Brown-bag Lunch Programs

The Massachusetts Historical Society offers more than two dozen brown-bag lunch programs every year. These programs are free of charge, and no RSVP is required. All are welcome to attend!

Presented on the first Wednesday of each month with other dates also scheduled, the programs begin at noon and end promptly at 1:00 PM.

What is it?

The brown-bags provide an informal opportunity for visiting researchers to discuss their work, field questions, and receive new ideas. Think of them as a working lunch for scholars, with members of the public encouraged to join in the conversation.

Programs take place at the MHS in the Dowse Library. With its dark wood panelling and ornate book bindings, the room represents a typical 19th-century gentlemen's retreat. Participants are welcome to bring their lunches, and the MHS provides an assortment of soft drinks and coffee. The program begins as the presenter describes his or her research in the MHS collections. Everyone is then welcome to ask questions and comment.

Here is a sampling of past programs:

  • Laurie Ellen Pazzano, the Landscape Institute of the Boston Architectural College/Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Peace field: 1788–1818, The New England Farm of John & Abigail Adams
  • Caroline Hasenyager, College of William and Mary, Peopling the Cloister: Women's Colleges and the Worlds We've Made of Them
  • Andrew Lipman, Syracuse University, The Saltwater Frontier: Algonquians and the Transformation of Long Island Sound in the Seventeenth Century
  • David Preston, The Citadel, Braddock’s Veterans: Paths of Loyalty in the British Empire, 1755–1775
  • Peter Wirzbicki, New York University, The Adelphic Union: the Creation of a Black Intellectual Community in Antebellum Boston
  • Mary Kelley, University of Michigan, “What Are You Reading, What Are You Saying”: American Reading and Writing Practices, 1760-1860
  • Rachel Herrmann, University of Texas at Austin, Food and War: Indians, Slaves, and the American Revolution
  • Nicholas Osborne, Columbia University, Saving Capitalism: The Rise of US Savings Banks, 1816-1865
  • Laura Prieto, Simmons College, New Women in an American Empire, 1898-1910

Upcoming Events

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar; Online Event

“Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99

6Oct 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related ...

Online Event; Conversation

Clean Water, Green Space, and Social Equity

7Oct 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program

The chain of green spaces and waterways that comprise the Emerald Necklace park system is an invaluable urban oasis. Described as “the lungs of the city” this ...

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar; Online Event

Queer Institutions – A Panel Discussion

8Oct 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

This panel discussion considers the queer histories of two modern institutions: colleges and prisons. Marc Stein explores how activists at more than twenty colleges went ...

From our Blog

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Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

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