Boston 2018

History Camp Boston Weekend 2018

Updated 10/7/17: We’ve already heard from folks in CO, TX, NC, SC, and MD who are coming—and we’re nine months out.

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

This will be the fifth year for History Camp Boston. It will also be first time it hasn’t been in March. The facility wasn’t available in March 2018, and after polling members of the History Camp Boston community, the overwhelming response was to find another date that would enable us to return to the Suffolk University Law School, which was the site of History Camp 2017.

Sessions below

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.

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.

More outreach. We’re looking for one or two volunteers who will help with outreach to the media (in all forms). Please let me know if you’re interested.

For updates, including when registration opens

We expect to have more information available by the end of the month, including posting initial sessions and a call for volunteers to help plan and execute History Camp Weekend.

To receive updates, including when registration opens, subscribe to the History Camp Boston mailing list.

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

Please send me your suggestions for the theme or image and I’ll post them here.

  • Arrival of British troops in Boston in the fall of 1768, 250 years before that year. There was a close-to-violent conflict over the use of a building called the Manufactory, which was near our meeting space. Revere issued a woodcut of the troops’ landing.  (JL Bell)
  • America’s involvement in WW1, 100 years ago. (JL Bell)
  • Boston Massacre/Crispus Attucks Memorial on the Common, which will be 130 years old next year. (JL Bell)
  • Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Memorial at top of Common, showing parade 155 years ago. Shaw and some of his men died later in 1863. (JL Bell)


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 . . .

  • Everyone comes at the beginning and stays until the end. Speakers do not just come for their session and leave.
  • No one is paid. This is an all-volunteer effort designed to break even.
  • Everyone pays. There is no formal organization behind History Camp. 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.

If History Camp sounds like its for you, send me your information in the style you see here. Browse prior years to read about other presentations as well as the different formats that have been used. If you have questions, please let me know.

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.