The Beehive: Official Blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society The official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society, covering MHS events and activities. en-us Fri, 01 May 2009 00:00:00 GMT Mon, 28 Jan 2019 06:00:00 GMT (Elaine Grublin) This Week @MHS <p>Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on:</p> <p><strong>- Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: </strong><em><a href="/calendar/event?event=2639">Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, </a></em>with Victoria Cain, Northeastern University, and comment by Heather Hendershot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Uncertainty about media technology's affective and political power plagued post-World War II efforts to expand media use in schools around the nation. Would foundations or federal agencies use screen media to strengthen participatory democracy and local control or to undermine it? Was screen media a neutral technology? This paper argues that educational technology foundered or flourished not solely on the merits of its pedagogical utility, but also as a result of changing ideas about the relationship between citizenship and pictorial screen media. This is part of the <a href="">Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture </a>series.<em> Seminars are free and open to the public.</em> </p> <p><strong>- Wednesday, 30 January, 12:00 PM: </strong><em><a href="/calendar/event?event=2769">Superannuated: Old Age & Slavery's Economy </a></em>with Nathaniel Windon, Pennsylvania State University. Plantation owners demarcated elderly enslaved laborers as "superannuated" in their logbooks. This talk examines some of the implications of locating the origin of old age on the antebellum American plantation.This is part of the <a href="">brown-bag lunch</a> program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.</p> <p><strong>- Thur<strong>sday, 31 January, </strong> 6:00 PM: </strong><span style="font-size: 14px;"><em><a href="/calendar/event?event=2762">The Great Molasses Flood Revisited: Misremembered Molasses</a></em>, with </span><span style="font-size: 14px;">Stephen Puleo; Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute of Technology; Gavin Kleespies, MHS; and moderator Rev. Stephen T. Ayres. </span><span style="font-size: 14px;">The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, when remembered, is often interpreted in a dismissive, comical manner. How does this case compare with other incidences of historical events that are interpreted or "curated" at the expense of accuracy and respect for human experience? How can we bring complexity back to events that have long been relegated to the realm of local folklore? Local scholars will discuss the question of misunderstood history by looking at the Great Molasses Flood, the fight for women's suffrage and Leif Erickson. This program is a collaboration between the MHS and Old South Meeting House and is made possible with funding from the Lowell Institute. </span><em style="font-size: 14px;">A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. This program will be held at Old South Meeting House.</em></p> <p><em><a href="">Fashioning the New England Family</a></em> is open Monday through Saturday, 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 <a href="">Mass Fashion</a>, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. </p> <p>Take a look at our <a href="">calendar</a> page for information about upcoming programs.</p> Mon, 28 Jan 2019 06:00:00 GMT @MHS Founder to Founder <p>Like so many good stories here at the <a href="/objects/2011september.php">Historical Society</a>, it began with a reference question. <a href="/about/history">Jeremy Belknap</a>, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President <a href="/2012/adams/john_adams">John Adams</a> for some help. Belknap, the Congregationalist pastor of Boston's Federal Street Church, had spent the past few years amassing manuscripts for several major research projects. By the summer of 1789, he was deep into writing the second volume of his <a href=""><em>History of New Hampshire</em></a>, a sprawling trilogy that he built, slowly, with meticulous footnotes. The clergyman, who honed his narrative skill as a Revolutionary War chaplain and biographer, felt thwarted by a lack of access to key documents.</p> <p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/founder_1.jpg" alt="" width="336" height="404" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>John Adams, 1735-1826.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/founder_2.jpg" alt="" width="336" height="437" /><br /></em></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Jeremy Belknap, 1744-1798.</em></p> <p> </p> <p>After poring over George Chalmers' <a href=""><em>Political Annals</em><em> of the Present United Colonies from their Settlement to the Peace in 1763</em></a> (London, 1763), Belknap wrote to Vice President John Adams to see if he knew more about the Scottish antiquarian's research methods. Mainly, Belknap wanted to see how Chalmers pieced together his saga of America as a "desert planted by English subjects" and made fruitful by the flourishing of English liberties. On 18 July, Belknap wrote: "When I observe his having had access to the papers in the plantation Office, I feel a regret that an Ocean seperates me from such a grand repository. how necessary to form a just judgment of the secret springs of many American transactions!" Jeremy Belknap's query - and Adams' detailed reply - form one of the most significant exchanges that we will feature in Volume 20 of <a href="/2012/adams_editorial">The Adams Papers's </a><em>The Papers of John Adams </em>(Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020).</p> <p>Though the nation was new, Americans like Belknap hungered to capture their history in print. While British scholars flocked to the <a href="">Society of Antiquaries of London</a> and dug through government office records, early American scholars lacked similar institutions and resources to conduct historical research. Across Massachusetts, precious family manuscripts and rare artifacts piled up in private homes and flammable steeples. When Belknap looked around Boston in 1789, he lamented how fire and plunder had ravaged materials held in the city's courthouse (1747), the Harvard College Library (1764), Lt. Gov. Thomas Hutchinson's home (1765), the Court of Common Pleas (1776), and Thomas Prince's cache at the Old South Church (1776). Belknap began sketching out <a href="/database/viewer.php?item_id=65&pid=3">what became the Massachusetts Historical Society</a>: a scholarly membership organization (of no more than seven!) that collected materials and published research. He found a fellow visionary in John Pintard, who led efforts to found <a href="">the New-York Historical Society</a>.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/founder_3.jpg" alt="" width="306" height="448" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/founder_4.jpg" alt="" width="301" height="448" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Jeremy Belknap to John Adams, 18 July 1789, Adams Family Papers</em><strong>.</strong></p> <p> </p> <p>Adams and Belknap had traded letters before, and they would continue to do so until the pastor's death in 1798. This one touches directly on his plans to create the Society. Founder to founder, Belknap put the problem plainly:</p> <blockquote> <p>The want of public repositories for historical materials as well as the destruction of many valuable ones by fires, by war & by the lapse of time has long been a subject of regret in my mind. Many papers which are daily thrown away may in future be much wanted, but except here & there a person who has a curiosity of his own to gratify no one cares to undertake the Collection & of this class of Collectors there are scarcely any who take Care for securing what they have got together after they have quitted the Stage. The only sure way of preserving such things is by printing them in some voluminous work as the Remembrancer--;but the attempt to carry on such a work would probably not meet with encouragement--;</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/founder_5.jpg" alt="" width="448" height="179" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><strong></strong><em>John Adams to Jeremy Belknap, <em>24 July 1789</em>, Belknap Papers</em>.</p> <p> </p> <p>In Adams, Belknap found a high-profile ally. A longtime supporter of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the statesman had championed the new nation's intellectuals abroad. He approved wholly of Belknap's instinct. Despite his duties presiding over the Senate in the first session of the federal Congress, John Adams prioritized Belknap's query, firing off a reply on 24 July. He shared a few thoughts on Chalmers' work and filled in details of Revolutionary War history. Then John Adams lingered happily on Belknap's dream of a historical society. He had a very personal stake in how the national story was told, after all, and he was eager to impart advice. Adams wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>Private Letters however, are often wanted as Commentaries on publick ones.--; and many I fear will be lost, which would be necessary to shew the Secret Springs some of these ought not to be public, but they ought not to be lost.--; My Experience, has very much diminished my Faith in the Veracity of History.--; it has convinced me, that many of the most important facts are concealed.--; some of the most important Characters, but imperfectly known--;many false facts imposed on Historians and the World--;and many empty Characters displayed in great Pomp.--; All this I am Sure will happen in our American History.</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Encouragement from John Adams and others led Belknap to dedicate the following months to drafting a concrete plan for the organization's future. On <a href="">24 January 1791</a>, Belknap invited nine colleagues to join him in creating the Massachusetts Historical Society, following up with a detailed <a href="/database/viewer.php?item_id=65&pid=3">circular letter</a> ten months later. John Adams and his family, all ardent advocates of Belknap's mission to preserve history, have <a href="">supported the Society</a> ever since, in word and deed.</p> Thu, 24 Jan 2019 05:00:00 GMT Sara Georgini, The Adams Papers "Great sights upon the water...": unexplained phenomena in early Boston <blockquote> <p>I hear you haue great sights upon the water seene betweene the Castle and the Towne: men walking on the water in the night euer since the shippe was blowen vp or fire in the shape of men. There are verie few do beleeue it yet here is a greate report of it, brought from thence the last day of the weeke.*</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/winthrop_1_.jpg" alt="" width="336" height="444" /></p> <p> </p> <p>The above excerpt is from the letter shown, dated 29 January 1643/4, written from John Endecott in Salem to Governor John Winthrop in Boston. In the weeks preceding this letter, a series of strange occurrences took place in Boston, and Winthrop recorded the events in his journal. It seems that the entries were written after the fact since Winthrop relates a couple of happenings in the same entry. The first event, though, was said to have taken place on January 18th of that year.</p> <blockquote> <p>About midnight, three men, coming in a boat to Boston, saw two lights arise out of the water near the north point of the town cove, in form like a man, and went at a small distance to the town, and so to the south point, and there vanished away. They saw them about a quarter of an hour, being between the town and governour's garden. The like was seen by many, a week after, arising about Castle Island and in one fifth of an hour came to John Gallop's point.</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Winthrop continues his entry recording matters pertaining to maintenance of Castle Island and defense of the town of Boston. But after just a paragraph, he returns to the topic of strange sights in the sky.</p> <blockquote> <p>The 18<sup>th</sup> of this month two lights were seen near Boston, (as is before mentioned,) and a week after the like was seen again. A light like the moon arose about the N.E. point in Boston, and met the former at Nottles Island, and there they closed in one, and the parted, and closed and parted divers times, and so went over the hill in the island and vanished. Sometimes they shot out flames and sometimes sparkles. This was about eight of the clock in the evening, and was seen by many. About the same time a voice was heard upon the water between Boston and Dorchester, calling out in a most dreadful manner, boy, boy, come away, come away: and it suddenly shifted from one place to another a great distance, about twenty times. It was heard by divers godly persons. About 14 days after, the same voice in the same dreadful manner was heard by others on the other side of the town towards Nottles Island.</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Writing after the facts, Winthrop made very little attempt at providing explanations for these occurrences. In the immediate journal entries there was only one bit that gave anything in the way of reasoning for what people saw:</p> <blockquote> <p>These prodigies having some reference to the place where Captain Chaddock's pinnace was blown up a little before, gave occasion of speech of that man who was the cause of it, who professed himself to have skill in necromancy, and to hav done some strange things in his way from Virginia hither, and was suspected to have murdered his master there; but the magistrates here had no notice of him till after he was blown up. This is to be observed that his fellows were all found, and others who were blown up in the former ship were also found, and others also who have miscarried by drowning, etc., have usually been found, but this man was never found.</p> </blockquote> <p> </p> <p>Interested in finding out more? Consider visiting the MHS <a href="">Library </a>to work with the sources cited, or see the suggestions below for further reading. </p> <p> </p> <p>*The transcriptions of the documents in this post appear as they do in the published volumes cited below, typically with original spelling and punctuation intact.</p> <p> </p> <hr /> <p> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Sources</span></p> <p><a href="">Endicott family papers</a>, Massachusetts Historical Society.</p> <p>Winthrop, John, <em><a href="">The journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649</a>, </em>Cambridge, Mass.: the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1996.</p> <p><em><a href="">Winthrop papers</a></em>, vol. IV, Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1944.</p> <p> </p> <p><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Further Reading</span></p> <p><a href="">Hall, David D., "A World of Wonders: The Mentality of the Supernatural in Seventeenth-Century New England," <em>Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts</em>, Vol. 63 (1984), pp.239-274</a>.</p> <p><a href="">McKeown, Adam N., "Light Apparitions and the Shaping of Community in Winthrop's 'History of New England'," <em>Early American Literature</em>, Vol. 47, No. 2, BETWEEN LITERATURE AND HISTORY (2012), pp.293-319</a>.</p> <p> </p> Wed, 23 Jan 2019 13:00:00 GMT Daniel Tobias Hinchen, Reader Services This Week @MHS <p>Please note that the Society is <strong>CLOSED</strong> on <strong>Monday, 21 Janaury</strong>. Normal hours resume on Tuesday. Here are the programs on the schedule for coming week:</p> <p><strong>- Tuesday, 22 January, 5:30 PM: </strong><em><a href="/calendar/event?event=2656">How to Be an American Housewife: American Red Cross "Bride Schools" in Japan in the Cold War Era</a></em> with Sonia Gomez, University of Chicago, and comment by Arissa Oh, Boston College. In 1951, the American Red Cross in Japan began offering "schools for brides," to prepare Japanese women married to American servicemen for successful entry into the United States. This paper argues that bride schools measured Japanese women's ability to be good wives and mothers because their immigration to the US depended on their labor within the home as well as their reproductive value in the family. This is part of the <a href="">Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality</a> series.<em> Seminars are free and open to the public. </em></p> <p><em></em><strong>- Thursday, 24 January, 5:30 PM:</strong><em> <a href="/calendar/event?event=2777">Writing Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom</a></em> with David Blight, Yale University, and host Carol Bundy, author of <em>The Nature of Sacrifice. </em>Join us for a conversation with David Blight about the challenges of writing his biography of Frederick Douglass, the fugitive slave who became America's greatest orator of the 19th century. Blight, a prolific author and winner of the Bancroft Prize among other awards, has spent a career preparing himself for this biography, which has been praised as "a stunning achievement," "brilliant and compassionate," and "incandescent." Carol Bundy, author of <em>The Nature of Sacrifice</em>, will host. This is part of the <a href="">New England Biography Seminar </a>series. <em>Seminars are free and open to the public.</em></p> <p><em><a href="">Fashioning the New England Family</a></em> is open Monday through Saturday, 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 <a href="">Mass Fashion</a>, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. </p> <p>Take a look at our <a href="">calendar</a> page for information about upcoming programs.</p> Mon, 21 Jan 2019 06:00:00 GMT @MHS Images of the 1925 bombing of Damascus <p>These images are part of a series of 24 photographs of the October 1925 bombing of Damascus found at the MHS in the papers of Sheldon Leavitt Crosby,* a professional American diplomat in the interwar period. He was <em>charg d'affaires </em>at the U.S. embassy in Istanbul from 1924-1930 and Acting American High Commissioner in Turkey in 1925. It is very possible that he acquired this series of astonishing photos from Damascus while acting in this capacity.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7305_building_work_lg.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="436" /><br /><a href="/database/4218">Damaged building in Damascus</a><br />Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7306_smoke_work_lg.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="434" /><br /><a href="/database/4219">Smoke rises over Damascus</a><br />Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <p>Historians have recently begun to discuss the "greater war," positing that the period of the First World War extended beyond 1914-1918. Indeed, after the Ottoman armistice, conflict and occupation continued in the Ottoman provinces well into the 1920s. In Damascus, the famous Emir Faisal (in fact, a general military governor appointed by the British) could not stop local notables and his own soldiers from proclaiming an independent kingdom with Faisal as king in March 1920. This desperate move was a pre-emptive strike against the implementation of the League of Nations mandates handed down at the San Remo conference in April of 1920, which gave France the mandate over Syria. It also came just a few weeks after the still-existing Ottoman assembly proclaimed their National Pact in Istanbul. Despite negotiations, the French government decided to put an end to the Syrian kingdom, and French soldiers occupied Damascus and other inland cities in July of 1920. Faisal was expelled from Syria and departed for the United Kingdom. But the Syrians stayed. From 1920 on, small groups engaged in guerilla actions and rebellions throughout the region.</p> <p>In the summer of 1925, the series of events known as "The Great Revolt" in English scholarship and "The Great Syrian Revolution" in Arabic took place. In July, the mountain Druze population revolted against the French troops. Next, Damascus and Hama rose up against the French. There was also internal pillage and cross-ethnic-religious violence. On 18 October, the French army deployed tanks and airplanes around Damascus in retaliation. From six in the evening until noon the next day the French intermittently shelled the city. They did not warn the civilian population. The exact number of casualties is still debated but several hundreds died, including women and children. Although resistance continued in Ghouta (interestingly, also the last rebel-held location around Damascus in 2018) and the north, the massacre caused the recall of the French general in charge and a new Civil High Commissioner arrived to finally create a civil government.</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="vertical-align: middle; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7304_street_work_lg.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="430" /><a href="/database/4217">Street scene in Damascus</a><br />Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7307_rubble_work_lg.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="434" /><br /><a href="/database/4220">Rubble in Damascus street</a><br />Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <p>The photographs collected by Sheldon Crosby depict the destruction and casualties in Damascus and were taken by Luigi Stironi, an Italian in residence in Damascus active between 1921 and 1933. Some of these photos are clearly intended to evoke horror in the viewer and many were published in European newspapers and distributed as private propaganda. The American businessman Charles Richard Crane describes in his diary how a friend showed him very similar (if not the very same) images in Jerusalem in 1926. According to Daniel Neep's <em style="font-size: 14px;">Occupying Syria under the French Mandate</em>, Stironi claimed in 1926 that his images were bought by an American diplomat. Although many of these photographs are well-known, it is rare to find such a comprehensive set among private papers. Is it possible that Crosby was the American diplomat to whom Stironi referred? </p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7276_pharmacy_work_lg.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="435" /><br /><a href="/database/4200">Soldiers in front of the Pharmacy building<br /></a>Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="/imhs/cms/assets/cms1/7277_soldiers_frenchbanksyria.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="431" /><br /><a href="/database/4199">Soldiers in front of the French Bank of Syria<br /></a>Photograph by Luigi Stironi, circa 1925</p> <hr /> <p>Selected literature:</p> <p>Gelvin, James L. <em>Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire</em>. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.</p> <p>Khoury, Philip S. <em>Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 1920-1945</em>. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1987.</p> <p>Neep, Daniel. <em>Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space and State Formation</em>. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.</p> <p>Provence, Michael. <em>The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East</em>. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.</p> <p><em>The Routledge Handbook of the History of the Middle East Mandates</em>. London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2015.</p> <p> </p> <p>MHS catalog records:</p> <p>*<span style="font-size: 14px;">The photographs were removed from the Sheldon Leavitt Crosby papers, and are now shelved and cataloged as the Sheldon Leavitt Crosby photographs.</span></p> <p><a href="">Sheldon Leavitt Crosby photographs</a></p> <p><a href="">Sheldon Leavitt Crosby papers</a></p> Fri, 18 Jan 2019 06:00:00 GMT Adam Mestyan, Duke University and 2018-2019 MHS Andrew W. Mellon Fellow