Brown-bag Lunch Programs

The Massachusetts Historical Society offers more than two dozen brown-bag lunch programs every year. These programs are free of charge, and no RSVP is required. All are welcome to attend!

Presented on the first Wednesday of each month with other dates also scheduled, the programs begin at noon and end promptly at 1:00 PM.

What is it?

The brown-bags provide an informal opportunity for visiting researchers to discuss their work, field questions, and receive new ideas. Think of them as a working lunch for scholars, with members of the public encouraged to join in the conversation.

Programs take place at the MHS in the Dowse Library. With its dark wood panelling and ornate book bindings, the room represents a typical 19th-century gentlemen's retreat. Participants are welcome to bring their lunches, and the MHS provides an assortment of soft drinks and coffee. The program begins as the presenter describes his or her research in the MHS collections. Everyone is then welcome to ask questions and comment.

Here is a sampling of past programs:

  • Laurie Ellen Pazzano, the Landscape Institute of the Boston Architectural College/Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Peace field: 1788–1818, The New England Farm of John & Abigail Adams
  • Caroline Hasenyager, College of William and Mary, Peopling the Cloister: Women's Colleges and the Worlds We've Made of Them
  • Andrew Lipman, Syracuse University, The Saltwater Frontier: Algonquians and the Transformation of Long Island Sound in the Seventeenth Century
  • David Preston, The Citadel, Braddock’s Veterans: Paths of Loyalty in the British Empire, 1755–1775
  • Peter Wirzbicki, New York University, The Adelphic Union: the Creation of a Black Intellectual Community in Antebellum Boston
  • Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, “What Are You Reading, What Are You Saying”: American Reading and Writing Practices, 1760-1860
  • Rachel Herrmann, University of Texas at Austin, Food and War: Indians, Slaves, and the American Revolution
  • Nicholas Osborne, Columbia University, Saving Capitalism: The Rise of US Savings Banks, 1816-1865
  • Laura Prieto, Simmons College, New Women in an American Empire, 1898-1910

Upcoming Events

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar

The Difference the Nineteenth Amendment Made: Southern Black Women and the Reconstruction of ...

25Feb 5:15PM 2020

Many scholars have argued that though the enfranchisement of women was laudable, not much changed after women got the vote: the suffrage coalition splintered, women&rsquo ...

Brown Bag

“Any Indyan which they shall attain to”: Indian Labor, Servitude, and Slavery in Early America

26Feb 12:00PM 2020

This project makes transnational comparisons of early enslavement of Native Americans by European colonists in the Atlantic world. Specifically, this project examines ...

Author Talk

We the People: The 500-Year Battle Over Who Is American

27Feb 6:00PM 2020
There is a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Ben Railton argues that throughout our history two competing yet interconnected concepts have battled to define our national identity and community: exclusionary and ...

From our Blog

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Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

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