d. (Sun.) Fine weather – clear; W.N.W. Called at Charlie’s in eve. Then went to Francis Hyland’s and spent part of eve.

PAGE 340

August 1919.

4th. Cut up boxes and housed the wood — 7 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — 2.10. Hot weather — tem. 74-90; W.S.W. late in aft. picked the first cucumber from vine in my garden — gave it to Mrs. Seaverns. Played on the guitar 1 hour in eve. also worked in my garden early in eve.

5th. Dug up ground in poultry yards for Mr. S. T. Speare – 5 1/4 hours — 1.65. Hot weather tem. 70-88; W.S.W. Played on the guitar 1 hour in eve. Mrs. Ethel Torrey sent me 2 doughnuts this A.M.

6th. In forenoon — mowed the lawn and bank and other places 2 hours for Mrs. Eudora Bailey (did not charge full price). In aft. dug up ground in poultry yards 1 1/2 hours for S. T. Speare — 45. Began to rain about 2:20 P.M. rain heavy at times all aft. and all night. W.S.W. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mrs. Torrey gave me a qt. of milk.

7th. Very wet. rain until about 9 A.M. cloudy all forenoon. aft. par. clou. W.S.W. warm. In aft. cleared Mrs. Eudora Bailey’s trees of Gipsey [sic] moth nests (eggs and millers). She helped me do it. She is 79yrs of age. Mrs. Ethel Torrey sent me a pint of milk. Her daughter margaret brought it here. Eve. clear. Fine weather.

8th. Fine weather, tem. About 68-87; W.W. very wet in forenoon. In aft. Went nearly to Scituate Cen. to see if I could find some blackberries — got 1 1/2 cupfull. Stopped about 1/2 hour at the old house on mile 8 of […] carried 2 cucumbers and some lettuice to Mrs. M.G.Seaverns’ late in aft. She is 80 yrs of age — to-day. Saw Mrs. W. I. Lincoln at store. Fine eve. cool. Called at Mrs. Irene Litchfield’s early in eve. She came here to get me to repair a bucket — could do nothing with it — not worth repairing — she gave me a piece of choc. cake. Played on the guitar 1 hour late in eve.

9th. Worked 1 hour for Mr. Speare — 30. and 3 hours for Mason Litchfield — mowing lawn and bank — 65. Fine weather; W.W. cool. clear. eve. very cool. clear. W.S.W. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. I also worked 4 hours on this place — mowed and trimmed the grass on the whole place — also dug up some ground and transplanted some late turnips — also thinned out the plants in the rows where I planted the seeds.

10th. (Sun.) Very fine weather. Clear. cool. W.N.W. Went to W. I. Lincoln’s about 12:30. Staid [sic] about 2 1/2 hours — had dinner there. We all had our pictures taken in aft. then I went up to Uncle Samuel’s. Had supper there. Sarah and I went to my home. Sarah with me every minute I was up there. We picked a bouquet of wild flowers and carried them to Mt. Hope Cem. fine eve. arr. Back at 9 P.M. — rode there and back with W. I. Lincoln — He went to Mt. Blue Spring to get a load of water. I made a moss pudding late in eve.

11th. Worked 6 hours for Mrs. M. G. Seaverns — mowing and raking grass — 1.80 fine weather, cool sea breese [sic] — W.S.E. fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

12th. Worked 6 1/2 hours for Mr. Speare — (mowing grass near the house, and made a path around 3 sides of his woods and a path through the centre — bushes, trees, and briars) — 1.95. Also worked haying for 2/3 hour  Mrs. M. G. Seaverns — 20. Fine weather, clear, W.S.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Mrs. Torrey gave me a pint of milk. Mr. Speare gave me a sythe with snath.

13th. Worked 5 hours for Mr. Speare — made another path in the woods and back of poultry yards — bet. poultry yards and a stone wall — 1.50. Sold 10 cucumbers (to sell in his store and markets) 25. (To Job H. Vinal) Job gave me about a pound of Hamburg steak (meat). Mrs. Torrey gave me a pint of milk […] par. cloudy — damp, W.S.E. a few sprinkles of rain in eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Rain in night.

14th. Cold storm — W.N.E. rain and mod. gale — 30m. Light rain in eve. W.N.E. repaired some of my clothes. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Kept a fire in stove all day and eve. Cold for season.

15th. Worked 8 3/4 hours for William Carter (he paid me for 9 hours work) — 2.70. Forenoon misty, very damp, W.N.W. aft. par. clou. (clearing) eve. Clear very fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Mrs. Carter gave me some tea — enough for several meals. I had none, and worked so late that the stores had all closed when I finished the work — dug up and repaired their driveway — about 300 feet in length.

16th. Went to Boston on 7:55 A.M. tr. Paid $15.00 on a Victory Loan Bond at the State St. Trust Cos. Bank — 33 State St. Also went to the U.S. Custom House to see if I could find out the reason I was not taken into the service of the U.S. Merchant Marine when the country was engaged in the Great War — I signed an application (blank) and filled it out and thought I was to be put into active service but I was not. The officer who had charge of the recruiting is not there now, and I could find out nothing about it but the chief officer who has charge now told me to go to the shipping office at No. 20 Atlantic Av. and prob. they would put me in the service in some capacity, but the war is ended and I do not take much interest in it now, but perhaps I may later on. Returned on the Stm. “Mayflower” to Nantasket. Spent aft. there — Band concert by Carter’s Band of Boston. Went to Hingham on Elec. Car — then tr. to N. Scituate. Fine weather, fine eve. W.S.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

17th. (Sun,) Par. cloudy; W.S.E. Mr. Bullard called here in forenoon, gave him some lettuice. Cloudy. Mrs. Eudora Bailey called here this A.M. to see if I would like to have some clams — her daughter, Sarah, sent her a half a peck. She said I could have them if I wanted them but I do not do any cooking.

18th. Mowed lawn and raked up apples 1 3/4 hours for E. Jane Litchfield. Had dinner there. Walked up and back. Very damp. Began to rain about 1:45 P.M. Got wet. Staid at Uncle Samuel’s in aft. Sarah and Hester Fish came and played housekeeping. I gave them some choc. candy (5cts). Sold 5 cucumbers to J. H. Vinal this A. M. — to sell in his store. Bought a quart of milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Ethel got it for me. Rain all aft. W.E. eve. clou. Played on the guitar 1 1/2  hours in eve.

19th. Fair. W.S.E. Went up to Uncle Samuel’s — staid 3/4 hour. Had dinner there. In aft. worked 3 1/2 hours for E. Jane Litchfield — mowing and raking grass. 5 hours in all — 1.00. Walked up and back. Bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Ethel got it for me. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

20th. Mowed lawn and around the house. 2 1/3 hours for Mason Litchfield — 70. and mowed lawn and trimmed bank 2 3/4 hours for Mrs. Eudora Bailey (6th time) — 2.00. Clear. Warm. W.S.W. tem. About 68-85. I have hired a house to move into when I leave this place. Fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Sold 11 beets and 1 qt. of green beans to Mrs. M.G. Seaverns this A.M. — 10. Also 4 cucumbers for Sarah — 20. She will have […].

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21st. Mowed 5 hours for Mrs. Caroline Litchfield — 1.00. Walked up and back. Had dinner at E. Jane Litchfield’s. Gave Sarah the money (20cts) I got for the 4 cucumbers I sold for her. Hot weather — tem. about 67-86; W.N.W., E., S.W. stopped at Geo. Crosby’s to see his well — over 20 feet of water in it. Played on the guitar 1 h. 20 m. in eve. Late bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s.

22d. Mowed and trimmed grass and did other work for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — 4h — 1.20. Also mowed a place in a great field — near a very large elm tree (for the young friends of Mrs. E. to have a picnic) for Mrs. Bayley Ellis — 1 3/4 hours — 50. Mrs. Ethel Torrey gave me a pint of milk early in eve. I got a pail of water there. Hot weather — tem. About 67-87. W.W. clear. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Made a moss pudding and boiled some turnips. Sold about 2 qts of apples for Sarah (got 15cts for them) I sold 7 of my cucumbers to J. H. Vinal — 10. and 12 turnips to Mrs. Bertha Bates (nee Hobson) — 10.

23d. Worked 3 hours for Wm. Carter. 90. 2/3 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns, 20. 4 1/2 hours for Mr. Bullard, 1.35. Gave Mrs. Bailey Ellis some lettuice in eve. Hot weather, W.W. clear. Tem. 68-87. Played on the guitar 1h. 20m. in eve

24th. (Sun.) Very hot and muggy, W.S.W. tem. 75-95. Thunder tempest and rain began at 4:45 P.M. continued for 5 hours — 11 P.M. rain has stopped but tempest still continues E. of here. Thun. storms always go from the N.W. to S.E. Boiled some turnips, beets and potatoes (from my garden) in eve. The thunder storm was very destructive. Was in all parts of New Eng.

25th. Rain until about 3 P.M. Eve. clear. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Cut wood 1/2 hour for Francis N. Hyland in forenoon — in woodhouse.

26th. Worked 6 hours for J. H Vinal — 2.00. Had dinner there. J. H. V. and I mowed with sythes — I also trimmed with sickle and shears. Emma V. mowed with lawn mower. I sharpened it. Fine weather. Fine eve. tem to-day about 65-83. Rode 1/2 mile with [blank space] in auto this A.M. (He works for F. J. Bailey) walked back. Played on the guitar 1h. 20m. in eve. Worked haying ¼ hour A.M. for Mrs. Seaverns.

27th. Worked 6 1/4 hours for J. H. Vinal — mowing — 2.00. Had dinner there. Fair in forenoon. Very damp and clou. in aft. Showers at times. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

28th. In forenoon moved some of my things into Scott Gannett’s tenement over the store — J. H. Venal’s store. In aft. picked pears 1 hour for Mrs. Eudora Bailey and picked pears 1 1/4 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — also worked haying 1/2 hour — 45. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Stayed in new house to-night.

29th. Worked 3 1/2 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey — improving walk — and trimming grass. — 1.05. In aft. went up to Uncle Samuel’s. Gave Sarah the money (15cts) I got for some apples I sold for her. Rode 1 1/4 miles with Clinton Bates. Walked back. Bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. E. got it. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Staid in new place to-night.

30th. Worked 2 ¼ hours for Mason Litchfield — mowing lawn and trimming around the house — 65. Very muggy and damp. Light showers in forenoon. Rain all aft. Windy — W.S. Ellen and Sarah called here a few min. in forenoon — Sarah came into the house — to see where I live. They went over to Charlie’s. I called there late in aft. They came back with me — were going to stay this eve. but they got a chance to ride home with Margaret Brown and went back to Uncle Samuel’s. I bought a cone of ice cream for Sarah (7cts). Margaret Brown got it for her. M. B. worked at the Drug Store — where I bought it. Rain until 5 P.M. then began to rain again about 7: 15 P.M. Light rain all eve. Played on the guitar 1h. 25 min. in eve. in my new home — ten. over J. H. Vinal’s store.

31st. Rain in forenoon. aft. and clear 10:30 P.M. cloudy; W.N.W. My lease of the James place (3 mos.) expires to-day, and the rent for this place (ten. Over J.H. Vinal’s store and market) begins tomorrow. (Sun.)

* * *

If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.

*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The catalog record for the George Hyland’s diary may be found here. Hyland’s diary came to us as part of a collection of records related to Hingham, Massachusetts, the catalog record for this larger collection may be found here.

This Week @MHS

Here’s a look at what’s happening at the MHS this week:

On Tuesday, 30 July, at 6:00 PM: The Legacy of the China Trade in Massachusetts: Families, Fortunes, & Foreign Luxuries with Caroline Frank, Brown University; Dane Morrison, Salem State University; and moderator Gwenn Miller, College of the Holy Cross. We live in a society where Chinese-made commodities are a part of everyday life. But dependence on foreign goods is not a modern American phenomenon. The economic, political, and social dimensions of early trade with China were felt on the domestic and individual levels, as reliance on tea, silks, and other materials sourced from China became staples in early American households. Massachusetts merchant families were able to capitalize on a hunger for these goods to shape the city as well as their own fortunes. 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).

On Wednesday, 31 July at 12:00 PM: Bodies in Pain: The Medical Culture of Sympathy in the United States, 1830-1865 with Yuri Amano, Johns Hopkins University. This project explores the cultural and political meanings of bodily pain by focusing on surgical and obstetric cases in the United States, around the time of the establishment of painless surgery. Comparing the experiences of patients from different backgrounds, Amano intends to examine how doctors’ assumptions of femininity, masculinity, and embodied social differences shaped their understanding of pain. This is part of our brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public. 

On Saturday, 3 August 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.

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is open Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Featuring dynamic imagery from the collection of the MHS, the exhibition illustrates the passion on each side of the suffrage question. For over a century, Americans debated whether women should vote. The materials on display demonstrate the arguments made by suffragists and their opponents. While women at the polls may seem unremarkable today, these contentious campaigns formed the foundations for modern debates about gender and politics.

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