The Boston Environmental History Seminar is an occasion for scholars as well as interested members of the public to discuss aspects of American environmental history from prehistory to the present day. Presenters come from a variety of disciplines including history, urban planning, and environmental management.

 

Most seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a pre-circulated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

 

There will be six sessions in the 2017-2018 academic year, and one roundtable hosted jointly with the Boston Area Early American History Seminar. Download, print, and circulate the series calendar!


Attendance is free and open to everyone. Subscribers who remit $25 for the year will receive early online access to any pre-circulated materials. Subscriptions also underwrite the cost of the series. Pre-circulated materials will be available to non-subscribers who have RSVP’d for a session on the Monday prior to the program. Subscribe to this seminar series and you will receive access to the seminar papers for THREE series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, and the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these three fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend! 

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship. Subscribe

October

Environmental History Seminar Early American Environmental Histories 10 October 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM James Rice, Tufts University Comment: Christopher Parsons, Northeastern University This essay speaks to questions raised in a recent workshop at the Huntington on early American ...

This essay speaks to questions raised in a recent workshop at the Huntington on early American environmental history. How do timespan and scale change our understanding of historical relationships between people and their environments? What new light does environmental history shed on topics such as race, gender, or law? What can early Americanists contribute to the field of environmental history as a whole?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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November
Environmental History Seminar Drafting the Cape Cod Formula 14 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jacqueline Gonzales, Historical Research Associates Comment: Steven Moga, Smith College When the National Park Service wanted to create a federal park on Cape Cod, residents worried about ...

When the National Park Service wanted to create a federal park on Cape Cod, residents worried about what would happen to their homes, communities, and coastal traditions. This paper examines how citizens articulated their concerns, and how these responses helped the NPS and Senators John F. Kennedy and Leverett Saltonstall to create a new acquisition and land management policy that would then be applied to other living landscapes.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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December
Environmental History Seminar Lived Botany: Settler Colonialism, Household Knowledge Production, and Natural History in Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania 12 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Hannah Anderson, University of Pennsylvania Comment: Thomas Wickman, Trinity College When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that ...

When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that Anderson calls “lived botany.” This term reveals that colonists developed ways of interpreting their landscapes that simultaneously partook of and deviated from the norms of eighteenth-century natural history. Domestic spaces became sites where colonists created information about the natural world, allowing them to feel secure in the new environments where they claimed dominion.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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January
Environmental History Seminar The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919-1927 16 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Jeffrey Egan, University of Connecticut Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift ...

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 people. The contentious six-year debate that followed does not fit the standard story of urban conservationists versus rural peoples, as many valley residents defined themselves as rural and conservationist, and thus offers scholars a chance to see fresh nuances in early twentieth-century land management, rural life, and urban development.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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February
Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager 13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of ...

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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March
Environmental History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America 6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history ...

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

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April
Environmental History Seminar The Ice Trade: Frederic Tudor’s “Slippery Speculation” 10 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: David Spanagel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, ...

This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, described in 1806 by the Boston Gazette as a “slippery speculation.” What can the ice trade tell us about environmental, economic, political, and spatial change in nineteenth-century Boston and North America?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

More
More events
Environmental History Seminar Early American Environmental Histories 10 October 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM James Rice, Tufts University Comment: Christopher Parsons, Northeastern University

This essay speaks to questions raised in a recent workshop at the Huntington on early American environmental history. How do timespan and scale change our understanding of historical relationships between people and their environments? What new light does environmental history shed on topics such as race, gender, or law? What can early Americanists contribute to the field of environmental history as a whole?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Drafting the Cape Cod Formula 14 November 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jacqueline Gonzales, Historical Research Associates Comment: Steven Moga, Smith College

When the National Park Service wanted to create a federal park on Cape Cod, residents worried about what would happen to their homes, communities, and coastal traditions. This paper examines how citizens articulated their concerns, and how these responses helped the NPS and Senators John F. Kennedy and Leverett Saltonstall to create a new acquisition and land management policy that would then be applied to other living landscapes.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Lived Botany: Settler Colonialism, Household Knowledge Production, and Natural History in Eighteenth-Century Pennsylvania 12 December 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Hannah Anderson, University of Pennsylvania Comment: Thomas Wickman, Trinity College

When Pennsylvania settlers used plants to treat illnesses, they used a type of knowledge that Anderson calls “lived botany.” This term reveals that colonists developed ways of interpreting their landscapes that simultaneously partook of and deviated from the norms of eighteenth-century natural history. Domestic spaces became sites where colonists created information about the natural world, allowing them to feel secure in the new environments where they claimed dominion.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919-1927 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 16 January 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jeffrey Egan, University of Connecticut Comment: Karl Haglund, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 people. The contentious six-year debate that followed does not fit the standard story of urban conservationists versus rural peoples, as many valley residents defined themselves as rural and conservationist, and thus offers scholars a chance to see fresh nuances in early twentieth-century land management, rural life, and urban development.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Governor Francis W. Sargent: Fisheries Manager Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 13 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Benjamin Kochan, Boston University Comment: Brian Payne, Bridgewater State University

Francis Sargent was a Cape Cod fisherman. Fishing brought him into the government as Director of Fisheries, then head of Public Works, and, eventually, governor of Massachusetts. In his positions, Sargent bridged the gap between working-class fishers and government. This paper examines Sargent’s ability to speak directly to fishermen, arguing that his post-1974 disengagement from public life robbed fishermen of an ally who might have soothed tensions created by late-1970s federal regulations.

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar Panel Discussion: Common Spaces: Environmental History and the Study of Early America Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 6 March 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Christopher Pastore, State University of New York at Albany; Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut at Storrs; Conevery Valencius, Boston College Moderator: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point

This panel takes the opportunity to bring the fields of environmental and early American history into closer conversation. Environmental historians are concerned with concepts such as ecological imperialism and non-anthropocentric empires, built and natural environments, controlling and organizing space, and the relationship between borders and frontiers. How does or might this influence scholarship on early America? How can work on early American history enrich environmental historians’ understanding of empire, metropoles and borderlands, movement and colonization?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Ice Trade: Frederic Tudor’s “Slippery Speculation” Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 10 April 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Andrew Robichaud, Boston University Comment: David Spanagel, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This paper reexamines the emergence and development of the ice trade in Boston and North America, described in 1806 by the Boston Gazette as a “slippery speculation.” What can the ice trade tell us about environmental, economic, political, and spatial change in nineteenth-century Boston and North America?

To RSVP: email seminars@masshist.org or call (617) 646-0579.

close