Boston 2018

History Camp Boston 2018

History Camp brings together people from all walks of life who are passionate about history. Here’s what one participant said: “I’ve been to dozens of official academic conferences with big names where all submissions are thoroughly vetted by panels of experts, and none of those conferences were as fun and informative as History Camp. It really was the best set of speakers I’ve seen at a conference: relaxed and informed and direct.”

Now in its fifth year, History Camp Boston 2018 will take place Saturday, July 7 at Suffolk University Law School, just across the street from the Old Granary Burying Ground and a short walk from Boston Common.

On Sunday there will be additional programming by local historic sites and history organizations. And to really make the most of your trip, arrive early and spend the Fourth in Boston.

Download and share the History Camp Boston 2018 flier with sessions as of March 13

See the growing list of sessions below 


We sold out last year months in advance. Despite the fact that we’ve added space this year, it would be a good idea to register as early as possible. More information on costs and registration options is below the ticket window. If you are not ready to register, sign up for notifications.

Registration fees and covering our costs: History Camp remains an all-volunteer effort that’s designed just to break even.  Our costs are higher this year, which is reflected in the registration prices.  The least expensive registration is $32 ($35.59 including Eventbrite fees).  My projections are that if everyone, including presenters, volunteers, and everyone else who pitches in and helps throughout the day, pays this or above, we’ll cover our costs.  If there is money left over, we’ll set it aside for next year.  Conversely, if we’re short, I’ll send out a note with a link to donate.  (If the base registration fee would pose a financial hardship that would keep you from attending, please contact me.)

After you register, your first and last name will appear on the list of registrants here at Eventbrite for all to see.

And after you register, please post to social media using the hashtags #historycamp and #historycampboston and encourage others to learn more about History Camp Boston by including a link to

Lunch: If you want lunch at Suffolk, order it now. Lunch is more expensive this year, but it will also be a much better lunch.  I tried to do it on the cheap last year so that it didn’t add as much to the ticket price, and that was a mistake. That won’t happen this year.  Instead of cold sandwiches we will have a hot buffet that includes a vegetarian choice.  If you have other special dietary needs, please don’t select a ticket with lunch and instead bring lunch or pick up something from any of the many restaurants nearby. (You can research places near our venue so you know exactly where to go.)

T-shirt: The only way to be sure that you’ll get a shirt in your size, is to order it now.  The shirts will be the same super-soft shirt we’ve used the last couple of years.  (We may have have some to sell at History Camp, but they will be $5 – $10 more expensive and there’s no guarantee that we’ll have one in your size.)

Authors and organizations: If you want a dedicated space to market your wares, including selling and signing books, individuals and organizations should select the “Table for Authors and Organizations” ticket. It includes one full registration (with lunch and the t-shirt). If there are others who will be joining you, they should register separately. (The “Table” ticket is $10 more than a standard full registration, so there’s no reason to pay that more than once.)

If you are an author and want to sell books in the hallway after your talk and don’t need a table, that’s fine. Likewise, if you are an organization that simply wants to leave handouts, we’ll have a table where anyone can leave a stack of relevant handouts.

Saturday evening performance: There will be a dramatic performance by Judith Kalaora immediately after History Camp wraps up.  It’s titled, “World War Women: The Unsung Heroines of WWII,” it runs about an hour and a quarter, and it will be in the same room where we hold the last session, so it’s especially convenient. It does require the purchase of an “add on,” which you’ll see once you’ve selected your ticket type and begun to check out.

Badges: This year you’ll have a field to add information that will appear on your badge.  This might be a particular interest you have, the title of your book or blog, an organization you’re affiliated with, social media information, or anything else. (You can always grab a colored marker and add more, too.)

Sharing contact information: Folks have asked each year about a method to share contact information with others who attend.  Last year I set up a closed Facebook group just for History Camp Boston, but it never got much traction. (You’re still welcome to join.) You will have an opportunity to opt in to have your contact information shared with others who also wish to have their contact information made available.

Photographing and videotaping throughout the day: One of our goals is to share as much of History Camp with others as possible, and that means sharing it as widely as possible. If for whatever reason you don’t want to appear in photographs or video that may be posted online, shared on social media, or used in any other way, please don’t attend. This is the disclosure.  Attending represents consent.  (Instead, enjoy History Camp Boston from the social media posts throughout the day and the videos and slides that will be posted after the event.)


Changes for History Camp Boston 2018

Adding capacity is a very high priority.  Registration for History Camp Boston 2017 in mid-March opened on December 12 and was sold out by January 1. Even after adding more rooms and more spots, there were still many more people who wanted to attend.

In 2018 we’ll have more rooms, including more large lecture halls. We’re also making a slight to the opening “round the room” introductions. This is my favorite part of the day since it helps build the community that has come together for that day and gives everyone a sense of wonderful variety of backgrounds of those assembled.

The room for these introductions was our capacity constraint in 2017. In order to hold History Camp Boston 2018 in the same building, we’ll gather for very brief remarks in the same large room on the first floor, and then head to the first sessions of the day, which will be extended so that the “round the room” introductions can take place there. While this means that you’ll be hearing from perhaps one-fourth or one-fifth of your fellow attendees, we felt this was the right tradeoff.

A special performance Saturday night. Available as an add-on when you register, “World War Women: The Unsung Heroines of WWII,” will take place immediately after our wrap-up session and will be performed in the same room.

Better planning and communication of Saturday night dinners. We’re looking for one or two volunteers to arrange these. People will be on their own, but with a little planning, it will be less of a scramble than it has been the last couple of years.

Here’s what we have in mind for whomever wishes to take this on: Block tables for a dozen or so people at four or five restaurants. Put up sign up sheets in the registration area and have them up throughout the day. Label one “Open” and let folks self-organize and pick a theme or area of interest for the others. Put up a sheet for “overflow” in case there are more people who want to join a group for dinner than we have spots. Make arrangements with additional restaurants, as needed. If you’re interested, please let me know.

More activities for Sunday. This will be the the second year we’ve expand to the weekend. Local institutions are invited to create programming for or otherwise extend an offer to attendees for Sunday, July 8. They may also wish to promote events earlier in the week for people who travel to the area to visit and sightsee before History Camp. (We already know of people flying in from Colorado and Texas, and coming up from Maryland.)

Special offers and events, either before History Camp or on the Sunday of History Camp Weekend will be posted here. Just send them in.

How you can help

If you’re interested in helping, either now, a few days before History Camp, or at the event, thank you and see this list for what we’re looking for.

For updates

If you are not ready to register, subscribe to the History Camp Boston mailing list for updates. (If you have already registered, you will be added to the list automatically.)

Thanks to Suffolk

Our thanks to Bob Allison and all of the folks at Suffolk who are making their beautiful facility available again next year.

Background on History Camp if you’ve not attended before

Finally, if you’ve never been to History Camp before, this is a good introduction, and this is the archive from last year, with photos, session descriptions, the schedule, and presentations.

The 2018 History Camp shirt is in the works. We’ll post the design when it’s finished.

To help you plan your visit, see our transportation, and lodging page

Lee Wright |  Founder  |  The History List  |  History Camp


If you are interested in presenting and haven’t been to History Camp before, there are important ways in which being a part of History Camp is different than being a speaker at a conference.  It comes down to this: We’re all in this together, which means, among other things . . .

  • Come at the beginning and stay until the end. Please don’t come just for your session and leave.
  • No one is paid. This is an all-volunteer effort designed to break even.
  • You are your own A/V tech. Arrive early if you are doing the first session so you have plenty of time to set up, and stay until the next person comes so you can help them. You’ll find detailed instructions here.
  • Everyone pays. There is no formal organization behind History Camp; this is just individuals getting together to put this on every year. Your payment, along with those from everyone else, means that the organizers don’t have to dig in to their own pockets to make up the shortfall.
  • Everyone shares. If you have slides, we’ll help you post them to the History Camp site. We may also videotape or stream your presentation live (such as on Facebook) so that people who can’t attend can benefit from History Camp.

There are a three important rules for presentations:

  • No current/recent politics. This isn’t new; it’s always been our rule.
  • No selling. For authors, feel free to mention your book. You’re also welcome to reserve a table when you register and sell and sign books in the morning, at lunch, and at the end of the day. However, people who attend your session should leave feeling like they learned interesting things, as opposed to leaving feeling like it was one long commercial for your book.
  • Don’t read your paper. Please don’t. This isn’t an academic conference. Folks will just get up and go to one of the four or five other presentations taking place at the same time.

Please finish on time and leave the room for any one-on-one discussions with attendees. Move beyond the doorway and down the hall so that the talking doesn’t interfere with the next presentation. History Camp moves along at a pretty rapid clip, and there isn’t much time between sessions.

Finally, be aware that your session might be streamed or taped and shown online later.

If History Camp sounds like it’s for you, send me your information in the style you see below and then register at the top of this page. Browse prior years (such as 2017) to read about other presentations as well as the different formats that have been used. If you have questions, please let me know.

— Lee Wright  |  Founder  |  The History List  |  History Camp


This is a partial list. I expect that we’ll end up with around 50 sessions, which means you’ll have a choice of four to six sessions in each time slot.

I’m adding to this list as people send their sessions in to me. Note that these may change right up to History Camp. If we end up with more submissions than time slots, I’ll work with presenters to combine sessions or cut sessions, in the case of folks who are presenting more than one, but we’ve added rooms this year and hope that we won’t have to do that. — Lee

Panel being formed: “The Real History Communicators: How to Get Millions of People Engaged with History Every Day Without Them Even Realizing It.” Invited: Google DoodlesUbisoft (Assassin’s Creed) or Ensemble (Age of Empires); and, Shawn Ryan or Eric Kripke (Timeless) or Craig Silverstein (Turn). If you are with one of those organizations or individuals, or with an organization, creator, or communicator whose work reaches millions of people, please let me know. In addition to organizing this panel, I’ll be moderating.

—  Lee Wright  |  Founder  |  The History List  | History Camp


The Founding Fathers and Covert Operations

— Stephen Knott ( Professor, National Security Affairs Department, United States Naval War College. @publius57 and Amazon Author Page

George Washington once said that “there are some secrets, on the keeping of which so, depends, oftentimes, the salvation of an Army: secrets which cannot, at least ought not to, be entrusted to paper; nay, which none but the Commander-in-Chief at the time, should be acquainted with.” Washington was not only the father of his country, he was America’s first intelligence director. Significantly, Washington’s first major expenditure after taking command of the Continental Army was the payment of $333.33 to send an agent “into the town of Boston to establish secret correspondence.”

Following the ratification of the Constitution, President Washington requested a “secret service fund” in his first annual message to Congress. This appropriation of $40,000 allowed the president to conduct sensitive operations without providing an accounting of those expenditures to Congress. Building on this foundation, Thomas Jefferson authorized the first American mission to overthrow a foreign head of state, used private citizens for intelligence operations, proposed burning down St. Paul’s Cathedral in retaliation for the burning of the White House, and used covert operations as a centerpiece of his policy toward Native Americans.

In the 41 years between the time that Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence to when James Madison left the White House, the nascent US government authorized an astounding number of covert operations. These covert actions included kidnapping, bribing foreign leaders, using clergy and media for intelligence purposes, overthrowing a foreign government, and assisting various insurgencies.

The April 19, 1775 Evacuation of Lexington and Concord

Alexander Cain, Author, We Stood Our Ground: Lexington in the First Year of the American Revolution and I See Nothing but the Horrors of a Civil

When Lexington’s alarm bell rang, panic set in. A hostile military force was marching directly towards the town. Plunder and destruction were feared.  The Reverend William Gordon of Roxbury reported, “the inhabitants had quitted their houses in the general area upon the road, leaving almost everything behind them, and thinking themselves well off in escaping with their lives.” Some took a few belongings. Others hid or buried valuables. The roads were clogged with “women and children weeping.” Residents escaped to woods and fields or to nearby towns.  While much attention has been paid to the shots fired that day, we’ll take a close look at what happened to those who weren’t engaged in combat.

The Salem Witchcraft Trials and Ergot, the “Moldy Bread” Hypothesis 

Margo Burns, Project Manager and Associate Editor, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt (Cambridge, 2009)

On April 2, 1976, Science Magazine published an article by Linnda R. Caporeal which posited that during the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, the visions of specters and painful physical sensations described by the girls who claimed to be afflicted by witches could have been caused, instead, from eating bread made with flour tainted by ergot, a naturally occurring fungal hallucinogen that grows on rye grain under certain growing conditions. It was debunked immediately and soundly by experts because the historical and medical data used to support the hypothesis was cherry-picked.

More than four decades later, however, this interpretation is still pervasive. In this session you’ll learn where this explanation of a lurid chapter in American history was born and how it became cemented in the public imagination. It’s a case study in how people come to believe myths about historical events.

Behind the Devil’s Shield: Counter-Magic in Early New England

Alyssa G. A. Conary (, MA history candidate at Salem State University and President & co-founder of the Salem Historical Society

Early New England ministers took a hard line against the practice of magic. All magic, whether harmful or beneficial in intention, was believed to be demonic. The archaeological, architectural, and documentary records show us that things weren’t so black and white for their congregations. This lecture will explore evidence for the practice of protective counter-magic in seventeenth and eighteenth-century New England, including witch bottles, deliberate concealments, and ritual marks on historic timber.

Finding Phebe: Uncovering the History of Slavery in Warren, Rhode Island’s Smallest Town

Patricia Mues ( and Sarah Weed ( are co-chairs of the Warren Middle Passage Project and board members of the Warren Preservation Society.

Much smaller than the nearby slave centers of Newport, Bristol, and Providence, Warren, Rhode Island’s small size has made it a footnote in much of what has been written about slavery and the slave trade until now.

Drawing on their research of wills, inventories, town meeting records, censuses, and other documents, Patricia and Sarah will describe the lives of the enslaved of Warren and the lives of the postmasters, town councilmen, justices of the peace, farmers, ship builders, and innkeepers, and others in Warren who used the work of the enslaved to further their own families’ futures.

James Madison Reflects on Efforts and Circumstances Surrounding the Ratification of the US Constitution in its Anniversary “30th year” of 1818

Kyle Jenks ( is a professional interpreter of Pres. James Madison ( and and a member of the League of Most Interesting Gentlemen.

Pres. James Madison will take you back to July 7, 1788, after Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution and before New York had done so. Madison, who was involved in both processes, will reveal the anonymous identity of Publius, the three co-authors of the Federalist essays, provide a synopsis of the Federalist essay campaign, explain the reason for anonymity, describe the tenuous nature of the ratification process, and offer his perspectives on the events.

Robert Smalls, From Slave to American Civil War Hero

Patrick Gabridge ( is the playwright of Blood on the Snow (recently staged at the Old State House) and many other historical plays, as well as the novel Steering to Freedom, about Robert Smalls.

In May 1862, Robert Smalls, an enslaved ship’s pilot in Charleston, South Carolina, crafted a daring plan to steal the steamship Planter and deliver it, along with the crew and their families, to the Union blockade. After risking his life to escape slavery, Robert faced an even more difficult challenge: convincing Abraham Lincoln to enlist black troops. He returned to serve the Union on many missions (including the Battle of Charleston) as a ship’s pilot. In this session, Patrick will relate the powerful and inspirational story of a young man who became the first black captain of a US military ship, while struggling to navigate a path to freedom for himself, his family, and his people.

Henry Wilson: Natick Cobbler to Vice-President

Joe Weisse (, Natick Historical Society

Henry Wilson was born February 16, 1812, in Farmington, New Hampshire, as Jeramiah Jones Colbath. From a poor family, he was indentured to a nearby farmer for 11 years. At the age of 21, he changed his name to Henry Wilson and walked to live the rest of his life as a resident of Natick Massachusetts. He learned and manufactured shoes with his 10-foot shop still standing in Natick. Wilson served in both houses of the State Legislature and was a Colonel in the Army 22nd first artillery Brigade Massachusetts. A Senator from Massachusetts (1855-1873) he was known as the Natick cobbler. Wilson was Vice-President to Ulysses S. Grant, March 4, 1873 to his death just off the Senate floor on November 22, 1875. A longtime abolitionist and supporter of rights for every individual, he stood for principle not party.

Heroic Souls: Puritan Women as the First American Individuals

Lori Stokes, Ph.D. (

“…to go back, I would not.” This confident statement was made by a woman known to us only as “Katherine, Mrs. Russel’s maid”; it was part of the spiritual autobiography she gave in her Puritan church in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 1630s. These spiritual autobiographies, or relations, as they were called, were required of any person wishing to join the church as a full member. Minister Thomas Shepard recorded the relations of 31 women in his congregation between 1638 and 1649.

In these women’s relations, we hear uncanny echoes of the modern hero: a sole individual, relying on her unique powers, suffering through many failures and dangers to complete an epic personalquest. This type of narrative is wholly uncharacteristic of the 17th century, anticipating the modern hero by over 200 years. The individual in this relation is not anchored in family, class, location, religious tradition, history, marriage, or motherhood. What we read in these relations are narratives of the heroic soul, struggling alone against cosmic forces, rejected by and rejecting of all others, ultimately acting in a theater reduced to two players: the seeker and the Lord.

All of the people, male and female, who gave relations in the Shepard church exhibit this oddly modern individuality. But it is most remarkable to find it in the women’s narratives, since women’s identities were usually so completely folded into men’s, and so completely confined to the roles of daughter, wife, and mother. A personal narrative unshaped by sex is unexpected at any moment in history; women’s narratives with none of the traditional markers of female identity even more so. We will explore these heroic narratives and hear these women speak for themselves, as they did over 370 years ago.

Katharine Gibbs: Trailblazing Woman in Business

 Rose A. Doherty ( is the author of Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves, the first history of this world-renowned institution.

Katharine Gibbs created her school from nothing.  She was a 46-year-old widow with no income, two sons to support, and only a high school education when she began her school in 1911.  She was CEO of three schools two years before women had the vote.  She was an entrepreneur who educated women for business when they were not welcome.

After her death, the family fostered the icon of Gibbs excellence worldwide and added campuses including Bermuda.  The last owners were large corporations who kept the core tradition of excellence. Multiple campuses, new programs of study, the introduction of degrees, and the return of male students remade Gibbs with adaptability reminiscent of the founder.

The Gibbs family motto ”Hold to Your Purpose” motivated graduates from 1911 to 2011. Graduates include a college president, US ambassador, CIA operatives, bank president, lawyers, writers, business executives and owners, graphic designers, and professionals in many fields.  Those who care about business history, education history, or women’s history will be interested in this illustrated talk.

The Chautauqua Movement in New England and the Now Forgotten Framingham Chautauqua

— Anita Danker, Author and Lecturer, and

A century and a half ago Framingham was a destination vacation venue where thousands of middle-class folk relaxed and recharged in a bucolic setting replete with ponds, woodlands, and gingerbread cottages.  Now largely forgotten, the New England Chautauqua was well-known and widely written about.  Thousands attended from throughout New England.  We’ll take a look at the fascinating history of the chautauqua movement, how the Framingham Chautauqua came into being, how it grew, who attended, what people experienced, and why this major summer event here in Massachusetts ended while it continues in New York.

The Founding Fathers and the Electoral College

Tara Ross, Author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule; We Elect a President: The Story of our Electoral College; and, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State.FacebookTwitterInstagramwebsite, and Amazon Author Page

This session will explore the true history of the Electoral College.  What were the delegates to the Constitutional Convention trying to accomplish? Were they concerned about 18th-century travel and communication difficulties or did they have other considerations in mind? What other alternatives did they consider?  What (if anything) did they really say about the institution of slavery during their debates about presidential selection? Did the Founders expect electors to vote in accordance with the states’ popular votes? What surprising expectation did they have about the back-up presidential election procedure in the House of Representatives? Tara will address all these questions—and more.

At Home with Louis Comfort Tiffany: When Tiffany Came to Boston

Jeanne Pelletier, Preservation Advisor, The Campaign for the Ayer Mansion, Inc.

While known today primarily for his elaborate lamps, favrile vases, and magnificent stained glass, Louis Comfort Tiffany was in his day also a sought-after interior designer, pioneering the concept of the house and home as an artistic masterwork. An amazingly versatile artist with an equally powerful ego, Tiffany applied his design skills successfully to a wide range of media, including metalwork, mosaic, plaster, woodwork, furniture, and architecture, as well as stained glass.

Entrepreneur and art-collector Frederick Ayer and his second wife, Ellen Banning Ayer, scandalized Boston society by bringing this innovative New Yorker to Boston to design their exotic new residence. Preservationist Jeanne Pelletier explores Tiffany’s ground-breaking interior and architectural work using images of his lost designs as well as his sole surviving residential commission, Boston’s Ayer Mansion, built in 1899-1902.

George Washington and the Separation of Church and State in the Early Days of the Republic

Tara Ross, Author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule; We Elect a President: The Story of our Electoral College; and, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State.FacebookTwitterInstagramwebsite, and Amazon Author Page

The founding generation rejected the “wall of separation between Church & State” when it was initially proposed by Jefferson. The prevailing view was closer to Washington’s, who faced questions about this repeatedly, from his days as a young officer in the Virginia Regiment, to colonial legislator, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, head of the Constitutional Convention, and president of the United States. This session will discuss the questions that confronted Washington during his lifetime, how his views evolved, and the way in which his approach to this fundamental issue remains important today.

Great History Podcasts: How to Find Them and How to Create Your Own

— Edward T. O’Donnell, Assoc. Professor of History at Holy Cross College host of the popular American history podcast, In The Past Lane (  He is the author of “Visions of America: A History of the United States,” and other books.

History podcasts range from engaging history storytelling (The Memory Palace) to long form history narratives (Hard Core History), from entertaining history myth busting (Professor Buzzkill) to serious academic history (Ben Franklin’s World). While it’s easy to start a podcast, it’s quite challenging to create a successful podcast that attracts a following.

This session will cover . . .

• Reasons to start a history podcast
• How to create a history podcast, from concept and format to equipment and software
• How to market your podcast and expand your audience

The session after this one is  a panel with people doing history podcasts explaining what they’ve learned and answering your questions.

The History Podcaster Panel

— Edward T. O’Donnell, In The Past Lane (, Jake Sconyers, HUB History (, Liz Covart, Ben Franklin’s World (, Mick Sullivan, The Past and the Curious (, and Tracy V. Wilson, Stuff You Missed in History Class  ( each describe how they got started, what it took to get where they are today, and some of the lessons they’ve learned along the way. After short presentations from each of the panelists there will be a time for questions from the audience.

How to Use Images to Teach History: An introduction to the SIGHT Method

— Edward T. O’Donnell, Assoc. Professor of History at Holy Cross College host of the popular American history podcast, In The Past Lane (  He is the author of “Visions of America: A History of the United States,” and other books.

The SIGHT© method is a program developed during two decades of conducting teacher workshops and teaching students. The session includes 50+ vintage photographs, etchings, maps, cartoons, and historical documents.

Parents, teachers, interpreters, and guides can use the SIGHT method to bring to life a topic’s essential content, draw out the critical questions, concepts, and ideas of a given historical era, find and use visual primary sources on their own, develop simulations, projects, and debates based on historical images, and improve their student’s writing skills by fashioning assignments based on historical images. Those in the audience or in the classroom gain visual literacy, retain better essential historical concepts and content, enhance their skills in critical analysis and interpretation, make links between written and visual primary sources, develop an appreciation for the complexity of history, and develop historical empathy and resist present-mindedness.

From Pride to Protest to Rebellion: Tea in the American Colonies, From the Seven Years War Through the Revolutionary War

— Abby Chandler (, Associate Professor of Early American History, University of Massachusetts Lowell

The Townshend Acts in 1767 put taxes on a wide variety of goods including tea, cloth, paint, paper, and glass. The tax on tea would later lead to the event we know as the Boston Tea Party when 90,000 pounds of tea were dumped in Boston Harbor. But why was tea the commodity that created the most protests? And was more than just tea being thrown overboard that night in Boston?

This session begins with the end of the Seven Years War in 1763 when tea and tea sets were becoming exciting commodities for British colonists to purchase and to show off to family and neighbors alike. By the 1770s, however, tea and tea sets had become a touchstone for the arrival of the American Revolution, something to be publicly avoided, if not downright destroyed. Through the use of paintings, newspaper articles, and the leaves of Samuel Johnson’s “fascinating plant,” this session will explore these changes and what they can tell us about tea drinking and its changing role in the lives of British North America colonists.

The Real Story Behind the Hollywood Afghan War Epic, Twelve Strong: The True Declassified Story of the Horse Soldiers

— Brian Glyn Williams ( and, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and author, The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime

For four summers Professor Brian Glyn Williams roamed the Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan retracing a covert operation that saw U.S. Green Beret Special Forces unite with ancient Mongol Uzbek horse warriors to fight the common Taliban foe in 2001. The result of his fieldwork and embed was his book, The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime.

Dr. Williams, who has worked extensively in Afghanistan for the CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center and US Army’s Information Operations, will describe the story behind the events covered in his book and discuss working with a major Hollywood producer (Jerry Bruckheimer) and studio (Warner Bros.) to bring his historical account to the screen.

Meriwether Lewis’s Survey at Cumberland Gap: or What’s up with the 36-30 Line of North Latitude between Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee?

— Lorna Hainesworth (, Ambassador and National Traveler,
Lifetime member of the Surveyors Historical Society and the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, founding member of the Lewis and Clark Trust, associate member of the Department of the Geographer and the District of Columbia Association of Land Surveyors.

Why is the line between these four states so crooked? What are the reasons for so many anomalies? Where was the line supposed to be? Who is responsible for the dividing line? When did all this happen? Were there controversies or problems with the location of the line? If so, what resolutions were enacted? Given the technology we have today, why haven’t steps been taken to straighten the line? This session will present a talk on the dividing line between Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, which will describe all the involved issues and will answer the above questions plus describe a little known survey conducted by Meriwether Lewis in November 1806 near present-day Cumberland Gap.

Freeing Fayza: A Professor’s Journey to ISIS-Controlled Iraq to Help Free a “Pagan” Slave Girl

— Brian Glyn Williams ( and, Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, and author, The Last Warlord: The Life and Legend of Dostum, the Afghan Warrior who Led US Special Forces to Topple the Taliban Regime

In the summer of 2016, Professor Brian Glyn Williams returned to war-torn Iraq to visit the Yazidis, a dying race whose lands were brutally conquered by ISIS fanatics in 2014. There he visited Yazidi refugee camps and met with members of this ancient race who worship Mesopotamian gods forgotten over the centuries. But his real goal was to help free on one of the thousands of Yazidi slave girls captured by ISIS and taken to Mosul.

As Mosul fell to fury of US bombs and Iraqi troops, Dr. Williams had an urgent mission to free one girl by buying her from her ISIS captor who was negotiating to sell her to arrange his own escape from the doomed city. On this visit and a previous journey to this land, Professor Williams had the rare opportunity to visit the Yazidis’ ancient stone temple overlooking the battlefield where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian and met with their high priest. He also did an embed on the frontlines with Kurdish Peshmerga (“Those Who Face Death”) fighters facing off against ISIS. There he had the pleasure of meeting Kurdish female snipers and the Kurds’ legendary general Shirwan Barzani, the “Black Tiger.”

The 1918 Flu Epidemic: Impact on People in Local Communities in the Greater Boston Area

— Lori Lyn Price ( and, Independent Researcher.

The 1918 flu pandemic (January 1918 – December 1920) infected 500 million people around the world and resulted in the deaths of 50 to 100 million, three to five percent of the world’s population. One hundred years later we’ll look at what was one of the deadliest natural disasters in history and it’s impact here in New England. Resources covered include local newspapers, a wide variety of town records (e.g., town minutes, annual reports, superintendent circulars, internal memos or newsletters, and hospital records).

The Corpse in the Cellar: or, the Posthumous Adventures of Sheriff George Corwin

— Marilynne K. Roach ( the author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, and the biographical Six Women of Salem. She has also contributed to the definitive collection of court documents, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.

Among his other activities in 1692, Sheriff George Corwin conducted several controversial confiscations of the accused’s goods, including over £1,180-worth belonging to merchant Philip English.  Jailed on a witchcraft charge, Philip and Mary English, the richest couple in Salem, escaped to New York until the panic ended. When they returned to find both house and warehouse picked clean, English sued Corwin for debt, but Corwin died. Tradition claims English then stole the late sheriff’s dead body as collateral until the debt was paid. Can there be any truth to this story, or is it just fake news?

The Lost Mill Towns of South County

— Mark Kenneth Gardner ( Public historian, public educator, and archivist for the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society. @HistoryGardner and LinkedIn Page

Mills are essential elements of the New England’s historical landscape. The birth of the Industrial Revolution at Slater’s Mill in Pawtucket Rhode Island and the rapid industrialization and urbanization along the state’s larger rivers is a well-known story. But in southern Rhode Island, the rivers were smaller, and industrialization did not support the growth of large urban centers. To this day, most of Washington County’s 563 square miles (or as most residents call it, South County) are still characteristically rural. However the Wood, Pawcatuck, and Saugatucket Rivers of South County supported a robust industrial economy that emerged from pre-industrial mill seats and existed hand-in-hand with local farms well into the twentieth century. Some of the mill towns that emerged were sizable, with manufactories several stories high and employing upwards of one hundred people or more. Meanwhile smaller, so-called “shoddy mills” were the industrial nexus of numerous villages that dotted the agrarian landscape from the western border with Connecticut to Narragansett Bay.

South County’s local mill economy ended after the Second World War. At many sites, an abandoned factory or a stone dam surrounded by some number of mill houses tell the tale of past industrial aspirations and factory closures, while little if anything remains at the site of many of the small mill villages. But across the region some mills and former mill buildings continue to breathe life into the economy, re-purposed in a variety of ways. Some have continued manufacturing, relying on a combination of workers, computers and automation; others have become community working spaces and still others have become living museums or artist communes. This presentation seeks to detail both what has been lost to the sands of time and how some mills and communities have persevered in South County’s largely rural but certainly post-industrial landscape.

The Redcoats Have Come: Getting to Know the British Soldiers Who Arrived in Boston in 1768

— J. L. Bell ( is the author of The Road to Concord: How Four
Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War and Boston 1775 (

In October 1768, 250 years ago, two British army regiments disembarked on Boston’s Long Wharf, sent by the London government to protect the customs service. A few weeks later, two more regiments arrived. Some of those soldiers brought their wives and children. After that major influx of people, Boston contained one armed soldier for every two local white men. People on both sides were soon complaining about violence and crime. But soldiers also found jobs in local shops and married in Boston churches. American histories often treat those redcoats as a faceless mass, but they were individuals, and we can glimpse some of their stories through period sources.

New England’s Hidden Histories: The Race to Rescue Our Earliest Manuscript Church Records

— James F. Cooper, Jr. (, Regents Distinguished Research Professor, Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, and Director, New England’s Hidden Histories, Congregational Library, Boston

In 1748, Hartford church records describe a meeting in which eight different pastors considered the following: “Whether a Member of a Church calling the Ministers of this land, Hivelings, greedy dogs, [along] with other Expressions of the like Nature, be not an offence, for which he ought to be called to an account in that Church to which he belongs?” The church records from Braintree note, seven years later, how the local pastor spotted, one afternoon, “a bush that seem’d to be much ruffled with the wind, and to move out of its place about three paces . . . and then to return to it’s place again.”

From the wrath of angry church members, to the mysterious movements of shrubbery, virtually nothing went on in colonial New England communities that didn’t pass through the doors of the local church. The most important decisions this culture faced followed (often rowdy) debates in local church meetings, where churchgoers not only discussed religious affairs, but also gathered regularly to discuss and police one another’s behavior. We can learn more about life in early New England from church records than from any other discrete set of sources.

But the region’s priceless manuscript church records are scattered all over New England, often in attics, closets and basements, and many are significantly endangered. This discussion will focus on the fascinating information we can find in church records, the region-wide treasure hunt to find and to save them, and the Congregational Library’s efforts to make them available to the public through digitization.

Ghosts and Graffiti: Superstition and Belief in the Fairbanks House

— Daniel Neff (, Curator, The Fairbanks House

The Fairbanks House in Dedham, MA is the oldest wooden structure still standing in all of North America – the Fairbanks family lived there for eight generations over 267 years. That’s plenty of time for the family to develop some very strongly held convictions. Many ideas that today we consider superstitious or fanciful they thought of as very really and potentially very dangerous. Someone in the family, probably multiple generations, had a really strong belief in the power of folk magic – they may have also thought a family member was possessed. Throughout the house there are hex marks (ritual carvings designed to protect the house and its occupants from evil) and evidence of spiritual middens (piles of special objects, often hidden in the walls, meant to ward off spirits). There are also numbers, tally marks, and even names written on and carved into the walls. We’ll take a look at all the marks and objects hidden throughout the house and the beliefs behind them.

Photography and Finding the Ancient and Medieval in New England

— Kisha G. Tracy​ (, Associate Professor, English Studies, Fitchburg State University; Project Leader, Cultural Heritage through Image; @kosho22, Facebook group, and website

Cultural heritage is all around us – in our historical and religious sites, our museums, our monuments, our cemeteries, our traditions. What we do not often think about is how and why heritage has been created, protected, and preserved throughout history. In this interactive session, we will take a photo journey through New England that will reveal how ancient to medieval heritage connects to the local, how the stories of the more distant past are echoed in the more recent. This deeper understanding will enrich your future travels throughout New England, providing a new way to look at history and heritage. Attendees will participate in the Cultural Heritage through Image digital community exhibition (​

Mad For Glory: the 1813 Origins of American Nation-Building and Imperialism

— Robert Booth (, author, Mad For Glory (Tilbury House, 2015)

In 1813, during the confusion of the War of 1812, two charismatic Americans played out a Pacific drama of nation-building and imperialism—the first instances of these pursuits by Americans.

Without authorization, Capt. David Porter, USN, took the 32-gun Navy frigate Essex into the Pacific—then not a theatre of the war in the conflict with Great Britain—on a cruise that would turn into the longest and strangest naval adventure in our history, with the Essex and its 300 men fighting a separate war of privateering among British whalers and foreign conquest in Polynesia.

In Chile, U.S. Consul General Joel Roberts Poinsett met Captain Porter in the seaport of Valparaiso on the eve of revolution. Cut off from Washington by the high wall of the Andes, Poinsett, chief advisor to Chile’s rebel president, had drafted an American-style constitution and agreed to lead the Chilean nationalist army against the forces of the Spanish king. Poinsett believed that President Madison had sent the Essex to bring about an independent Chile and initiate the liberation of all of South America; but Porter sailed off over the horizon, bent on his own purposes, leaving Poinsett without naval support. In the end, Porter (returning later to Chile) and Poinsett—one of them brilliantly deceitful and the other dangerously idealistic—had to rely on each other to keep the British from achieving their imperial goals in Chile and the larger Pacific world.

The Marblehead Women’s Takeover of Their Town in the mid-19th Century

— Robert Booth (, author, The Women of Marblehead, A Women’s History of Marblehead, Mass., in the 19th Century and of the Marblehead Female Humane Society (Marblehead, 2016)

Marblehead began the 1800s in poverty and so it remained for decades, mired in a no-growth death-trip maritime culture that was finally transformed not by the town fathers but by the town’s mothers. Dolly Churchill, who survived sexual shaming in Salem, moved to Marblehead and used the new sect of Methodism to bring about an uprising against the male establishment, followed by Debbie Millett, daughter of a poor fisherman, who left a memoir of her experiences.

Starting in the 1820s and invoking the principle of women-power introduced by Churchill and Millett, hundreds of working-class Marblehead women applied the means of production of the industrial revolution to reframe the town’s economy, saving many men and boys from the lethal (and unprofitable) business of deep-sea fishing and bringing themselves into the workforce and their daughters into the public schools. Their achievement was forgotten—or suppressed—by later historians. This is believed to be the first instance of women as the chief actors in effecting permanent cultural and economic change in a Massachusetts town.

The Forgotten Philanthropist

— Erik Bauer ( and @hipster818) archivist, Peabody Institute Library,

When we think of philanthropist names like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates & Melinda Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Solomon R. Guggenheim and J. Paul Getty come to mind among many others. One name that often gets over looked is George Peabody who by many is considered “the father of modern philanthropy.” Peabody’s legacy has been lost to time and is generally only remember in New England and England. This session looks to at who George Peabody was and what his legacy is and look at why his name has been forgotten to United States history.



If you would like to list your organization’s special event or offer for History Camp attendees, please let me know.

— Lee Wright  |  Founder  |  The History List  |  History Camp


The Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History on the Regis College campus in Weston, MA

Mention you attended the History Camp Boston and get free admission Sunday or anytime this summer. The museum is open Thursday to Saturday, noon to 5:00.  Plenty of history on stamps.  You don’t have to be a stamp collector to enjoy your visit.  For more information: