The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

As September draws to a close, seminar season kicks into gear and with it comes a slew of public programs in the weeks ahead. Here's what's on tap this week:

- Tuesday, September 27, 8:00AM : Local innovators, investors, and influencers share their insights and perspectives on the history and future of innovation in the Boston region, a locale known for breakthroughs and firsts. The History and Future of Mass Innovation addresses such questions as: Why has Boston been the key center of social and technological change? What can community and business leaders and local governments do to nurture the factors that promote innovation? This talk is free and open to the public, though registraiton is required. This program will be held at the Stratton Student Center at MIT - 84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139.

- Tuesday, September 27, 5:15PM : The first seminar of the fall is part of the newly named Modern American Society and Culture series. Donna Murch of Rutgers University presents "The Color of War: Race, Neoliberalism, and Punishment in Late 20th Century Los Angeles."  Drawing on the recent history of urban rebellions and punishment campaigns stemming from the late 1960s, this presentation will place our current movement for black lives in historical context. Andrew Darien of Salem State University provides comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP requiredSubscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.

- Wednesday, September 28, 12:00PM : "A Hero of Two Worlds" is a Brown Bag talk presented by Sam Allis which explores a recently published work of historical fiction set in Rome in the early 1860s, when the great fight to unify Italy into a country was raging. The work features a protagonist who hails from Bangor, Maine, as well as a group of Boston expatriates. This event is free and open to the public. 

- Thursday, September 29, 5:30PM : The second seminar of the week is part of the History of Women and Gender series. "Developing Women: Global Poverty, U.S. Foreign Aid, and the Politics of Productivity in the 1970s" emerges from a chapter of a book-in-progress on US involvement campaigns to end global poverty in the 1970s and 1980s. Joanne Meyerowitz of Yale University leads the program with Priya Lal of Boston College providing comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP requiredSubscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers. This event takes place at the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University

- Saturday, October 1, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute, docent-led walk through the public spaces at the Society's home on Boylston St. The tour is free and open to the public with no need for reservations for individuals or small groups. Larger parties (8 or more) should contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley in advance at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org. While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Turning Points in American History.

- Saturday, October 1, 1:00PM : Join us for a public discussion of Puritan writings to discover just how fervently they loved in marriage and in faith, contrary to popular belief. "Sweet Talk - The Passion of Puritans in LEtters, Diaries, and Sermons" is part of the Begin at the Beginning series sponsored by the Partnership of Historic Bostons. Lori Stokes and Sarah Stewart guide the conversation. This program is open to the public free of charge, though registration is required. 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Sunday, 25 September, 2016, 12:00 AM

Autumn Dinner in the White Mountains, September 1875

It is ‘Leaf Peeping’ (fall foliage viewing) season in New England, so here are a few inspired leaves of thought...

Looking through our collections I came across an intriguing broadside, having read about the once opulent Hotels that dotted the New Hampshire Countryside in the mid nineteenth century. The [Dinner menu and wine list for Sunday September 12], no doubt, would serve as a glimpse into the grandeur of the majestic New Hampshire Resorts.

This unique Broadside attests to the lavish dinners served at the Crawford House, located in Crawford Notch New Hampshire. The most fascinating feature of this broadside is the material on which it is printed, a lovely piece of Birch bark. Birch trees are known for their beautiful lenticel marked white bark and can be seen throughout the forests of the White Mountains.

 

The single page pamphlet is printed on both sides and folded in half conveniently presenting the day's fare and other pieces of information for hotel guests. For those intrigued by gastronomical history this is a fascinating specimen. Examining what was served on Sunday, September 12th 1875, one can truly note the changes in our collective palate and food culture over 150 years.

 

Finally, the last page features an extensive wine list, after all, how else would one be on a proper vacation? Modern coinsures will be intrigued by the Hock (German White wine) and Sauternes (French sweet wine) being such popular categories, but otherwise the list is quite familiar. Moet et Chandon champagne was a full $4.00 (The equivalent of $86.96 modern currency) proving that some things never change!

 

The first Crawford House was built in 1850. Described as having "a three and a half story central pavilion with a fine Greek Revival portico, identical five-bay, two and a half story wings, topped by pitched roofs with dormer windows."  By 1852 there was such a high demand for rooms, that the owners of the Crawford House expanded, to create 200 sleeping rooms, by enlarging each wing by "eight bays". Unfortunately the first Crawford House succumbed to fire, although within two days plans for the new Crawford House were already underway. Cyrus Eastman and his partners utilized a workforce of 175 men and 75 oxen and horses to complete the fastest hotel construction 1859 had ever seen.   Opening night was July 13th when 40 guests were received for dinner and 100 were entertained for the night, and the press noted that it was "the most spacious hotel about the mountain".  In Eastman's words "The Crawford House is a large and new edifice, very commodious and agreeable for a summer hotel. There are pleasant piazzas on the outside, and five halls, much used in the evening for promenading, run the entire length of the house within. The parlor is large and well furnished, the dining room ample in its proportion, and its tables always supplied with the delicacies of the metropolitan markets, as well as such substantial articles of mountain production, as delicious berries, and the richest milk and cream. The office is situated in the central part of the house... Here also is the post office of this wild region. Portraits of two of the Crawfords, patriarchs of these mountains, adorn the wall. The lodging rooms of the house are well furnished, and pleasant, especially those which have windows toward the Notch. Connected with the hotel are a bowling-alley for rainy-day and evening amusement, and extensive stables, furnished with a large number of horses... Last summer two tame bears afforded guests much amusement." http://balthazaar.masshist.org/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?DB=local&BBID=129906

Bostonians have always flocked to the White Mountain of New Hampshire to enjoy the striking natural beauty, although we in the modern era will never experience the grandeur met there by our predecessors.  A great transformation came to the region in the 1850s, the beginning of a huge tourist Industry, prompted by the laying of railroads, and later fueled by the Industrial Revolution which created a surplus of wealth in eastern cities. In the 1820s and 30s, the mountains and lakes were home to only a few highway taverns and Inns that provided rest for the weary stagecoach traveler on the harrowing passage north. After 1850, the region that had only been visited by a few hundred, started to see tens of thousands of tourists. This was the heyday of the White Mountain Resorts and Hotels. Rising up from scenic valleys, construction began on the grandest hotels in America in the mid-nineteenth century. These hotels were famous for their luxurious lodging, exquisite dinning, and state of the art facilities such as gas lighting. Travelers came from Europe to admire the grandeur of these Hotels, and to admire the beauty of the White Mountains, which, according to some European Newspapers, rivaled that of the Alps. Each of these hotels could accommodate 200-500 or more guests, offering extensive entertainment, numerous excursions, exquisite gardens, elegant parlors and dining halls serving the finest cuisine. Some of these Hotels had their very own railroad stations, conveniently bringing guests from Boston, Portland and New York directly to their doors and promising a scenic journey through the mountains before arriving at the their lavish lodgings. These hotels were The Crawford House, the Fabyan House, the Profile House, the Maplewood, and the Waumbek.

Unfortunately, the grand Hotels of New Hampshire were all built of wood, and almost all perished in fire. The Appalachian Mountain Club Highland Center sits on the site of the former Crawford House. The last of the majestic hotels built in the region was the Mount Washington Hotel, the grandest and largest, which still remains, a testament of the elegance and luxury of a bygone era and the largest wooden structure in New Hampshire.

The Massachusetts Historical Society lists 153 titles under the heading ‘Menu’ in our catalog. For this broadside, or to search for other broadsides in our collection, please use ABIGAIL, our online catalog. Visit the library of the Society to research more culinary history!

______________

Next up:

Nineteenth Century Travels through New Hampshire

(Burrage, Mary Greene Hunt. Letter to Margaret Howe (Cotton) Hunt [transcript] [1854} in Miscellaneous Manuscripts 1854)

Followed by:

The first map of the White Mountains done by none other than our very own Jeremy Belknap!

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 23 September, 2016, 3:35 PM

From the Bay State to the Free State: A Massachusetts Soldier in Maryland

The Civil War diary of Joseph Warren Phinney, a recent acquisition of the MHS, is a small unassuming leather volume. Probably fewer than half the pages are covered with smudged pencil entries dated 13 July 1864-22 April 1865, as well as miscellaneous memoranda. But even a cursory look into its contents reveals fascinating details.

Phinney hailed from Sandwich, Mass. and served with the 5th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company A. His diary complements our other holdings related to this regiment, which include the papers of Charles Bowers, William Wallace Davis, Benjamin Newell Moore, and George L. Prescott. But it was Phinney’s entry of 8 October 1864 that piqued my interest. It begins: “To-day I was detailed to go with a squad to protect the Polls in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.” October was too early for the presidential election, but Phinney didn’t provide any context, so I consulted Alfred S. Roe’s 1911 history of the regiment to learn more.

Phinney was, in his small way, taking part in a momentous day in Maryland’s history. The Emancipation Proclamation had freed slaves in the Confederacy nearly two years before, but Maryland had never seceded and so was still a slave-holding state. In fact, its 1851 Constitution explicitly outlawed “any law abolishing the relation of master or slave.” October 1864 saw Marylanders voting to ratify a new constitution which would, among other things, abolish slavery in the state. (It ultimately squeaked by with a tiny majority of 375 votes.)

The 5th Massachusetts Infantry sent several squads from Baltimore’s Fort McHenry down the Chesapeake Bay to protect polling places along the Eastern Shore. Phinney’s squad was detailed to the small town of Trappe in Talbot County. They were quartered there for about a week, first in a schoolhouse and then a church.

But this 19-year-old bachelor wasn’t thinking about his place in history. He wrote: “We received many favors from the inhabitants and lived high on sweet potatoes and johnny cake brought in by them. The boys had plenty of liberty and improved it by seeing all they could and tasting all they saw.”

If you sense a certain tone to his words, you’re not imagining things. After his return to Baltimore, Phinney elaborated: “How much I enjoyed my visit at Trappe I can’t well express, but a long letter, containing three closely written sheets of good sensible sized note paper seems to tell me that I wan’t the only one who remembers with pleasure my visit to the ‘Eastern Shore.’” His correspondent was someone named either Emma or Erma—I can’t quite make out his handwriting. Whoever she was, he called her “darling” and “a good sweet little dear” and cherished her “token of love and friendship more than I shall dare to express here.”

I won’t keep you in suspense: as far as I can tell, Phinney and the young lady in question never saw each other again. But she wrote to him six months later, prompting him to reflect, in the only other entry he wrote about her: “Who would imagine that she would remember me enough to write such a letter after such a time since we met has elapsed. I am sure I didn’t when we enjoyed ourselves so pleasantly on the Eastern Shore of ‘Maryland, My Maryland,’ – as she used to sing so sweetly.” But she lived too far away, and he was a “wandering vagabond” and “scallawag” who couldn’t provide for a family. So he concluded: “I guess it will be best policy to let them all slide Nettie, Emma, and Lizzie, the whole boodle of them.”

Phinney didn’t let the whole boodle slide, however, at least not permanently. He married in 1869 to Susan Jane Turner, with whom he had two children before she died 13 years later. Phinney then married Priscilla Chase Morris and had four more children.

Other entries in Phinney’s diary are interesting, funny, or just plain cryptic. He had a tendency to scribble down random thoughts, financial memoranda, aphorisms, etc. He also sometimes vented his frustration. After his promotion to sergeant of the guard, he wrote: “Hullo, Sergeant Phinney? Your three stripes look better than two. How mad Walsh was that he didn’t get the warrant. I don’t give a damn!”

 

And here’s an excerpt from his description of the day Abraham Lincoln died, which stretches for several pages: “This has been a day of sorrow and mourning for the nation. […] On the opening of the telegraph office there was an immense crowd gathered in front of the entrance, awaiting, with intense anxiety, something definite in regard to the matter. Alas! The news was too true, for the wire confirmed what we had before hesi[ta]ted to believe. We cannot depict the horror and grief that seized our community.”

The MHS also holds a copy of Catch ’ems?, a beautiful two-volume compilation of the letters of Phinney’s daughter Ellis Phinney Taylor, published in 2004 by other members of the family. Although the letters date from the early 20th century, Catch ’ems? gave me my first glimpse of Joseph Warren Phinney and the Phinney family.

 

 

 

Phinney was born in 1845, the only son and youngest child of Warren and Henrietta J. (Smith) Phinney. His mother died just a few months after his birth, and his father a few years later, so young Phinney was raised by his maternal grandparents. After the Civil War, he became a printer and type founder and designed several typefaces. He died in 1934 at the age of 89.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 21 September, 2016, 12:00 AM

This Week @ MHS

Summer officially ends this week. With its demise comes a rise in programs here at the Society. Here is what's on tap this week:

- Wednesday, 21 September, 6:00PM : With a major election looming, you might wonder what the young vote can do to alter the outcome. First, get some historical perspective. Join us for a public author talk featuring Jon Grinspan of the Smithsonian as he talks about his new book, The Virgin Vote: How Young Americans Made Democracy Social, Politics Personal, and Voting Popular in the Nineteenth Century. Registration is requried for this event with a fee of $10 (no charge for MHS Members or Fellows). A pre-talk reception starts at 5:30PM and the program begins at 6:00PM. 

- Thursday, 22 September, 6:00PM : Calling all graduate students and faculty! Please join us on for our seventh annual Graduate Student Reception for students in history, American Studies, and related fields. Enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres as you meet colleagues from other universities working in your field. Take a behind-the scenes tour and learn about the resources the MHS offers to support your scholarship, from research fellowships to our seminar series.

- Saturday, 24 September, 10:00AM : Come on in for a free tour of the Society's home at 1154 Boylston St. The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute, docent-led tour of the public spaces at the MHS. The tour is free and open to the public with no need for individuals or small groups to set reservations. Larger parties (8 or more) should contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley in advance at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Sunday, 18 September, 2016, 12:00 AM

Margaret Russell’s Diary, September 1916

Today, we return to the line-a-day diary of Margaret Russell. You can read previous installments here:

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August

In August, Margaret Russell wrote about her ambivalence planning a trip to the American west due to the uncertainties created by the looming railroad strike. The strike was resolved, however, and as her diary reveals Margaret went ahead with her travel plans. On September 6th, the Wednesday after Labor Day (established as a federal holiday in 1894), she went to Boston to purchase tickets. Between September 7th and September 21st she traveled to Colorado and back by train. It is unclear whether Margaret Russell traveled alone or with other members of the family; her diary seldom reveals her daily companions. Her diary once again reveals her to be a lover of walks and drives, as she details the natural beauty of the landscape in the West. 

On the return journey she notes a tragedy: “Two men killed by our train but we did not know.” Were the men laborers? Were the deaths intentional suicide? An accident? She likely did not know and certainly does not say. It is a passing horror in an otherwise “splendid trip.” The final week of September sees Margaret return to her usual routine of errands, walking, and visiting on the North Shore and in Boston.

 * * *

September 1916*

1 Sept. Friday - Stayed at home in the morning. Drove to Newburyport for tea at Blue Elephant. Home by turnpike.

2 Sept. Saturday - First to Hosp. on to Natick Inn for lunch, on to see Mrs. Hodder home at 6. Dined at Marblehead to see Miss Reulker.

3 Sept. Walked to church & back. Family to dine.

4 Sept. Labor Day - Stayed at home in the A.M. Made calls at Nahant in the P.M.

5 Sept. Tuesday - Mrs. Ward’s last lecture, took tea with Jennie.

6 Sept. To town to make last plans & get tickets. Packing in the P.M.

7 Sept. Left home 8.30. Boston at 10 A.M.

8 Sept. Arrived at Chicago at 12.30. Bath & lunch at Blackstone. Drove through the Riverside Park. Left at 6pm for Denver.

9 Sept. Omaha when awakened at 7. Arrived Denver at 9.45. Brown Palace Hotel. Very noisy room.

10 Sept. Sunday. Fine service at cathedral & sermon from Dean on 10 Commandments. Took sight-seeing bus in P.M. Changed rooms.

11 Sept. Rainy - museum in the A.M. Movies in the P.M.

12 Sept. Left Denver at 8 A.M. Train to Loveland motor to Estes. Wonderful drive thru Thompson canyon. Stanley Hotel most comfortable.

13 Sept. Walked about in the A.M. I found flowers. Drove to Long Peak’s rim in the P.M. & on way home saw beaver dams.

14 Sept. Walked on the Prospect Trail & took Fall River drive up to 10,000 feet. Wonderful view.

15 Sept. Friday - Walked nearly to Glen Lake. Drive the High Drive & Moraine Park. Wonderful weather.

16 Sept. Saturday - Walked along river. Drive to Sprague’s in P.M. The most beautiful drive yet. Views superb.

17 Sept. Sunday Left Estes P- by motor at 2 in thunderstorm which was short. Reached Denver at 6. Road fine thru canyon very dusty on plains. Room Palace Hotel.

18 Sept. Went to museum. Very interesting, did errands. Left Denver at 2.45 for Chicago N. P. & C.M.St.P. Comfortable weather. Saw wind storm.

19 Sept. Travelling all day through corn fields & stock farms. Two men killed by our train but we did not know. Chicago at 9.

20 Sept. Left Chicago at 10.30. Went to Creighton's first under Hotel Blackstone. Comfortable train & cool.

21 Sept. Arrived in Boston at 3. Had my hair washed & got home by 5.30. Mama very well. A splendid trip.

22 Sept. Writing & paying bills. Drove to Salem for errands & to N. Andover for tea in the P.M.

23 Sept. Saturday - Went to N. Andover with H.G.C.’s. Lovely day.

24 Sept. Walked to church. The two C’s & Ellen to dine only.

25 Sept. Monday - Town for errands. Lunched at Marian’s, went out to see Aunt E.

26 Sept. Tuesday - Walked from little Nahant. Drove to Lynnfield swamp & cut fringed gentian.

27 Sept. Wednesday - To town after lunch for Mayflower Soc. meeting.

28 Sept. Thursday - Walked from Marblehead across [illegible]. Quite warm. To Salem to see Ropes’ house in P.M. Dined at Beverly.

29 Sept. Friday - Church at ten. Looking [illegible] flowers to take to Gray. P.M. went to Herbarium & to Radcliffe tea.

30 Sept. Went to see Mrs. H. Then to Southboro to lunch with H.G.C. Much cooler. High wind.

* * *

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.

 

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 14 September, 2016, 12:00 AM

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