The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

After a sleepy week here at the MHS that was all but void of public programs, this week comes with a plethora of programs in which to partake. Up first on Monday, 29 July, the Society will host a lunch-time author talk with Erik J. Chaput: "'The People's Martyr' and the Dorr Rebellion." The People's Martyr is a book about Thomas Wilson Dorr and a rebellion he lead in Rhode Island in 1842 which now bears his name. His attempt at constitutional reform set off a debate over the nature of people's soverignty in Jacksonian American. Author/historican Erik Chaput pays special attention to the issues of gender and race, paricularly the profound fears of southern policiticians that Dorr's ideology would lead to slave insurrections. Mr. Chaput received his doctorate in early American History from Syracuset University in 2011 and is on the faculty in the School of Continuing Education at Providence College. His research has appeared in numerous publications and he is the co-editor with Russell J DeSimone of a digital edition of the letters of Thomas Wilson Dorr, available on the Dorr Rebellion project site hosted by Providence College.This event begins at 12:00pm and is free and open to the public.

On Tuesday, 30 July, is the first of a two-day workshop titled "Old Towns/New Country: The First Years of a New Nation." This workshop will take place in Lancaster & Leominster, Massachusetts, in partnership with the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area. The workshop will concentrate on the period just after the Revolution and the concerns and conflicts, hopes and fears, experiences and expectations of the people living in the Boston area at a time of uncertainy, fragility, and possibility, using local resources to examine historical issues with a national focus. The program investigates such questions as: What was it like to live in a town that had been around for a long time in a country that was new? What were people in our town worried about as the nation was forming after the Revolution? How were these concerns influenced by geography, economy, culture, and social makeup of the region? What resources and pieces of evidence exist in our town that can help us find these things out? How is this evidence best presented to allow people of all ages to discover the answers to such questions and how does local focus add to our understanding of national history? The workshop is open to teachers, librarians, archivists, members of lcoal historical societies, and all intersted local history enthusiasts. The workshop faculty will include MHS staff members as well as Freedom's Way Director of Education Maud Ayson, Historian Mary Fuhrer, and MHS Teacher Fellow Timothy Castner. Additional partners include the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area, Leominster Public Library, and the First Church of Lancaster. The program takes place on Tuesday, 30 July and Wednesday, 31 July, 8:30am-3:30pm. 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. For Additional Information: Contact the Education Department: 617-646-0557 or

On Wednesday, 31 July, come by the MHS at lunchtime for another of our Brown Bag Lunch talks. In this episode, Eric Otremba of Macalester College presents "Empire of Learning: Natural Scientists and Caribbean Slavery in the Seventeenth-Century English Atlantic." In this project, Mr. Otremba examines confluences between the scientific and progressive ideas associated with the early English Enlightenment and the concurrent proliferation of Caribbean slave plantations. Through a study of sugar plantations, it demonstrates how both slavery and the Enlightenment shared common roots within the expansionist discourse of natural science in the late seventeenth century. This event begins at 12:00pm and is free and open to the public.

Following on Thursday, 1 August, is another Brown Bag, this time presented by Zara Anashanslin, College of Staten Island, SUNY. In "Rebelling Subjects, Revealing Objects: The Material and Visual Culture of Making and Remembering the American Revolution," Ms. Anishanslin considers how women, Loyalists, slaves, and Native Americans, as well as Patriots, experienced, made, and remembered the American Revolution from 1763 to 1791, with a coda about historical memory arranged around General Lafayette’s Jubilee Tour. In an effort to get past the binaries that often still characterize the historiography on the Revolution, it uses objects and images to narrate how ideology, politics, and war—and their material practices—were ambivalent and fluid in the revolutionary era. Free and open to the public, this program begins at 12:00pm.

Finally, on Saturday the Society will once again host The History and Collections of the MHS, a 90-minute docent-led tour that explores all of the public rooms in the building while touching on the art, architecture, history, and collections of the Society. 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




permalink | Published: Monday, 29 July, 2013, 1:00 AM