The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

The July Brown Bag bonanza continues this week with two lunchtime talks. Also taking place this week is a two-day public workshop and a Saturday tour. 

"Old Towns/New Country: The First Years of a New Nation" is a two-day teacher workshop held in Milford, New Hampshire and Pepperell, Massachusetts, in parternship with the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area. Taking place on Wednesday and Thursday, 30-31 July, the workshop will look at the truly participatory, well-informed conversations taking place in twon halls and meeting places throughout the new colonies-turned-states. By turning an eye toward local politics and events, participants will rediscover the ways in which "ordinary people" contribute to American's creation story. Registration is required for this workshop and there is a $25 charge to cover lunches for both days. To register, please complete this registration form and send it with your payment to: Kathleen Barker, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215. Additional two-day workshops will be held in Searsport, Maine, August 6-7; in Falmouth, Massachusetts, August 13-14; and in Framingham, Massachusetts, September 26-27.

Also taking place on Wednesday 30 July, is a Brown Bag lunch talk featuring Kristen Burton, University of Texas, Arlington, and her project titled "John Barleycorn vs. Sir Richard Rum: Alchohol, the Atlantic, and the Distilling of Colonial Identity, 1650-1800." Focusing on the rise of commercial distilling, this project examines the shifting perceptions of spirituous liquors in the Atlantic World throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Burton also explores the evolution of liquors from their use as a wholesome source of medicine to a pernicious, societal threat. This talk is open to the public free of charge and begins at noon. 

And on Friday, 1 August, is another Brown Bag lunch, this time presented by Rachel Walker, University of Maryland, and titled "Character Detectives: Female Physiognomists in the Early American Republic." Looking at the fraught connection between femaly beauty, morality, and intelligence in the post-Enlightenment era, this project examines how cultural ideas concerning these traits became intertwined by studying the eighteenth and nineeteenth century "science" of physiognomy. A discipline rooted in the notion that an individual could discern a person's moral and mental characteristics merely by examining his or her facial features, early Americans discussed male and female physiognomy in distinct ways and used discussions about female appearance to distinguish between the moral and intellectual capacities of men and women. This talk is open to the public free of charge and begins at noon. 

Finally, on Saturday, 2 August, join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes. The tour is free and open to the public. No reservation is required for individuals or small groups. Parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour. For more information please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or

As always, be sure to keep an eye on our events calendar to see what programs are on the horizon. And do not forget to come in and see our current exhibition "Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country: Massachusetts Women in WWI," on display Monday-Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM, free of charge. 

permalink | Published: Sunday, 27 July, 2014, 12:00 PM