The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

With the first full week of July the MHS events calendar is filled with public programs for the month. So, without further ado, here is what is on tap.

Starting things off on Wednesday, 9 July, come in for a Brown Bag lunch talk presented by Jordan Watkins of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "Slavery, Sacred Texts, and the Antebellum Confrontation with History" explores biblical and constitutional debates over slavery in the antebellum era and argues that the developing slavery crisis fueled the move to understand both the Bible and the Constitution as historical texts. Watkins also contends that the emphasis on contextual interpretation among biblical scholars in the first few decades of the nineteenth century informed a similar reading of the Constitution in the decades before the Civil War. The project demonstrates that these overlapping developoments cultivated an awarenedss of the historical distances that divided Americans from their favored biblical and Revolutionary pasts. This talk is free and open to the public and begins at noon. 

Then, beginning on Thursday, 10 July, is a two-day teacher workshop. "Symbols of Liberty: The Magna Carta, the Liberty Bowl, and the American Revolution" takes place in conjuction with the exhibition Magna Carta: Cornerstone of Liberty at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This professional development workshop, offered by the MFA and the MHS, is aimed at teachers in grades K-12 and provides an introduction to the rich collections of 18th century documents and objects at both institutions. The workshop will include lectures, hands-on activities in the classroom, and gallery explorations using primary source documents and original art objects related to the founding of the United States. Registration is required for this event at a cost of $100. Registration covers admission to the MFA, lunch both days, and materials. Participants can earn one graduate credit from Framingham State University for an additional fee. Visit the MFA website to register. Contact for more information. 

And on Friday, 11 July, there is another Brown Bag lunch talk scheduled. This time, Rachel Trocchio, University of California, Berkely, presents "Form and Failure: American Puritanism, Quantification, and the Way of All Grace." From its foundations in the diagrammatic habits of sixteenth-century England to its intercourse with the new science of infinity, Puritanism applied a series of quantitative strategies for understanding an arbitrary God and the perfection of his decrees. This program argues that, simultaneously as these quantifications failed, their very failure inspired the imaginative leap between sensory and intelligible things that Puritanism made requisite for knowledge of God and one’s grace.

Finally, on Saturday, 12 July, there is a free building tour at 10:00AM. The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute, docent-led tour that explores all of the public space in the Society's home at 1154 Boylston Street and touches on the history, collections, art, and architecture of the building. This tour is free and open to the public. No reservations required for individuals and small groups. However, groups of 8 or more should contact art curator Anne Bentley in advance at 617-646-0508 or


permalink | Published: Sunday, 6 July, 2014, 12:00 PM