This Week @MHS

This week at the MHS we have a seminar, two evening programs, a brown-bag lunch, and a tour. Please note that the library and exhibition galleries will be closed on Thursday, 7 November for a staff retreat. The building will open at 5:00 PM for the evening program.

On Tuesday, 5 November, at 5:15 PM: Native Lands & American Expansion in the Early Republic with Emilie Connolly, New York University; Franklin Sammons, University of California, Berkeley; and comment by Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut. In the Early Republic, Americans pressed against the borders of the new nation to expand their control over Native lands. This panel examines these interactions between Native tribes and the land-hungry white settlers and speculators to discuss issues of agency, financial stability, and legal precedent. Emilie Connolly considers the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree between the Seneca and Founding Father Robert Morris in New York State. Franklin Sammons looks at the illegal “Yazoo Land Sales” in Georgia. This is part of the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, November, at 12:00 PM: Laboring Bodies: Dispossessed Women & Sexuality in Colonial New England with Emily Clark, Johns Hopkins University. This project will examine the intimate lives of enslaved, servant, and poor women using cases in which their supposedly “deviant” bodies entered the historical record – in court cases, almshouse ledgers, and cheap print. Often overlooked in histories of New England, these women made up a crucial part of colonial society. Their bodies and labors (productive and reproductive) were used against their wills. Nonetheless, these sources reveal laboring women’s everyday efforts to control their own bodies and sexualities. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch program. Brown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, November, at 6:00 PM: Girl in Black & White: The Story of Mary Mildred Williams & the Abolition Movement with Jessie Morgan-Owens. This talk is about the little-known story of Mary Mildred Williams—a slave girl who looked “white” and whose image transformed the abolitionist movement. Mary became the face of American slavery when Sen. Charles Sumner saw in her a monumental political opportunity for the abolitionist cause. Weaving together long-overlooked primary sources, including daguerreotypes found in the MHS collection, this history follows Mary through to her own adulthood, describing a life parallel to the antislavery movement. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

On Thursday, November,  at 6:00 PM: The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America with T.H. Breen, Northwestern University. Over eight years of war, ordinary Americans accomplished something extraordinary. Far from the actions of the Continental Congress and the Continental Army, they took responsibility for the course of the Revolution. In villages, towns, and cities from Georgia to New Hampshire, Americans managed local affairs, negotiated shared sacrifice, and participated in a political system in which each believed they were as good as any other. Presenting hundreds of stories, T. H. Breen captures the powerful sense of equality and responsibility resulting from this process of self-determination. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).

On Saturday, 9 November, at 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. This is a 90-minute docent-led walk through of our public rooms. The tour is free and open to the public. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or

Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Pop-Up Display
Abigail Adams urged her husband to “Remember the Ladies” and made herself impossible to forget. But Abigail is memorable for more than her famous 1776 admonition. This final Remember Abigail display uses documents and artifacts through the ages to consider the way Abigail viewed her own legacy and to explore how and why we continue to Remember Abigail. Join us for a gallery talk on 22 November at 2:00 PM.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre now open!
On the evening of March 5, 1770, soldiers occupying the town of Boston shot into a crowd, killing or fatally wounding five civilians. In the aftermath of what soon became known as the Boston  Massacre, questions about the command to “Fire!” became crucial. Who yelled it? When and why? Because the answers would determine the guilt or innocence of the soldiers, defense counsel John Adams insisted that “Facts are stubborn things.” But what are the facts? The evidence, often contradictory, drew upon testimony from dozens of witnesses. Through a selection of artifacts, eyewitness accounts, and trial testimony—the voices of ordinary men and women—Fire! Voice from the Boston Massacre explores how this flashpoint changed American history. The exhibition is on display at the MHS October 31, 2019 through June 30, 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.