This Week @MHS

There is a lot going on at the MHS this week. Take a look at the programs we have planned:

On Monday, December, at 6:00 PM: Destination: Boston–Immigration & Migration, 1820-1920 with Andrew Robichaud, Boston University. From 1820 to 1920, Boston grew by leaps and bounds through an intensive (and often contentious) process of immigration and migration that ultimately created the modern metropolis. In this presentation and virtual exhibit, Prof. Andrew Robichaud and students from Boston University will present more than 20 rare artifacts and documents from the archives of the MHS. Through letters, diaries, drawings, photographs, reform tracts, and memoirs, presenters will unearth the complex and nuanced dimensions of immigration and migration to Boston. Light refreshments will be served following the presentation.

On Tuesday, 10 December, at 5:15 PM: Who Was “One-Eyed” Sarah? Searching for an Indigenous Nurse in Local Government with Gabriel J. Loiacono, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and comment by Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut. This essay considers the life of an indigenous woman, known as “One-Eyed” Sarah, who provided full-time nursing care to poor communities in early nineteenth-century Providence, RI. The only historical sources that describe Sarah’s work never provide her last name or details beyond the description “Indian.” So who was she, and how do we tell her story? Using sometimes patchy sources of non-elite people, the author hopes to gain new insights into social welfare history and explore how ordinary women made the poor law function. This is part of the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 11 December at 6:00 PM: At Home: A Look at Historic Houses Through the Archives with Beth Luey. Archival collections held in local institutions can help historians uncover the untold stories of historic houses in Massachusetts. The library of the New Bedford Whaling Museum documents the homes of the great whaling families, while Harvard documents the Ward House and the American Antiquarian Society welcomes us into the Salisbury Mansion in Worcester. The Mary Baker Eddy library documents the many houses where she lived, and, of course, the Massachusetts Historical Society brings the Adams family and their houses to life. 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, 14 December, 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

On Saturday, 14 December, at 4:00 PM: Legacies of 1619: Citizenship & Belonging with Manisha Sinha, University of Connecticut; Elizabeth Herbin-Triant, University of Massachusetts—Lowell; Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ohio State University; and moderator Marita Rivero, Museum of African American History, Boston. For 400 years, Africans and African Americans carved out a distinctive culture for themselves even as they sought equal rights in American society. This program will consider how African Americans struggled to gain equal access to political and social rights, all the while making the American experience their own. This is the final program in a four-part series co-sponsored by the Museum of African American History and the Roxbury Community College. There will be a pre-talk reception at 3:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 4:00 PM.

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.

Fire! Voices from the Boston Massacre
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 through 30 June 2020, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

Please note that the library and gallery spaces will close at 3:30 PM on Thursday, 12 December and the library will close at 3:00 PM on Saturday, 14 December.