This Week @MHS

Here is a look at the programs we have at the MHS this week:

On Monday, February, at 6:00 PM: Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Ceremony and conversation between Christine DeLucia, Williams College, and Rae Gould, Brown University. Please join us for a special evening in which historian Christine DeLucia will receive the 2019 Gomes Prize for Memory Lands: King Philip’s War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast. DeLucia will join Dr. Rae Gould in a conversation about the war’s effects on the everyday lives and collective mentalities of the region’s diverse Native and Euro-American communities over the course of several centuries, focusing on persistent struggles over land and water, sovereignty, resistance, cultural memory, and intercultural interactions.

On Tuesday, 4 February, at 5:15 PM: Historical Datasets as Arguments: 21st Century Curations of 17th Century Records with Talya Housman, Digital Historian. Using Dr. Housman’s experience of curating a relational database on cases of sexual crime and gendered violence in England between 1642 and 1660 as a point of entry, this talk looks at some implicit editorial arguments we make in our historical research. This talk will outline the process of data collection, designing, and building the database (including software selection and database design choices) and discuss some of the issues posed by historical data itself, including standardization of spelling and how to document uncertainty. This is part of the Boston-Area Seminar on Digital History Projects series. Seminars are free and open to the public. Content warning: this talk discusses sexual violence.

Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery & Their Astonishing Odyssey Home with Richard Bell, University of Maryland. Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of free African Americans from their families in order to fuel slavery’s rapid expansion in the decades before the Civil War. 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, EBT or ConnectorCare cardholders). 

On Saturday, 8 February, 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

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.