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

Environmental History Seminar

The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919 ...

16Jan 5:15PM 2018

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 ...

Brown Bag

Skulls, Selves, and Showmanship: Itinerant Phrenologists in 19th-Century America

17Jan 12:00PM 2018

"Come, then, one and all, and learn to know yourselves." With these words, a traveling phrenologist advertised his lecture to the public. Proponents of phrenology ...

Author Talk

Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

17Jan 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation ...

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  At eight o-clock on a January morning in 1891, and a world away from the ice-caked streets of his native New England, 52-year-old Henry Adams leisurely began to go about his day. Armed with ...

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