This Week @ MHS
This coming week is a busy one here at the MHS. Please note that the library closes at 1:00PM on Friday, 8 April. Now, here is the weekly round-up of events ahead:
- Tuesday, 5 April, 5:15PM : Join us for an Early American History seminar featuring past MHS research fellow Jared Hardesty of Western Washington University. During this session he presents "Constructing Castle William: An Intimate History of Labor and Empire in Provincial America," which explores a five-year project fraught with corruption, labor strife, ineptitude, and supply shortages. Eliga H. Gould of the University of New Hampshire provides comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
- Wednesday, 6 April, 12:00PM : "The Elusive Quest: African-American Emigration to Haiti and the Struggle for Full Citizenship in the United States, 1815-1865" is a Brown Bag lunch talk presented by MHS research fellow Westenley Alcenat of Columbia Univeristy and MIT. The project explores the exprience and radicalism of the African-American settlers who emigrated to Haiti throughout the nineteenth century and how the migration influenced African-American and Haitian political thought before and during the American Civil War. This talk is free and open to the public.
- Wednesday, 6 April, 6:00PM : "Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams" is an author talk featuring Louisa Thomas. The story of Louisa Catherine Adams is one of a woman who forged a sense of self. As the country her husband led found its place in the world, she found a voice. That voice resonates still. Registration is required for this event at a cost of $20 (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members). A pre-talk reception starts at 5:30PM and the talk begins at 6:00PM.
- Thursday, 7 April, 5:30PM : The latest installment of the New England Biography Seminar series is here. "BioFictions - Turning 'Real' People into Fictional Characters" is a discussion, moderated by Megan Marshall of Emerson College, among novelists Geraldine Brooks, Matthew Pearl, and Alice Hoffman, in which the participants talk about the process, where they draw the line between fact and fiction, and what inspires them to make fiction out of history. THIS EVENT IS NOW FILLED. Email email@example.com to be placed on a wait list. You will be contacted in the event of a cancellation.
- Saturday, 9 April, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a docent-led walk through the public spaces in the Society's home on Boylston Street. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition. The exhibition galleries are open to the public free of charge, Monday-Friday, 10:00AM-4:00PM.
- Saturday, 9 April, 1:00PM : "Begin at the Beginning: Daniel Gookin, Praying Indians, and America's Bloodiest War." Join independent historian Dwight Mackerron and those who love 17th-century history to talk about King Philip's War. How New England descended into this violence is the subject of our conversation. Participants are invited to share their own knowledge of the war. Registration is required for this event at no cost. This event is co-hosted with the Partnership of Historic Bostons, www.historicbostons.org.
| Published: Sunday, 3 April, 2016, 12:00 AM
April Fools’ Day, 1864: The Cartoon Antics of Thomas Nast
By Shelby Wolfe, Reader Services
Happy New Year!
…April Fool! Though, according to the Julian calendar developed by Julius Caesar, April 1 was designated the first day of the year. When Pope Gregory XIII instituted a new calendar in 1564 with January 1 as the start of the new year, adherents of the Gregorian calendar ridiculed the old-timers who continued to celebrate April 1 as New Year’s Day, labelling them “fools” and heaping pranks upon them. This tradition of practical jokes and pranks continues today, though in harmless fun and enjoyment for all (hopefully).
Printed in the April 2, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly, Thomas Nast’s depiction of “The First of April, 1864” incorporates political commentary, Civil War satire, and general foolery. In the top insets, we see the antics of Union soldiers fooling their fellow men regarding the Confederate Army’s nearby whereabouts (top left), and Union sailors likewise blocking their comrades’ view of the enemy (top right). The bottom left inset depicts a husband and wife who have switched appearances, the wife sporting a coat, top hat, and mustache while her husband wears a dress and bonnet. In the center images, people have attached signs and strings with objects to others behind their backs. Nast gives the viewer a sense of his feelings for the Peace Democrats of the North, who were proponents of a cease-fire and negotiated settlement with the Confederacy, by depicting them as geese and donkeys in the top center image.
Thomas Nast, known as the “Father of the American Cartoon,” was a German-born American whose politically-charged cartoons wielded considerable influence over public opinion. His cartoons, many published in Harper’s Weekly, helped bring down the infamous “Boss” Tweed of Tammany Hall and influenced the elections of Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 and 1872. Nast is also noted for creating the Republican Party symbol of the elephant and the modern depiction of Santa Claus.
To view this woodcut print in greater detail, visit the library in person and see if you can decipher more April Fools’ Day trickery in these scenes!
| Published: Friday, 1 April, 2016, 12:00 AM
Margaret Russell's Diary, March 1916
By Anna J. Clutterbuck Cook, Reader Services
Today, we return to the line-a-day diary of Margaret Russell. If you have missed previous installments of the diary you can find January (along with a brief introduction to the series) and February in the blog archive. In contrast to her busy travel schedule in February, Margaret Russell remained in Boston throughout the month of March. The weather continued to be quiet wintery, with Margaret often noting snow and “blowing” wind. Her days were spent socializing with friends, charity work, and cultural activities such as visits to the museum and attendance at lectures.
One of the things that can be most jarring or haunting about reading a line-a-day diary is the way in which meaningful events are sandwiched within otherwise mundane entries. For example, on March 5th Margaret writes that “Henry Curtis is dead” between noting where she ate lunch and how “fine” the Wagner concert she attended that day was.
And even though Margaret spent the month of March in Boston, she was not wanting for high-profile performers and speakers; among the lectures she attended was a speech by former President William Howard Taft and among the concerts she attended were two performances by pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) who three years later would become prime minister of Poland.
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1 March.* Wednesday - Mrs. Ward’s lecture. Lunched at Club. Art Museum talk. Home to rest. Second lecture of coal by Prof. Jeffrey with Miss A--.
2 March. Thursday. M.G.H. Meeting. Walked down to see Miss Cannon. First [illegible words] England - Individualism. Skating Carnival with Parkman.
3 March. Friday. To Mrs. Dalton’s on C.D. business. Beautiful concert. To hear Pres. Taft speak at Red Cross in the evening.
4 March. Saturday - Mrs. Tyson’s reading. Paid calls & went to musical at Miss Mason’s.
5. March. Sunday - Walked to Cathedral with Miss A. Lunched at HGC’s. Henry Curtis is dead. Fine Wagner concert. Family to dine.
6 March. Monday. Hospital meeting. [illegible word]. Went to Mt. Auburn with CPC for funeral. Botany lecture.
7 March. Tuesday - snowing again. Lunched at Mrs. Mattey’s. Went to hear Mrs. Dupriez on Belgium. Very painful.
8 March. Wednesday - Church. Chilton. Had lunch at Miss Lamb’s. Art museum. Snowing hard.
9 March. Thursday - Chilton meeting. Am back as Gov. Lunch club at Mrs. Hunnewell’s. Power lecture. Dined at Mrs. Crafts.
10 March. Friday - Snowing again. Mrs. W. Charles came to play. Concert with Paderewski. Had dinner of 22 for Ellen at Chilton. Dancing class afterwards.
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
11. March. Saturday. Mrs. Tyson’s reading. Mama sick so stayed at home with Mama. Mrs. Sears to concert as Paderewski played.
12 March. Sunday. Church. Lunched at HGC’s Family to dine.
13 March. Monday. Errands - [illegible word] - lunched at Marian’s. Botany lesson. Thawing.
14 March. Tuesday. Ear & Eye visit in the A.M. Tuesday Club at M. Ware’s. Red Cross discussion. Had ten people to dine. Seemed pleasant.
15 March. Wednesday. Ward lecture. Lunched at Chilton. Art museum class - Snowing hard & blowing.
16 March. Thursday. Walked down town errands & church. After lunch went out to see Aunt E. Last [illegible word] lecture.
17 March. Friday - Fine day. Walked down town. Mrs. Chandler came to play. Lunch at Mrs. Jack Peabody’s. Drove out to Riverside, road good.
18 March. Saturday - 4 [illegible word] this A.M. - Mrs. Tyson’s. After lunch went down to Swampscott. Badly drifted in places but we did not suffer.
19 March. Sunday - Church to see Parkmans. Lunched at H.G.C’s. Paid calls. Found Mary R. who looks very ill. Family to dine.
20 March. Monday - Mrs. Norcross from [illegible word] Com. came by to see me & I liked her very much. Botany lesson at Cambridge. Was lecture at Mrs. Sears.
21 March. Tuesday - Eye & Ear through the A.M. Dined at the H. Burrs. Streets in awful condition.
22 March. Snowing hard & blowing again. Went out to Fogg museum where Ed. Forbes showed us the [illegible word] pictures.
23 March. Thursday - Walked for errands. Mrs. Charles to play. Lunch club at Jessie’s. Went out to see Aunt Emma.
24 March. Friday - Down town to buy typewriter & to church. Miss Ruelker to lunch & to go to concert. Went to Cambridge to see [illegible word].
25 March. Saturday - Mrs. Tyson’s reading.
26 March. Sunday Church. Lunched at Horatio’s. Family to dine. Went to see Mary Russell but there had been a sudden change.
27 March. Monday - went to walk for errands. Lunch at Marian’s. Visited the Eye & Ear.
28 March. Tuesday - Colonial Dames annual meeting but to Cambridge to lunch at Edith’s. Back to hear Miss Holinau speak at the Allens.
29 March. Wednesday - Interesting lecture from Pres. Taft. Lunched at Mrs. Allen’s with Miss Holinau. F. O. & Mrs. Hay & F. D. Cambridge concert in evening.
30 March. Thursday - Mrs. Charles to play. Went out to see Aunt Emma & there to dine. Mary Russell has had [illegible word].
31 March. Friday - Service at cathedral. Lunched at Chilton’s. Had Miss Reulker & Mrs. Bell, Mrs. Sears E & J. All went to concert. Dined at Georgie’s.
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If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.
*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original.
| Published: Wednesday, 30 March, 2016, 12:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
After a lack of programming last week, we are back this week with a slew of public events to satisfy your hunger for history. Be sure to keep an eye on our monthly calendar in the coming weeks as April has a lot going on! Here's what's on as we leave March behind:
- Tuesday, 29 March, 5:15PM : The War on Butchers: San Francisco and the Making of Animal Space, 1850-1870, is a part of the Immigration and Urban History Seminar series. In this paper, Andrew Robichaud of Boston University examines some of the challenges of urban animal life (and death) in cities, while tracing the evolution of animal regulations in San Francisco between 1850 and 1870. Harriet Ritvo of MIT provides comment. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
- Wednesday, 30 March, 12:00PM : Pack a lunch and come in at noon to hear Margaret Newell, Ohio State University, talk about her current research project, "William and Ellen Craft and the Transatlantic Battle for Civil Rights in the Nineteenth Century," a dramatic story of escape from slavery in Georgia on to a life of anti-slavery activism in Boston and London. This Brown Bag talk is free and open to the public, no registration required.
- Wednesday, 30 March, 6:00PM : Join us for a public author talk presented by Andrew Lipman of Barnard College, recipient of a 2016 Bancroft Prize. The Saltwater Frontier: Indians and the Contest for the American Coast examines the previously untold story of how the ocean became a "frontier" between colonists and Indians. Registration is required for this event with a fee of $20 (no charge for MHS Members and Fellows). A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM.
- Friday, 1 April, 2:00PM : Stop by the MHS at 2:00PM for a free gallery talk, "Jefferson and Slavery." Jefferson was the author of the Declaration of Independence, yet he also owned people as slaves. His experimental farm and garden and his architectural tests were made possible through the uncompensated labor of hundreds. While Jefferson and slavery is not the primary focus of our exhibition, it is present in every room. The curator of the show ,Peter Drummey, will explore this subject.
There is no public tour scheduled for Saturday, 2 April. Please check back next week!
| Published: Sunday, 27 March, 2016, 11:24 AM
This Island, Cuba
By Susan Martin, Collections Services
After President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some MHS material related to the island and its history. We hold a number of collections touching on the subject, including the papers of Boston-area merchants engaged in the U.S.-Cuba sugar trade during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Foremost among these merchant families was the Atkins family. Our popular collection of Atkins family papers spans from 1845 to 1950 and consists almost exclusively of the business papers of Elisha, Edwin F., and Robert W. Atkins, as well as the records of E. Atkins & Co. The Atkins family owned a sugar plantation called the Soledad estate on the southern coast of Cuba near Cienfuegos. By the end of the 19th century, under the leadership of Edwin F. Atkins, the prosperous Soledad had grown to enormous proportions, encompassing about 12,000 acres. Five thousand acres were planted with sugar cane.
Edwin F. and his wife Katharine W. Atkins, from their Cuban passport, 1917
The Atkins family papers came to the MHS with hundreds of photographs depicting life on the estate, as well as scenes of Cuban cities and seaports. It’s difficult to choose from so many terrific images, but here are a few of my favorites. (All of the photographs below are unfortunately undated.)
A big tree!
The MHS website features a digital exhibit of select items from the Atkins family papers, or you may just want to search our website for Cuba material. Other collections related to Cuba include the papers of the Foster, Morse, and Dabney families. Bay Staters also traveled to the island as tourists, and we hold many letters and diaries written during these trips. We hope you’ll visit our library to see what we have!
| Published: Friday, 25 March, 2016, 4:42 PM