Research seminars--conversations with one or more presenters that usually focus on a precirculated paper--take place between late September and early May. Programs are offered in five different series: the Boston Area Early American History Seminar, the Boston Environmental History Seminar, the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender, and the New England Biography Seminar. Learn more about each series and subscribe to receive advance copies of the papers that will be discussed.

 

RSVP required. Please email seminars@masshist.org or phone 617-646-0579.

March 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/masc_banner.jpg Modern American Society and Culture Seminar POSTPONED: The Pacific Railroads and the Pacific Ocean: American Expansion, Asian Trade, and Terraqueous Mobility, 1869–1914 31 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Sean Fraga, Princeton University Comment: David Armitage, Harvard University The transcontinental railroads reshaped the United States—its politics, economy, culture and ...

The transcontinental railroads reshaped the United States—its politics, economy, culture and environment. But as this talk argues, late-nineteenth-century Americans also saw these railroads in global terms, as commercial infrastructure that could link the United States with Asia and the Pacific World. This paper recovers the excitement many nineteenth-century white Americans felt about trade with Asia and shows how interest in Asian trade was woven into the transcontinental railroads from their very beginnings.

More
April 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar POSTPONED: “Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99 7 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University Comment: Jeffrey Ravel, MIT As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have ...

As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related to race and slavery. By contrast, the American stage grappled with the choice to perpetuate a slave system within a democracy. Some performances hinted at slavery’s cruelty, some depicted newly-freed black characters living happily alongside whites, and others proposed returning blacks to the continent as the solution for a dilemma Thomas Jefferson described as holding “a wolf by the ears.” This paper explores the black revolutionary figure on the U.S. and French stages during the last decade of the eighteenth century, as both nations struggled to put their principles of universal freedom into practice.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/ehs_banner.jpg Environmental History Seminar POSTPONED: “Contrary to the Rules and Maxims of the Law and Nation”: The Destruction of Colonial New England's River Fisheries 9 April 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED. Zachary Bennett, Connecticut College Comment: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut Long before industrialization, New Englanders dammed their rivers. The dams that powered saw and ...

Long before industrialization, New Englanders dammed their rivers. The dams that powered saw and grist mills saved farmers days of backbreaking labor, but they also blocked fish migrations which generations of colonists and Indians depended on for food. Although laws protected people’s right to fish, New England colonies refused to enforce them. This inaction destroyed herring and salmon runs, triggering a cascade of ecological changes that ultimately dragged the region into the market economy.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/wgs_banner.jpg History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar POSTPONED: Boston Feminists on Drugs, 1970-1990 21 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Trysh Travis, University of Florida Comment: Elizabeth Lunbeck, Harvard University With the current opioid crisis as a backdrop, this paper examines the role various groups of Boston ...

With the current opioid crisis as a backdrop, this paper examines the role various groups of Boston feminists played in the development of women’s substance abuse treatment in the 1980s and ‘90s. Organizations such as Women, Inc. (Roxbury), The Dorchester Green Lite Network, and the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Addiction Recovery had roots in and connections to well-known feminist collectives across the city. These historical connections between radical women’s organizing and the development of “behavioral health” services for women sheds light not only on the evolution of late-20th century public policy and medicine, but also of popular feminist culture.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg African American History Seminar From Jobs and Freedom to Jobs and Opportunity: Andrew Young, Growth, and the Illusion of Job Creation 23 April 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Danielle Wiggins, California Institution of Technology Comment: Brenna Greer, Wellesley College This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and ...

This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and economic opportunity to investigate how Democrats abandoned their 1970s goal of full employment in favor of policies that promoted private sector job creation via economic growth in the 1980s. By conflating growth with opportunity, Andrew Young sought to stake a middle path between development interests and anti-poverty coalitions, between white and black voters, and between civil rights liberalism and supply-side liberalism. However, economic growth and its promise of opportunity proved to be an inadequate solution for the range of issues its proponents intended it to address.

More
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/masc_banner.jpg Modern American Society and Culture Seminar The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley and the Birth of a Manhattan Mass Culture 28 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Samuel Ehrlich Backer, Johns Hopkins University Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts Boston During late 19th century, the upstart firms of Tin Pan Alley developed a revolutionary approach to ...

During late 19th century, the upstart firms of Tin Pan Alley developed a revolutionary approach to publishing, constructing a system able to sell sheet-music at a previously unimaginable rate. Relying heavily on New York’s importance to national performance networks to disseminate their songs, Tin Pan Alley was defined by the tension between publishers’ attempts to create universally accessible commodities, and the fast-moving, alcohol-drenched, urban environments in which their products were required to thrive.

More
May 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Honoring Daniel K. Richter: McNeil Center Alumni Discuss Their Research and Experiences 12 May 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Sari Altshuler, Northeastern University; Chris Parsons, Northeastern University; Joseph Rezek, Boston University; Hunt Howell, Boston University; Jen Manion, Amherst College; Elizabeth Ellis, New York University; and Alicia DeMaio, Harvard University Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native ...

Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native American and Early American history. More than just serving as a premier academic as the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, however, Prof. Richter has also been a dedicated mentor and teacher. Through his work as the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Richter has advised and inspired generations of young scholars and convened thought-provoking conferences that have sparked new avenues of research. In this last program of the seminar season, seven former students discuss their latest research and reflect on how Prof. Richter influenced their work and understanding of history.

More
More events
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar POSTPONED: The Pacific Railroads and the Pacific Ocean: American Expansion, Asian Trade, and Terraqueous Mobility, 1869–1914 registration closed 31 March 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Sean Fraga, Princeton University Comment: David Armitage, Harvard University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/masc_banner.jpg

The transcontinental railroads reshaped the United States—its politics, economy, culture and environment. But as this talk argues, late-nineteenth-century Americans also saw these railroads in global terms, as commercial infrastructure that could link the United States with Asia and the Pacific World. This paper recovers the excitement many nineteenth-century white Americans felt about trade with Asia and shows how interest in Asian trade was woven into the transcontinental railroads from their very beginnings.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar POSTPONED: “Our Turn Next”: Slavery and Freedom on French and American Stages, 1789-99 registration closed 7 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Heather S. Nathans, Tufts University Comment: Jeffrey Ravel, MIT Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

As the French abolitionist movement gathered momentum alongside the Revolution, Parisians could have seen hundreds of theatrical performances on themes related to race and slavery. By contrast, the American stage grappled with the choice to perpetuate a slave system within a democracy. Some performances hinted at slavery’s cruelty, some depicted newly-freed black characters living happily alongside whites, and others proposed returning blacks to the continent as the solution for a dilemma Thomas Jefferson described as holding “a wolf by the ears.” This paper explores the black revolutionary figure on the U.S. and French stages during the last decade of the eighteenth century, as both nations struggled to put their principles of universal freedom into practice.

close

Environmental History Seminar POSTPONED: “Contrary to the Rules and Maxims of the Law and Nation”: The Destruction of Colonial New England's River Fisheries registration closed 9 April 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED. Zachary Bennett, Connecticut College Comment: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/ehs_banner.jpg

Long before industrialization, New Englanders dammed their rivers. The dams that powered saw and grist mills saved farmers days of backbreaking labor, but they also blocked fish migrations which generations of colonists and Indians depended on for food. Although laws protected people’s right to fish, New England colonies refused to enforce them. This inaction destroyed herring and salmon runs, triggering a cascade of ecological changes that ultimately dragged the region into the market economy.

close

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar POSTPONED: Boston Feminists on Drugs, 1970-1990 registration closed 21 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED Trysh Travis, University of Florida Comment: Elizabeth Lunbeck, Harvard University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/wgs_banner.jpg

With the current opioid crisis as a backdrop, this paper examines the role various groups of Boston feminists played in the development of women’s substance abuse treatment in the 1980s and ‘90s. Organizations such as Women, Inc. (Roxbury), The Dorchester Green Lite Network, and the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Addiction Recovery had roots in and connections to well-known feminist collectives across the city. These historical connections between radical women’s organizing and the development of “behavioral health” services for women sheds light not only on the evolution of late-20th century public policy and medicine, but also of popular feminist culture.

close

African American History Seminar From Jobs and Freedom to Jobs and Opportunity: Andrew Young, Growth, and the Illusion of Job Creation Register registration required at no cost 23 April 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Danielle Wiggins, California Institution of Technology Comment: Brenna Greer, Wellesley College Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/banner_draft_2.jpg

This paper considers Atlanta mayor Andrew Young’s shifting ideas about job creation and economic opportunity to investigate how Democrats abandoned their 1970s goal of full employment in favor of policies that promoted private sector job creation via economic growth in the 1980s. By conflating growth with opportunity, Andrew Young sought to stake a middle path between development interests and anti-poverty coalitions, between white and black voters, and between civil rights liberalism and supply-side liberalism. However, economic growth and its promise of opportunity proved to be an inadequate solution for the range of issues its proponents intended it to address.

close

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar The Sidewalks of New York: Tin Pan Alley and the Birth of a Manhattan Mass Culture Register registration required at no cost 28 April 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Samuel Ehrlich Backer, Johns Hopkins University Comment: Jeff Melnick, University of Massachusetts Boston Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/masc_banner.jpg

During late 19th century, the upstart firms of Tin Pan Alley developed a revolutionary approach to publishing, constructing a system able to sell sheet-music at a previously unimaginable rate. Relying heavily on New York’s importance to national performance networks to disseminate their songs, Tin Pan Alley was defined by the tension between publishers’ attempts to create universally accessible commodities, and the fast-moving, alcohol-drenched, urban environments in which their products were required to thrive.

close

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar Honoring Daniel K. Richter: McNeil Center Alumni Discuss Their Research and Experiences Register registration required at no cost 12 May 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Sari Altshuler, Northeastern University; Chris Parsons, Northeastern University; Joseph Rezek, Boston University; Hunt Howell, Boston University; Jen Manion, Amherst College; Elizabeth Ellis, New York University; and Alicia DeMaio, Harvard University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/eahs_banner.jpg

Award-winning scholar Daniel K. Richter is one of the most prolific historians working on Native American and Early American history. More than just serving as a premier academic as the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, however, Prof. Richter has also been a dedicated mentor and teacher. Through his work as the Richard S. Dunn Director of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Richter has advised and inspired generations of young scholars and convened thought-provoking conferences that have sparked new avenues of research. In this last program of the seminar season, seven former students discuss their latest research and reflect on how Prof. Richter influenced their work and understanding of history.

close


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