This Week @MHS

It’s a busy week at the MHS. Here is a look at what is planned:

On Monday, 18 November, at 6:00 PM: This Land Is Their Land The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, & the Troubled History of Thanksgiving with David J. Silverman, George Washington University. David Silverman explores the history of the Wampanoag people to reveal the distortions of the Thanksgiving Myth, a persisting story that promotes the idea that Native people willingly ceded their country to the English to give rise to a white, Christian, democratic nation. Silverman traces how the Wampanoags have lived—and told—a different history over the past four centuries. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders).  

On Tuesday, 19 November, at  5:15 PM: Murder at the Manhattan Well: The Personal & the Political in the Election of 1800 with Paul Gilje, University of Oklahoma and comment by Kate Grandjean, Wellesley College. In 1800, journeyman carpenter, Levi Weeks, was accused of murdering Guliema Sands, a young woman living in the same boarding house. Using the trial transcript, this paper places the lives of Weeks and Sands in a larger context: Weeks as an artisan in a dynamic economy and Sands as a poor unattached woman amidst changing ideas about sexuality. The author also relates the trial to the New York election that occurred a month later.

On Wednesday, 20 November, at 6:00 PM: New Directions for Boston’s Subsidized Housing: Learning from the Past with Kate Bennett, Boston Housing Authority; Soni Gupta, The Boston Foundation; Lawrence Vale, MIT; Sandra Henriquez, Detroit Housing Commission; and moderator David Luberoff, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. As neighborhoods across Boston face enormous development pressure, there is a risk that low-income residents will be forced out of the city. Social disruption due to gentrification, shifting government policies and programs, and the challenges of climate change make the future of affordable housing in Boston precarious. In the past, Boston modeled creative and successful solutions to dire housing problems, and there is hope that the city can continue to deploy innovative policies that will brighten the future for all city residents. Our final panel in this series will look at the future of affordable housing in Boston, taking stock of past lessons learned. Note: We had originally scheduled William McGonagle to be a part of this discussion. We were shocked and heartbroken to learn of his passing. Kate Bennett, the Acting Administrator of the Boston Housing Authority, has agreed to participate in his place. We apologize if there is any confusion due to the names listed in printed material being different from the names listed online. This is part three of a series of four programs that is made possible by the generosity of Mass Humanities and the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.  REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED.

On Thursday, 21 November, at 5:15 PM: Mary Church Terrell’s Intersectional Black Feminism with Alison M. Parker, University of Delaware, and Kerri Greenidge, Tufts University. Civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) highlighted the intersections of race and sex in black women’s lives. This paper focuses on Terrell’s critiques of the suffrage movement, the social purity movement, and the postbellum white nostalgia for “Black Mammies.” Terrell asserted black women’s right to be full citizens, to vote, and to be treated without violence and with respect. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series.This session is co-sponsored by the New England Biography Series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

On Friday, 22 November, at 2:00 PM: Abigail Adams: Life & Legacy Gallery TalkJoin an Adams Papers editor to explore how Abigail Adams has come to hold a unique place within the fabric of American life.

On Saturday, 23 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.