The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Who’s Your Favorite Historian?

Although it’s only early November, program planning for the winter and spring of 2013 is well under way here in the Education Department. The MHS will be offering an interesting mix of public programs in the coming months, including concerts, author talks, a walking tour, and even a dramatic reading! Even as we experiment with different program formats, however, we always remember to ask ourselves how we can shine a spotlight on the Society’s unique resources and assets. In addition to our amazing collections, the MHS also employs a phenomenal staff with connections to an engaging array of historians, public figures, artists, and others who make use of history in their work. How can we tap into this deep pool of historical enthusiasm? What is the best way to connect all of these fantastic people with our public program audiences?  We’ve come up with a few ideas, but we’d love to hear what YOU think.

One program we will pilot in 2013 is modeled after something we’ve tried at our annual fundraiser, “Cocktails with Clio.” At each of the past two events, the Society’s President has interviewed a prominent historian as part of the evening’s entertainment. We’d like to build on this format and develop an entire series of discussion-based programs that feature historians working on intriguing projects.

So ... who is your favorite historian? Who would you like to converse with at the MHS? Along the same lines, we’re also on the lookout for non-historians who could comment on how history affects their work. Jurists, for example, could discuss how they use history to frame their responses to current court cases, while city planners could explain how they engage with the past while planning for the future. Are there other “opinion makers” you’d like to see at the MHS? Use the comment form below to let us know!

Of course, writers and artists use history in their work all the time, and we’re excited to offer several prominent examples of historically minded creations this spring. In February, for example, we will host author William Martin, who will share the experience of writing his latest book, The Lincoln Letter, a work of historical fiction that takes readers on a an adventure through Civil War Washington. In May, we will bring our collections to life in song and theater. Local playwright Rob Velella will join us for a dramatic reading that explores the friendship between Charles Sumner and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His performance is based on the letters, journals, and other documents created by both men. Later in the month, Berklee Professor of Music Education Peter Cokkinias brings his Boston Saxophone Quartet to MHS. The group will perform music from the era of the American Civil war and provide historical commentary on songs that our audience will be sure to recognize. Are you ready to sing along?

Now that you’re all excited about 2013, don’t forget that we have some nifty programs coming up in November and December. Be sure to visit our web calendar often for more information about programs on the horizon.

permalink | Published: Thursday, 8 November, 2012, 1:00 AM


Nov 11, 2012, 9:03 am


I'm not sure I can identify ONE historian as my favorite. If I lived near Massachusetts I would consider attending an event that featured any of the following: Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Mary Beth Norton, Tad Baker, Ann Little, Alan Taylor, T H Breen, Annette Gordon-Reed.

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