The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

On Tuesday, 15 April, Gloria Whiting of Harvard University presents "'How can the wife submit?' African Families Negotiate Gender and Slavery in New England." This seminar is part of the History of Women and Gender series and is rescheduled from 13 February 2014. Whiting's paper discusses the various ways in which the everyday realities of slavery shaped gender relations in Afro-New England families. While the structure of slave families in the region was unusually matrifocal, these families nonetheless exhibited a number of patriarchal tendencies. Enslaved African families in New England therefore complicate the assumption of much scholarship that the structure of slave families defined their normative values. Barbara Krauthamer of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, will provide comment. Please note that this seminar takes place at the Schlesinger Library and begins at 5:30PM. Be sure to RSVP for this program by emailing or phoning 617-646-0568.

And on Friday, 18 April, stop by the Society at 2:00PM for a free gallery talk as Samantha Anderson of Northeastern University presents "The Battles of the 54th: Norther Racism and the Unequal Pay Crisis." When Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew proposed to raise the first military unit consisting of black soldiers during the Civil War, he was assured by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton that the men would be paid, clothed, and treated in the same way as white troops. As the recruiting posters and newspaper advertisements stated, this included a state bounty and a monthly pay of $13. In July of 1863, an order was issued in Washington fixing the compensation of black soldiers at the laborers' rate of $10 per month. This amount was offered on several occasions to the men of the 54th, but was continually refused. Governor Andrew and the Massachusetts legislature, feeling responsible for the $3 discrepancy in pay promised to the troops, passed an act in November of 1863 providing the difference from state funds. The men refused to accept this resolution, however, demanding that they receive full soldier pay from the federal government.

Learn more about this pay controversy, and how it was resolved, through items on display in our current exhibition Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial.

Finally, please note that the Society is closed on Monday, 21 April, in observance of Patriot's Day. Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, 22 April.

permalink | Published: Sunday, 13 April, 2014, 12:00 PM