The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @MHS

Happy 2019! Here is a look at what is going on at the MHS this week:

- Tuesday, 8 January, 5:15 PM: The Consecration of Samuel Seabury & the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807 with Brent Sirota, North Carolina State University, and comment by Chris Beneke, Bentley University. Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office of bishops, American Methodists and Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans all established some form of episcopal superintendency after the Peace of Paris. This paper considers how the making of American episcopacy and the controversies surrounding it betrayed a lack of consensus regarding the relationship between church, state and civil society in the Protestant Atlantic.This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

- Wednesday, 9 January, 12:00 PM: The Octopus’s Other Tentacles: The United Fruit Company, Congress, Dictators, & Exiles against the Guatemalan Revolution with Aaron Moulton, Stephen F. Austin University. With the 1954 U.S. government-backed overthrow of Guatemalan president Jacobo Arbenz, scholars have focused on ties between the State Department, the CIA, and el pulpo, the octopus, the United Fruit Company. This talk reveals how the Company's influence reached further to Boston-based congresspersons, Caribbean Basin dictators, and Guatemalan exiles. This is part of the brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

- Wednesday, 9 January,  6:00 PM: American Eden: David Hosack, Botany, & Medicine in the Garden of the Early Republic with Victoria Johnson, Hunter College. The legacy of the long-forgotten early American visionary Dr. David Hosack includes the establishment of the first botanical garden in the United States as well as groundbreaking advances in pharmaceutical and surgical medicine. His tireless work championing public health and science earned him national fame and praise from the likes of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander von Humboldt, and the Marquis de Lafayette. Alongside other towering figures of the post-Revolutionary generation, he took the reins of a nation. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

- Saturday, 12 January, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.   

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 7 January, 2019, 1:00 AM

Upcoming Education Events

Welcome to 2019!  This year, the Center for the Teaching of History at the MHS brings a whole slate of education programs for teachers, students, and history enthusiasts.   

Become a Mass History Day Judge

The MHS is proud to be the State Affiliate Sponsor for Massachusetts History Day, a year-long primary source-based project where students in grades 6-12 create documentaries, exhibits, websites, performances, and papers that explore their favorite topics in history. With 5 competitions state-wide in March and April, we are calling for history enthusiasts to spend a morning talking with passionate students about history!  To learn more about Mass History Day and sign up to judge, visit our Mass History Day website.

Attend a Teacher Workshop

The MHS holds numerous teacher workshops during the year to dive deep into historical topics with educators and to explore methods for introducing them to the classroom. These programs are open to K-12 teachers and museum and heritage educators, and we offer a waiting list for those who are not educators but are interested in our programs. Check out our workshop calendar for more information and to register; e-mail education@masshist.org with any questions. This winter and spring, we have several exciting programs including:

Teaching the Industrial Revolution in Massachusetts
Wednesday, 20 February

Registration Fee: $45
This workshop will be hosted at the Tsongas Industrial History Center in Lowell, Mass.

Lowell’s water-powered textile mills catapulted the nation – including immigrant families and early female factory workers – into an uncertain new industrial era. Nearly 200 years later, the changes that began here still reverberate in our shifting global economy. Hosted in partnership with the Tsongas Industrial History Center, this workshop will explore the history of industrial growth in New England and its impact on immigration, labor movements, women’s rights, and communities in New England and beyond.

The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919
Saturday, 13 April 

Registration Fee: $25

On January 15, 1919, Boston suffered one of history’s most unusual disasters: a devastating flood of molasses. The “Great Molasses Flood” tore through the city's North End at upwards of 35 miles per hour, killing 21 and injuring 150 while causing horrendous property damage.  With historian and author Stephen Puleo, we will explore how the flood is more than a bizarre moment in Boston history: it offers a lens into Boston and World War I, Prohibition, the anarchist movement, immigration, and the expanding role of big business in society.

“Shall the Tail Wag the Dog?”  The Fight For and Against the Right to Vote
Saturday, 11 May

Registration Fee: $25

Massachusetts citizens played a central role in the suffrage movement; Worcester hosted the first national woman’s rights convention in 1850 and Bostonians, led by Lucy Stone, headed a national suffrage organization and edited a long-running woman’s rights newspaper. In response to these influential reformers, activists formed the first anti-suffrage organizations in Massachusetts as well. Drawing on MHS collections and our new suffrage exhibition, we will explore letters, newspapers, political cartoons, visual propaganda, and other sources that illuminate the history and motivations of women on both sides of the campaign for the vote.

Teacher and Student Fellowships

Teacher and student fellowships deadlines are coming up!  These scholarships are available to K-12 teachers and students who have a serious interest in using the collections at the MHS to perform research in the fields of American history, world history, or English/language arts. Applications must be postmarked by 18 February 2019. This year we are offering the following fellowships:

Swensrud Teacher Fellowships

Each summer, the Swensrud Teacher Fellowship program offers educators the opportunity to create lesson plans using documents and artifacts from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. The fellowships carry a stipend of $4,000 for four weeks of on-site research at the MHS and for the development of a curricular unit based on their research.

Kass Teacher Fellowships:

The Kass Teacher Fellowship program gives educators the chance to perform 20 days of research at the Massachusetts Historical Society on the topic of their choosing. This fellowship will carry a stipend of $2,000 for four weeks of on-site research at the MHS, and teachers will complete a 1-2 page report on their findings at the end of the fellowship.

John Winthrop Student Fellowship:

This award encourages high school students to make use of the nationally significant documents of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) in a research project of their choosing. Students apply with a teacher mentor, and the Winthrop Student Fellow and their teacher will each receive a $350 stipend to perform historical research and create a project using materials at the MHS.  This project can be something assigned in a class, a National History Day project, or something of the student’s invention!

If you have questions or are interested in any of these programs, visit the Center for the Teaching of History website or e-mail education@masshist.org.  We look forward to hearing from you!

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 2 January, 2019, 1:00 AM

The First Publication of Phillis Wheatley

Recently, the MHS hosted a program called “No more, America,”* which featured a conversation with Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Peter Galison, both of Harvard University. In it, the two men reimagined a 1773 debate between graduating Harvard seniors Theodore Parsons and Eliphalet Pearson who deliberated on the compatibility of slavery and “natural law.” In the program, Gates and Galison added a third contemporary voice to the argument, that of the then-enslaved Phillis Wheatley, the acclaimed poet who lived just over the Charles River from the two Harvard students.

Now, just over a week later, we recognize the anniversary of the first publication of one of Wheatley’s poems. “On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin” appeared on December 21, 1767, in the Newport Mercury, a Rhode Island weekly newspaper. According to Vincent Carretta in his 2011 biography of Wheatley, this poem was not published again during Wheatley’s lifetime.

 

When Wheatley submitted her poem to the Newport Mercury, she addressed a note to the printer which was to precede the poem.

Please to insert the following Lines, composed by a Negro Girl (belonging to one Mr. Wheatley of Boston) on the following Occasion, viz. Messrs Hussey and Coffin, as undermentioned, belonging to Nantucket, being bound from thence to Boston, narrowly escaped being cast away on Cape-Cod, in one of the late Storms; upon their Arrival, being at Mr. Wheatley’s, and, while at Dinner, told of their narrow Escape, this Negro Girl at the same Time ‘tending Table, heard the Relation, from which she composed the following verses.

 

On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin

 

Did Fear and Danger so perplex your Mind,

As made you fearful of the Whistling Wind?

Was it not Boreas knit his angry Brow

Against ? or did Consideration bow?

To lend you Aid, did not his Winds combine?

To stop your passage with a churlish Line,

Did haughty Eolus with Contempt look down

With Aspect windy, and a study’d Frown?

Regard them not; -- the Great Supreme, the Wise,

Intends for something hidden from our Eyes.

Suppose the groundless Gulph had snatch’d away

Hussey and Coffin to the raging Sea;

Where wou’d they go? Where wou’d be their Abode?

With the Supreme and independent God,

Or made their Beds down in the Shades below,

Where neither Pleasure nor Conten can flow.

To Heaven their Souls with eager Raptures soar,

Enjoy the Bliss of him they wou’d adore.

Had the soft gliding Streams of Grace been near,

Some favourite Hope their fainting hearts to cheer,

Doubtless the Fear of Danger far had fled:

No more repeated Victory crown their Heads.

To see what materials the MHS holds related to Phillis Wheatley's life and work, you can search our online catalog, ABIGAIL, then consider Visiting the Library, but be sure to consult our online calendar for upcoming holiday closures.

 

*Video of the event, “No more, America” will be available via the MHS website sometime in early 2019. Click the link to see what else is already visible.

 


 

References

Carretta, Vincent, Phillis Wheatley: Biography of a Genius in Bondage, University of Georgia Press, 2011.

comments: 2 | permalink | Published: Friday, 21 December, 2018, 1:00 AM

Christmas 1918

Christmas of 1918 should have been jubilant--the war was over, soldiers were starting to come home and women were on the verge of gaining suffrage. But sadly, dark shadows loomed over festivities and revelry that year, as the aftermath of the war and the widespread Influenza and tuberculosis left hundreds of thousands dead, sick or wounded. The Nation’s central relief organization was the American Red Cross, which desperately needed funding, so they launched a membership drive called the ‘Christmas Roll Call’ from 16 through 23 December, 1918.

“When the United States entered the World War the people appointed the Red Cross as its steward to minister to the wants of human beings in distress whenever aid and succor were needed.

… This is in brief the service work of the Red Cross expressed in unemotional statistics. The real work of aiding suffering humanity, of nursing the ill, and ministering to those in want – the service of relieving the worries of our men overseas- the thousand and one things done in a day’s work- all that can not be told in numerals.

But to continue this work for humanity, to serve as steward for the American people, will require the united support of all Americans. With this end in view, the Red Cross will hold it’s second annual Christmas Roll call during the week of December 16 to 23rd, when it is hoped that every one will renew the nation-wide pledge of last year to uphold the flag – a vow taken by 22,000,000 million adults and 8,000,000 children.

Some day, and that day seems near at hand, the world will wish to spend as much effort and gold for the prevention of war as it does now for the amelioration of its infinite ills. At this hour, however, the American Red Cross is the sacrament oT the nations, the visible expression of the mother-heart of the race, the beacon and the hope of the world's wounded and storm-tossed everywhere. Membership in the American Red Cross defines and honors the members and scatters healing where healing is sorely needed.” said the Advocate of Peace in December of 1918.

The Broadsides created to promote the 'Christmas Roll Call' or Membership drive of 1918 are some of the most beautiful pieces of 20th century ephemera. The MHS houses some of the famous broadsides (or posters) created for the Roll Call. The posters’ popularity eclipsed the roll call itself--they are perhaps the most beautiful images ever associated with the Holiday Season. The artists that created these images were some of the best of the time, working pro-bono for the Red Cross effort, such as Harrison Fisher, who created a new stereotype for American woman as bold and beautiful, known as the “Fisher girls.

Christmas a century ago reminds us to be thankful for our blessings, and to continue to support those who work tirelessly to end suffering and alleviate pain, towards the betterment of all humans and life on this shared earth.

The MHS will be closed from 24 December through 1 January, but we welcome you to visit the Library during regular hour through Saturday, December 22nd to enjoy exploring our collections including our wonderful Ephemera collection of broadsides, posters and greeting cards.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 19 December, 2018, 10:00 AM

This Week @MHS

It is our last week of programming at the MHS for 2018. Join us for a seminar, a Saturday tour, or stop by to see our current exhibition.

- Tuesday, 18 December, 5:30 PM: Transgender History & Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation with Genny Beemyn, University of Massachusetts--Amherst; Laura Peimer, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Sari L. Reisner, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and moderator Jen Manion, Amherst College. This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public health? How do changes in popular usage and attitudes about terminology facilitate or hinder research? In what ways does transgender studies intersect with women’s and gender history and other feminist scholarly concerns? This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. Seminars are free and open to the public. This seminar will take place at the Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute.

- Saturday, 22 December, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join is for a 90-minute docent-led walk through of the public rooms of the MHS. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Please note that the building will be closed 24 December through 1 January. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 17 December, 2018, 1:00 AM

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