This Week @MHS

Happy 2020! Here is a look at what is happening at the MHS this week:

On Tuesday, January, at 5:15 PM: Supplying Slavery: Jamaica & British Imperial Trade, 1752-1769 with Peter Pellizzari, Harvard University and comment by Richard Dunn, American Philosophical Society. Historians have long understood the economic importance of Jamaica to the eighteenth-century British empire, but the vast profits that the island’s sugar-slave complexes produced could only have existed with the supplies and provisions provided by mainland colonists in North America. Newly collected data from nearly 10,000 British naval office shipping lists for Kingston, Jamaica provide a re-assessment of the size, nature, and value of this trade. The shipping lists reveal not only how deeply committed the mainland was to supplying Jamaican slavery, but also suggests that we reconsider the island as a powerful regional hub within the larger British Atlantic economy, one in which North America figured as an important hinterland. This is part of the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, 8 January, at 12:00 PM: “Thus Much for Politicks”: American Women, Diplomacy, & the Aftermath of the American Revolution with Miriam Liebman, City University of New York. This talk looks at the ways women used non-republican methods of politicking on behalf of the United States while abroad in Europe, focusing on Abigail Adams’s time abroad in London and Paris. Situating Adams in an international and diplomatic context highlights the ways she influenced American foreign and domestic policy while abroad. Using five different themes— letters, politics and political intrigue, money and economic diplomacy, social networks, and republicanism and aristocracy abroad— this work analyzes her politicking in Europe. This is part of the Brown-bag lunch programBrown-bags are free and open to the public.

On Friday, 10 January, at 2:00 PM: FIRE! Voices of the Boston Massacre gallery talk with Peter Drummey, MHS. Walk through the exhibition with Peter Drummey. He will highlight some of the archival material found in the MHS collection.

On Saturday, 11 January, 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.

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.