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

History of Women and Gender Seminar

“Ladies Aid” as Labor History: Working Class Formation in the Interwar Syrian American Mahjar

15Oct 5:15PM 2019

Founded in 1917, the Syrian Ladies Aid Society of Boston (SLAS) provided food, shelter, education, and employment to Syrian workers. Volunteers understood the SLAS as ...

Brown Bag; Research Fellow

The Last & Living Words of Mark: Following the Clues to the Enslaved Man’s Life, Afterlife, and to ...

16Oct 12:00PM 2019

Mark (1725-1755), a blacksmith, husband, and father, might have slipped from public memory if not for his brutal end: his body gibbeted for decades on Charlestown Common ...

Conversation; Housing as History

Housing as History: Villa Victoria and the Fenway Community Development Corporation

16Oct 6:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

In the 1960s and 1970s Boston struggled to stem urban flight and a landscape of deteriorating housing stock. Massive redevelopment projects, such as the razing of the ...

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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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