Research seminars--conversations with one or more presenters that usually focus on a precirculated paper--take place between late September and early May. Programs are offered in five different series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender, and the New England Biography Seminar. Learn more about each series and subscribe to receive advance copies of the papers that will be discussed.

 

RSVP required. Please email seminars@masshist.org or phone 617-646-0579.

December

History of Women and Gender Seminar Transgender History and Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation 18 December 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute Genny Beemyn, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Laura Peimer, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Sari L. Reisner, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Moderator: Jen Manion, Amherst College This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state ...

This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public health? How do changes in popular usage and attitudes about terminology facilitate or hinder research? In what ways does transgender studies intersect with women’s and gender history and other feminist scholarly concerns?

This session has recommended reading (available here) but is open to all regardless of whether they have done the reading.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
January
Early American History Seminar The Consecration of Samuel Seabury and the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807 8 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Brent Sirota, North Carolina State University Comment: Chris Beneke, Bentley University Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of ...

Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office of bishops, American Methodists and Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans all established some form of episcopal superintendency after the Peace of Paris. This paper considers how the making of American episcopacy and the controversies surrounding it betrayed a lack of consensus regarding the relationship between church, state and civil society in the Protestant Atlantic.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Environmental History Seminar Camp Benson and the “GAR Camps”: Recreational Landscapes of Civil War Memory in Maine, 1886-1910 15 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required C. Ian Stevenson, Boston University Comment: Ian Delahanty, Springfield College This chapter examines sites where veterans transitioned the Civil War vacation toward a civilian ...

This chapter examines sites where veterans transitioned the Civil War vacation toward a civilian audience: Camp Benson, where several Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) posts built a campground, and at the “GAR Camps” where a single veteran proprietor built rental cottages. The chapter asks why postwar civilians would want to mimic the veteran desire to associate healthful destinations with wartime memory. How do these outdoor landscapes explain the nation’s healing process from the Civil War?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
African American History Seminar Race, Empire, and the Erasure of African Identities in Harvard’s “National Skulls” 17 January 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Christopher Willoughby, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Comment: Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard University In 1847, John Collins Warren gave his anatomical collection to the Harvard medical school, including ...

In 1847, John Collins Warren gave his anatomical collection to the Harvard medical school, including a collection of “national skulls.” This paper analyzes how skulls from the black Atlantic were collected and dubbed “African,” to show that medical schools were intimately connected to the violence of slavery and empire, and to posit a method for writing the history of racist museum exhibitions that does not continue the silencing of black voices at the heart of those exhibitions.

 

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar How to Be an American Housewife: American Red Cross “Bride Schools” in Japan in the Cold War Era 22 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Sonia Gomez, University of Chicago Comment: Arissa Oh, Boston College In 1951, the American Red Cross in Japan began offering “schools for brides,” to prepare ...

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.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Biography Seminar Writing Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom 24 January 2019.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required David Blight, Yale University Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice (host) Join us for a conversation with David Blight about the challenges of writing his biography of ...

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 nineteenth 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 The Nature of Sacrifice, will host.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969 29 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Victoria Cain, Northeastern University Comment: Heather Hendershot, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Uncertainty about media technology’s affective and political power plagued post-World War II ...

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.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
February
Early American History Seminar Making Money in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: the Boston Mint, 1652-1686 5 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Mara Caden, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Penelope Ismay, Boston College In the history of the British Atlantic empire, the Massachusetts Bay Colony stands alone as the site ...

In the history of the British Atlantic empire, the Massachusetts Bay Colony stands alone as the site of the sole colonial mint. Based on new research in MHS collections, this papers tells the political and technological story of this mint, which furnished the colony with silver money for thirty years, and reveals the close relationship between currency and industrial development.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Environmental History Seminar Amputated from the Land: Black Refugees from America and the Neglected Voices of Environmental History 12 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Bryon Williams, Academy at Penguin Hall Comment: John Stauffer, Harvard University This paper focuses on dictated narratives from the 1840s and ‘50s, accounts delivered by ...

This paper focuses on dictated narratives from the 1840s and ‘50s, accounts delivered by blacks who fled the U.S. to settle in the wilds of Ontario. These first-person accounts of environmental encounter and expertise are unrivaled in depth, breadth, and detail among black ecological writing of any era. New environmental histories need such accounts that not only counter dominant American environmental and political myths, but offer black-lived stories of environmental belonging and agency.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: Feminist Economics 19 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute Danielle L. Dumaine, University of Connecticut, and Julie R. Enszer, University of Mississippi Comment: Juliet Schor, Boston College These papers begin a conversation on the intersection of the study of the women’s liberation ...

These papers begin a conversation on the intersection of the study of the women’s liberation movement with the history of capitalism. Danielle Dumaine’s paper, “Sisterhood of Debt: Feminist Credit Unions, Community, and Women’s Liberation,” examines the role of Feminist Credit Unions in the women’s liberation movement. Julie Enszer’s paper, “‘a feminist understanding of economics based on a revolutionary set of values’: Feminist Economic Theories and Practices,” looks at the feminist organizations that created the Feminist Economic Network.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
African American History Seminar Mourning in America: Black Men in a White House 21 February 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard Kennedy School Comment: TBD This paper focuses on the 1980s HUD Scandal, wherein contractors, developers, lobbyists, HUD ...

This paper focuses on the 1980s HUD Scandal, wherein contractors, developers, lobbyists, HUD officials, and others misappropriated billions in federal monies set aside for low-income housing. Of particular interest are the intertwined stories of two African Americans: Samuel R. Pierce, Ronald Reagan’s HUD Secretary, and Kimi Gray, a Washington, D.C. public housing activist. In exploring these narratives, this paper aims to complicate our understanding of the “Black 1980s,” the Ronald Reagan-led White House, and democracy in post-civil rights America.

 

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Our Own Orient: Mecca, California, and Dates 26 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Eleanor Daly Finnegan, Harvard University Comment: Laura Barraclough, Yale University Residents changed the name of Walters, California to Mecca in 1904. They were trying to use the ...

Residents changed the name of Walters, California to Mecca in 1904. They were trying to use the exoticism of the Middle East to sell dates. This paper will focus on Mecca, California and the Indio Date Festival, looking at the complicated ways in which Orientalism has changed in the United States, its relationship to consumerism, and the economic connections made to the Middle East.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
March
Early American History Seminar Parson Weems: Maker and Remaker 5 March 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Steven C. Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Comment: Elizabeth Maddock-Dillon, Northeastern University This paper argues that Mason Locke Weems’s biography of George Washington built a bridge ...

This paper argues that Mason Locke Weems’s biography of George Washington built a bridge between Washington and the world of Abraham Lincoln and Ellen Montgomery. Weems’s stories were not just expressing early-19th century cultural commonplaces, but helping to create them. The paper connects these transformations with Weems’s work to recover Weems’s importance within his own time.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
Environmental History Seminar Biological Exchange in the Pacific World in the Age of Industrial Sugarcane Plantations 12 March 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Lawrence Kessler, Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut This paper traces how sugarcane planters directed circulations of plant and animal species in the ...

This paper traces how sugarcane planters directed circulations of plant and animal species in the Pacific World. This new biological exchange served the political and economic interests of the plantation owners and their allies. Planters, however, were unable to control the biological exchange processes they created. This paper thus argues that through the creation of new patterns of biological exchange, sugarcane plantations induced ecological changes throughout the Pacific World.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
More events
History of Women and Gender Seminar Transgender History and Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
18 December 2018.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute Genny Beemyn, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Laura Peimer, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Sari L. Reisner, Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Moderator: Jen Manion, Amherst College

This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public health? How do changes in popular usage and attitudes about terminology facilitate or hinder research? In what ways does transgender studies intersect with women’s and gender history and other feminist scholarly concerns?

This session has recommended reading (available here) but is open to all regardless of whether they have done the reading.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar The Consecration of Samuel Seabury and the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
8 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Brent Sirota, North Carolina State University Comment: Chris Beneke, Bentley University

Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office of bishops, American Methodists and Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans all established some form of episcopal superintendency after the Peace of Paris. This paper considers how the making of American episcopacy and the controversies surrounding it betrayed a lack of consensus regarding the relationship between church, state and civil society in the Protestant Atlantic.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Camp Benson and the “GAR Camps”: Recreational Landscapes of Civil War Memory in Maine, 1886-1910 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
15 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM C. Ian Stevenson, Boston University Comment: Ian Delahanty, Springfield College

This chapter examines sites where veterans transitioned the Civil War vacation toward a civilian audience: Camp Benson, where several Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) posts built a campground, and at the “GAR Camps” where a single veteran proprietor built rental cottages. The chapter asks why postwar civilians would want to mimic the veteran desire to associate healthful destinations with wartime memory. How do these outdoor landscapes explain the nation’s healing process from the Civil War?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
African American History Seminar Race, Empire, and the Erasure of African Identities in Harvard’s “National Skulls” Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
17 January 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Christopher Willoughby, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Comment: Evelynn Hammonds, Harvard University

In 1847, John Collins Warren gave his anatomical collection to the Harvard medical school, including a collection of “national skulls.” This paper analyzes how skulls from the black Atlantic were collected and dubbed “African,” to show that medical schools were intimately connected to the violence of slavery and empire, and to posit a method for writing the history of racist museum exhibitions that does not continue the silencing of black voices at the heart of those exhibitions.

 

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar How to Be an American Housewife: American Red Cross “Bride Schools” in Japan in the Cold War Era Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
22 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Sonia Gomez, University of Chicago Comment: 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.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Biography Seminar Writing Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
24 January 2019.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM David Blight, Yale University Carol Bundy, author of The Nature of Sacrifice (host)

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 nineteenth 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 The Nature of Sacrifice, will host.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
29 January 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Victoria Cain, Northeastern University Comment: 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.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar Making Money in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: the Boston Mint, 1652-1686 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
5 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Mara Caden, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Penelope Ismay, Boston College

In the history of the British Atlantic empire, the Massachusetts Bay Colony stands alone as the site of the sole colonial mint. Based on new research in MHS collections, this papers tells the political and technological story of this mint, which furnished the colony with silver money for thirty years, and reveals the close relationship between currency and industrial development.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Amputated from the Land: Black Refugees from America and the Neglected Voices of Environmental History Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
12 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Bryon Williams, Academy at Penguin Hall Comment: John Stauffer, Harvard University

This paper focuses on dictated narratives from the 1840s and ‘50s, accounts delivered by blacks who fled the U.S. to settle in the wilds of Ontario. These first-person accounts of environmental encounter and expertise are unrivaled in depth, breadth, and detail among black ecological writing of any era. New environmental histories need such accounts that not only counter dominant American environmental and political myths, but offer black-lived stories of environmental belonging and agency.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Panel: Feminist Economics Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
19 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute Danielle L. Dumaine, University of Connecticut, and Julie R. Enszer, University of Mississippi Comment: Juliet Schor, Boston College

These papers begin a conversation on the intersection of the study of the women’s liberation movement with the history of capitalism. Danielle Dumaine’s paper, “Sisterhood of Debt: Feminist Credit Unions, Community, and Women’s Liberation,” examines the role of Feminist Credit Unions in the women’s liberation movement. Julie Enszer’s paper, “‘a feminist understanding of economics based on a revolutionary set of values’: Feminist Economic Theories and Practices,” looks at the feminist organizations that created the Feminist Economic Network.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
African American History Seminar Mourning in America: Black Men in a White House Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
21 February 2019.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Leah Wright Rigueur, Harvard Kennedy School Comment: TBD

This paper focuses on the 1980s HUD Scandal, wherein contractors, developers, lobbyists, HUD officials, and others misappropriated billions in federal monies set aside for low-income housing. Of particular interest are the intertwined stories of two African Americans: Samuel R. Pierce, Ronald Reagan’s HUD Secretary, and Kimi Gray, a Washington, D.C. public housing activist. In exploring these narratives, this paper aims to complicate our understanding of the “Black 1980s,” the Ronald Reagan-led White House, and democracy in post-civil rights America.

 

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Our Own Orient: Mecca, California, and Dates Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
26 February 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Eleanor Daly Finnegan, Harvard University Comment: Laura Barraclough, Yale University

Residents changed the name of Walters, California to Mecca in 1904. They were trying to use the exoticism of the Middle East to sell dates. This paper will focus on Mecca, California and the Indio Date Festival, looking at the complicated ways in which Orientalism has changed in the United States, its relationship to consumerism, and the economic connections made to the Middle East.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Early American History Seminar Parson Weems: Maker and Remaker Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
5 March 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Steven C. Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic Institute Comment: Elizabeth Maddock-Dillon, Northeastern University

This paper argues that Mason Locke Weems’s biography of George Washington built a bridge between Washington and the world of Abraham Lincoln and Ellen Montgomery. Weems’s stories were not just expressing early-19th century cultural commonplaces, but helping to create them. The paper connects these transformations with Weems’s work to recover Weems’s importance within his own time.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Biological Exchange in the Pacific World in the Age of Industrial Sugarcane Plantations Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
12 March 2019.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Lawrence Kessler, Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Comment: Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut

This paper traces how sugarcane planters directed circulations of plant and animal species in the Pacific World. This new biological exchange served the political and economic interests of the plantation owners and their allies. Planters, however, were unable to control the biological exchange processes they created. This paper thus argues that through the creation of new patterns of biological exchange, sugarcane plantations induced ecological changes throughout the Pacific World.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close