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 Immigration and Urban History Seminar, 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 617-646-0568.

April

Early American History Seminar Promotional Literature and Identity in Colonial Massachusetts 4 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Agnès Delahaye, Université Lumière Lyon II Comment: Conrad E. Wright, Massachusetts Historical Society This essay will examine the institutional and cultural factors behind promotional literature, the ...

This essay will examine the institutional and cultural factors behind promotional literature, the body of colonial sources written for metropolitan audiences. All share the common intent of promoting, or defending, the political or economic choices made by the colonists as their communities were taking shape. The essay will detail the tropes and expressions of the commonality of purpose that Delahaye sees in most New England historiography. It will also explore the relationship between colonial historiography and exceptionalism in the New England tradition.

More
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Fishing the Commons 11 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Erik Reardon, University of Maine at Orono, and Stacy Roberts, University of California, Davis Comment: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point Reardon’s paper, “New England’s Pre-Industrial River Commons: Culture and Economy ...

Reardon’s paper, “New England’s Pre-Industrial River Commons: Culture and Economy,” argues for the persistence of a river commons long after population growth and market pressures undermined the prospects for shared lands. Roberts’s essay, “The Private Commons: Oyster Planting in 19th-century Connecticut,” explain why Connecticut developed a dual system of public and private oyster production over the course of the 19th century by weaving together a history of the environment, law, and capitalism.

More
History of Women and Gender Seminar Sadie Alexander, Black Women’s Work, and Economic Citizenship during the New Deal Era 20 April 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Lauren Meyer, Yale University Comment: Martin Summers, Boston College This essay argues that Sadie Alexander, the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics and a ...

This essay argues that Sadie Alexander, the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics and a successful practicing lawyer, offered an alternative, black feminist definition of economic citizenship that shifted discourses on the relationship between race, gender, labor, and the meaning of citizenship. Alexander positioned black women’s paid labor as a potential source of strength: for black women themselves, for national economic wellbeing, and for the movement for black first-class citizenship.

More
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Interreligious Responses to the Settlement House Movement, 1880-1924 25 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Anne M. Blankenship, North Dakota State University Comment: Kristen Petersen, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. ...

By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. This paper analyzes how Catholic and Jewish immigrant communities in New York City responded to the Protestant origins and agenda of their benefactors prior to the 1920s, when many houses secularized activities in order to receive money from the Community Chest. Parties concerned about evangelism generally responded in one of two ways: public denouncement of specific houses and/or the development of alternative community centers to promote non-Protestant traditions.

More
May
Early American History Seminar Panel: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Friends 2 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Philip Gould, Brown University, and Thomas Balcerski, Eastern Connecticut State University Comment: Maurice Lee, Boston University Gould’s essay, “Hawthorne and the State of War,” reads the under-studied travel ...

Gould’s essay, “Hawthorne and the State of War,” reads the under-studied travel memoir Our Old Home (1863) as a meditation on the important—and, as he saw it, troubling—transformation of state power during the US Civil War. Balcerski’s essay, “‘A Work of Friendship’: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Franklin Pierce, and the Politics of Literary History,” traces the evolution of their conjoined personal and political friendship from 1852 to 1864 and argues for its significance during this final phase of their public lives.

More
Environmental History Seminar Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During World War I 9 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Gerald Fitzgerald, George Mason University Nicoletta Gullace, University of New Hampshire This session was previously scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Part of a ...

This session was previously scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and industrial waste in the form of fruit pits for the manufacture of a high-density carbon filter critical for defense against chemical weapons. It involves not only environmental and military history but also the history of science and biology. The essay includes analysis of transportation networks within the context of 19th-century US imperialism, especially from a resource allocation perspective.

More
Environmental History Seminar The Winter Workscape: Weather and the Meaning of Industrial Capitalism in the Northern Forest, 1850-1950 16 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jason L. Newton, Syracuse University Comment: Richard W. Judd, University of Maine This session was previously scheduled for March 14, 2017. Industrial logging ...

This session was previously scheduled for March 14, 2017.

Industrial logging operators used the winter weather, wood, simple machines, and muscle power alone to increase the production and transportation of saw logs to reach industrial scale and efficiency. Drawing on methods from environmental and labor history and the history of slavery and capitalism, this essay characterizes industrial capitalism as a force that will sustain seemingly anachronistic modes of production as long as they remain profitable. It shows that increased efficiency and scale need not always lead to massive carbon emissions.

More
More events
Early American History Seminar Promotional Literature and Identity in Colonial Massachusetts Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
4 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Agnès Delahaye, Université Lumière Lyon II Comment: Conrad E. Wright, Massachusetts Historical Society

This essay will examine the institutional and cultural factors behind promotional literature, the body of colonial sources written for metropolitan audiences. All share the common intent of promoting, or defending, the political or economic choices made by the colonists as their communities were taking shape. The essay will detail the tropes and expressions of the commonality of purpose that Delahaye sees in most New England historiography. It will also explore the relationship between colonial historiography and exceptionalism in the New England tradition.

close
Environmental History Seminar Panel: Fishing the Commons Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
11 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Erik Reardon, University of Maine at Orono, and Stacy Roberts, University of California, Davis Comment: Matthew McKenzie, University of Connecticut at Avery Point

Reardon’s paper, “New England’s Pre-Industrial River Commons: Culture and Economy,” argues for the persistence of a river commons long after population growth and market pressures undermined the prospects for shared lands. Roberts’s essay, “The Private Commons: Oyster Planting in 19th-century Connecticut,” explain why Connecticut developed a dual system of public and private oyster production over the course of the 19th century by weaving together a history of the environment, law, and capitalism.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar Sadie Alexander, Black Women’s Work, and Economic Citizenship during the New Deal Era Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
20 April 2017.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Lauren Meyer, Yale University Comment: Martin Summers, Boston College

This essay argues that Sadie Alexander, the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics and a successful practicing lawyer, offered an alternative, black feminist definition of economic citizenship that shifted discourses on the relationship between race, gender, labor, and the meaning of citizenship. Alexander positioned black women’s paid labor as a potential source of strength: for black women themselves, for national economic wellbeing, and for the movement for black first-class citizenship.

close
Modern American Society and Culture Seminar Interreligious Responses to the Settlement House Movement, 1880-1924 Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
25 April 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Anne M. Blankenship, North Dakota State University Comment: Kristen Petersen, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

By 1913, over 400 settlement houses catered to immigrants and laborers across the United States. This paper analyzes how Catholic and Jewish immigrant communities in New York City responded to the Protestant origins and agenda of their benefactors prior to the 1920s, when many houses secularized activities in order to receive money from the Community Chest. Parties concerned about evangelism generally responded in one of two ways: public denouncement of specific houses and/or the development of alternative community centers to promote non-Protestant traditions.

close
Early American History Seminar Panel: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Friends Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
2 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Philip Gould, Brown University, and Thomas Balcerski, Eastern Connecticut State University Comment: Maurice Lee, Boston University

Gould’s essay, “Hawthorne and the State of War,” reads the under-studied travel memoir Our Old Home (1863) as a meditation on the important—and, as he saw it, troubling—transformation of state power during the US Civil War. Balcerski’s essay, “‘A Work of Friendship’: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Franklin Pierce, and the Politics of Literary History,” traces the evolution of their conjoined personal and political friendship from 1852 to 1864 and argues for its significance during this final phase of their public lives.

close
Environmental History Seminar Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During World War I Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required.
Subscribe to receive advance copies of the seminar papers.
9 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Gerald Fitzgerald, George Mason University Nicoletta Gullace, University of New Hampshire

This session was previously scheduled for Tuesday, February 21, 2017.

Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and industrial waste in the form of fruit pits for the manufacture of a high-density carbon filter critical for defense against chemical weapons. It involves not only environmental and military history but also the history of science and biology. The essay includes analysis of transportation networks within the context of 19th-century US imperialism, especially from a resource allocation perspective.

close
Environmental History Seminar The Winter Workscape: Weather and the Meaning of Industrial Capitalism in the Northern Forest, 1850-1950 this event is free 16 May 2017.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Jason L. Newton, Syracuse University Comment: Richard W. Judd, University of Maine

This session was previously scheduled for March 14, 2017.

Industrial logging operators used the winter weather, wood, simple machines, and muscle power alone to increase the production and transportation of saw logs to reach industrial scale and efficiency. Drawing on methods from environmental and labor history and the history of slavery and capitalism, this essay characterizes industrial capitalism as a force that will sustain seemingly anachronistic modes of production as long as they remain profitable. It shows that increased efficiency and scale need not always lead to massive carbon emissions.

close