Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial
Opens 21 February
Following a successful run at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., Tell It with Pride: The 54th Massachusetts Regiment and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' Shaw Memorial will open at the MHS on 21 February and be on display through 23 May. The exhibition celebrates Augustus Saint-Gaudens's magisterial Shaw Memorial (1883–1900). The monument commemorates the 18 July 1863 storming of Fort Wagner. The Civil War battle was waged by Col. Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first African American military units raised in the North. Although the 54th was defeated at Fort Wagner and almost a third of the regiment was killed or wounded, the battle was seen as a turning point in the war: it proved that African Americans' bravery and dedication to country equaled that of the nation's most celebrated heroes. Read more about the exhibition.
Throughout the run of the exhibition, special programs are planned in cooperation with the Museum of African American History, Boston African American National Historic Site, and the Friends of the Public Garden. On Thursday, 20 February, at 6:00 PM, MHS Fellows and Members are invited to preview the exhibition and enjoy a reception.
Cokie Roberts Debuts Children's Book at the MHS
On Wednesday, 29 January, the Society welcomed more than 100 middle school students and their teachers to an author talk with MHS Fellow, political commentator, and author Cokie Roberts. Her new children's book, Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies, based on her 2004 bestseller Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation, chronicles the lives of the women who helped to found and nurture the United States. Abigail Adams is duly represented, as are Martha Washington, Phillis Wheatley, and Mercy Otis Warren. The book introduces young readers to characters who might be less familiar, including Deborah Sampson, the Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolution, and Esther DeBerdt Reed, who raised more than $300,000 to purchase supplies for the underfunded Continental Army. After a brief overview of the book, Ms. Roberts opened the floor to questions from the audience. The students asked nearly every question imaginable (and several that no one could have seen coming). Students also had a chance to explore a small display of MHS documents featured in Ms. Roberts's works, such as Abigail Adams's "remember the ladies" letter, Phillis Wheatley's poems, and a fascinating letter written by Paul Revere in support of Deborah Sampson's request for a military pension.
From the Stacks: The McKay Stitcher – The Machine That Revolutionized Footwear Production
The McKay stitcher was a sewing machine created by inventor Lyman Reed Blake and improved by businessman and self-educated engineer Gordon McKay. Prior to the introduction of this stitcher, shoes were hand stitched in a time-consuming and piecemeal manner. The machine revolutionized the speed of footwear production by machine sewing the uppers to the soles. The McKay machine produced finished shoes far faster than hand stitching; it is often credited with giving the North a material edge during the Civil War while the Confederates went without proper footwear. Read more about the McKay machine.
MHS In the News
Humanities magazine featured an excerpt from Nicholas A. Basbanes new book, On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, in its January/February 2014 issue. The six-page spread features the wonderful collections of the MHS and a behind-the-scenes tour with Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey. Read the article online.
Image: Letter from William Bradford to John Winthrop, 11 April 1638
Created Equal Discussion and Film Series
Join us on Wednesday, 12 February, at 5:30 PM for the first of four Created Equal programs. The Created Equal film set and public programs have been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Facilitator Joanne Pope Melish is the author of Disowning Slavery and an associate professor of history at the University of Kentucky and a visiting scholar in American studies at Brown University.
On Wednesday, 12 February, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, we will kick off the series with Created Equal: The Loving Story. Nominated for an Emmy in 2013, The Loving Story brings to life the marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving and the legal battle that followed. The film will be shown in its entirety.
On Wednesday, 12 March, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, we will present Created Equal: The Abolitionists and Slavery by Another Name. Clips from both films will be shown.
On Wednesday, 2 April, from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, join us for Created Equal: The Abolitionists and The Freedom Riders.
On Saturday, May 10, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM, series participants are invited on a walking tour of Boston's Black Heritage Trail. The tour is presented by our partner organization Boston African American National Historic Site.
For more information on this series and other programs throughout the winter-spring season, visit www.masshist.org/events.
Image: Courtesy Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection.
Seminar Series Invite Proposals for 2014-2015
We continue to accept proposals for 2014-2015 for four of the five seminar series we host each year, the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, and the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender (in collaboration with the Schlesinger Library). Each series focuses on the discussion of a pre-circulated research paper. The essayist and an assigned commentator offer remarks, then the discussion is opened to the floor. To view the current series, please visit www.masshist.org/research/seminars. If you wish to be considered for a slot, please send your CV and a one-page précis of your paper by 15 March to Conrad E. Wright, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215, or to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate the series for which you are submitting your proposal and state when your paper will be available for distribution.
Object of the Month
"We welcome you, Lords of the Land of the Sun!" The menu for a banquet in honor of the Iwakura Mission during the Japanese embassy's visit to Boston in 1872.
This handsome broadside, printed on silk with hand-painted floral decorations, is the menu for a farewell dinner for Japanese diplomats and technical advisors who were about to depart for Europe after a seven-month visit to the United States. Alexander H. Rice, the president of the Boston Board of Trade, hosted a groaning repast on behalf of local political and business leaders at the Revere House. The main dinner speakers were Ralph Waldo Emerson and Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes. The latter composed a poem for the occasion that begins with the line, "We welcome you, Lords of the Land of the Sun!" Read more about the Iwakura Mission and the 2 August 1872 banquet at the Revere House in Boston.
Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice
Letter from Edward Louis Edes to his mother, 28 February 1864
In this 28 February 1864 letter to his mother, 18-year-old Edward L. Edes, a newly promoted corporal in the 33rd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, describes the personalities of the sergeants and the other non-commissioned officers stationed with him in Lookout Valley, Tenn. Edes opined that while he thought very highly of the non-commissioned officers in his regiment, the officer corps of the Union army was primarily made up of "narrow minded, underwitted, vulgar drunken" men. Read more about Edward L. Edes.
Opening 21 February
Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, Tell It with Pride celebrates Augustus Saint-Gaudens's magisterial Shaw Memorial (1883–1900). When Saint-Gaudens created the monument, he based his likeness of Shaw on photographs of the colonel, but for his depiction of the other soldiers, he hired African American men to pose in his studio. This exhibition seeks to make real the soldiers of the 54th represented anonymously in the memorial. It brings together vintage photographic portraits of members of the regiment and of the men and women who recruited, nursed, taught, and guided them. Tell It with Pride will be open at the Society from 21 February to 23 May.
The exhibition is open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
The MHS will be closed on Monday, 17 February, for Presidents' Day.
Wednesday, 12 February 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM
Discussion and Film Series
Created Equal: The Loving Story
Facilitated by Joanne Pope Melish, University of Kentucky
Thursday, 13 February 5:30 PM
History of Women and Gender Seminar
"How can the wife submit?" African Families Negotiate Gender & Slavery in New England
Gloria Whiting, Harvard University
Location: Schlesinger Library
Wednesday, 19 February 12:00 PM
Consumed by Poverty: The Experience of Tuberculosis in the Boston Almshouse, 1800-1850
Mary Fuhrer, Independent Scholar
Thursday, 20 February 6:00 PM
Tell It with Pride Preview Reception
There is a pre-reception talk at 5:30 PM; space is limited
This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members
Saturday, 22 February 10:00 AM
The History & Collections of the MHS
Sunday, 23 February 2:00 PM
Crossed Swords: Job Shattuck's Blood at the Courthouse Door
Location: Lawrence Library in Pepperell, Mass.
Monday, 24 February 12:00 PM
"We have never not been here": Place, History, & Belonging in Native New England
Ashley Smith, Cornell University
Tuesday, 25 February 5:15 PM
Immigration and Urban History Seminar
Curating the City: The Framing of Los Angeles
Catherine Gudis, University of California—Riverside
Wednesday, 26 February 6:00 PM
Handel & Haydn Society: Bringing Music to Life for 200 Years
Handel and Haydn Society Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus
Pre-performance reception at 5:30 PM
There is a $30 fee ($20 fee for Fellows and Members)
Thursday, 27 February 6:00 PM
George Washington: Gentleman Warrior
Location: Boston Public Library, Copley Square
This event is co-sponsored by the MHS and the Boston Public Library and is free and open to the public
Saturday, 1 March 10:00 AM
The History & Collections of the MHS
Tuesday, 4 March 5:15 PM
Early American History Seminar
Negro Cloth: Mastering the Market for Slave Clothing in Antebellum America
Seth Rockman, Brown University
Wednesday, 5 March 12:00 PM
The Appomattox Effect: Searching for the End of War in the American Civil War & Beyond
Michael Vorenberg, Brown University
Thursday, 6 March 6:00 PM
A Traveled First Lady: An Evening with Louisa Catherine Adams
C. James Taylor and Margaret Hogan
Pre-Talk reception at 5:30 PM
There is a $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members)
Saturday, 8 March 10:00 AM
The History & Collections of the MHS
All events are free and open to the public and held at the MHS unless otherwise noted. Reservations are requested for most events. There is a charge to receive seminar papers in advance.
For complete event and RSVP information, visit the MHS online calendar: www.masshist.org/events.
Support the MHS
Become a Member
The Society's Fellows and Members have been the heart of its community since 1791. Presidents, noted scholars, civic leaders, and amateur historians have been among those dedicated to continuing the tradition of historical stewardship. Learn more about membership at www.masshist.org/support/members.
Join an MHS Fund Giving Circle
Gifts to the MHS Fund allow us to continue our 222-year-old mission to collect, preserve, and share the stories that define America's past. With a donation of $500 or more, you can become a member of one of the MHS Fund Giving Circles and enjoy a full year of social, cultural, and educational experiences reserved for this select group. Learn more at www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund/givingcircles.
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