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.

November

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Volunteerism and Civil Society in the Twentieth Century 28 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required K. Ian Shin, Bates College, and Chris Staysniak, Boston College Comment: Timothy Neary, Salve Regina University This panel considers volunteerism as sponsored by ethnic and service organizations. Both essays ...

This panel considers volunteerism as sponsored by ethnic and service organizations. Both essays challenge our notions of “belonging” in a civil society, including our understandings of assimilation, activism, and protest. Shin’s paper is “Masons, Scouts, and Legionnaires: Voluntary Associations and the Making of Chinese American Civil Society, 1864-1945.” Staysniak’s essay is “Poverty Warriors, Service Learners, and a Nationwide Movement: Youth Volunteer Service, 1964-1973.”

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

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December
Early American History Seminar Petitions and the Cry of Sedition 5 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Adrian C. Weimer, Providence College Comment: Walter Woodward, University of Connecticut In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and ...

In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and women expressed keen dissatisfaction with the monarchy or General Court, leading to trials over seditious speech. The rich theological language in the petitions and feisty curses in the trial records offer an unrivaled glimpse into the significance of religion for the mobilization of local political communities in this tumultuous era.

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

More
Environmental History Seminar Lived Botany: Settler Colonialism, Household Knowledge Production, and Natural History in Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania 12 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Hannah Anderson, University of Pennsylvania Comment: Thomas Wickman, Trinity College When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that ...

When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that Anderson calls “lived botany.” This term reveals that colonists developed ways of interpreting their landscapes that simultaneously partook of and deviated from the norms of eighteenth-century natural history. Domestic spaces became sites where colonists created information about the natural world, allowing them to feel secure in the new environments where they claimed dominion.

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

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Miss America’s Politics: Beauty and the Development of the New Right since 1968 19 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Micki McElya, University of Connecticut Comment: Genevieve A. Clutario, Harvard University Drawn from McElya’s larger book project, this essay examines the centrality of the Miss ...

Drawn from McElya’s larger book project, this essay examines the centrality of the Miss America pageant, its local networks, and individual contestants to the rise of activist conservative women and the New Right in the 1960s and 1970s. It analyzes the celebration, power, and political effects of normative beauty, steeped in heterosexual gender norms and white supremacy, and argues for the transformative effect of putting diverse women’s voices at the center of political history and inquiry.

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

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January
Environmental History Seminar The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919-1927 16 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jeffrey Egan, University of Connecticut Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift ...

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 people. The contentious six-year debate that followed does not fit the standard story of urban conservationists versus rural peoples, as many valley residents defined themselves as rural and conservationist, and thus offers scholars a chance to see fresh nuances in early twentieth-century land management, rural life, and urban development.

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

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar The ‘Woman Inventor’ as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights in the Nineteenth-Century United States 23 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:45PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Kara Swanson, Northeastern University School of Law Comment: Rebecca Herzig, Bates College After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the ...

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book project, this paper demonstrates how nineteenth-century American women mobilized patents granted to women as justification for civil rights claims. It identifies the creation of the “woman inventor” as a cultural trope and political weapon of resistance.

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

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Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “Momentum Toward Evil is Strong”: Poor Women, Moral Panics, and the Rise of Crime-Fighting Policing in Depression-Era America 30 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Anne Gray Fischer, Brown University Comment: Michael Willrich, Brandeis University Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and ...

Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and incompetent political liability to a professional crime-fighting regime. This essay explores the dramatic shift in public perception by studying the changing practices of Depression-era morality policing in Boston and Los Angeles—specifically, the police enforcement of morals misdemeanors, including vagrancy, disorderly conduct, lewdness, and prostitution, which disproportionately targeted poor women on city streets.

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

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February
Early American History Seminar The Category of Disability in Colonial America 6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the ...

From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the United States, used for both social welfare and exclusion. The market for disability-related products and services boomed. This increasingly standardized and medicalized category of disability sheds new light on questions of citizenship, state formation, market growth, medicine, and social belonging, while also exposing the deep intersections of disability and American nation-building.

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

More
Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager 13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of ...

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

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

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More events
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Panel Discussion: Volunteerism and Civil Society in the Twentieth Century Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
28 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM K. Ian Shin, Bates College, and Chris Staysniak, Boston College Comment: Timothy Neary, Salve Regina University

This panel considers volunteerism as sponsored by ethnic and service organizations. Both essays challenge our notions of “belonging” in a civil society, including our understandings of assimilation, activism, and protest. Shin’s paper is “Masons, Scouts, and Legionnaires: Voluntary Associations and the Making of Chinese American Civil Society, 1864-1945.” Staysniak’s essay is “Poverty Warriors, Service Learners, and a Nationwide Movement: Youth Volunteer Service, 1964-1973.”

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

close
Early American History Seminar Petitions and the Cry of Sedition Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
5 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Adrian C. Weimer, Providence College Comment: Walter Woodward, University of Connecticut

In the political upheavals of the early Restoration a remarkable number of Massachusetts men and women expressed keen dissatisfaction with the monarchy or General Court, leading to trials over seditious speech. The rich theological language in the petitions and feisty curses in the trial records offer an unrivaled glimpse into the significance of religion for the mobilization of local political communities in this tumultuous era.

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

close
Environmental History Seminar Lived Botany: Settler Colonialism, Household Knowledge Production, and Natural History in Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
12 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Hannah Anderson, University of Pennsylvania Comment: Thomas Wickman, Trinity College

When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that Anderson calls “lived botany.” This term reveals that colonists developed ways of interpreting their landscapes that simultaneously partook of and deviated from the norms of eighteenth-century natural history. Domestic spaces became sites where colonists created information about the natural world, allowing them to feel secure in the new environments where they claimed dominion.

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

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Miss America’s Politics: Beauty and the Development of the New Right since 1968 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
19 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:30PM - 7:45PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Micki McElya, University of Connecticut Comment: Genevieve A. Clutario, Harvard University

Drawn from McElya’s larger book project, this essay examines the centrality of the Miss America pageant, its local networks, and individual contestants to the rise of activist conservative women and the New Right in the 1960s and 1970s. It analyzes the celebration, power, and political effects of normative beauty, steeped in heterosexual gender norms and white supremacy, and argues for the transformative effect of putting diverse women’s voices at the center of political history and inquiry.

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

close
Environmental History Seminar The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919-1927 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
16 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jeffrey Egan, University of Connecticut Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 people. The contentious six-year debate that followed does not fit the standard story of urban conservationists versus rural peoples, as many valley residents defined themselves as rural and conservationist, and thus offers scholars a chance to see fresh nuances in early twentieth-century land management, rural life, and urban development.

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

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar The ‘Woman Inventor’ as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights in the Nineteenth-Century United States Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
23 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:45PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Kara Swanson, Northeastern University School of Law Comment: Rebecca Herzig, Bates College

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book project, this paper demonstrates how nineteenth-century American women mobilized patents granted to women as justification for civil rights claims. It identifies the creation of the “woman inventor” as a cultural trope and political weapon of resistance.

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

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar “Momentum Toward Evil is Strong”: Poor Women, Moral Panics, and the Rise of Crime-Fighting Policing in Depression-Era America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
30 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Anne Gray Fischer, Brown University Comment: Michael Willrich, Brandeis University

Between Prohibition and World War II, American law enforcement went from being seen as a brutal and incompetent political liability to a professional crime-fighting regime. This essay explores the dramatic shift in public perception by studying the changing practices of Depression-era morality policing in Boston and Los Angeles—specifically, the police enforcement of morals misdemeanors, including vagrancy, disorderly conduct, lewdness, and prostitution, which disproportionately targeted poor women on city streets.

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

close
Early American History Seminar The Category of Disability in Colonial America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

From 1790 to 1840, disability emerged as a legal, institutional, and cultural category in the United States, used for both social welfare and exclusion. The market for disability-related products and services boomed. This increasingly standardized and medicalized category of disability sheds new light on questions of citizenship, state formation, market growth, medicine, and social belonging, while also exposing the deep intersections of disability and American nation-building.

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

close
Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

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

close