This Week @ MHS
Here's the skinny on the public programs, events, and other happenings at the Society this week.
- Tuesday, 3 October, 5:15PM : Join us for an Early American History seminar with Paul Finkelman of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and commentor R. Kent Newmyer of the University of Connecticut. "John Marshall, Slaveowner and Jurist" is a chapter from Finkelman's forthcoming book and examines the personal and professional life of Chief Justice John Marshall in the context of his relationship to slavery. Finkelman argues that Marshall as a Supreme Court justice always favored slavery over freedom, and that this reflected his emotional and economic investment in slavery. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers. To RSVP, click the link or call 617-646-0579.
- Wednesday, 4 October, 12:00PM : "Commerce and the Material Culture of the Maritime Atlantic World" is a Brown Bag talk which focuses on the infrastructure of commercial exchanges as port cities adapted to larger ships, increased consumer goods, and productivity challenges in environments that included bays, rivers, and estuaries. J. Ritchie Garrison, University of Delaware, grounds his argument with historical documents, maps, objects, and archaeological fieldwork to show that people sought to stabilize local variables to accommodate rapid market shifts. This talk is free and open to the public.
- Thursday, 5 October, 6:00PM : "Yankees in the West: Fellows & Members Preview & Reception." MHS Fellows and Members are invited to join us as we celebrate the arrival of Catherine Allgor, incoming president of the MHS, and open Yankees in the West. Following remarks by Sara Martin, enjoy a reception, meet our new president, and preview the exhibition. Registration is required at no cost.
- Friday, 6 October, 10:00AM : The Society's new exhibition, Yankees in the West, opens to the public! As with all others, this exhibit is open to all free of charge, Monday-Saturday, 10:00AM-4:00PM. Be sure to keep an eye on the online calendar for various events and talks centered around this show which remains on display until 6 April 2018.
- Saturday, 7 October, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or email@example.com.
While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Yankees in the West.
Please note that the library is CLOSED on Monday, 9 October. The galleries remain open, 10:00AM-4:00PM, as part of the Fenway Alliance "Opening Our Doors" event.
| Published: Sunday, 1 October, 2017, 12:00 AM
Gertrude Codman Carter’s Diary, September 1917
By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services
Today we return to the 1917 diary of Gertrude Codman Carter. You may read the previous entries here:
Introduction | January | February | March | April | May
June | July | August
September’s entries are heavily illustrated with drawings and photographs. Having just moved into Ilaro, Gertrude supervises continued construction at the site while managing the household in her husband’s absence. Domestic drama includes the “letting go” of a servant who “couldn’t stand the stairs” of the new residence, and the hiring of a replacement -- actions that do not endear Gertrude to her staff.
The war intrudes on the household once again as Gertrude receives a letter from the Colonial Secretary’s office with instruction for the conscription of her automobile in the event of an attack by the enemy. Amidst it all, Gertude continues to live a life of social obligation and voluntary labor as part of the Self-Help group and other island committees.
* * *
Sent Barbara $50.
Moved into Ilaro. Toppin & Small, Edith & Norah & Ada, who couldn’t stand the stairs after all. We had our first dinner there on the marble verandah & it was quite lovely.
Unpacked & tried to feel settled. John & I slept in the [illegible] room. Such fun.
Rising bell at 7 a.m. & the house full up with very busy workmen,clanging & banging, sawing and jawing, [missing fragment], taping & scraping, patching & scratching, latching & detaching whatever was wrong, which happened after.
Our meal was rather full of coral dust but Topping was zealous & managed quite wonderfully for his age.
Marked out servants quarters.
Mrs. Skeet came by to look at it.
I stopped at Charles Hayes at 6.30 and dined with Mrs. DaCosta.
These little figures were made for a scale model of Ilaro, to gauge the height and width of doors.
10.30 Civic Circle met at [illegible] Park.
Called Chelston for washing. Gave up Ada & hired Rosina, a girl of the Cawfields. This, it appears, was considered by everyone below stairs as a fearful faux pas. I got no less than three anonymous letters on the subject, which outraged Bailey beyond measure.
John began a letter & headed it “Ilaro Court limited.”
“What does it mean, John?” -- “Oh - just what it means on the honey bottle!”
Laddie to tea & a little [illegible] out. He is very appreciative of my powers as an architect.
Miss Hatfield called about the Easter Féte for my advice. I became a sort of unofficial Chairman of the Committee & advised in a Sybelline manner.
To photographer with John. [illegible] had sticks -- both of them.
4.30 to bathe at Mrs. Harold Whytes.
Miss [illegible] again.
Laddie later for a spin.
[entry obscured by a typescript letter from the Colonial Secretary’s Office]
Colonial Secretary’s Office, Barbados.
14th September 1917.
I am directed by the Governor to inform you that the Defence Committee will require transport facilities for the Defence Force in case of enemy attack. On the “Alarm” being sounded you are requested to send your motor car No. M158 to [illegible] where it will be available for use in accordance with order issued by the officers of the Force.
2. A driver, and the necessary supply of Petrol, spare tyres, etc. should be available with the car.
3. The Government undertake to recommend to the Legislature that compensation be paid for damage caused by enemy action.
4. The “alarm” consists of the firing of five rockets from the Harbour Police Station, and the firing of powder charges from two 9 pounder guns, at the Garrison and the Reef respectively.
5. The Defence Committee’s recommendations are based on the assumption that you will readily co-operate with them in arranging transport facilities in case of attack. His Excellency has therefore asked me to obtain from you a statement to the effect that you have made arrangement of a kind to ensure prompt dispatch of the car whenever the “Alarm” is sounded.
I have the honor to be,
Your most obedient servant,
"Toppin. Five minutes before the arrival of the Gubernatorial Party."
The Probyns came to see the house.
Mr & Mrs [illegible] to see house.
I dined at the Laurie Piles.
I dined at the Harold Whytes’ - a most amusing evening. Harold Whyte & Laddy & Mr Fell played an uproarious game of bridge in which they were respectfully alluded to as the army, the vestry, and the government & every now and then a large land crab would come in & sport about the floor. I took Mr Fell & Colonel Humphreys home & my car began to wheeze just after that & I found that it was in for a long illness this time.
Mrs [illegible] came & fetched up & took me back to Brittons for bitters.
Hired a car & took Mrs. Carpenter to an auction in the country. We had a picnic lunch. Great fun.
Mrs Humphreys & Doreen to tea. Rained heavily & we had no where to go but in & then it was only a courtyard.
I dined with the [illegible]. Jolly evening.
Busy on the house.
[illegible]. Laddy had a picnic & took me to Bleak House. Had [illegible] drove Mrs Carpenter. We had bitters & sandwiches & a great time.
Laddie drove me out to the Charlie Haynes’. After dinner we worked all of us on the [illegible]. We saw Lady [illegible] toes out of the window!
* * *
As always, if you are interested in viewing the diary or letters yourself, in our library, or have other questions about the collection please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.
| Published: Friday, 29 September, 2017, 12:00 AM
This Week @ MHS
The Irish Atlantic has set sail to make way for our next exhibit, Yankees in the West, which opens to the public on Friday, 6 October. In the meantime, there are plenty of events on the agenda at the Society, including a return of our several seminar series. Here is what to expect in the coming week:
- Tuesday, 26 September, 5:15PM : The first Modern American Society and Culture seminar of the season is titled "Lost Cities of Chicago's South Side." This essay comes from a book-in-progress about Chicago's South Shore neighborhood by Carlo Rotella of Boston College. Over the past half-century, the area has gradually shifted toward a class system of haves and have-nots separated by an increasing divide. Samuel Zipp of Brown University provides comment for the discussion. Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers. To RSVP, click the link or call (617)-646-0579.
- Wednesday, 27 September, 12:00PM : Pack a lunch and stop by for a Brown Bag lunch talk with Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow, as she talks about "The Constitution of Disability in the Early United States." This project examines the development of disability as a meaningful bureaucratic, legal, institutional, and cultural category in the Early Republic, rooted in ideas about work, social worth, and economic independence, and increasinly determined by the expert discourse of medicine. This talk is free and open to the public.
- Wednesday, 27 September, 6:00PM : Donna Lucey of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities discusses her recently published work Sargent's Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas in this author talk of the same name. This biography illuminates four extraordinary women painted by the iconic high-society portraitist John Singer Sargent. These compelling stories of female courage connect our past with our present and remind us that while women live differently now, they still face obstacles to attaining full equality. This talk is open to the public, registration required with a fee of $10 (no charge for MHS Members or Fellows). Pre-talk reception begins at 5:30PM, followed by the speaking program at 6:00PM.
- Thursday, 28 September, 6:00PM : Area gradute students and faculty are invited to attend our annual Graduate Student Reception. Enjoy complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres as you meet students and professors from other universities working in your field. In addition to networking is the opportunity learn more about the Society and its collections as well as the resources available to support your scholarship, from research fellowships to our five different seminar series. This reception is free but we ask that you RSVP by September 27 by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (617) 646-0579.
- Saturday, 30 September, 1:00PM : "Begin at the Beginning - Violence, Disease, and Public Medicine during the Pequot and King Philip's Wars." This interactive talk by Kevin McBride, director of research at the Pequot Museum, and Ashley Bissonnette, Pequot Museum senior researcher, reveals how New England’s landscapes were far more heavily contested than previously thought, exploring the reality of the Pequot and King Philip's Wars. In addition, they will discuss the beginning of public health in the colonies. RSVP required for this event at no cost.
| Published: Sunday, 24 September, 2017, 12:00 AM
Who is J. Gibbs?
By Susan Martin, Collection Services
The Massachusetts Historical Society recently received a donation of William Gray Brooks family papers, primarily correspondence on genealogical subjects. It’s a terrific collection of letters from some of the leading lights of the 19th century, including Charles Francis Adams, Edward Everett, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Eliza Susan Quincy, and many others. This new acquisition complements other MHS collections related to Brooks and his family.
I was intrigued, however, by additional material that came to us as part of the collection, namely 22 issues of a family “newspaper” called “The One Hoss Shay.” The newspapers were handwritten by J. Gibbs of Brookline, Mass. and reproduced on a hectograph.
“The One Hoss Shay” contains light-hearted poems, stories, illustrations, jokes, announcements, reviews, etc., written by Gibbs and others, and it makes for some very fun reading. Here’s one of the better limericks:
There was a young man of Bombay
Excessively fond of croquet,
But when he got beat,
He would beat a retreat
And show himself no more that day.
Sandwiched between articles are editorial asides by Gibbs.
We wish to apologise for the condition of our hectograph, which absolutely refuses to print well. We are not responsible for it’s [sic] freaks.
If the “Shay” should chance to seem too local for general interest, we call attention to the fact that the more we heard from elsewhere, the more foreign news could be introduced. (Hint.)
Who was the mysterious J. Gibbs of Brookline? Unfortunately, the “Shay” provides very few clues. She was a “Miss,” and I eventually found her first name: Julia. The newspapers were written between 1886-1888, which probably meant she was born in the 1860s or early 1870s. Her family apparently summered in Marion, Mass. These were the only biographical details I could find or infer.
I guessed that because the newspapers accompanied the Brooks letters, and because some Brooks family members are mentioned in Julia’s articles, she may have been a relative. It was easy enough to find Brooks genealogies, given how famous the family is. (William Gray Brooks’ son Phillips, for example, was one of Boston’s most renowned clergymen.) But there was no sign of a Gibbs among William’s siblings or cousins or their children or grandchildren.
I went back to the collection for more information and noticed a reference to “Harriette Brooks Hawkins (Mrs. Hubert A.) […] (a granddaughter of W.G.B.).” Born in 1881, Harriette was the daughter of William’s youngest son John Cotton Brooks and his wife Harriette Hall (Lovett) Brooks. She owned the Brooks letters in 1935, but had she also owned the newspapers? Did she have a connection to Julia Gibbs?
Armed with a few more keywords, I took one last crack at an online search for Julia and finally found her: Julia de Wolf Gibbs (1866-1952), later Mrs. Addison. The name was right, the age was right, and the location was right—she is buried in Marion, Mass. So what was her connection to Harriette and/or William Gray Brooks? I got my answer when I identified her parents: Julia’s mother was Anne (or Anna) de Wolf (Lovett) Gibbs. Her mother and Harriette’s mother were sisters.
Out of curiosity, I searched our catalog for Julia and was excited to learn that she later became not only a published author…
But also a designer of metalwork, ornamentation, etc. Some photographs of her work appear in one of our collections.
“The One Hoss Shay” was the brainchild of a creative young woman at the start of her career. Julia apparently took the title of her newspaper from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1858 poem “The Deacon’s Masterpiece, or the Wonderful ‘One-Hoss Shay’: A Logical Story.” In her third issue, she wrote that she and her aunt Harriette attended Holmes’ recitation of the poem at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. This was her one-line review: “Our Patron Poet was quite at his best.”
(Incidentally, Julia’s future husband also earned a passing mention in one issue: “Rev. Daniel Dulany Addison is in Washington.”)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t say more about the newspaper’s impressive illustrations. Some were drawn by Julia herself, such as the seated girl on the right side of the first image above. Others were contributed by another of her cousins, “our popular artist, Mr. C. Dana Gibson.” If that name sounds familiar to you, it’s because Charles Dana Gibson went on to become one of the most popular illustrators in America and creator of the iconic turn-of-the-century Gibson Girl. He designed the letterhead for the “Shay” and provided drawings like this one:
Scene, a crowded horse-car. (Stout old man.) "Come, sonny, get up & give the lady your seat." (Small Boy.) "Get up yourself, & give her two!"
For more about Gibson, I recommend the 1936 biography Portrait of an Era, which contains hundreds of his beautiful illustrations.
| Published: Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 12:00 AM
John Quincy Adams and the Education of a “Warrior Patriot”
By Rhonda Barlow, Adams Papers
When President John Quincy Adams delivered his first annual message to Congress on December 6, 1825, he noted that “the want of a naval school of instruction, corresponding with the Military Academy at West Point, for the formation of scientific and accomplished officers, is felt with daily increasing aggravation.” But Congress was not sufficiently aggravated to establish a school. Because young naval officers could learn to handle a ship only at sea, it seemed reasonable for all their education to be conducted aboard ship.
On December 4, 1827, Adams gave his third annual message to Congress, and for the third time, recommended the establishment of a naval academy similar to West Point, which Thomas Jefferson had established twenty-five years earlier. But this time, Adams explained his view of naval education in detail.
Adams held high standards for the “enquiring minds” of “the youths who devote their lives to the service of their country upon the ocean.” In his 1827 message, he explained that the academy he envisioned needed teachers, books, equipment, and a permanent location on shore. Subjects should include not only shipbuilding, math, and astronomy, but also literature, “which can place our officers on a level of polished education with the officers of other maritime nations,” and knowledge of foreign laws. As a former diplomat, and secretary of state from 1817 to 1825, Adams recognized that naval officers were a special class of American ambassadors.
But this combined scientific, technical, and liberal education was not enough. “Above all,” Adams continued, a young naval officer needed to learn “principles of honour and Justice” and “higher obligations of morals.” For John Quincy Adams, an American naval officer was a “Warrior Patriot,” equipped with a moral education that distinguished him from a mere pirate.
An entry in Adams’ Diary, made a few days after his 1827 speech, sheds light on his understanding of the role of morality in officer education. In his Diary, Adams reflected on the court martial of Master Commander William Carter for drunkenness.
Although he was reluctant to end Carter’s naval career, he wrote that “such enormous evils from intemperance demanded a signal example.” While intoxicated, the master commander twice was guilty of giving orders that almost caused the ship to founder, endangering both the valuable warship and her crew. On another occasion, he had been rude to a British officer. On another, he had engaged in disorderly conduct on shore, observed by, among others, a British officer. Adams’ Diary reveals that moral education was about self-control and responsibility, and the reputation of America’s fledgling navy abroad, especially among the British, whose Royal Navy was the envy of the world.
Adams failed to convince Congress to establish a naval academy. But eighteen years later, Adams, then a congressman, met with George Bancroft, the new secretary of the navy. In his Diary, Adams recorded that Bancroft “professes great zeal to make something of his Department.” A few months later, on October 10, 1845, Bancroft opened the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.
| Published: Monday, 18 September, 2017, 12:00 AM