Exhibitions & Ongoing Events

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March 2012

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  • Member EventThe Architecture of Edmund March Wheelwright and the Building of th...
    Member EventThe Architecture of Edmund March Wheelwright and the Building of the Harvard Lampoon Castle
    5:30 PM - 8:30 PM NOTICE: THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT

    This event is sold out.

    MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a panel discussion about Edmund March Wheelwright, the architect of the Society's landmark building and the Harvard Lampoon Castle.

    free eventregistration required at no cost details
  • Public Program, Special EventClover Adams: Gallery Talk
    Public Program, Special EventClover Adams: Gallery Talk
    2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Natalie Dykstra, Guest Curator, Massachusetts Historical Society this event is free details
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      • Brown BagPolitical Appetites: Revolution, Taste, and Culinary Activism in th...
        Brown BagPolitical Appetites: Revolution, Taste, and Culinary Activism in the Early Republic
        12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Nancy Siegel, Towson University

        This program examines the development of culinary activism in America to include tea boycotts in the 1760s and the use of homebrews such as Liberty Tea; the development and naming of nationalist recipes in praise of the new and fragile nation such as Independence Cake; and the serving of patriotic cakes and teas on imported and domestically produced ceramics.

        this event is free details
      • Conversation, Public ProgramReclaiming the Commons: A Conversation with Brian Donahue
        Conversation, Public ProgramReclaiming the Commons: A Conversation with Brian Donahue
        6:00 PM - 7:30 PM Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Brian Donohue, Brandeis University Moderated by Steve Marini, Wellesley College

        Part of the Considering the Common Good: What We Give Up/What We Gain Conversation Series.

        free eventregistration required at no cost details
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                      • Special Event, Public ProgramThe 1912 Bread and Roses Strike
                        Special Event, Public ProgramThe 1912 Bread and Roses Strike
                        6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts-Lowell and James Green, University of Massachusetts-Boston

                        Join us for a panel discussion commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

                        free eventregistration required at no cost details
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                              • ExhibitionThe First Seasons of the Federal Street Theatre, 1794-1798
                                begins ExhibitionThe First Seasons of the Federal Street Theatre, 1794-1798
                                28 March 2012 to 30 July 2012 Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                Boston Theatre, Federal Street, Engraving by A. Bowen, 1825In 1794, the first public theater in Boston opened on Federal Street despite strong legal and public opposition. The First Seasons of the Federal Street Theatre, 1794-1798 documents the battle over the Federal Street Theatre through playbills from early performances as well as the letters and publications of supporters and opponents of public theater in Boston.

                                this event is free details
                                this event is free Exhibition

                                Like a Wolf for the Prey: The Massachusetts Historical Society Collection Begins

                                1 September 2011 to 17 March 2012
                                Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                In 1790, the Rev. Jeremy Belknap proposed a "Plan for an Antiquarian Society" that would actively collect materials for a "complete history" of the new nation. A year later, Belknap's plan became the "Historical Society"--now the Massachusetts Historical Society--the oldest historical organization in the Western Hemisphere. The ten original members donated books, pamphlets, newspapers, maps and atlases, almanacs, printed sermons, manuscripts, and examples of early Massachusetts coinage from their personal collections. From September 2011 through March 2012, view a selection of the Society's earliest acquisitions in the new Treasures Gallery. The exhibition is free and open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

                                The MHS exhibition complements "Making History: Antiquaries in Britain," an exhibition celebrating the tercentenary of the Society of Antiquaries of London, now on display at the McMullen Museum at Boston College until December 11, 2011.

                                this event is free Exhibition

                                A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover Adams, 1883-1885

                                9 February 2012 to 2 June 2012
                                Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life: The Photographs of Clover AdamsThe striking photographs of Clover Adams, wife of historian and writer Henry Adams, capture iconic moments of Gilded Age Boston and Washington, D.C., while also opening pathways to her long-concealed inner life. Her photographs tell a story—her story. This exhibition features many of Clover's images, some of which have not been shown publicly, along with her letters, the notebook she used to record the technical aspects of her photographs, Henry's letters, and other family materials.

                                At the heart of Clover’s story is a mystery: just when she found a powerful way through photography to document her life, it started to unravel. On a gloomy Sunday morning in December 1885, Clover committed suicide by drinking from a vial of potassium cyanide, a chemical used to develop photographs. Henry Adams commissioned a bronze statue by Augustus Saint-Gaudens to mark his wife’s grave in Washington’s Rock Creek Cemetery. But he rarely spoke of her and never mentioned her in his Pulitzer prize-winning The Education of Henry Adams.

                                What got lost—until now—was the remarkable story of how Clover, in the last years of her life, discovered with her camera an eloquent means with which to express herself.

                                1 March 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Member Event

                                The Architecture of Edmund March Wheelwright and the Building of the Harvard Lampoon Castle

                                5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
                                NOTICE: THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT

                                This event is sold out. If you wish to add your name to the waiting list please call 617-646-0560.

                                MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a panel discussion featuring MHS Fellows Henry N. Cobb and Edward L. Widmer along with Michael K. Frith, William S. Donnell, and Samuel W. Van Dam about Edmund March Wheelwright, the architect of the Society's landmark building and the Harvard Lampoon Castle. The panel will be moderated by Kurt Andersen with additional commentary by John Tittmann, architect for the Castle restoration project.

                                5:30 to 7:00 PM Symposium
                                Cocktail reception will follow

                                2 March 2012 this event is free Public Program, Special Event

                                Clover Adams: Gallery Talk

                                2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
                                Natalie Dykstra, Guest Curator, Massachusetts Historical Society

                                "Who was Clover Adams?"

                                A gallery talk with guest curator Natalie Dykstra, author of the new biography Clover Adams: A Gilded and Heartbreaking Life. Natalie Dykstra received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship for her work on Clover Adams. She is a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and an associate professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

                                3 March 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                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 abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                6 March 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Early American History Seminar

                                Ancestry as Social Practice in Eighteenth-Century New England: The Origins of Early Republic Genealogical Vogue

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                Karin Wulf, College of William and Mary Comment: Laurel Ulrich, Harvard University

                                This paper derives from Wulf's book project on the practice and significance of Anglo-American genealogy from 1680 to 1820. In this chapter she looks at the extensive genealogical work of eighteenth-century New Englanders and positions those labors both as a social practice drawing on and developing communities of knowledge and as a middle chapter in the Anglo-American reckoning with the relationship of family to history. The keenness for genealogy that eighteenth-century New Englanders exhibited reflected a broader Anglo-American interest in lineage as a way of understanding and ordering the world.  

                                Wulf is particularly interested in the ways that genealogical interest and local history in New England entwined early and regularly, not emerging in the nineteenth century as parallel interests, but as fruits of the same slow growing tree. She uncovers the eighteenth-century source materials that informed early nineteenth century work and explores the contexts for their production--what prompted them, how they insinuated into family memory practices, and how they interacted with public recordation within churches and in towns.

                                7 March 2012 this event is free Brown Bag

                                Political Appetites: Revolution, Taste, and Culinary Activism in the Early Republic

                                12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
                                Nancy Siegel, Towson University

                                In the eighteenth century, the American colonies were variously referred to as a crumbling cake or even a kettle of fish. As the language of food was easily understood, the use of such similes linking food to politics became increasingly popular, revealing the discourse between culinary history and American political thought. This program examines the development of culinary activism in America to include tea boycotts in the 1760s and the use of homebrews such as Liberty Tea; the development and naming of nationalist recipes in praise of the new and fragile nation such as Independence Cake, Federal Pan Cakes, and Election Cake in American cookery books after the Revolution; and the serving of patriotic cakes and teas on imported and domestically produced ceramics. The pots, plates, and platters that held tea and morsels became a meaningful complement: visual partners adorned with patriotic and nationalistic imagery such as American eagles, political figures, or popular American scenery. Seeing this ensemble of artifacts as culinary activism, one finds that through cookery, broad segments of American society could demonstrate their approval of the democratic process, and the very act of dining often conveyed opinions about the American political system. 

                                7 March 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Conversation, Public Program

                                Reclaiming the Commons: A Conversation with Brian Donahue

                                6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
                                Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Brian Donohue, Brandeis University Moderated by Steve Marini, Wellesley College

                                Professor Brian Donahue teaches courses on environmental issues, environmental history, sustainable farming and forestry, and early American culture at Brandeis University. His primary research interests include the history and the prospects of human engagement with the land, especially in New England. He is the author of The Great Meadow and Reclaiming the Commons: Community and Forests in a New England Town.

                                Considering the Common Good: What We Give Up/What We Gain

                                In this conversation series, facilitated by Professor Stephen Marini of Wellesley College, guests will address issues of self-interest and shared sacrifice, private concerns and community benefits, and the intersection of individual and collective goals. Using historical and contemporary examples, each guest will illustrate approaches, promises, successes and failures. In the ensuing conversations, guests and audience members will explore the challenges and choices involved in defining and balancing individual freedom and the common good.

                                Reservations requested: Please call 617-646-0560 or click the ticket icon above to register online.

                                13 March 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Immigration and Urban History Seminar

                                Policing Migrants and Militants: In Defense of Nation and Empire in the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                Kornel S. Chang, Rutgers University, Newark Comment: Naoko Shibusawa, Brown University

                                The problem of policing the U.S.-Canadian boundary, initiated under Chinese exclusion in 1882, evolved into a multi-faceted, multi-racial challenge by the early twentieth century. The threats posed by Chinese and Japanese migrants and smugglers and white and South Asian radicals brought the United States, Canada, and Britain together in defense of national and imperial borders in the North American West. Collectively, these self-proclaimed white men's countries developed a transnational surveillance network to police illegal migrants, monitor and track revolutionary nationalists, and suppress labor militancy and revolt across the U.S.-Canadian boundary and across the Pacific. This presentation looks at the formation of the northern border, showing how it was a product of intercolonial cooperation and exchange in which Anglophone empires supported each other's prerogative to imperial rule in Asia and the Pacific. In doing so, it argues that Asiatic exclusion was as much about defending and preserving the empire as it was about keeping out undesirable and inassimilable foreigners.

                                14 March 2012 this event is free Public Program, Author Talk

                                POSTPONED: Where We Worked: A Celebration of America's Workers and the Nation They Built

                                6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
                                Jack Larkin

                                Please visit the calendar entry for May 23, 2012, for more information about this event.

                                16 March 2012 Notice

                                BUILDING OPEN; LIBRARY & EXHIBITIONS OPEN

                                all day

                                Power has been restored at the MHS and the research library and exhibition halls will reopen to the public.  All staff should report to work as scheduled.

                                16 March 2012 this event is free Brown Bag, Author Talk, Public Program

                                The Rhode Island Campaign: The First French and American Operation of the Revolutionary War

                                12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
                                Christian McBurney

                                Christian McBurney will discuss his new book, the most detailed study of the joint French and American effort to capture the British garrison occupying Newport, Rhode Island, during July and August of 1778. One of the most complex and multi-faceted events of the Revolutionary War, the campaign combined land and sea strategies and featured controversial decisions on both sides. McBurney's lecture will highlight the significant involvement of Boston and Massachusetts in the campaign, including the French Fleet’s arrival in Boston, which led to a riot and then to a memorial that is now part of the Freedom Trail. He will also highlight his research findings from the Society’s archives.

                                Christian M. McBurney, a graduate of Brown University, is a partner in a Washington, DC, law firm. He is the author of several books and articles on early Rhode Island history, including A History of Kingston, Rhode Island, 1700–1900 and British Treatment of Prisoners During the Occupation of Newport, 1776–1779.

                                17 March 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                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 abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                20 March 2012 free eventregistration required at no cost Special Event, Public Program

                                The 1912 Bread and Roses Strike

                                6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
                                Pre-Talk Reception at 5:30 P.M. Robert Forrant, University of Massachusetts-Lowell and James Green, University of Massachusetts-Boston

                                In January 1912, textile workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, launched an explosive eight-week strike that popularized the slogan "Bread and Roses." The strikers' victory led to improved working conditions and higher wages for more than 150,000 semi-skilled workers in the New England textile industry. Join Robert Forrant, Professor of Economic and Social Development at UMass Lowell, and a panel of labor historians as they discuss the consequences of the strike in the city of Lawrence and on the strike's participants, many of whom were immigrants, and more than half of whom were women. Panelists will also debate the strike's enduring legacy and how contemporary labor practices and policies reflect the victories won almost one hundred years ago.

                                Reservations requested: please call 617-646-0560 or click on the ticket icon above to register online. 

                                22 March 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Biography Seminar

                                Formidable Families: Writing about Famous Brothers and Sisters

                                5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
                                George Howe Colt, Paul Fisher, and Louise W. Knight Megan Marshall, Moderator

                                This session, featuring George Howe Colt, Paul Fisher, and Louise W. Knight and moderated by Megan Marshall, will explore the process of developing collective biographies, in particular, research and writing about siblings.  

                                Panelists:  George Howe Colt is the author of The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home, a finalist for the National Book Award in 2003, and November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide. He is writing a book about brothers.  

                                Paul Fisher is a biographer of Henry, William, and Alice James in House of Wits: An Intimate Portrait of the James Family. He is an Assistant Professor of American Studies at Wellesley College, where he teaches 19th century American literature and culture.  

                                Louise W. Knight is the author of Jane Addams: Spirit in Action and Citizen: Jane Addams and the Struggle for Democracy.  A Visiting Scholar in the Gender Studies Program, Northwestern University, she is writing a biography of Sarah and Angelina Grimke.  

                                Moderator: Megan Marshall's The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism won the Francis Parkman Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Writing, Literature and Publishing at Emerson College.

                                24 March 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                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 abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.

                                27 March 2012 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
                                Subscribe to received advance copies of the seminar papers.
                                Environmental History Seminar

                                CANCELLED The Sea Serpent and the Mackerel Jig: Environment and Culture in Coastal New England Fisheries, 1815-1859

                                5:15 PM - 7:15 PM
                                Jeff Bolster, University of New Hampshire Comment: Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University

                                We regret to announce that this program has been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.

                                this event is free Exhibition

                                The First Seasons of the Federal Street Theatre, 1794-1798

                                28 March 2012 to 30 July 2012
                                Monday through Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM

                                Boston Theatre, Federal Street, Engraving by A. Bowen, 1825In 1794, the first public theater in Boston opened on Federal Street despite strong legal and public opposition. The First Seasons of the Federal Street Theatre, 1794-1798 documents the battle over the Federal Street Theatre through playbills from early performances as well as the letters and publications of supporters and opponents of public theater in Boston. The MHS show is a satellite display of an exhibition titled Forgotten Chapters of Boston's Literary History on display at the Boston Public Library (BPL). Created by Professor Paul Lewis of the Boston College English Department and his students, the exhibition tells stories about Boston's literary history through letters, manuscripts, and early editions from the collections of the MHS, the BPL, the American Antiquarian Society, and Boston College. Divided into six “chapters,”  the exhibition follows the rise and fall of reputations, recovers out-of-print materials, and walks the streets of Boston in its literary heyday. The materials at the MHS will be on view 28 March through 30 July.

                                29 March 2012 Please RSVP   free eventregistration required at no cost Member Event

                                New Fellows & Members Reception & Tour

                                6:00 PM - 8:00 PM


                                All new MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a special reception and tour of the Society. This is a rare opportunity to go behind the scenes of the MHS to see how we collect and preserve the documents that define American history and make them accessible to the public.

                                6:00 PM Reception
                                6:30 PM Tour

                                Space is limited. RSVP online or by calling 617-646-0560.

                                31 March 2012 this event is free MHS Tour

                                The History and Collections of the MHS

                                10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

                                Join us for a tour of the Society's public rooms. Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the tour touches on the history and collections of the MHS and lasts approximately 90 minutes.

                                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 abentley@masshist.org.

                                Free and open to the public.


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