Massachusetts Historical Society

Past Conferences

For more than two decades, the Massachusetts Historical Society has been offering scholarly conferences on a wide variety of topics. These have ranged from the libraries of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, to Transcendentalism, Boston's business community before the Civil War, the city's environmental history, and recent immigration to the U.S.

Presenters come from throughout the U.S. and are leading scholars in their respective fields. Often, conferences culminate in a publication of essays that are drawn from the program and represent a lasting contribution to historical scholarship. Past conferences include:

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2022 Conference: Underrepresented Voices of the American Revolution

July 14 - 16, 2022

View conference program below or download a pdf.

View full conference schedule.



In recent decades, scholars have unearthed and revived stories of a diverse and wide-ranging cast of characters who lived through America’s political formation. This much-needed corrective has unraveled a traditional narrative of wealthy white male revolutionaries rebelling against a white male dominated imperial government. The lead up to the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence offers an opportunity to highlight and share the latest scholarship on the topic of underrepresented voices of the American Revolution whether that be from the perspective of Native Americans, women, African Americans, loyalists, ethnic and religious minorities, children, or neutrals in a global war that put the question of representation at its core. This conference will bring together scholars to explore the broad themes associated with historic individuals or groups not traditionally considered in discussing the American Revolutionary Era.

The conference and workshop will take place at Suffolk University and the Massachusetts Historical Society in Boston on 14-16 July 2022. The panels and presentations will take place on 14-15 July with the teacher workshop on 16 July. See the lineup of academic panels below.

Conference Steering Committee:

K-12 Teacher Workshop: Examining 18th-Century Understandings of Citizenship, Freedom, and Representation through the Life and Legacy of Prince Hall

Registration still available! Register to attend the Teacher Workshop (which includes access to Day 1 and Day 2 events) here.

K-12 educators are invited to attend the conference and a day-long teacher workshop on Saturday, July 16th, led by keynote scholar Prof. Chernoh Sesay, master teachers, and MHS education staff.

Workshop participants will attend their choice of four conference sessions on July 14th-15th. On Saturday the 16th, scholars and K-12 educators will gather for an informal discussion that bridges themes that emerged during the conference and the content of the teacher workshop that to follow. Leveraging the expertise of both scholars and teachers, we will identify important takeaways from the conference, reflect on the accessibility of current scholarship for the K-12 classroom, and discuss best practices for introducing the major themes of the conference to our students. Patrick O'Brien (Kennesaw State University), a scholar and former K-12 teacher, will facilitate this important discussion. Breakfast will be served.

The sessions to follow include: (1) a presentation of key primary sources by Prof. Sesay; (2) a presentation by master teachers from Grade 5 and high school of instructional materials they have developed centered on primary sources from MHS collections; and (3) opportunities for participants to develop their own materials in collaboration with fellow educators and scholars.

Educators will have the opportunity to earn either 45 PDPs or 2 graduate credits (for an additional fee). Requirements for credit include attending 4+ conference sessions on July 14th and 15th (view conference schedule here), the July 16th teacher workshop, and completing program coursework. Participation in this workshop is limited to K-12 educators. Participation in this workshop is limited to K-12 educators.

Email questions about the workshop to


Virtual 2020 Conrad E. Wright Research Conference

“Shall Not Be Denied”: The 15th and 19th Amendments at the Sesquicentennial and Centennial of their Ratifications, October 12-16, 2020

View Conference Program below or download a pdf:

As a result of ongoing public health concerns, the Massachusetts Historical Society has altered its original plan for an in-person conference in October 2020. Rather than meeting for two days of sessions, we will host the conference panels online between Monday, 12 October and Friday, 16 October 2020. The originally scheduled keynote panel will be postponed until it is safe to hold the event in person at the MHS.

The year 2020 marks the anniversaries of two critical amendments to the United States Constitution. Spaced fifty years apart, the Fifteenth and Nineteenth Amendments, ratified in 1870 and 1920, respectively, prohibited the use of race or sex to deny American citizens the franchise. However, the amendments did not prevent states from adopting other methods of discrimination. Viewed as the product of two different movements—abolitionism and the Civil War on the one hand and the Progressive campaigns and the First World War on the other—these two periods and amendments are not often considered together. This conference revisits the long journey to secure voting rights for African Americans and women in United States history. It considers the legal precedents and hurdles that each amendment faced, the meaning and uneven outcomes of each, the social context that allowed for ultimate ratification, the role of key individuals and groups in these respective contexts, and how each amendment has been remembered over time.

At a later date, a keynote panel will feature feature Profs. Alison M. Parker (University of Delaware) and Lisa Tetrault (Carnegie Mellon University) and will be moderated by Prof. Alex Keyssar (Harvard).

Other past conferences:

The Future of History (2016)

"'So Sudden an Alteration': The Causes, Course, and Consequences of the American Revolution" (2015)

Massachusetts and the Civil War: The Commonwealth and National Disunion (2013)

What's New about the New Immigration to the U.S.? Traditions and Transformations since 1965 (2011)

Margaret Fuller and Her Circles (2010)

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson: Libraries, Leadership, and Legacy (2009)

I-CHORA 3: International Conference on the History of Records and Archives (2007)

Power and Protest: The Civil Rights Movement in Boston, 1960-1968 (2006)

Remaking Boston: The City and Environmental Change Over the Centuries (2006)

Women, War, Work: American Women and the U.S. Military in the Twentieth Century (2004)

"Spires of Form": The Emerson Bicentennial Conference (2003)

For information about earlier conference programs, please contact Cassandra Cloutier, Research Coordinator, at 617-646-0577 or

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