Announcing 2016-2017 Research Fellowships
By Elaine Heavey, Reader Services
The MHS is thrilled to receive the list of the incoming research fellows for the 2015-2016 cycle. Each year our various fellowship programs bring a wide variety of researchers working on a full range of topics into the MHS library. The Reader Services Staff enjoys getting to know the fellows, many of whom become career-long friends of the Society, returning to our reading room year after year.
If any of the research topics are particularly interesting to you, keep an eye on our events calendar over the course of the upcoming year, as all research fellows present their research at brown-bag lunch programs as part of their commitment to the MHS.
For more information about the different fellowship types, click the headings below.
MHS-NEH Long-term Research Fellowships (With special thanks to the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent agency of the U.S. government):
Manisha Sinha, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, “Men for All Seasons: Sumner, Stevens, and the Making of Radical Reconstruction”
Kara Swanson, Northeastern University, “A Passion for Patents: Inventiveness, Citizenship and American Nationhood”
Suzanne and Caleb Loring Research Fellowship On the Civil War, Its Origins, and Consequences (with the Boston Athenaeum):
Kent McConnell, Phillips Exeter Academy, “A Time-Stained God: Spiritual Lives, Civil War Deaths and the Violent Remaking of Religion in America”
MHS Short-Term Research Fellowships:
African-American Studies Fellow
James Shinn, Yale University, “Republicans, Reconstruction, and the Origins of U.S. Imperialism in the Caribbean, 1865-1878”
Andrew Oliver Fellow
Kimberly Alexander, University of New Hampshire, “Exploring Anglicization Through Pre-1750 Textiles”
Andrew W. Mellon Fellows
Abigail Cooper, Brandeis University, ‘“Lord, Until I Reach My Home’: Inside the Refugee Camps of the American Civil War”
Stephen Engle, Florida Atlantic University, “Champion in Our Hour of Need: The Life of John Albion Andrew”
Jessica Farrell, University of Minnesota, “(Re)Capturing Empire: A Reconsideration of Liberia’s Precarious Sovereignty and American Empire as Exception in the 19th Century”
Andrea Gray, Papers of Thomas Jefferson and George Mason University, “’Leaving their callings’: Retirement in the Early Republic”
Ross Nedervelt, Florida International University, “The Border-seas of a New British Empire: The British Atlantic Islands in the Age of the American Revolution”
Luke Nichter, Texas A&M University – Central Texas, “Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and the Decline of the Eastern Establishment”
Franklin Sammons, University of California, Berkeley, “The Long Life of Yazoo: Land Speculation, Finance, and Dispossession in the Southeastern Borderlands, 1789-1840”
Michael Verney, University of New Hampshire, “’Our Field of Fame’: Naval Exploration and Empire in the Early American Republic, 1815-1860”
Stephen West, Catholic University of America, “A Constitutional Lost Cause: The Fifteenth Amendment in American Memory and Political Culture, 1870-1920”
Benjamin F. Stevens Fellow
Abram Van Engen, Washington University in Saint Louis, “American Model: The Life of John Winthrop’s City on a Hill”
Louis Leonard Tucker Alumni Fellows
Catherine Kelly, University of Oklahoma, “Making Peace: Loyalists in the Early U.S. Republic”
David Montejano, University of California, Berkeley, “From Southern Plantation to Northern Mill: Traveling along the Cotton Trail during the American Civil War”
Malcolm and Mildred Freiberg Fellow
Nora Slominsky, Graduate Center, CUNY, “’The Engine of Free Expression’[?]: The Political Development of Copyright in the Colonial British Atlantic and Early National United States”
Marc Friedlaender Fellow
Julia Rose Kraut, New York University, “A Fear of Foreigners and of Freedom: Ideological Exclusion and Deportation in America”
Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Fellow
Craig Smith, Lesley University, “Redemption: The American Revolution, Ethics, and Abolitionism in Britain and the United States”
Ruth R. & Alyson R. Miller Fellows
Evan Haefeli, Texas A&M University, “The Delaware as Women and the Iroquois Great Peace of 1670”
Cathryn Halverson, University of Copenhagen, “Faraway Women and The Atlantic Monthly”
W. B. H. Dowse Fellows
Nathan Fell, University of Houston, “The Nature of Colonization: Native Americans, Colonists, and the Environment in New England, 1400-1750”
Michael Hattem, Yale University, “The Past is Prologue: The Origins of American History Culture, 1730-1800”
New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) Awards (* indicates that part of fellowship will be completed at the MHS):
*Cassandra Berman, Brandeis University, “Motherhood and the Court of Public Opinion: Transgressive Maternity in America, 1768-1868”
Amy Breimaier, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, “’I learn my Books well’: Child Readers and the Economics of Cultural Change in New England, 1765-1815”
Jamie Brummitt, Duke University, “Protestant Relics: The Politics of Religion and the Art of Mourning in the Early American Republic”
*Emily Burns, Auburn University, “Innocence Abroad: The Cultural Politics and Paradox of American Artistic Innocence in Fin-de-Siècle France”
Ben Davidson, New York University, “Freedom’s Generation: Coming of Age in the Era of Emancipation”
Mary Draper, University of Virginia, “The Tropical Metropolis: Cities and Society in the Early Modern British Caribbean”
*John Garcia, University of Pennsylvania, “Specimen Pages: Critical Bibliography and Digital Analysis of 19th-Century Subscription Publishing in America”
*Louis Gerdelan, Harvard University, “Calamitous Knowledge: Understanding Disaster in the British, Spanish, and French Atlantic Worlds, 1666-1755”
Matthew Ghazarian, Columbia University, “Famine and the American Protestant Mission: Humanitarianism and Sectarianism in Turkey, 1858-1893”
*Kenyon Gradert, Washington University in St. Louis, “The Second Reformation: Protestant Inheritance in Antislavery New England”
Nalleli Guillen, University of Delaware, “Round the World Every Evening: Panoramic Spectacles, Entertainment Culture, and a Growing Imperial Consciousness in Nineteenth-Century America”
Jane Hooper, George Mason University, “’Let the Girls Come Aboard’: Intimate Contact between America and Madagascar”
Rachel Knecht, Brown University, “Inventing the Mathematical Economy in Nineteenth-Century America”
*Jonathan Lande, Brown University, “Disciplining Freedom: Union Army Slave Rebels and Emancipation in the Civil War Courts-Martial”
*Rachel Miller, University of Michigan, “Capital Entertainment: Creative Labor and the Modern Stage, 1860-1930”
Alexandra Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania, “Projecting Power in the Dawnland: Colonization Schemes, Imperial Failure, and Competing Visions of the Gulf of Maine World, 1710-1800”
Carrie Streeter, University of California, San Diego, “Before Yoga: Self-Expression and Health in the Age of Nervousness”
Andrew Wasserman, Louisiana Tech University, “Bang! We’re All Dead: The Places of Nuclear Fear in 1980s America”
| Published: Friday, 29 April, 2016, 12:00 AM
Counting Down to the Quasquibicentennial
By Susan Martin, Collections Services
In eleven days, the Massachusetts Historical Society will be celebrating its quasquibicentennial, or, if you prefer, its bicenquasquigenary. In other words, on January 24, the MHS will turn 225 years old! We don’t think it looks a day over 200.
The MHS was founded on 24 January 1791, when Rev. Jeremy Belknap and a group of like-minded men met in Boston to form a society that would “collect, preserve and communicate, materials for a complete history of this country.” It was the first historical society in America, so its founders called it simply “The Historical Society.” (The New York Historical Society came along in 1804, then the American Antiquarian Society in 1812.) The MHS lived at six different locations before moving in 1899 to its current building at 1154 Boylston Street, Boston.
Staff members at the MHS have been working on a web project to commemorate our 225-year history: a gallery highlighting 225 items from our collections, including manuscripts, artwork, artifacts, and printed material representing four centuries of American history. Helping out with this project, I’ve had the chance to see a broad cross-section of material, learn the stories behind individual items, and better understand their significance.
Of course, the MHS is well-known for its iconic collection of Adams family papers, which include the letters and other papers of John, Abigail, John Quincy, and many generations of family members. We’ll be featuring some of these papers in our 225th anniversary gallery, from an early love letter by John to correspondence about Abigail’s death. John Adams’ notes on the Boston Massacre trials and his son’s reflections on the Amistad case document fascinating milestones in this illustrious family’s story.
The MHS also holds the second largest collection of Thomas Jefferson papers after the Library of Congress. Not only will our project feature Jefferson’s original manuscript draft of the Declaration of Independence, but also John Adams’ manuscript copy, the first printing, and the first printing that included signers’ names.
Many of the items in our collections are, in fact, the only known surviving copies of printed works. These include Samuel Sewall’s seminal anti-slavery pamphlet The Selling of Joseph, Benjamin Franklin’s first published work, and an early engraving of Harvard discovered by accident in the MHS collections 85 years after its acquisition!
Other ground-breaking printed works you’ll find here are the first books of poetry by Anne Bradstreet (1650) and Phillis Wheatley (1773), as well as the first Bible (1663) published in North America, a translation into the Massachuset Native American language.
The MHS holdings also include some remarkable Civil War-era material, so these papers figure prominently in our gallery. Particularly heartbreaking is a letter from Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight to his mother, written as he lay dying on the battlefield of Antietam. And this broadside recruiting African American soldiers for Massachusetts’ famous 54th Regiment becomes more poignant when you learn how the U.S. government failed to make good on its promises to the men who answered its call.
As for papers related to slavery and abolition, we highlight an eight-page letter from Abraham Lincoln to his friend Joshua Fry Speed detailing Lincoln’s feelings about slavery and the Union, and one Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote on the day she finished her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I also really like our 1892 photograph of the African Meeting House, the site of many anti-slavery meetings.
Speaking of striking images, here are a few more in MHS collections that you may not know about: a watercolor painting of the Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp, John Noble’s illustrated letter to his children depicting scenes from the South Pacific, and the only known portrait of legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone painted from life.
We hope you’ll enjoy our 225th anniversary celebration and visit us either in person or on-line. Keep an eye on our website, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter, as we count down to this momentous occasion.
| Published: Wednesday, 13 January, 2016, 4:18 PM
MHS Staff Meet with Librarians from Uzbekistan
By Nancy Heywood, Collection Services
Although there are many miles between Boston, Massachusetts and Tashkent, Uzbekistan (6,148 miles according to Google) and although the English language is quite different from the Uzbek language, librarians from the National Library of Uzbekistan and staff of the Massachusetts Historical Society found much common ground and camaraderie during a recent meeting at MHS.
The scheduling logistics for the group - comprised of the Director, Deputy Director, Head, Reading Halls Lead Specialist, and Head of IT and Access to Foreign Library Collections - were handled by WorldBoston. The focus of the meeting and tour, which took place on 5 June, was on how the MHS makes special collections materials available to researchers both remotely and on-site. During the visit, with the aid of two highly skilled interpreters, we were able to convey information about cataloging, archival storage, and collections management issues.
Following Librarian Elaine Heavey's brief introduction to the MHS's history and collections, Digital Projects Coordinator Nancy Heywood and Web Developer Bill Beck showed some examples of how we make selections of our collections available online. The MHS website features a few different types of digital presentations—some sections of the website present sets of materials comprised of relatively small numbers of items with lots of contextual information and transcriptions, but other sections of the website present large sets of documents and/or fully digitized collection with minimal descriptive information and usually without transcriptions.
Elaine Heavey then conveyed information about how researchers use online catalogs and collection guides to prepare for their research visit and she demonstrated Portal1791, our new researcher request system. The group toured the building and saw the spaces that researchers use (orientation room, reading room, catalog room) as well as some staff areas including the conservation lab and one of the larger stack floors. They also saw a few highlights from the collections.
| Published: Thursday, 9 July, 2015, 1:00 AM
Library Hours Changing
By Elaine Heavey, Reader Services
I write with sadness that as of 1 September 2014 the MHS library is reducing its hours, eliminating the extended hours on Tuesday evenings. The new library hours will be:
Monday through Friday – 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM
Saturday – 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Unfortunately the reduction in hours was necessary. Once this became evident, many staff members looked at library use patterns to determine where cuts could best be made. Over the years, especially since reinstating Saturday hours in the spring of 2008, evening use had steadily declined. That is not to say that we do not appreciate that this change will impact researchers – especially those visiting from great distances and those that enjoyed using the library until minutes before attending a Tuesday evening seminar. But it does mean that based on current use patterns, it is hoped that eliminating the evening hours would have the least impact on our researchers. In other words, the lesser of two evils.
This morning, as I checked the MHS website, the outgoing phone messages, and library handouts to ensure that our hours had been updated in all the necessary places, I began to think about how an era was ending. When I first started at the MHS in 2006 evening hours were a well-established part of the library schedule. I knew we had switched the hours from Thursdays to Tuesdays a few years back (with almost no change in use statistics with that move), but as I began to wax nostalgic, I got to wondering just how long the MHS library had been offering evening hours to researchers.
I went to the reference shelf and grabbed a box containing back issues of Miscellany, the MHS newsletter, and began browsing for notices of library hours. The first issue in the box I selected was dated 1990. I discovered that at that time the MHS was open Monday through Friday 9:00 AM to 4:45 PM. Those hours did not change until June 1997 when Saturday hours (9:00 AM to 1:00 PM) were added. I was surprised to learn that it was not until September 2001 that the Thursday evening hours (through 8:00 PM) were added. And they were added as the Saturday hours were eliminated, hoping that the evenings would see greater readership.
So as we say adieu to our evening hours, and offer researchers three less hours per week to explore our collections, I am happy to say that we are still offering Saturday hours, which on its second go-round was amazingly successful,** and that the MHS library continues to offer more operating hours than it did throughout most of the 20th century.
**Perhaps being open until 4:00 PM allows weekend researchers to sleep in a bit on their Saturday morning and still feel they can have a worthwhile research day.
| Published: Friday, 29 August, 2014, 8:00 AM