Public Programs and Special Events

Exhibition

Turning Points in American History

10 June 2016 to 25 February 2017 Details

The MHS offers many engaging programs and special events.

February

Public Program Begin at the Beginning: Mapping New England - a visual story 25 February 2017.Saturday, 1:00PM - 3:00PM Please RSVP   Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian The first English explorers to reach the northeastern corner of the New World were left with a ...

The first English explorers to reach the northeastern corner of the New World were left with a conundrum: how to explain the new land to people who had never - and probably would never - see it? John Smith wrote his extravagantly promotional A Description of New England (1616) and William Wood New Englands Prospect (1634). But nothing succeeded in reaching a broad public like a picture.

Join MHS librarian Peter Drummey in investigating the world of early New England maps: how they were created; what they included and what they omitted; the images their creators choose and the messages they conveyed. Were early maps designed to encourage emigrants, or aids to navigation? Did they chart colonial-Native American conflict or paint an idyllic garden scene? Find out how these non-textual artifacts communicated the world of 17th-century New England.

NOTE: This meeting is a discussion, not a lecture. Come prepared to examine maps, raise questions, and make your points! No expertise required, just a willingness to engage with primary material, talk to fellow attendees, and enjoy yourself.

Map above selection from: 

A map of New-England : being the first that ever was here cut, and done by the best pattern that could be had, which being in some places defective, it made the other less exact: Yet doth it sufficiently show the situation of the country & conveniently well the distances of places.

More
Public Program Self-Evident Truths: Contesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War 27 February 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Richard Brown, University of Connecticut Despite our country’s founding statement that “all men are created equal,” the ...

Despite our country’s founding statement that “all men are created equal,” the early Republic struggled with social inequality. While people paid homage to the ideal of equal rights, this ideal came up against entrenched social and political practices. Brown will discuss how the ideal was tested in struggles over race and ethnicity, religious freedom, gender and social class, voting rights and citizenship. He shows how high principles fared in criminal trials and divorce cases when minorities, women, and people from different social classes faced judgment. This book offers a much-needed exploration of the ways revolutionary political ideas penetrated popular thinking and everyday practice.

More
March
Public Program A Children's Photo Album 2 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Ken Liss, Boston University Libraries In 2014, the Brookline Historical Society was given a tiny photo album with postage stamp-sized ...

In 2014, the Brookline Historical Society was given a tiny photo album with postage stamp-sized photos of 48 Brookline and Boston children. Written inside the front cover were the name Mamie Williams and the date March 16, 1882. Who was Mamie Williams? Who were the children pictured in her album? What became of them as adults? Months of research by Liss led to answers to these questions and to some fascinating stories about the offspring of Edward Atkinson, H.H. Richardson, Moorefield Storey, as well as stories of Brookline and Boston society. In this presentation, Liss tells the tale of this album and the people inside it.

More
The Irish Atlantic Member Event, Special Event The Irish Atlantic Fellows & Members Preview Reception 9 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members William M. Fowler, Northeastern University MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a special program, reception, and chance to preview ...

MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a special program, reception, and chance to preview The Irish Atlantic. The exhibition explores 175 years of the Irish in Boston. Guest curator William Fowler will give an overview, beginning with a look at the Irish community in Massachusetts stretching back into the 18th century, through famine relief efforts led by Capt. Robert Bennet Forbes at the helm of the Jamestown, to a mass migration movement, decades of community and institutional building, and a rise in political power.  

More
Boston Codfish Balls ad - Cooking Boston series Public Program Cooking Boston: Refined to Rustic 15 March 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Keith Stavely, Kelly Erby and moderator Barbara Wheaton Program 1: Refined to RusticKeith Stavely will explore the role Boston has played ...

Program 1: Refined to Rustic
Keith Stavely will explore the role Boston has played from being the home of early European refinement to the rise of the Colonial Revival rustic dishes. Kelly Erby will explore the role of restaurants and the rise of commercial dinning in the increasingly urban landscape of nineteenth century Boston. Barbara Wheaton will lead a discussion on how the Hub has shaped American culinary culture through cookbooks and changing perceptions of the city.


Cooking Boston: How the Hub Shaped the American Diet 

This series of programs will explore the culinary history of Boston and the impact the city has had on the American diet. In the first half of the 19th century, Boston had a reputation as the center for European taste and refinement. By the end of the 19th century, the Colonial Revival movement nationally popularized foods like Boston baked beans and Yankee pot-roast shifting Boston’s image from refined to rustic. In the 20th century, Boston clung to two identities: that of thrifty Puritans and of cosmopolitanism through education. This created some remarkably bland food but also made the city fertile ground for a culinary revolution. In the 1960s, chefs like Julia Child and Joyce Chen brought the flavors of the world to America through Boston.

More
Politics of Taste series - Mary Otis Gray Public Program Politics of Taste: Republic of Taste 20 March 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma Program 1: Republic of TasteWhether Americans believed that taste was innate ...

Program 1: Republic of Taste
Republic of TasteWhether Americans believed that taste was innate or acquired, it was widely believed that shared aesthetic sensibilities connected like-minded individuals and that shared affinities advanced the public good and held great promise for the American republic. Catherine E. Kelly demonstrates how American thinkers acknowledged the similarities between aesthetics and politics in order to wrestle with questions about power and authority. In the years following independence, ordinary women and men reassured themselves that taste revealed larger truths about an individual's character and potential for republican citizenship.

 

 


Politics of Taste

 Join us for a series to explore how the development of manners and taste in colonial America and the early republic were not just a statement of aesthetics but were also ways to define political identity and create shared affinities. A journey through the study of material culture will demonstrate how the politics of politeness helped define American thought.  

More
Public Program Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World 23 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware Program 2: Portrait of a Woman in Silk Through the story of a portrait of a woman ...

Program 2: Portrait of a Woman in Silk

Through the story of a portrait of a woman in a silk dress, historian Zara Anishanslin embarks on a journey, exploring and refining debates about the cultural history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world. She examines the worlds of four people who produced, wore, and represented this object: a London weaver, one of early modern Britain’s few women silk designers, a Philadelphia merchant’s wife, and a New England painter. Anishanslin shows how making, buying, and using goods in the British Atlantic created an object-based community that tied its inhabitants together, while also allowing for different views of the Empire.

More
Public Program The Mission of the Jamestown 27 March 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. William Fowler, Jr., Northeastern University The Irish Atlantic Series   As news of the Irish Famine made its ...

The Irish Atlantic Series

 

As news of the Irish Famine made its way across the Atlantic, the citizens of Boston rallied to help. In 1847, a relief mission was organized and authorized by Congress, allowing the Secretary of the Navy to place two Naval ships—the Jamestown from Boston and the Macedonian from NYC—under civilian command to bring relief to Ireland. Capt. Robert Bennet Forbes, the head of Russell and Co, the largest American trading house in China, led the mission from Boston. He mobilized the city's citizens and merchants and amassed tons of food relief. William Fowler, guest curator for The Irish Atlantic, will discuss the relief efforts of the Jamestown on the eve of the 170th anniversary of its voyage.

More
Public Program Tea Sets and Tyranny: The Politics of Politeness in Early America 29 March 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Steven C. Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic University Even as eighteenth-century thinkers from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson struggled to find effective ...

Even as eighteenth-century thinkers from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson struggled to find effective means to restrain power, contemporary discussions of society gave increasing attention to ideals of refinement, moderation, and polished self-presentation. These two sets of ideas have long seemed separate, one dignified as political theory, the other primarily concerned with manners and material culture. Tea Sets and Tyranny challenges that division. In its original context, Steven C. Bullock suggests, politeness also raised important issues of power, leadership, and human relationships. This politics of politeness helped make opposition to overbearing power central to early American thought and practice.

More
April
Public Program Creating Acadia National Park: The Biography of George Bucknam Dorr 10 April 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Ronald Epp Although he is known as the “Father of Acadia,” George Bucknam Dorr’s seminal ...

Although he is known as the “Father of Acadia,” George Bucknam Dorr’s seminal contributions to the American environmental movement have gone largely unacknowledged. This biography is the story of Dorr’s pioneering role. Raised in Boston, Dorr adopted Maine’s Mount Desert Island as his home and the setting to apply the practical lessons of “Boston Brahmin” philanthropy. Through his finest work—the creation and management of Acadia National Park—and through his collaborations with park co-founders Charles W. Eliot, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and others—Dorr transformed an elitist social inheritance into an all-consuming commitment to conservation.

More
Public Program The Rise and Fall of the American Party 12 April 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian, Massachusetts Historical Society The Irish Atlantic Series Secretive nativist societies began to form in ...

The Irish Atlantic Series

Secretive nativist societies began to form in the 1840s in response to large-scale immigration of Irish and German Catholics. By the 1850s, these organizations coalesced into the American Party—commonly referred to as the “Know Nothings” because members would not reveal any information about their movement. The American Party advocated for severe restrictions on immigration and citizenship and in 1854 swept the Massachusetts election, winning all state offices and all but four seats in the legislature. In seven years the state had gone from launching an Irish relief mission with the sailing of the Jamestown to strident nativist sentiment. Peter Drummey will look at the meteoric rise of the American Party as well as its rapid decline with the approach of the Civil War.

More
Public Program Make Your Own Comic: The Jamestown Relief Mission to Ireland & the Life of John Boyle O’Reilly 18 April 2017.Tuesday, 2:00PM - 3:30PM Please RSVP   Come to MHS during the school vacation week for a hands-on history program. Historians will tell ...

Come to MHS during the school vacation week for a hands-on history program. Historians will tell participants two stories related to Irish immigration. The first will explore the famine relief mission from Boston to Ireland led by Robert Bennet Forbes aboard the Jamestown. The second will explore the life of John Boyle O’Reilly, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Fenians. For his part in the Fenian conspiracy, he was convicted and sent to Australia. He escaped from prison, made his way to America, and settled in Boston, finding work with the Catholic newspaper the Pilot, eventually becoming a celebrated writer and poet, as well as the paper’s editor and co-owner. After the talk, local comic book artists will help the young historians make their own historical comic depicting stories of Irish immigration.

More
More events
Public Program Begin at the Beginning: Mapping New England - a visual story Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 25 February 2017.Saturday, 1:00PM - 3:00PM Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian

The first English explorers to reach the northeastern corner of the New World were left with a conundrum: how to explain the new land to people who had never - and probably would never - see it? John Smith wrote his extravagantly promotional A Description of New England (1616) and William Wood New Englands Prospect (1634). But nothing succeeded in reaching a broad public like a picture.

Join MHS librarian Peter Drummey in investigating the world of early New England maps: how they were created; what they included and what they omitted; the images their creators choose and the messages they conveyed. Were early maps designed to encourage emigrants, or aids to navigation? Did they chart colonial-Native American conflict or paint an idyllic garden scene? Find out how these non-textual artifacts communicated the world of 17th-century New England.

NOTE: This meeting is a discussion, not a lecture. Come prepared to examine maps, raise questions, and make your points! No expertise required, just a willingness to engage with primary material, talk to fellow attendees, and enjoy yourself.

Map above selection from: 

A map of New-England : being the first that ever was here cut, and done by the best pattern that could be had, which being in some places defective, it made the other less exact: Yet doth it sufficiently show the situation of the country & conveniently well the distances of places.

close
Public Program Self-Evident Truths: Contesting Equal Rights from the Revolution to the Civil War Please RSVP   registration required 27 February 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Richard Brown, University of Connecticut

Despite our country’s founding statement that “all men are created equal,” the early Republic struggled with social inequality. While people paid homage to the ideal of equal rights, this ideal came up against entrenched social and political practices. Brown will discuss how the ideal was tested in struggles over race and ethnicity, religious freedom, gender and social class, voting rights and citizenship. He shows how high principles fared in criminal trials and divorce cases when minorities, women, and people from different social classes faced judgment. This book offers a much-needed exploration of the ways revolutionary political ideas penetrated popular thinking and everyday practice.

close
Public Program A Children's Photo Album Please RSVP   registration required 2 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Ken Liss, Boston University Libraries

In 2014, the Brookline Historical Society was given a tiny photo album with postage stamp-sized photos of 48 Brookline and Boston children. Written inside the front cover were the name Mamie Williams and the date March 16, 1882. Who was Mamie Williams? Who were the children pictured in her album? What became of them as adults? Months of research by Liss led to answers to these questions and to some fascinating stories about the offspring of Edward Atkinson, H.H. Richardson, Moorefield Storey, as well as stories of Brookline and Boston society. In this presentation, Liss tells the tale of this album and the people inside it.

close
Member Event, Special Event The Irish Atlantic Fellows & Members Preview Reception registration required at no cost 9 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 8:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fellows and Members William M. Fowler, Northeastern University The Irish Atlantic

MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a special program, reception, and chance to preview The Irish Atlantic. The exhibition explores 175 years of the Irish in Boston. Guest curator William Fowler will give an overview, beginning with a look at the Irish community in Massachusetts stretching back into the 18th century, through famine relief efforts led by Capt. Robert Bennet Forbes at the helm of the Jamestown, to a mass migration movement, decades of community and institutional building, and a rise in political power.  

close
Public Program Cooking Boston: Refined to Rustic Please RSVP   registration required 15 March 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Keith Stavely, Kelly Erby and moderator Barbara Wheaton Boston Codfish Balls ad - Cooking Boston series

Program 1: Refined to Rustic
Keith Stavely will explore the role Boston has played from being the home of early European refinement to the rise of the Colonial Revival rustic dishes. Kelly Erby will explore the role of restaurants and the rise of commercial dinning in the increasingly urban landscape of nineteenth century Boston. Barbara Wheaton will lead a discussion on how the Hub has shaped American culinary culture through cookbooks and changing perceptions of the city.


Cooking Boston: How the Hub Shaped the American Diet 

This series of programs will explore the culinary history of Boston and the impact the city has had on the American diet. In the first half of the 19th century, Boston had a reputation as the center for European taste and refinement. By the end of the 19th century, the Colonial Revival movement nationally popularized foods like Boston baked beans and Yankee pot-roast shifting Boston’s image from refined to rustic. In the 20th century, Boston clung to two identities: that of thrifty Puritans and of cosmopolitanism through education. This created some remarkably bland food but also made the city fertile ground for a culinary revolution. In the 1960s, chefs like Julia Child and Joyce Chen brought the flavors of the world to America through Boston.

close
Public Program Politics of Taste: Republic of Taste Please RSVP   registration required 20 March 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Catherine E. Kelly, University of Oklahoma Politics of Taste series - Mary Otis Gray

Program 1: Republic of Taste
Republic of TasteWhether Americans believed that taste was innate or acquired, it was widely believed that shared aesthetic sensibilities connected like-minded individuals and that shared affinities advanced the public good and held great promise for the American republic. Catherine E. Kelly demonstrates how American thinkers acknowledged the similarities between aesthetics and politics in order to wrestle with questions about power and authority. In the years following independence, ordinary women and men reassured themselves that taste revealed larger truths about an individual's character and potential for republican citizenship.

 

 


Politics of Taste

 Join us for a series to explore how the development of manners and taste in colonial America and the early republic were not just a statement of aesthetics but were also ways to define political identity and create shared affinities. A journey through the study of material culture will demonstrate how the politics of politeness helped define American thought.  

close
Public Program Portrait of a Woman in Silk: Hidden Histories of the British Atlantic World Please RSVP   registration required 23 March 2017.Thursday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Zara Anishanslin, University of Delaware

Program 2: Portrait of a Woman in Silk

Through the story of a portrait of a woman in a silk dress, historian Zara Anishanslin embarks on a journey, exploring and refining debates about the cultural history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world. She examines the worlds of four people who produced, wore, and represented this object: a London weaver, one of early modern Britain’s few women silk designers, a Philadelphia merchant’s wife, and a New England painter. Anishanslin shows how making, buying, and using goods in the British Atlantic created an object-based community that tied its inhabitants together, while also allowing for different views of the Empire.

close
Public Program The Mission of the Jamestown Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 27 March 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. William Fowler, Jr., Northeastern University

The Irish Atlantic Series

 

As news of the Irish Famine made its way across the Atlantic, the citizens of Boston rallied to help. In 1847, a relief mission was organized and authorized by Congress, allowing the Secretary of the Navy to place two Naval ships—the Jamestown from Boston and the Macedonian from NYC—under civilian command to bring relief to Ireland. Capt. Robert Bennet Forbes, the head of Russell and Co, the largest American trading house in China, led the mission from Boston. He mobilized the city's citizens and merchants and amassed tons of food relief. William Fowler, guest curator for The Irish Atlantic, will discuss the relief efforts of the Jamestown on the eve of the 170th anniversary of its voyage.

close
Public Program Tea Sets and Tyranny: The Politics of Politeness in Early America Please RSVP   registration required 29 March 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Steven C. Bullock, Worcester Polytechnic University

Even as eighteenth-century thinkers from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson struggled to find effective means to restrain power, contemporary discussions of society gave increasing attention to ideals of refinement, moderation, and polished self-presentation. These two sets of ideas have long seemed separate, one dignified as political theory, the other primarily concerned with manners and material culture. Tea Sets and Tyranny challenges that division. In its original context, Steven C. Bullock suggests, politeness also raised important issues of power, leadership, and human relationships. This politics of politeness helped make opposition to overbearing power central to early American thought and practice.

close
Public Program Creating Acadia National Park: The Biography of George Bucknam Dorr registration required 10 April 2017.Monday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Ronald Epp

Although he is known as the “Father of Acadia,” George Bucknam Dorr’s seminal contributions to the American environmental movement have gone largely unacknowledged. This biography is the story of Dorr’s pioneering role. Raised in Boston, Dorr adopted Maine’s Mount Desert Island as his home and the setting to apply the practical lessons of “Boston Brahmin” philanthropy. Through his finest work—the creation and management of Acadia National Park—and through his collaborations with park co-founders Charles W. Eliot, John D. Rockefeller Jr., and others—Dorr transformed an elitist social inheritance into an all-consuming commitment to conservation.

close
Public Program The Rise and Fall of the American Party Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 12 April 2017.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm. Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian, Massachusetts Historical Society

The Irish Atlantic Series

Secretive nativist societies began to form in the 1840s in response to large-scale immigration of Irish and German Catholics. By the 1850s, these organizations coalesced into the American Party—commonly referred to as the “Know Nothings” because members would not reveal any information about their movement. The American Party advocated for severe restrictions on immigration and citizenship and in 1854 swept the Massachusetts election, winning all state offices and all but four seats in the legislature. In seven years the state had gone from launching an Irish relief mission with the sailing of the Jamestown to strident nativist sentiment. Peter Drummey will look at the meteoric rise of the American Party as well as its rapid decline with the approach of the Civil War.

close
Public Program Make Your Own Comic: The Jamestown Relief Mission to Ireland & the Life of John Boyle O’Reilly Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 18 April 2017.Tuesday, 2:00PM - 3:30PM

Come to MHS during the school vacation week for a hands-on history program. Historians will tell participants two stories related to Irish immigration. The first will explore the famine relief mission from Boston to Ireland led by Robert Bennet Forbes aboard the Jamestown. The second will explore the life of John Boyle O’Reilly, a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, or Fenians. For his part in the Fenian conspiracy, he was convicted and sent to Australia. He escaped from prison, made his way to America, and settled in Boston, finding work with the Catholic newspaper the Pilot, eventually becoming a celebrated writer and poet, as well as the paper’s editor and co-owner. After the talk, local comic book artists will help the young historians make their own historical comic depicting stories of Irish immigration.

close

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