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December 2014

Wishing You A Merry and Bright Holiday Season

Building a snowmanOn behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the MHS, we wish all of our Fellows, Members, and friends a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year. We would also like to remind you that the MHS library and galleries will be closed on 24 December, 25 December, 31 December, and 1 January. The exhibition galleries will be open 26, 27, 29, and 30 December and 2, 3 January from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

MHS Achieves Charity Navigator Second Consecutive Four-Star Rating

Charity Navigator logoThe MHS recently received Charity Navigator's coveted four-star rating for the second consecutive year. Receiving four out of a possible four stars indicates that the MHS adheres to good governance and other best practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities and consistently executes its mission in a fiscally responsible way. Only 18 percent of the charities it rates have received at least two consecutive four-star evaluations, indicating that the Society outperforms most other charities in America. Charity Navigator is the nation's premier independent charity evaluator. It helps charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing in-depth, objective ratings, and analysis of the financial health, accountability, and transparency of America's largest charities. Review the Society's four star rating

China, America and the Pacific: Trade and Cultural Exchange

A Voyage Round the WorldA new resource on the China Trade is now available for use in the library. China, America and the Pacific: Trade and Cultural Exchange, a digital offering from British publisher Adam Matthew Digital, features 55,000 pages of manuscript material from the Society's extensive holdings on the subject, including the Forbes family papers and ships' logs. The digital publication also features sources from other contributing libraries, including the Peabody Essex Museum and the California Historical Society. The resource must be used at the MHS but users can download images to take with them.

Rogers-Mason-Cabot Family Papers and Marian Lawrence Peabody Papers Now Available

Boston Book FairIn November 2013, the Peck Stacpoole Foundation generously awarded the MHS a grant of $9,000 to systematically arrange and describe two collections of women's and family papers: the Rogers-Mason-Cabot family papers and the Marian Lawrence Peabody papers. In addition to Elizabeth Rogers (Mason) Cabot's (1834–1920) diaries, the Rogers-Mason-Cabot collection also includes journals kept by her mother, Hannah, and by William Cushing Paine, whose son Robert Treat Paine II married Elizabeth's daughter Ruth. The existence of Paine's diaries was completely unknown until this project was underway. In addition to entries on the management of his farm in Beverly, Mass., his diaries list the whaling ships that traveled to the Arctic in which he was a shareholder, including the destinations, length of journey, and expected and actual catches of each vessel. The bulk of the Marian Lawrence Peabody collection comprises 83 volumes of Peabody's diaries, extracts of which were published in 1967 by Peabody herself as To Be Young Was Very Heaven (Boston: Houghton Mifflin). The collection also includes her personal and family correspondence, including with her parents, Rev. William Lawrence (the Episcopal bishop of Boston) and Julia (Cunningham) Lawrence; her husband, William Peabody; and their extended families. The collections are described in online collection guides available on the Society's website.

Support Your Love of History

Santa bank noteIf you have not yet contributed to the MHS Fund this year, please consider making a gift today to help us reach our annual goal. With your support, the Society is able to produce nationally important exhibitions, offer educational programs for visitors of all ages, share our collections with researchers around the world, and provide for the upkeep and care of our facilities. Gifts to the MHS Fund help ensure that the Society fulfills its mission to preserve our nation's history and bring it to life. 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. By contributing to the MHS Fund, you make the Society a vibrant place where history happens!

What's New about the "New" Immigration?

Immigration book coverAs a research center, the MHS contributes to an understanding of our nation's story, past and present. The Society's most recent essay collection, What's New about the "New" Immigration? Traditions and Transformations in the United States since 1965 is particularly timely in the context of current debates over immigration reform. It will be available this month from the publisher Palgrave MacMillan.

Co-edited by professors Marilyn Halter of Boston University and Marilynn S. Johnson of Boston College, Director of Research Conrad Edick Wright, and Research Coordinator Katheryn P. Viens, the volume is based on scholarship presented at our conference on recent immigration. In 10 essays organized by the themes "Place," "Identity," and "Society," it explores a wide range of immigrant communities from diverse academic perspectives. Contributors include recognized immigration scholars from throughout the United States.

Announcing Two Upcoming WWI Music Programs

Before the Society's WWI exhibition Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country closes on 24 January, the MHS will offer two programs that explore the cultural and musical history of the time. On 7 January at 6:00 PM, Benjamin Sears, Bradford Conner, and Cynthia Mork will present Over There: The Boys Who Went to Fight and the Women Who Enduredwith songs telling the story of the U.S.'s involvement in WWI and its effects on the women, men, and children. On 21 January at 6:00 PM, the Boston Saxophone Quartet will present Here Comes America . . . WWI with selections of music from both sides of the Atlantic before the war, songs that show the changing attitudes of Americans to the war, patriotic songs, and songs reflecting on the impact of the war.

Two-day Workshop – John and Abigail: A Life in Letters

24 and 31January 2015
This hands-on workshop will (re)introduce participants to John and Abigail Adams and their rich correspondence. What can these letters tell us about life in the late 18th century? Over the course of two Saturdays in January we will explore topics such education, women's rights, and the challenges John and Abigail faced as a young family living through a revolution. Participants will have the opportunity to view treasures from the Society's collections and tour the Abigail Adams Birthplace in Weymouth. This program is open to all K-12 educators, as well as history enthusiasts. Teachers can earn 10 PDPs. Contact to register, or visit our web calendar for additional information.

MHS-NEH Fellowship Deadline: 15 January 2015

The Society will offer at least two MHS-NEH Long-term Fellowships for the academic year 2015-2016, made possible by an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency. The stipend, governed by an NEH formula, will be $4,200 per month for a minimum of 4 months and a maximum of 12 months. The Society will supplement each stipend with a monthly allowance for housing and professional expenses. New NEH guidelines require applicants to have completed their training for the terminal degree in their field (ordinarily the Ph.D.) by the application deadline. For more information on MHS-NEH Fellowships, and to learn about MHS Short-term Fellowships; the Suzanne and Caleb Loring Fellowship on the Civil War, its Origins, and Consequences; and the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, visit, email, or phone 617-646-0568.

Object of the Month

Charles Bulfinch Begins His Life's Work

Washington archThis illustration from the January 1790 issue of The Massachusetts Magazine, or Monthly Museum depicts Charles Bulfinch's design for a triumphal arch erected in honor of the visit of Pres. George Washington on 24 October 1789. The arch was Bulfinch's first public architectural commission. While the "Washington Arch" was temporary, and Bulfinch already had designed an important Boston building, the Hollis Street Church, the arch brought him to the attention of a much wider audience. Read more about Charles Bulfinch and the "Washington Arch."

Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice

December 1864: ". . . from the roof of the City Hall we could see the whole City in flames at once . . . whole blocks falling in with a crash that sent a fiery cloud of cinders up, up, up, like they seemed to mingle with the stars . . ."

Letter from Samual StorrowLetter from Samuel Storrow to Lydia Storrow, 24 December 1864

"The sight was superb; from the roof of the City Hall we could see the whole City in flames at once, great tongues of fire leaping up into the air 50 or 100 feet above the roofs, whole blocks falling in with a crash that sent a fiery cloud of cinders up, up, up, till they seemed to mingle with the stars," writes Samuel Storrow, a Bostonian serving with the 2nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, in this lengthy letter begun on 24 December 1864. Using his diary as a reference, Storrow provides his mother with a month's worth of stories about his participation in Sherman's March to the Sea, beginning with the burning of Atlanta. Well-read and gifted with the pen, Storrow brings the rice swamps and towns the Union army passed through to life as he describes the landscapes, weather, and people he encountered on the way to Savannah. Read more about Samuel Storrow.

On View

Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country: Massachusetts Women in the First World War

Margaret Hall photoTo commemorate the centennial of the outbreak of World War I, the MHS has organized this exhibition focusing on two of the hundreds of women from the Commonwealth who went to France as members of the U.S. armed forces, the Red Cross, and other war relief organizations. From the Society's extraordinary collection of women's remembrances, the exhibition features photographs, letters, diaries, and memorabilia related to Margaret Hall and Eleanor (Nora) Saltonstall, Red Cross volunteers in France. The exhibition highlights Hall's large-format photographs of the battlefront on loan from the Cohasset Historical Society. Both women were keen observers of the climactic months of the war and depicted what they witnessed in vivid detail. Letters and Photographs from the Battle Country is open at the MHS through 24 January 2015.

Visit, a companion website featuring 246 of Hall's photographs and 29 other illustrative items from the Society's typescript of her memoir.

The new edition of Hall's previously unpublished memoir of her World War I experiences is available for purchase:

Closing 9 January: The Father of His Country Returns to Boston, October 24, 1789

Washington portraitTwo hundred twenty-five years ago, during his first year in office, Pres. George Washington embarked on a month-long tour of New England including a 10-day visit to Massachusetts. The Society is commemorating this visit with an exhibition of paintings, accounts, and other memorabilia including a portrait of Washington by Christian Gullager painted during the New England tour, the Bowdoin Bishop Cup from which Washington is said to have drunk punch, and a lock of hair that Washington gave to Alexander Hamilton. The exhibition is open in the Treasures Gallery of the Society through 9 January, 2015.

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

MHS Events Calendar

Saturday, 13 December 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History and Collections of the MHS

Saturday, 20 December 10:00 AM

MHS Tour
The History and Collections of the MHS

Wednesday, 7 January 6:00 PM

Over There: The Boys Who Went to Fight and the Women Who Endured
Benjamin Sears, Bradford Conner, and Cynthia Mork
Pre-talk reception at 5:30
There is a $10 fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members)
Registration required: Over There

Tuesday, 13 January 5:15 PM

Environmental History Seminar
The Rise and Fall of the Texas Longhorn
Joshua Specht, Harvard University
Beth LaDow, author of The Medicine Line: Life and Death on a North American Borderland
Registration required: The Rise & Fall of the Texas Longhorn

Thursday, 15 January 5:30 PM

Biography Seminar
Biography, the Visual Artist, and the Story behind Public Art
Belinda Rathbone, Jane Kamensky, and Ruth Butler
Moderator: Carol Bundy
Registration required: Biography, the Visual Artist, & the Story Behind Public Art

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:

Support the MHS

Give the Gift of Membership
A membership to the MHS makes a great gift this holiday season for the history enthusiast, amateur historian, or history professional in your life. Members receive invitations to special Members-only events; discounts on select MHS publications; and subscriptions to Miscellany, the Society's semi-annual printed newsletter, and the Massachusetts Historical Review, the Society's annual journal. Learn more about membership at

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

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