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May 2015

Utopian Settlements Series Begins on 13 May

Brook Farm with RainbowNew Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. Join us for a series that will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. The series kicks off on Wednesday, 13 May at 6:00 PM with Puritan Paradise: Eden in Massachusetts Bay & Beyond with Zachary Hutchins. Mr. Ripley's Utopia with Peter Drummey and members of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) staff will take place on Wednesday, 20 May. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the DCR for its support of this series.

American Revolution Conference Talks Now Available Online

2015 ConferenceIn April, the Society hosted a sold-out, three-day conference, "So Sudden an Alteration": The Causes, Course, and Consequences of the American Revolution. During the course of the conference, 175 registrants—our largest such gathering to date—were challenged to break out of the well-worn grooves of historical inquiry that have defined the study of the Revolution for the past fifty years to inspire new discourse and scholarship. For those unable to attend the conference, recordings of both the keynote address by Woody Holton, "'Not Yet': The Originality Crisis in American Revolution Studies," and a proposal by Boston University Professor of History Brendan McConville, "The Great Cycle: The Professional Study of the American Revolution, 1960-2015," are now available online.

Everyone Wants to Make A Difference—Give to the MHS Fund Today!

Pine Tree PennyThe end of the MHS fiscal year—30 June—will be here soon, marking the end of another vibrant year at the MHS as well as the deadline for you to make a gift to the MHS Fund. Ongoing contributions to the MHS Fund directly impact the Society's daily operations and help to ensure that its mission—to nurture a greater appreciation for American history—is fulfilled. This current fiscal year alone, the Society was able to provide over 100 programs and events; offer 45 teacher and student workshops; and stage significant exhibitions; as well as preserve and share our unparalleled collections with a global community. Your support helps us to share the MHS and its resources with the wider community. Donate today and know that your support makes a difference.

Perspectives on the Boston Massacre

Boston MassacreJoin us from 7 to 9 July for a three-day hands-on workshop exploring the Boston Massacre. On the evening of 5 March 1770, a confrontation between British soldiers and a boisterous crowd in front of the Custom House on King Street in Boston turned deadly. Five men were killed and nine soldiers were tried for their murder. Why and how did this confrontation come to pass? Using letters, depositions, newspapers, and engravings, we will explore how participants, onlookers, residents, authorities, and outsiders made meaning of the "massacre" and its aftermath. Participants will have an opportunity to view original documents and artifacts from MHS collections and take a walking tour of downtown Boston and the Old State House Museum. There is a $35-per-person fee. Educators can earn 22.5 PDPs. To register, or for more information, visit Perspectives on the Boston Massacre.

Object of the Month

"Business Above All": A German Medalist Commemorates the Lusitania Disaster

Lusitania medalThis satirical medal, inspired by a German newspaper account of the sinking of the Cunard ocean liner Lusitania on 7 May 1915, was privately issued in Munich by noted German medalist Karl X. Goetz to castigate the British for placing business before innocent lives. On 4 February 1915, the German government declared the waters around Great Britain to be a war zone and that, as of 18 February, Allied ships would be sunk without warning. The Imperial German Embassy published this declaration beside the Cunard schedule in fifty American newspapers on the morning of 1 May, warning that travelers on British-flagged ships sailed at their own risk. While this caused some to cancel their passage, the Lusitania sailed from New York for Liverpool that afternoon with 1,960 passengers and crew aboard. Read more about the sinking of the Lusitania as well as the medal created by Goetz.

Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice

May 1865: "I made use of the opportunity to talk to him about the uselessness of prolonging the war . . ."

Charles E. Briggs letterLetter from Charles E. Briggs to Emma Allen, 7 May 1865

In this 7 May 1865 letter to his sister Emma Allen, Charles Edwards Briggs, surgeon for the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, describes events that occurred during April 1865 on his journey from Georgetown, SC, to Charleston, as part of Potter's Raid. A fitting final installment of Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice, Briggs's letter offers reflections on the significance of Lee's surrender and Lincoln's assassination, and portends the long complicated road facing the nation, particularly the South, during Reconstruction. Read more about Charles Briggs and his insightful observations.

On View

God Save the People! From the Stamp Act to Bunker Hill

Boston Massacre engraving by Paul RevereTo tell the story of the coming of the American Revolution in Boston, this exhibition follows the evolution of colonial thought and political action through the letters and diaries of men and women caught up in the conflict, together with political cartoons, newspapers, maps, artifacts, and portraits. The exhibition is on display at the Society 27 February through 4 September.

Explore the coming of the American Revolution through these online displays. Perspectives of the Boston Massacre is an interactive website that allows visitors to examine materials offering a range of perspectives related to the events of 5 March 1765. The Siege of Boston presents more than one dozen accounts written by individuals personally engaged in or affected by the siege, which occurred from April 1775 to March 1776. The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr., presents the complete four-volume set of Revolutionary-era Boston newspapers and pamphlets assembled, annotated, and indexed by Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a shopkeeper in Boston. Discover the fears, friction, and turmoil that shaped these times with The Coming of the American Revolution, a web display of newspapers, official documents, and personal correspondence arranged into fifteen key topics.

The exhibition galleries are open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

MHS Events Calendar

The MHS will be closed on Monday, 25 May for Memorial Day.

Wednesday, 13 May 6:00 PM

Utopian Settlements Series
Puritan Paradise: Eden in Massachusetts Bay & Beyond
Zachary Hutchins, Colorado State University
Pre-talk reception at 5:30 PM
Registration required: Puritan Paradise

Saturday, 16 May 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History & Collections of the MHS

Tuesday, 19 May 5:15 PM

Early American History Seminar
Panel Discussion: Slavery in Early Massachusetts
Barbara A. Mathews, Historic Deerfield, and Gloria McCahon Whiting, Harvard University
Comment: Maria A. Bollettino, Framingham State University
Registration required: Slavery in Early Massachusetts

Wednesday, 20 May 5:30 PM

Utopian Settlements Series
Mr. Ripley's Utopia
Peter Drummey, MHS, and Department of Conservation and Recreation Staff
Location: Brook Farm, 670 Baker Street, West Roxbury
Registration required: Mr. Ripley's Utopia

Wednesday, 27 May 12:00 PM

Purity & Power: The American Sugar Empire in the Gilded Age
David Singerman, MIT

Wednesday, 27 May 6:00 PM

Utopian Settlements Series
Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House
Pre-talk reception at 5:30 PM
Registration required: Fruitlands

Thursday, 28 May 5:30 PM

Special event for MHS Fellows and Members
The Court & the World
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
This event is sold out. If you would like to put your name on the waiting list, please call 617-646-0518.

Saturday, 30 May 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History & Collections of the MHS

Wednesday, 3 June 12:00 PM

The Invention of Rum
Jordan Smith, Georgetown University

Wednesday, 3 June 6:00 PM

How Community Activism Made the New Boston Better
Jim Vrabel, independent author
Pre-talk reception at 5:30 PM
$10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members)
Registration required: Community Activism

Wednesday, 10 June 12:00 PM

Navigating Wilderness & Borderland: The Invasion of Canada, 1775–1776
Daniel Soucier, University of Maine

Wednesday, 10 June 6:00 PM

Boston Historical Societies
Registration required: Boston Historical Societies

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:

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