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December 2015

Season's Greetings from the MHS

Merrymount - farm of JQA 2dOn behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff of the MHS, we wish all of our Fellows, Members, and friends a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year. We would also like to remind you that the MHS library and galleries will be closed on 24, 25, and 31 December, and 1 January. The exhibition galleries will be open on 26, 28, 29, and 30 December, and 2 January from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Celebrating 225 Years: 1791-2016

MHS 225 logoWhile the year is coming to an end, the excitement of celebrating the Society's 225th anniversary is in the air. On 24 January 1791, the Rev. Jeremy Belknap convened a meeting with nine like-minded gentlemen with the goal of gathering and protecting the basic sources of American history. By the end of that meeting, and through their pledges of manuscripts, books, pamphlets, newspapers, and historical artifacts, the "Historical Society" the nation's first, was formed. Beginning in January 2016 and over the course of the year, the MHS will commemorate its anniversary while providing new insights into the past and exploring the future of history. Information about 225th anniversary exhibitions, programs, and activities will be added to our website throughout the year.

Kicking off its anniversary year, The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society opens at the Society on 29 January. At the same time, the MHS will launch the publication of a companion volume. Both seek to pull back the veil on one of the most famous yet enigmatic and intensely private Americans, Thomas Jefferson, through a selection of letters, journals, record books, accounts, and more than 400 architectural drawings from one of the Society's greatest treasures, the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts.

Save the date! MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a reception and preview of the exhibition on Thursday, 28 January, at 6:00 PM. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday, 29 January.

Programs to Round out the Fall Season

MHS exteriorOn Monday, 14 December, at 6:00 PM, join us for She Can Bring Us Home: Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee, Civil Rights Pioneer. Judge Diane Kiesel will discuss her new book exploring the life of Dr. Dorothy Ferebee, an African American obstetrician and civil rights activist. In her day, Dr. Ferebee was a household name; but today she is all but forgotten. Kiesel's biography of Dr. Ferebee will introduce her to a new generation of readers. Register today.

On Wednesday, 16 December, at 12:00 PM, Kathryn Lasdow will present Mrs. Rowe's Wharf: Female Waterfront Property Owners in Early-National Boston at a brown-bag lunch. Lasdow offers some preliminary findings on the relationship between female waterfront property ownership and the rise of corporate-sponsored building projects in early-national Boston. This research informs a chapter in a larger dissertation entitled "Spirit of Improvement: Construction, Conflict, and Community in Early-National Port Cities."

On Friday, 18 December, at 2:00 PM, Peter Drummey will give a gallery talk, Terra Firma: The La Pérouse Atlas of a Lost Voyage. In 1785, the Comte de La Pérouse set sail on an ambitious Pacific voyage; in 1788, his ships disappeared. Walk through the mystery of the ill-starred voyage.

Support History and Make Your 2015 Gift Today

Santa bank noteIf you have not yet contributed to the MHS Fund this year, please consider making a gift today to help us reach our annual goal. History is happening every day at the MHS because of the generosity of individuals like you. Your continued support makes possible a wider appreciation for the real people, the real stories, and the real history of our nation's past. Gifts to the MHS Fund help ensure that the Society fulfills its mission to preserve our nation's history and bring it to life for generations to come. With a donation of $500 or more, you can become a member of one of the MHS Fund Giving Circles and enjoy a full year of social, cultural, and educational experiences reserved for this select group. By contributing to the MHS Fund, you make the Society a vibrant place where history happens!

MHS-NEH Fellowship Deadline: 15 January 2016

The Society will offer at least two MHS-NEH Long-term Fellowships for the academic year 2016-2017, made possible by an award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency. The stipend, governed by an NEH formula, was $4,200 per month in 2015 for a minimum of four months and a maximum of twelve months. The Society will supplement each stipend with a monthly allowance for housing and professional expenses. New NEH guidelines require applicants to have completed their training for the terminal degree in their field (ordinarily the Ph.D.) by the application deadline. For more information on MHS-NEH Fellowships, and to learn about MHS Short-term Fellowships; the Suzanne and Caleb Loring Fellowship on the Civil War, Its Origins, and Consequences; and the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, visit, e-mail, or call 617-646-0568.

Brown-bag Lunch Programs Are Being Added

Brown-bag lunch programs give scholars an opportunity to present their work in a relaxed, convivial setting. Many research fellows are just making plans to visit the MHS in the new year, so additional brown-bag lunch programs will appear on the MHS online calendar. Visit for the most up-to-date listing of these events and consider joining us for these free programs. All will begin at noon and conclude promptly at 1:00 PM. Attendees are welcome to bring a lunch; the MHS provides soft drinks and coffee. No RSVP is required.

On View

The exhibition galleries are open to the public, Monday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Terra Firma: The Beginnings of the MHS Map Collection

Compass Rose detailAs the MHS approaches its 225th year, Terra Firma celebrates the beginnings of one of its most diverse and interesting collections. Among the maps on display are landmarks of map publishing that include the first published map of New England, the first map of Massachusetts published in America, and a unique copy of the earliest separate map of Vermont, as well as maps of important battles and maps and atlases from the United States and beyond.

"Always Your Friend": Letters from Theodore Roosevelt to Henry Cabot Lodge, 1884-1918

Theodore Roosevelt on HorsebackOne of the Society's most interesting collections of presidential papers consists of the extensive personal correspondence of Theodore Roosevelt and Henry Cabot Lodge. From 1884 until just before Roosevelt's death in 1919, the two friends and their spouses exchanged hundreds of letters, notes, telegrams, annotated copies of speeches, newspaper articles, and photographs. "Always Your Friend" highlights selections from this remarkable collection.

The Unitarian Conscience: Letters & Publications from the George E. Nitzsche Unitariana Collection

The Unitarian ConscienceIn 2008, the MHS acquired the George E. Nitzsche Unitariana Collection from the Unitarian Society of Germantown in Philadelphia. To celebrate the sesquicentennial of the founding of the Germantown Society in 1865, the Society will display letters and publications from the collection that illustrate the engagement of eminent Unitarians and liberal religious thinkers in a wide range of 19th-century reform movements.

Upcoming Programs

Monday, 14 December 5:30 PM reception; 6:00 PM talk

Author Talk
She Can Bring Us Home: Dr. Dorothy Boulding Ferebee, Civil Rights Pioneer
Diane Kiesel, judge
$10 fee (no charge for MHS Fellows or Members)
More Info | Register

Wednesday, 16 December 12:00 PM

Mrs. Rowe's Wharf: Female Waterfront Property Owners in Early-National Boston
Kathryn Lasdow, Columbia University
More Info

Friday, 18 December 2:00 PM

Gallery Talk
Terra Firma: The La Pérouse Atlas of a Lost Voyage
Peter Drummey, MHS
More Info

Wednesday, 6 January 12:00 PM

Factory Fleets & Fewer Fish: Fisheries Management in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, 1945-1996
Benjamin Kochan, Boston University

Saturday, 9 January 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Transforming Boston: From Basket Case to Innovation Hub
Kathleen Barker and Gavin Kleespies, MHS
This program is open to educators and history enthusiasts. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs and 1 graduate credit (for an additional fee).
$25 fee
For more information e-mail

Tuesday, 12 January 5:15 PM

Environmental History Seminar
Airplanes & Postwar America: An Environmental History of the Jet Age
Thomas Robertson, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Comment: Sonja Duempelmann, Harvard University
More Info | Register

All events are held at the MHS unless otherwise noted. Reservations are requested for most events. There is a charge to receive seminar papers in advance.

For complete event and RSVP information, visit the MHS online calendar:

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Gifts to the MHS Fund allow us to continue our 222-year-old mission to collect, preserve, and share the stories that define America's past. With a donation of $500 or more, you can become a member of one of the MHS Fund Giving Circles and enjoy a full year of social, cultural, and educational experiences reserved for this select group. Learn more at

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