The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

On Tuesday, 2 April 2013, Davis Hsiung of Juniata College presents "Making Saltpetre for the Continental Army: How Americans Understood the Environment During the War of Indpendence." This Early American History Seminar is a case study which examines Americans' understanding of the workings of the natural world during the Revolutionary era, using the imperfect manufacture of gunpowder for the Continental Army as a backdrop. Mr. Hsiung contends that paying attention to the interatctions between humans and the natural environment leads to a richer understanding of the war, and that our current understanding of, and attitude toward, the environment have their roots in the Revolutionary period. Mr. Rob Martello, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, will provide comment for the seminar. The talk will begin at 5:15pm and is free and open to the public. RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar paper.

Then, on Wednesday, 3 April, visit the Society for a midday dose of Lincoln as long-term research fellow Martha Hodes of New York University shares updates about her ongoing research for an upcoming book with "Mourning Lincoln: Shock, Sorrow, Anger, and Glee in the Archives." In this Brown Bag Lunch talk, Ms. Hodes will discuss delving into private letters and journals in order to get a sense of personal responses to Lincoln's assassination. Her research spans a wide demographic spectrum including men and women, rich and poor, white and black, prominent and anonymous. The book explores the questions of what these responses to such a convulsive event can tell us about the immediate aftermath of the Civil War and what we can learn by understanding personal reactions to a transformative event. Brown Bag talks are free and open to the public, and begin at 12:00pm.

And on Thursday, 4 April, the MHS hosts a public program as John Stauffer of Harvard University presents "Massachusetts and the Civil War in Black and White: The Commonwealth's Role in Secession, Emancipation, and Reconstruction." Mr. Stauffer's discussion will focus on the contributions made by abolitionists and political leaders in Massachusetts to secession, freedom, and equality under the law. The talk will also look briefly at the state's response to the "counter-Revolution" that stripped these rights following Reconstruction. The discussion will be followed by a reception, both of which are free and open to the public though registration is required. Mr. Stauffer's talk will begin at 6:00pm.

The program serves as the keynote address and commencement of the MHS conference Massachusetts and the Civil War: The Commonwealth and National Disunion.This two-day conference will examine Massachusetts' participation in the war from almost every major aspect: reform activities and the origins of the war; military life; the war, politics, and the economy; slavery and emancipation; and how the citizens of Massachusetts came to terms with the consequences of the conflict. Established scholars and historians on the rise alike will include new areas of emphasis in their discussions, including health and the environment, memory of the war, and the radical intellectual tradition in the state. The event will be broken into six sessions in which panelists and commentators will offer brief remarkss followed by discussion with the audience. Conference papers will be made available in advance for those who preregister. Click here to view the conference program. Registration, with a fee, is required to attend the session. For more information, contact Kate Viens at

Due to the conference on Friday and Saturday, there will not be a public tour on Saturday, 6 April.




permalink | Published: Monday, 1 April, 2013, 3:39 PM