The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @MHS

We have a busy week ahead with a couple of seminars, an author talk, and a workshop.

- Monday, 22 October, 5:15 PM: Paul Revere's Ride through Digital History with Joseph M. Adelman, Framingham State University and Omohundro Institute; Liz Covart, Omohundro Institute; Karin Wulf, Omohundro Institute. This seminar examines components of the Omohundro Institute’s multi-platform digital project and podcast series, Doing History: To the Revolution. It explores Episode 130, “Paul Revere’s Ride through History,” and the ways the topic was constructed through narrative and audio effects, as well as the content in the complementary reader app. Participants are asked to listen to the podcast and access the reader app before the session. 

- Tuesday, 23 October, 5:30 PM: Reproducing Race in the Early Americas with Rhae Lynn Barnes, Princeton University; Deirdre Cooper Owens, Queens College; Sasha Turner, Quinnipiac University, and moderated by Nicole Aljoe, Northeastern University. This roundtable will use the body as frame for examining racial formation in the Caribbean and U.S. from the eighteenth century to the present. The presenters will meditate on biological reproduction in relation to citizenship and subjecthood, labor and economy, medical and scientific knowledge, and representations of blackness in popular culture. This program will take place at the Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute. This is part of the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

- Wednesday, 24 October, 6:00 PM: Swindler Sachem: The American Indian Who Sold His Birthright, Dropped Out of Harvard, & Conned the King of England with Jenny Hale Pulsipher, Brigham Young University. Jenny Pulsipher opens a window onto 17th-century New England and the English empire from the unusual perspective of John Wompas, a Nipmuc Indian who may not have been all he claimed but was certainly out of the ordinary. Drawing on documentary and anthropological sources as well as consultations with Native people, Pulsipher examines struggles over Native land and sovereignty during an era of political turmoil and reveals how Wompas navigated these perilous waters for the benefit of himself and his kin. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

- Saturday, 27 October, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM: Fashioing History workshop. Throughout history, our choices about what we wear tell the world about our personality, position, background, and beliefs. From textile in Boston Boycott, manufacture in the Industrial Revolution, to the fashion of war and protest, clothing offers a vivid lens to examine American cultural history. Drawing on the MHS exhibit “Fashioning the New England Family,” we will explore how clothing and style help us understand the everyday lives of historical New Englanders. This program is open to all who work with K-12 students. Teachers can earn 22.5 Professional Development Points or 1 graduate credit (for an additional fee). For questions, contact Kate Melchior at education@masshist.org or 617-646-0588.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 22 October, 2018, 1:00 AM

Calling All High School Students: Apply for a 2019 John Winthrop Fellowship at the MHS

Are you a student who loves history?  Are you a teacher with students who are intrigued by primary source research?  Want the chance to spend some time in the MHS archives?  Check out the fellowship opportunities at the Center for the Teaching of History! 

John Winthrop Student Fellowship

The John and Elizabeth Winthrop Endowed Fellowship encourages high school students to make use of the nationally significant documents of the MHS in a research project of their choosing. Selected students will be referred to as "Winthrop Fellows".  Winthrop Fellows and their supervising teacher will each receive a $350 stipend. This fellowship gives students the chance to learn how to navigate an archive, work directly with primary sources, and experience what it is like to be a historian.

Although students are welcome to work at the MHS Reading Room in Boston, online access to hundreds of recently-digitized documents from our collections now makes it possible for students from across the country to identify, incorporate, investigate, and interpret these primary sources in their work. Together with their teacher advisor (a current or past History or English teacher, member of Library/Media staff, etc), students decide on a research project proposal that uses sources from the MHS collections.  This can be a project already assigned in class.  With the support of MHS library and education staff, students then perform research using MHS materials during the spring and must complete their research project to the teacher advisor’s satisfaction by 1 June, and finally write a blog post about their experience.

The John Winthrop Fellowship empowers students to explore a topic of their interest and helps them to access the often intimidating world of historical research. One of the most valuable aspects of this fellowship is the opportunity for students to directly interact with materials from the MHS archives.  In reflecting on their experiences, many students were struck by the immediacy of the artifacts:

"I never expected to be staring at a three hundred year old letter in which Hugh Hall, one of Boston’s prominent slave traders, complains rather vehemently of seasickness. The letter was written in big, loopy handwriting, the polar opposite of Hugh’s brother Richard’s cramped impossibility, on yellowed old paper that felt somewhat slimy. For a moment, I was overcome by the idea that I was touching Hall’s DNA." (2015 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

"It was incredible to see old newspapers that were transported along the Post Road to relay the world’s current events in the early 1700s, transformed into a computer document and displayed right in front of us.  The only thing that could top it was being able to hold the physical letter that essentially started the Boston Post Road. Oh yeah, we did that too!" (2016 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

Many students appreciated the chance to draw their own impressions of history directly from primary sources rather than interpreted through a textbook:

"At points in the letters, Nora [Saltonstall]’s sense of humor and wittiness were evident which reminded me that she was indeed human and brought to life the events that transpired, in a way that textbooks are unable to." (2013 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

"I suppose what I liked most was the ability to interpret the original documents on my own and draw my own conclusions around the actual evidence, rather than directly being told a conclusion by a third party." (2013 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

Students also valued the opportunity to work with MHS staff and librarians, who welcomed them to the archive and made the work of historical research more accessible:

"The staff always took me seriously, and was always ready to help if I had a question. Until now I had never used microfiche, but within two minutes the reference librarian had me set up and I knew all I needed to know to use it. I could even take pictures of the old documents and email them to myself so I could do work at home." (2014 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

"Although we were entirely new to the MHS, the staff treated us as if we were any other historians. Along with finding great sources, the respect we received from the staff boosted our confidence in our historical research skills." (2016 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

Most importantly, students walked away from their fellowship opportunity empowered by their experience at the MHS:  

"I have always wanted to be a historian. My time at the Massachusetts Historical Society obliterated any lingering doubts in that ambition. Words cannot describe the joy of these encounters with the past, an opportunity I will never forget." (2015 John Winthrop Student Fellow)

Applications for 2019 John Winthrop Fellowships should be mailed no later 18 February 2019. Check out our website for more information on the Swensrud Fellowship and how to apply!

 

 

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 19 October, 2018, 8:00 AM

Hints to Soldiers on Health: 14 tips for those serving during the Civil War

In the Albert Gallatin Browne papers you will find a printed piece of paper entitled, "Hints to Soldiers on Health." These "Directions for Preservation of Health" give pointers to soldiers serving in the Union Army during the Civil War on how to keep themselves in tip-top shape while living through the worst of conditions and on the move. It includes my favorite tip, number 11, regarding bleeding to death:

If, from any wound, the blood spirts out in jets, instead of a steady
stream, you will die in a few minutes unless it is remedied; because an artery
has been divided and that takes the blood direct from the fountain of life . . .

Aren't those positive words? If your blood is spurting out, you will most likely die. Don’t forget to wear flannel!

The handout does mention the difference between blood spurting and blood flowing, and what to do in either situation. While it’s necessary to know these things when you are about to enter a battlefield, the rather blunt wording shook me, thinking of all those who did indeed bleed out over the course of the war on both sides.

Number 7 is also a good reminder:

Recollect that cold and dampness are great breeders of disease. Have a 
fire to sit around, whenever you can, especially in the evening and after rain; 
and take care to dry every thing in and about your persons and tents. 

Even in the warmest of climates, it seems like having a fire would still be necessary. As William H. Eastman, a member of the 2nd Battery (Nim's Battery) of Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery writes home to his mother from Bayou Boeuf, Louisiana, 8 May 1863:

. . . the flys are awful thick + as soon as the sun sets 
musquitoes “Oh Dear” tis no use for me to try +
give any idea of their number a swarm of Bees
is no comparison as soon as sundown we build large
fires of corn husks + keep them agoing all night
why if a man has occasion to do a job for himself
after dark he is obliged to take some husks out + build
a fire + sit in the smoke else his rear will be in rather 
a dilapidated condition rather a tough state of things
but such is the case. I am fortunately well off as
I have confiscated the Captains Bed and Musquito bar
that were among the stores but is rather hard for many 
of the poor fellows without bars ^who get up + walk around
half the night to pass the time away.

Well! Hopefully this post has made you feel a little more comfortable with your living conditions, and thankful winter will soon set in and erase mosquitoes from our lives for a short time. Remember, "if disease begins to prevail, wear a wide bandage of flannel around the bowels!"

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 17 October, 2018, 1:00 AM

This Week @MHS

This week we have a pair of Brown Bag talks, two evening programs, the first seminar in a new series, and a sold out tour. Details below:

- Monday, 15 October, 12:00 PM: Examining Land Ownership in the Praying Towns of New England with Taylor Kirsch, University of California, Santa Cruz. Across the tumultuous borderlands of 17th-century Southern New England, a diverse indigenous population numbering in the thousands carved out space for themselves via an unlikely colonial project, “praying towns.” This talk explores the complexities of indigenous land tenure within these communities, and its role in shaping the cultural, political, and spiritual landscape of New England.

- Monday, 15 October, 6:00 PM: "All Legislative Powers…" Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution Then & Now with Margaret H. Marshall, Choate, Hall, & Stewart, and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts; Jack N. Rakove, Stanford University, and Pulitzer Prize recipient. Join us for a thought-provoking conversation on the history surrounding the issues that are framed by Article 1 of the Constitution, which established the U.S. Congress and defined its powers, including the rights to tax, raise armies, and regulate commerce and naturalization. Marshall and Rakove will discuss the historical context in which the article was drafted in the 1780s, as well as the current meaning and impact of the article in contemporary legal thought and practice. The Massachusetts Constitution will serve as counterpoint to the national story. This event will take place at The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 136 Irving Street, Cambridge, Mass. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:00 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. 

- Wednesday, 17 October, 12:00 PM: “Watering of the Olive Plant”: Catechisms & Catechizing in Early New England with Roberto Flores de Apodaca, University of South Carolina. Early New Englanders produced and used an unusually large number of catechisms. These catechisms shaped relations of faith for church membership, provided content for missions to the Indians, and empowered lay persons theologically to critique their ministers. This talk explores the content and the function of these unique, question and answer documents.

- Wednesday, 17 October, 6:00 PM: The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress & the Road to Civil War with Joanne Freeman, Yale University. Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the Capitol was rife with conflict in the decades before the Civil War. Legislative sessions were often punctuated by mortal threats, canings, flipped desks, and all-out slugfests. Pistols were drawn and knives brandished in an attempt to intimidate fellow congressmen into compliance, particularly on the issue of slavery. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). 

- Thursday, 18 October, 5:15 PM: Losing Laroche: The Story of the Titanic’s Only Black Passenger with Kellie Carter Jackson, Wellesley College, and comment by Saje Mathieu, University of Minnesota. Losing Laroche is the first in-depth study of the only black family on board the RMS Titanic. The story of the Haitian Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche and his descendants is largely unknown and troubles the assumption of an all-white Titanic narrative.This paper seeks to understand the possibilities of black advancement in the Titanic moment and throughout the Diaspora. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

- Saturday, 20 October, 10:00 AM: The History & Collections of the MHS. Join us for a 90-minute docent-led tour of 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 abentley@masshist.org.

- Saturday, 20 October, 10:00 AM: Tour of Longfellow Bridge with Miguel Rosales. Please note that this program is SOLD OUT. After five years and over $300 million worth of construction and refurbishment, the beautiful and historic Longfellow Bridge is once again fully operational. Constructed at the turn of the 20th century and designed with an eye towards the greatest infrastructure projects of Europe, the Longfellow Bridge has long been one of the most striking and beloved landmarks in Boston. Architect and urban designer Miguel Rosales has been involved in this restoration project for close to 15 years and will lead visitors on an in-depth tour of this exceptional bridge.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 15 October, 2018, 1:00 AM

New Transcriptions Released for John Quincy Adams' Diary

Amid his daily whirl of diplomatic duties, John Quincy Adams paused to reflect on his latest dispatch to President James Monroe. After several rewrites, Adams had drafted a course of action that would shape American foreign policy for more than a century, and he was proud of it. “I considered this as the most important paper that ever went from my hands,” John Quincy wrote of his role in formulating the Monroe Doctrine, in which the United States called for European non-intervention in the western hemisphere and specifically in the affairs of the newly independent Latin American nations. This week, you can explore the Era of Good Feelings anew, thanks to our release of the next set of transcriptions on The John Quincy Adams Diary Digital Project covering March 1821 to February 1825 when he served as secretary of state for Monroe’s second presidential term. 

John Quincy also kept a close eye on the American political landscape during these years. Sectional divisions and the personal rivalries between the men seeking to succeed President Monroe made this a particularly contentious period. The campaign for the 1824 election began in 1821, and eventually four viable candidates emerged: Adams, Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky, Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford of Georgia, and General Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. Jackson led the popular as well as the electoral vote; however, no candidate obtained the majority of votes necessary for election. The vote then fell to the House of Representatives where each state, regardless of population, had one vote, and a majority of the states was necessary for election. John Quincy finally won the contest in February 1825.

Throughout this period, John Quincy’s family remained a significant private concern. His three sons—George Washington Adams, John Adams 2d, and Charles Francis Adams—struggled academically at Harvard, and his wife Louisa Catherine Adams suffered from bouts of poor health. He maintained his exercise regimen of swimming in the spring and summer and walking in the fall and winter. He also continued to faithfully keep his diary entries—a difficult task due to his busy work schedule and growing number of daily office visitors: “I never exclude any one. But necessary and important business suffers, by the unavoidable waste of time.” For an overview of John Quincy’s life during these years, read the headnotes for each chronological period or, navigate to the entries to begin reading the diary.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 12 October, 2018, 1:00 AM

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