This Week @MHS

While the MHS is closed on Monday, 17 February, it is still a busy programming week. Take a look at what is planned:

On Tuesday, 18 February, at 5:15 PM: “What the Women Can Do:” Doctors’ Wives & the American Medical Association’s Crusade Against Socialized Medicine with Kelly O’Donnell, Thomas Jefferson University, and comment by Oliva Weisser, University of Massachusetts, Boston. In the mid-20th century, the American Medical Association opposed attempts to create a national health program in this country, through lobbying and public outreach about the dangers of socialized medicine. Their most powerful weapon in this fight was a less conventional medical instrument: their wives. This paper examines the mobilization of the AMA Woman’s Auxiliary as the main “public relations firm” of organized medicine during these debates and their lingering influence on American health politics. This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality* series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

On Wednesday, 19 February, at 6:00 PM: Mother is a Verb: An Unconventional History with Sarah Knott, Indiana University. Pregnancy, birth, and the encounter with an infant: how have these experiences changed over time and cultures? Blending memoir and history, feminist Sarah Knott draws on the terrain of Britain and North America from the seventeenth century to the close of the twentieth. Knott searches among a range of past societies, pores over archives, and documents her own experiences to craft a new historical interpretation of maternity for our changing times. 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 Friday, 21 February, at 2:00 PM: FIRE! Voices of the Boston Massacre Gallery Talk with Amanda Norton, MHS. Join Adams Papers editor Amanda Norton to learn more about why John Adams, a noted Patriot, defended the British soldiers involved in the Boston Massacre and how he won acquittals for all but two of them.

On Saturday, 22 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

*Our seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. After brief remarks from the author and an assigned commentator, the discussion is opened to the floor. All are encourage to ask questions, provide feedback on the circulated essay, and discuss the topic at hand. Discussion is followed by a reception of light refreshments. The sessions are free and open to everyone.

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.