March 16, 2019
Updated April 21
- On March 16, 2019 we had our largest History Camp Boston ever, with more than 450 attendees and 65 sessions. See the video immediately below for the day in under 2 minutes.
- At the event we announced our intent to explore forming a non-profit in order to create more History Camps across the country.
- Session descriptions, with links to videos
- Schedule [PDF]
- Videos of sessions: The History Camp Boston 2019 playlist in the History Camp Boston YouTube channel has the videos of the sessions that were recorded. Note that most sessions were recorded, but not all. Links to these videos are also included on the session page, which also has descriptions of all of the sessions.
- We have some of this year’s t-shirts available for purchase. Proceeds go to cover the cost of History Camp.
- Never been to History Camp? The slides at the top of this page are a great introduction.
- Sign up to be notified when the date for History Camp Boston 2020 is announced.
Updated March 15
- You can now download the preliminary schedule and the preliminary session guide, which describes the sessions.
- Here is the schedule of sessions for History Camp Boston 2019. You will get a copy of the final one when you come to History Camp, so you don’t need to print it out. However, if you wish to, you will want to reduce to fit on a standard letter-sized sheet because it is formatted for the handout, which will be 11″ x 17″.
- Here is the History Camp Boston 2019 Session Handout which lists all the sessions of the day and other information. You will receive a printed session guide when you come to History Camp. If you want to plan which sessions you wish to see, because the guide is about 40 pages long (10 sheets of 11″ x 17″ paper, but it can be formatted to print on letter-sized), you might find it just as convenient to print out the schedule (above) and then read the session descriptions on this page.
- If you are looking to register, because we’ve had an overwhelming response, we have closed registration. We’ve also already assigned all of the table spots. Thanks to everyone who has registered. This will be our biggest History Camp by far.
- If you are registered, see this page for transportation and lodging
- We plan to livestream some of our sessions on The History List Facebook page and within a few weeks of History Camp, we will post videos of many of the sessions here in the History Camp site. Sign up to be notified when we post those and to be notified when registration for History Camp Boston 2020 opens. These are the schedules to tune in:
If you have questions that aren’t answered below, please let us know.
We’re looking forward to seeing you on March 16.
— Lee Wright | Founder | The History List | History Camp
— Carrie Lund | Director | History Camp
History Camp Boston 2019 will take place on Saturday, March 16, 2019 at Suffolk University Law School, across from the Old Granary Burying Ground in downtown Boston. There will also be events Saturday evening, including a special performance and an after party, and on Sunday.
→ To register, scroll to the bottom of the page.
- If you’ve not attended a History Camp before and would like to get an idea of what you can expect, browse 2018 and 2017 (and other years). More in the next section below.
- Sign up to receive updates about History Camp Boston 2019. (If you have already registered, you will receive the updates automatically.).
- Want to present? Send us a session description similar in style and content to what you see in the listings for prior History Camp Bostons. (I’ll do the final edit, but please get it as close as you can to the style we use every year.) See below for important additional information before you submit.
- Would your organization like to offer a special program or tour Sunday or discounted admission to your site? Please send us a description with details similar to what you see at the bottom of last year’s page and I will add it below, include it in the session guide, and announce it at the beginning and end of History Camp.
What is History Camp?
History Camp brings together people from all walks of life who are passionate about history. Last year people came from throughout the Northeast and beyond, including from Maryland, Texas, Michigan, Colorado, South Carolina, and other regions.
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.”
This is a good overview, and especially helpful if you are curious about what makes History Camp different than any other conference or gathering you’ve ever attended. And if you’re still wondering if you should attend, last year we published this list of reasons.
→ To register, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Lunch is optional—and really good If you attended in 2018 and enjoyed the lunch, then you’re not alone. We heard that from several people, so will have the same menu, a hot buffet with these choices:
- Pistachio Crusted Chicken topped with Apple Compote and Sweet Potato Frites
- Grilled Salmon with Citrus Glaze
- Spring Quinoa Stuffed Red Pepper (vegetarian/vegan)
- Pear and Walnut Salad
- Oven Roasted Red Bliss and Sweet Potatoes
- Fresh Market House Salad
- Chef’s Choice of Seasonal Vegetable
- Fresh Baked Dinner Rolls and Butter
- Assortment of Cookies, Brownies & Dessert Bars
If you’re interested in lunch, select a registration option that includes lunch
Sessions are added to the bottom of this list as they are submitted. Subscribe for occasional updates. (Infrequent now; more frequent as we get closer to March 16.)
We had 49 sessions at History Camp 2018, and as a result, folks had six sessions to choose from in nearly every time slot. (View the History Camp 2018 schedule and browse the list of sessions, with speakers and session descriptions, here.)
Want to present? Great! Two things to know up front: First, we will endeavor to record all sessions, including the slides shown, and to post them online. Sharing this information as broadly and openly as possible is one of the fundamental principles of History Camp. If you have things that you don’t want to appear online (on YouTube or elsewhere), don’t include them in your slides or consider a different presentation. Second, speakers will need to register, just like everyone else.
If History Camp still sounds like it’s for you, and we hope it does, send us a session description (your information, session title and description) similar in style and content to what you see in the listings for prior History Camp Bostons. (We may edit what you send for clarity.)
Erasmus Darwin Leavitt, The Most Amazing Engineer You Never Heard Of
Sure, everybody knows about the 19th century achievements of Tesla, Eiffel and Edison. But did you know that Erasmus Darwin Leavitt, a native son of Lowell, was equally famous in his day? And that his achievements had a direct impact on the growth of the city of Boston? This self-taught steam engineer designed and built the biggest and most powerful pumping engines the world had ever seen: one delivered water to a thirsty city that had experienced explosive growth in the latter part of the 1800’s. Another blasted the accumulated sewage of tens of thousands of these new residents out into the Bay!
Leavitt’s reticent personality no doubt contributed to his having been forgotten, but in his time, he was an international celebrity. Follow his life from Cambridge to the copper mines of Michigan, from Annapolis to Essen, Germany. Learn how the forgotten legacy of one of a select group of incredibly competent and driven individuals who propelled the nation forward into modernity, lives on in Chestnut Hill.
Eleanor Roosevelt – The First Lady of The World
After suffering through an unhappy childhood, including losing her parents and one of her brothers. Eleanor figured out where she fit in and make a difference. She grew up and became an American politician, the longest-serving First Lady of the United States. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Asian Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees. She became one of the first delegates to The United Nations and was one of the ten most admired people of the 20th century. “…as individuals we live cooperatively, and, to the best of our ability, serve the community in which we live…our own success, to be real, must contribute.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
This performance is done in a multi media fashion all from first person, starting with Roosevelt as an adult, going to back to her childhood, and then back to an adult again. With the help of slides, sounds, costumes and props, you will be immersed in her world.
Fugitive Slave Laws and Sanctuary Cities: What Does Lowell’s Pre-Civil War History Tell Us?
Robert Forrant (Robert_Forrant@uml.edu), professor of history, University of Massachusetts Lowell
Without cotton from the slave-holding South there’d be no Lowell mills. On the eve of the Civil War, its mills consumed 405 tons of cotton a week. Women mill workers and other women formed a female anti-slavery society in the 1830s. Lowell’s Sarah Bagley, editor of the Voice of Industry, wrote that the paper stood for “the abolition of Mental, Moral and Physical Servitude, in all their complicated forms.” Abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass spoke in Lowell numerous times.
The city’s anti-slavery advocates counseled people to disobey the Fugitive Slave Law while its churches offered sanctuary. After the Law’s passage, several fugitives fled Lowell to Canada. An October 1850 article in the Lowell Advertiser reported on a meeting held to discuss this situation. Pledges to defy the federal government rang out. “No complicity with slavery!” became a rallying cry.
Puritans and Pilgrims – What’s the Difference?
Who were the Pilgrims, and if they were different from the puritans, then how were they distinct? Did the puritans see America as a city on a hill that would be a model for all the world? What did the puritans see as their obligation to the broader society? How did congregational church government contribute to democracy? Why did the puritans care so much about education?
Almost a hundred years ago the distinguished Harvard historian wrote an essay on “Those Misunderstood Puritans” in which he bemoaned that despite the extensive programs tied to the 1930 Tercentenary of the founding of Massachusetts the old Victorian stereotypes of New England puritans founding fathers still held their grip on the public. Decades later, as we approach the four hundredth anniversary of the arrival of the Mayflower in 1620 and the Arbella in 1630, the situation is little changed. Decades of historical and literary scholarship had failed to dislodge the stereotype of the early colonists as repressed, bigoted killjoys with little fashion sense who persecuted dissenters and executed witches. We will draw on that scholarship to answer these basic questions about the English men and women who first settled the region and explore why the old stereotypes persist.
The Confederate Monument in Boston Harbor: An exploration of one of Massachusetts’ only markers dedicated to the Confederacy
Shawn P. Quigley (email@example.com), National Park Ranger, Boston African American National Historic Site
In late May of 1963, members of the Civil War centennial commission gathered on Georges Island to witness the unveiling of a new monument. Described by historian Edward Rowe Snow as “one of the most important services ever held at Fort Warren” this was not a marker dedicated to soldiers who fought for the Union, but rather to the Confederate prisoners who died on the island. Though largely forgotten, what is believed to be one of Massachusetts only monuments dedicated to the Confederacy, received substantial attention in the summer of 2017 as a part of the national conversation on monuments to the Lost Cause. This program will explore the history of that marker, the organization who erected it, and the broader national dialogue about how we remember the American Civil War.
The April 19-21, 1775 Evacuations of Middlesex and Essex Counties
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.
Yogi, Bugs, and Bullwinkle: Saturday Morning Cartoons and Big Business in the 1960s
Margo Burns (firstname.lastname@example.org), Project Manager and Associate Editor, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt (Cambridge, 2009)
Many adults over forty think back fondly to the time they spent on Saturday mornings sitting in front of the tv with a bowl of Captain Crunch or Frosted Flakes, watching several hours of cartoons starring the likes of Yogi Bear, Bugs Bunny, and Rocky & Bullwinkle. The advent of television in the late 1950s had a major impact on the movie industry and especially on cartoons. From the 1920s on, animated shorts by Disney, the Fleischer Brothers, several major motion picture studios were paired with newsreels that screened before feature films for adult audiences. The advent of television in the 1950s changed all that.
By 1954, half the households in America had a tv, and 95% did by 1969. Live evening news flourished and the newsreels vanished. The storehouse of existing theatrical shorts—live action and animated—were repackaged for syndication to fill airtime on television. Animators retooled to respond to the growing demand for new cartoons and more quickly. New studios, led by Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera of Tom & Jerry fame, produced adult-themed sitcoms such as The Flintstones for adult tv audiences in the evening. The industry shifted, however, as Madison Avenue leveraged the Saturday-morning time-slot to target children for their advertisements for sugary cereals and plastic toys. We will be watching clips from a wide array of classic favorites while getting a peek behind the tv screen.
When the Irish Invaded Canada: It’s No Blarney
Christopher Klein (email@example.com) is the author of When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom, released by Doubleday on March 12, 2019. www.christopherklein.com. twitter.com/historyauthor
Just over a year after Robert E. Lee relinquished his sword, a band of Union and Confederate veterans dusted off their guns. These former foes, however, had no intention of reigniting the Civil War. Instead, they fought side by side to undertake one of the most fantastical missions in military history: to seize the British province of Canada and hold it hostage until the independence of Ireland was secured.
What better way to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day than to learn the outlandish, little-known story of the self-proclaimed Irish Republican Army that carried out five attacks on Canada—known collectively as the Fenian Raids—between 1866 and 1871. With the tacit support of the U.S. government, this motley group—including a one-armed war hero, an English spy infiltrating rebel forces, and a radical who staged his own funeral—managed to seize a piece of America’s northern neighbor, if only for a matter of days.
How the National Road Became the National Pike
President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation for the creation of the National Road on March 29, 1806. It was an act to regulate laying out and making a road from Cumberland, in the state of Maryland, to the state of Ohio. The aim was to form a portage between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers that would span the Allegheny Mountains.
Called “the Road that Built America,” it was the nation’s first federally-funded road and the country’s first interstate highway. Surveying finished in 1811 and construction was completed in 1818. The road traversed the western part of Maryland, crossed over the southwest corner of Pennsylvania, and spanned the panhandle of what was then Virginia (now West Virginia).
But what was the point of having such a road if nobody could get to it? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to have the road start at one of the cities on the eastern seaboard? Was there any way to connect this inland road to the Atlantic Coast?
This is the story of how the road came into existence, the means and methods used to make this road meet the standards of 1806 legislation, and why more than six decades elapsed in making this road a reality. This is the Story of National Pike.
When America Despised the Irish: The 19th Century’s Refugee Crisis
Christopher Klein (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the author of several books, including When the Irish Invaded Canada: The Incredible True Story of the Civil War Veterans Who Fought for Ireland’s Freedom, to be released by Doubleday on March 12, 2019. www.christopherklein.com and twitter.com/historyauthor
More than 150 years ago, tens of thousands of poor, disease-ridden refugees sought haven in the United States. They threatened to take jobs away from Americans and strain welfare budgets. They practiced an alien religion and pledged allegiance to a foreign leader. They were accused of being criminals. And, worst of all to many Americans, these undesirables were Irish. Explore this era of scorn the Irish initially encountered and find out how they became part of the American mainstream.
Heroic Souls: Puritan Women as the First American Individuals
Lori Rogers-Stokes, PhD. (email@example.com) is an independent scholar studying puritan New England with a focus on women’s roles and its place in the development of American democracy.
“…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 related in a session with her pastor and perhaps a few friends and fellow-seekers in her Puritan church in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay Colony in the late 1630s. Her minister, Thomas Shepard, recorded the sessions of 31 women in his congregation between 1638 and 1649.
In these women’s sessions, 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 personal quest. 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 met with Shepard 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.
More Than Names on a Wall: Bringing One Town’s Civil War Memorial to Life
- A young officer who scrawled a farewell letter to his mother, stained with his own blood, as he lay dying on the battlefield of Antietam
- Three young tradesmen — two blacksmiths and a shoemaker — who enlisted together, were taken prisoner together, and died in the infamous Confederate prison at Andersonville.
- One of five Massachusetts brothers whose mother received a famous letter of sympathy — “the Bixby Letter” — from Abraham Lincoln.
- A son of a slaveholding Texas family who died fighting for the Union while his older brother fought and died for the Confederacy.
These are just some of the men whose names appear on the memorial that Brookline, like many towns North and South, erected to honor its Civil War dead. The Brookline memorial, installed in the 1873 Town Hall, lost its prominence when the building was torn down in the 1960s. It was stored in a basement, then placed outside in a badly-designed, poorly-maintained concrete enclosure where it remained, little-noticed, for nearly half-a-century.
The Brookline memorial, seven slabs of pink Tennessee marble, was restored and rededicated in the lobby of the current Town Hall on Memorial Day, 2011. Research on one of the solders, prepared for the rededication ceremony, has since been expanded to cover all 72 of the men. Brookline Historical Society President Ken Liss will share the stories of some of these men, of the effort to bring their stories to life, and of what their stories tell about the impact of the war on one Massachusetts town.
Loyalists and the Birth of Libraries in New England: The Marriage of Martin and Abigail Howard
Abby Chandler (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Professor of Early American History University of Massachusetts Lowell
Martin Howard was a Revolutionary War era Loyalist whose life spanned the Anglo-American Atlantic world, while Abigail Greenleaf was the daughter of Stephen Greenleaf, the last Suffolk County, Massachusetts sheriff to receive a royal appointment for his position.
Their marriage in the summer of 1767 brought together the political interests of two Loyalist-leaning families on the eve of the American Revolution. It also brought together a couple with a shared interest in community libraries.
Martin Howard served as librarian for the newly formed Redwood Library in his native Newport, Rhode Island, in the early 1750s. After Howard’s death in London, Abigail Greenleaf Howard returned to her native Boston in 1781. A decade later, she purchased a home in the newly created Franklin Place where she helped found the Boston Library Society in 1794, an organization which later merged with the Boston Athenaeum. Abigail Howard’s 1801 will left the Boston Library Society most of the books from the shared personal library created by the Howards during their years together.
Given their shared commitment to libraries, it seems likely that she saw the bequest as a living memorial for a man otherwise considered a disgraced Loyalist by many of her Boston neighbors. This session explores both the marriage of Martin and Abigail Howard and the emergence of community libraries in New England in the late eighteenth century.
Tranquility Grove: The Great Abolitionist Picnic of 1844
Martha Reardon Bewick (email@example.com), author, Tranquility Grove: The Great Abolitionist Picnic of 1844 (November, 2018).
The largest anti-slavery rally the US had ever seen took place 175 years ago in Hingham. Attended by 8,000 – 10,000 people—Frederick Douglass was there and former President and Congressman John Quincy Adams sent a long letter—the picnic marked the tenth anniversary of the end of slavery in the British West Indies and the freeing of 800,000 enslaved persons there.
The presentation will also describe other abolitionist memorials and suggest ways in which Tranquility Grove could be better maintained and interpreted as a significant nineteenth-century historic site. Original banners hung in the grove in 1844 and a copy of the original Anti-Slavery Melodies songbook will be available for inspection.
Martha developed this project for the Hingham Historical Commission and will be signing books on the first floor.
James and Dolley: Opposites Attract
Kyle Jenks and Judith Kalaora perform scenes from the play, James and Dolley: Opposites Attract, that reveal the tension, uncertainty, and fear during the invasion of Washington by British troops on August 1814. For two days the president and Mrs. Madison searched for each another amidst the chaos and destruction going on in Washington.
They will continue the performance with thoughts and feelings expressed to each other and the audience, recollecting their marriage in a way that only a truly devoted and loving couple could, and then will take questions from the audience.
Judith Kalaora is a professional educator, actress, and living historian. She founded History At Play™ in 2010 to provide educational entertainment, chronicling the lives of influential and often forgotten women.
Kyle Jenks is a professional interpreter of James Madison (greatlittlemadison.com), and is the writer, producer, and director of James and Dolley: Opposites Attract and Drums Along the Mohawk Outdoor Drama by Walter D. Edmonds.
“Suspense” and Sexism in Popular Radio Dramas After WWII
Lori Rogers-Stokes, PhD. (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an independent scholar studying puritan New England with a focus on women’s roles and its place in the development of American democracy. She is also an avid fan of 20th-century American radio.
Suspense was one of the longest-running radio shows in American history. It began its weekly programs on June 17, 1942 and ended on September 30, 1962, delivering 909 episodes of radio mystery and drama. As it progressed into the early post-war years, “Suspense” underwent a radical change in tone and content, shifting to male-centered episodes with lopsidedly throwaway or abrasive female characters, a definition of love that was explicitly connected to hate, and a focus on men murdering women—usually their wives. By July 1948, a new sponsor introduced a definitive male-only culture to a show that had previously been surprisingly egalitarian. In its small way, Suspense is a window into the campaign to drive women back to purely domestic roles after the war, and the relatively undisguised hostility that accompanied that campaign. You’ll listen to sound clips from the show “before” and “after” this switch.
Getting the Last Laugh: A year spent adding America’s forgotten burlesque and vaudeville comediennes to Wikipedia
Amy Barlow (email@example.com), Assistant Professor and Librarian, Rhode Island College
Wikipedia’s gender bias is well documented. Fewer than 10% of Wikipedia editors are women and the disparity causes imbalanced subject coverage. This presentation will delve into Wikipedia’s gender gap problem. The presenter will draw on her experience, as an arts and culture researcher and Wikipedia editor, to demonstrate how the website’s policies complicate efforts to create new articles about women, even so-called notable women. She will share actionable steps that editors can take to test the policies and improve coverage of women, as well as other underrepresented groups. Attendees will be encouraged to share their insights as users of Wikipedia.
Creating “Escape Room” Experiences at Historic Sites of all Sizes
Kerry Sclafani (firstname.lastname@example.org), Program Director, Greater Hudson Heritage Network
An “Escape Room” is an adventure game in which players are placed in a room and must solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy in order to “escape.” This same concept can be used by a historic site or history organization to highlight their collection and story and encourage visitor and community engagement.
While some sites are large enough and have the staff to manage a full “Escape Room,” to show how a site of any size and budget could adapt this approach, we created a portable game that that can be used on-site, in the community, or in a classroom. It’s low-tech and made with inexpensive materials.
We will describe how we created the game and how it’s being received at Bard College/Montgomery Place and then will divide into teams and play “The Case of the Livingston Silver,” which uses reproductions of archival materials from Bard College/Montgomery Place. The game centers on the 1886 robbery of the Montgomery family’s silver, which has never been solved. Teams of players will take on the role of the thief’s son, and are charged with finding where the silver was hidden, all while racing against the clock and each other.
The Untold Story of Massasoit and the Colonists
Few people know that a treaty in March of 1621 between Massasoit of the Pokanoket Tribe and the leaders of the Plymouth Colony set in place a fifty year period of peaceful relations. That treaty not only provided for mutual protection against known enemies, it also ensured that both parties prospered economically.
A breakdown in those relationships, however, followed Massasoit’s death in 1661 and led to the devastating two-year King Philip War and the eventual colonial domination of the land. The initiation and duration of the peace is unique among the colonial patterns of interaction across the New World, while the impact of this clash of cultures continues to this day.
Learn about current efforts to establish a Sowams Heritage Area in East Bay Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts that identifies over fifty locations that reveal the early history of Massasoit’s tribe, the locations where the King Philip War began and ended, and how the English nearly exterminated the native people who had lived in the area for over 10,000 years.
New England’s Hidden Histories: The Race to Rescue Our Earliest Manuscript Church Records
James F. Cooper, Jr. (email@example.com), 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.
Impact of the 1918 flu epidemic: A personal stories-based approach Records
The 1918 flu pandemic killed up to 100 million people worldwide in less than a year, disproportionately taking healthy young adults. The personal impact was devastating and wide-reaching, including emigration, families split apart, and openings for women in the workforce. This talk draws on stories and newspaper articles to explore the multi-faceted ways the 1918 flu impacted families, sometimes for generations.
Using the Hancock Door to Unlock Unheard Historical Voices
The Hancock Mansion was erected in 1737 by Thomas Hancock, Boston’s richest merchant, atop Beacon Hill. His nephew, John Hancock, who was the first elected Governor of Massachusetts, inherited the House in 1764 and it served as a prominent meeting spot during the lead up to the Revolution and beyond. John Hancock was a popular benefactor and politician in Boston and was the first elected governor of Massachusetts. By the mid-1800s the Mansion had fallen out of style and the family struggled to maintain it, and 1863 it was torn down and some items were auctioned off.
The destruction of the House spurred the creation of the historical preservation movement in Boston, which helped save the Old State House, the Old South Meeting House, the Paul Revere House, and many other buildings.
The door from the Hancock Mansion is on display at the Old State House, and a new one-act play explores unheard voices from history and the Hancock household. This session will share the history of the house and Hancock household, as well as the process of creating site- and object-specific theatrical work.
Katharine Gibbs: Trailblazing Woman in Business
Rose A. Doherty (www.roseadoherty.com) 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 Filling of Boston’s Back Bay
Will Holton, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Northeastern University
The land mass that makes up the city of Boston is today many times larger than it was when the town was founded in 1630. One of the large additions came with filling in the “back bay” behind the town, along with other landfill projects over the years. After 1800 the annexation of several towns and cities added even more land area. An illustrated talk with images drawn from his co-authored 2006 book, Boston’s Back Bay: The Greatest 19th Century Landfill Project.
This presentation starts with a brief geology lesson that sets the stage by describing the soil and deep rock conditions below the Back Bay marsh, and the large deposits of glacial sand and gravel in some of the Boston suburbs. Three motivations for filling about 800 acres of tidal marsh after 1850 are explored: severe pollution of the shallow water after a long dam cut off tidal flooding twice a day that had cleansed the basin; crowding because large numbers of immigrants and migrants from rural New England were moving into the City of Boston on its 750 acre peninsula; and social tensions between the Protestant earlier settlers and tens of thousands of Irish Catholics.
Mechanical inventions and bold entrepreneurs facilitated moving massive amounts of material several miles from suburbs west and south of Boston into the Back Bay. A State Commission planned the project and devised an imaginative way of financing the work over a 20 year period, turning a polluted marsh into a most fashionable neighborhood that retains its elegant style today.
Park Street: A Mirror of Boston for Centuries
Rose A. Doherty (firstname.lastname@example.org) author of Katharine Gibbs: Beyond White Gloves, President Emerita of Partnership of Historic Bostons
Park Street has overlooked Boston Common, the country’s oldest public park, for almost four centuries. This illustrated talk will show how Park Street changed to echo the people and architecture of each era.
The Granary, Almshouse, Workhouse, and Bridewell (jail) of the colonial period gave way to homes and Park Street Church in the 19th century. Residents of Park Street included Dr. John Collins Warren, Fisher Ames, Christopher Gore, and General Lafayette on his return to Boston.
A hotel, TV news station studio, early women’s club, Union Club, small businesses, Catholic Information Center, and offices for Houghton Mifflin reflected the growth and diversity of Boston through the years.
Tales from Boston’s Pre-Revolutionary Newspaper Wars
In the decade that led to the Revolutionary War, Boston’s newspapers were a major political battleground. The town’s journalism scene–the oldest and most active in colonial America–was roiled by new arrivals and old rivalries. Writers assailed each other in anonymous articles as nasty as any flame war. With the boundaries of a free press still under debate, printers were attacked on the streets and hauled into court. Hear the stories of that time, and consider what lessons they might hold for our public discourse and news media today.
The Reinvention of Salem and the largest steam-powered cotton-sheeting factory in the United States
Robert Booth (email@example.com), 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) and Amy E. Kellett, former historic house guide and university history-department administrator, currently co-founding a public-history services company while also researching and correlating data and imagery related to industrial workers in Salem in the 19th century.
A preliminary study of the industrial project by which Salem re-invented itself as a manufacturing center after the collapse of its maritime commerce. In 1846 the Naumkeag Steam Cotton Company built the largest steam-powered cotton-sheeting factory in the United States, with huge implications for Salem: in a matter of two years, its population increased by 600 factory workers and their families, almost all of them in-migrants and immigrants residing in a built-new industrial village. Overnight, the city’s largest and most profitable business changed the course of Salem for the rest of the century. We are studying the business itself (projectors, investors, engineers, overseers) as well as the civic impact of a massive population influx and the origins and experience of the people who built the factory and operated its machinery to produce cotton sheeting, much of it for export to African markets.
Alexander Hamilton: The Man, the Myths, the Musical
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway blockbuster Hamilton: An American Musical kept Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill and transformed this unlikely founding father into a Broadway celebrity. But while Hamilton is currently seen as a heroic figure, throughout much of the nation’s history he was seen as “un-American” — a closet monarchist who allegedly hated the people, the “great beast.” Many 20th century historians and biographers repeated distorted accounts first circulated by Thomas Jefferson and his lieutenants, all of whom were determined to ruin Hamilton’s reputation. Franklin Roosevelt repeated these Jeffersonian myths in the midst of his campaign to erect a memorial to the “Sage of Monticello” in the nation’s capital. While Lin-Manuel Miranda restored Hamilton to his proper standing as a key founder, he too has misrepresented the real Hamilton. The real Alexander Hamilton was devoted to the rule of law and to moderation and possessed a healthy aversion to Utopian schemes.
Benjamin Franklin, The Rabbi and the Freemasons
Dr. Michael Shire, (Mshire@hebrewcollege.edu) Chief Academic Officer and Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Hebrew College in Newton, MA.
Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography was first published in French in 1791 incorporating a method of moral improvement that he attempted on a daily basis during his life. So how did this method of moral improvement turn up in Eastern Europe in 1808 amongst the Orthodox Jewish community translated into Hebrew? What was the purpose of Rabbi Lefin in making Franklin’s method popular as an alternative to charismatic religion and why did he never reveal his source? How was it accepted as an authentic traditional Jewish practice known as “mussar” (Heb.-discernment) and became a tool in the emergence of Ashkenazi Jews into the European Enlightenment and their admission into civil society. A strange and unlikely story involving a Polish prince, his powerful wife and the worldwide connection of Friends known as Freemasons. There is even a final twist in the tale!
Four Yellow Love Drawers: An (Early) Modern Married Couple’s Wardrobe
Tara Mancini (17thcenturynewyork.blogspot.com) Author of Calicos, Camelots and Swords
Why would a good man need bright red drawers? Why are hers yellow? And what were love drawers? We’ll dive into the personal wardrobes and hampers of New Yorkers and explore the various types, colors and styles of underwear that were worn on the streets of 17th Century Manhattan.
Vikings in New York and Delaware
Tara Mancini (17thcenturynewyork.blogspot.com) Author of Calicos, Camelots and Swords
While the raiding of other peoples comes to an end in the 12th century, the Viking culture and material goods continues with their wadmal, knitwear and their decedents arriving in Manhattan during the 17th Century.
Bringing Early Boston History to Life: Creating and Growing the Partnership of the Historic Bostons
President Emeritus Will Holton and President John Morrison, Partnership of the Historic Bostons
The Partnership of the Historic Bostons was launched as an all-volunteer organization in 1999 when the Mayors of Boston, Lincolnshire, UK and Boston, Mass. signed an agreement linking our “Mother Town” and its “Daughter City”. In 2003, the Partnership assumed responsibility for the “Boston Charter Day” celebrations from the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Rappaport Foundation.
Our mission is promoting public history, and while many residents and tourists have some familiarity with Boston and the Revolution, other than the Mayflower, few know much about the founding and early years of our city. Over time, we broadened our mission from preserving the historical links with Boston, Lincolnshire to exploring how the 17th-century puritan founders of Boston and the Bay Colony helped shape the principles upon which the United States of America was established.
We’ll cover how the organization came into existence and the challenges and key initiatives at each stage of it’s growth. We’ll also tell you what we’ve discovered about attracting an audience and creating and offering public history programs to a broad audience, as well as how we measure our impact.
The Partnership of the Historic Bostons will have a table to discuss their upcoming programs as well as volunteer opportunities.
Salem’s Gallows Hill Project
Marilynne K. Roach (MarilynneKRoach.com) the author of The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, and the biographical Six Women of Salem, among other titles. She has also contributed to the definitive collection of court documents, Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.
Willful forgetting, conflicting memories, and dueling antiquarians, plus new clues unearthed from old manuscripts – all led to the scientifically verified (re-)discovery of Procter’s Ledge as the actual site of the 1692 Salem witch trial hangings. Marilynne K. Roach, a member of the Gallows Hill Group, will present the highlights of a 300-year-old mystery hiding in plain site until properly memorialized to honor the nineteen innocent individuals executed there.
Madison vs. Hamilton: What is Money, Anyway?
Bil Lewis, previously a Computer Scientist at Stanford & Tufts, now a Madison Re-enactor and High School History Teacher. (PresidentMadison.Weebly.com)
In the midst of crisis that was the founding of the United States, Alexander Hamilton published his “Report on Credit,” in which he elaborated on the necessity of having a private bank issue currency, something that was a complete anathema to Madison and Jefferson. Whereas they clearly saw money primarily in terms of Gold and Silver, Hamilton though of money as credit–a promise to pay. And the major reason people would trust that promise to pay is because it was “legal tender” — valid for paying taxes and debts (which the Continental was not).
In this presentation, Mr. Lewis, in the guise of James Madison, will lead a discussion on the nature of money as seen in 1790. He follows Madison, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson as they consider the issues they face with debt, lack of taxes, and an unstable country.
A Kaleidoscopic Look at the Formation of American Identity through the Lens of Mount Auburn Cemetery
Patrick Gabridge (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Playwright Patrick Gabridge (Blood on the Snow, Cato & Dolly), will touch on a group of historic topics about which he’s writing new short plays for performance at Mount Auburn Cemetery—all related to American history and identity. The subjects include the formation of Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831 and its important influence on cemeteries across the United States; Mount Auburn founders Jacob Bigelow and Joseph Story; Harriot Kezia Hunt, one of the first female physicians in the U.S. and Edmonia Lewis, the first black female American sculptor; Charlotte Cushman, famed actress of the 19th century, and Harriot Hosmer, a well-known sculptor and part of a community of independent women in Rome in the mid 1800s; and Armenian immigrants/refugees in the early 20th century. Patrick is the artist-in-residence at Mount Auburn Cemetery and has been actively wandering and researching the grounds and its residents for the past year.
The Not-So-Good Life of the Colonial Goodwife
Velya Jancz-Urban (teacher, author, history nut) and Ehris Urban (herbalist, holistic nutritionist) of Grounded Goodwife (groundedgoodwife.com)
Binge-watch Vikings, Turn, or Frontier, and you’ll see people being disemboweled, tortured, and decapitated – but you won’t see anything about menstruation, chamber pots, birth control, breastfeeding, or poopy babies. It’s 2019! Even though Google cars have been invented and women won the vote almost 100 years ago, these “unsanitary” subjects still make people uncomfortable. Perhaps women need to be reminded of how far we’ve come in order to see how far we still can go. Herstory unsanitized explores the engrossing “taboo” subjects that are omitted from history.
This presentation isn’t about spinning wheels or quilting bees. Velya’s gregarious personality and Ehris’ grounded energy enable this mother/daughter duo to connect with audiences. Funny and frank, their enthusiastic delivery invites audiences to laugh, grimace, and honor our foremothers’ journeys.
No Humbug: Boston’s Breakthroughs in Health
Tegan Kehoe is the Exhibit and Education Specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital. @tegankehoe
What do anesthesia, pediatric surgery, and organ transplants have in common with each other… and also with the measles vaccine? They were all developed in Boston. In this session, we’ll take a look at the stories behind some of the best medical and surgical breakthroughs that have happened here, as well as a few of the seedier goings-on in Boston’s healthcare history. If you’re squeamish, I’ll tell you when to look away from the powerpoint!
Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast
Hear the inside story on how the New Bedford Whaling Museum and a dedicated group of community members developed and launched a women’s history website, walking trail, map, and mobile app. Lighting the Way: Historic Women of the SouthCoast explores the historical impact of women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds who shaped their communities, the nation, and in some cases – the world. Residents of SouthCoast Massachusetts have embraced the project, which has benefited from significant public input. During this session, presenters will touch on the stories of remarkable women such as Valentina Almeida, Lydia Grinnell Brown, Rosetta Douglass, Hetty Green, Edith Guerrier, Harriet Jacobs, Elizabeth Taber, Mary Vermette, and more.
Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua
Emerson W. Baker (@EmersonWBaker) is a Professor of History and Interim Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies at Salem State University and the author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience
The colonies founded in our region in the 1600s are often called “Puritan New England,” but northern New England was none of these things. The first English settlers were not Puritans. They were Anglicans, loyal to the Church of England and the king—people who ventured here for profit, not religion. Nor was this was a “new” land, as the Wabanaki had occupied the territory for thousands of years. Furthermore, much of the population was not even English. Aside from indigenous people, there were African slaves, Scottish prisoners of war, and a range of other Europeans. Ironically, northern New England would become a religious refuge for some—those Quakers, Baptists, Antinomians, and others unwelcome in Puritan Massachusetts.
This presentation views this world through the Old Berwick Historical Society’s recent exhibit Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua and its companion exhibit catalog. Inspired by archaeological research, Forgotten Frontier explores how merchants, slaves, captives and outcasts vied with Native Americans and French raiders for control of northern New England’s seventeenth-century frontier.
Board to Death: The Hidden Leadership Crisis in Public History and What We Do About It Taylor Stoermer (@TaylorStoermer) Lecturer in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University and Adviser to the Walt Disney Companies An evaluation and discussion of recent case studies in heritage site management that have resulted in controversy and crisis, as well as several success stories that illustrate the central point: Misguided directors and ill-informed boards are undermining the efforts of front-line staff, who have never been better prepared or more engaged with current trends in the practice of public history. But not always. Particular sites that are likely to be discussed include the Peabody Essex Museum, the Old North Church, Orchard House, Old Sturbridge Village, the Henry Knox Museum, the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, and the Royal House and Slave Quarters.
How Fears of “Passing” Changed the 1930 U.S. Census
Gabby Womack (email@example.com), Access/Reference Librarian, Merrimack College, History (MA), Library Science (MS)
Although many people today acknowledge that race is a social construct, the creation of race is not often revisited in popular culture. Due to the very real consequences of the creation of race, many light-skinned African Americans resorted to “passing for white” to acquire better lives. When white Americans noticed this phenomenon, they began to enact ways to stop black folks from crossing the color line.
This presentation dives into the stories of “passers,” creation of race science, passing in pop culture, and the U.S. government’s attempt to stop this practice and erase the nuanced identities of mixed race people.
Lead in the ground; reconstructing “Parker’s Revenge”
Edward Malouf (firstname.lastname@example.org, 781-378-1484) is an exhibit developer and designer and his firm, Content•Design Collaborative LLC is currently immersed in colonial, maritime and natural, history projects.
On April 19, 1775, Captain John Parker of the Lexington Minutemen regrouped his men after the devastating battle on Lexington Green early that morning and later that day fired on the retreating British soldiers. Inspired by the brief account of the skirmish given by William (Nathan) Munroe to Elias Phinney, the author of “History of the battle at Lexington, on the morning of the 19th April, 1775,” the Friends of the Minute Man National Park collaborated with Park staff and other National Park employees to conduct an extensive archeological survey.
The Parker’s Revenge Archaeological Project verified that a skirmish took place, the large number of musket balls found and the pattern indicated that a firefight between British and Colonial soldiers took place at a location near the Lincoln and Concord line as described in Munroe’s testimony. This was the first archeological project to uncover evidence of the many battles that took place on that fateful day.
Content•Design Collaborative was tasked with translating the results of the 315-page final report into a 30 linear-foot gallery experience at the visitor center. In the process of doing so, our team developed a comprehensive understanding of the project and how the different components; land use, military tactics, weapon physics, and archeology describe 15 minutes of excitement and terror. Let us share with you both the land use and archeological results and how it formed the basis of the exhibit.
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) email@example.com
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.
Charlotte Bradford: Civil War Nurse and Matron of the Home for Wives & Mothers
Carolyn Ravenscroft (firstname.lastname@example.org) Archivist and Historian for the Duxbury Rural & Historical Society
Charlotte Bradford (1813-1893) of Duxbury, Massachusetts was 48 years old when she left to tend sick and wounded soldiers in the South during the Civil War. For three years she remained, working various capacities for both the Union Army and the United States Sanitary Commission. Her unique career eventually led her to manage the Home for Wives and Mothers, an establishment dedicated to caring for the hundreds of women flocking to Washington, DC seeking their loved ones. Bradford left behind two diaries and numerous letters describing her experiences and those of the women she cared for. Come learn about this interesting and overlooked aspect of Civil War history, much of it in Bradford’s own voice.
Are Museums and Objects still Necessary?
With exponential digital content creation, along with more collections accessible on the Internet and the development of community archives, the question is, how important is it to see something “in person”? This question was asked as early as 1968.
Online exhibits, the lower cost of digitizing materials, and outreach programs such as the Digital Commonwealth are making materials and collections more accessible to the public, giving them less of a reason to visit the host institution.
This discussion will focus on how museums can change to meet modern needs, and also the idea that physical objects still have importance and relevance in the digital age.
Ill-Fated Frontier: An Epic Pioneer Adventure across Racial and Geographic Frontiers of the American Revolutionary Era
In this true American origin tale, North becomes South, by choice of some, compulsion of others, over fierce Indian resistance, and with Spanish encouragement. It is 1789. General “Black David” Forman, terror to the Tories and George Washington’s prickly eyes, ears, and bullying strong arm in the Northern New Jersey guerilla war, becomes disenchanted with his prospects in the post-Revolutionary War United States. He determines to dispatch his brother and sixty Afro-American slaves to claim a land grant in West Florida from America’s frenemy and erstwhile ally Spain. It is during the Northwest Indian War, when Natives have the upper hand. Will the Natives attack the pioneers? Will the enslaved revolt en route? Are the Spanish colonials effective and have their own agenda? Suffice it to say that complications ensue.
“The Hero of Dear Old Halifax”: The Massachusetts Relief Effort Following the Halifax Explosion of 1917
Stephanie Call (email@example.com), Associate Director of Archives and Education at the Wyner Family Jewish Heritage Center at New England Historic Genealogical Society (www.jewishheritagecenter.org)
On Dec. 6, 1917, a collision in Halifax Harbor caused the largest man-made explosion to date. Nearly 2,000 people were killed and 9,000 injured. One-hundred years later, many Bostonians are aware of the city’s role in the relief efforts following the blast—the reason why Halifax gifts Boston with its official Christmas tree each year.
Yet very few know about the Massachusetts men and women who were instrumental to those endeavors. One of those individuals was Abraham C. Ratshesky, the son of Jewish immigrants and commissioner-in-charge of the Halifax Relief Expedition, who, within two weeks, became a hero to the citizens of Halifax and Boston. Learn about Ratshesky’s leadership in the relief efforts and his philanthropic legacy that continues to this day.
A High School History Lab: Bringing History to Life
Brian Sheehy (@BrianSheehy), history department coordinator at North Andover High School and oversees the North Andover High History Learning Lab (baseballintheclassroom.wordpress.com). Gabriel Papa is a senior at North Andover High School.
In the spring of 2018, North Andover High School (North Andover, MA) created a History Learning Lab where students learn about history through hands-on experience with objects and archival material.
This presentation will cover the history and rationale for the lab and explore some of the ways we use objects in the lab to develop historical thinking skills, regardless of a student’s grade level and ability. The presentation will also describe ways in which teachers use these objects in their traditional history classrooms. In addition to History, the lab has been utilized by English, Foreign Language, and Music classes.
The Evolution of a Small Foundation’s Growth into a New Museum
Hunter Chaney, Director of Marketing, Collings Foundation
The Collings Foundation was founded in 1979 with the purpose of preserving and exhibiting rare historical artifacts and enabling people to experience history through living history events. Over the years the Foundation’s collection has grown and with it the types and frequency of events, the latest iteration being a new museum. Come learn about the journey of growth from starting as a small, local foundation to becoming a large museum with a broad reach. We’ll discuss how goals and objectives change, new opportunities as well as new challenges we’ve met along the way, overcoming them and some of the Foundation’s plans upon entering this new stage.
Making connections through the study of objects
Mary E. Raker, (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an Undergraduate Public History Student at Salem State University, and is the secretary of the Student Historical Association on campus.
Throughout history people have been fascinated with objects, from the visual attributes, to the people who owned them. Looking at the style that an object was made in, and what materials were used to create it can be helpful during rsearch of a particular era. It can tell you what was valued in a household, a place of worship, and in a political setting. While looking at these sections of material culture research we can also look into the ownership of the object. And often times, the people who owned these objects had quite a history attached to themselves.
New England has a plethora of material objects to study and research. One particular object, The Joseph and Bathsheba Pope Valuables Cabinet, holds a unique connection weaved into it, and its three sister cabinets. This cabinet, and its sisters form connections between the Quaker Prosecutions, the Salem Witch Trails, the founder of Salem, and finally, Benjamin Franklin. In my presentation I will be discussing these unique connections that this cabinet brings to life, and how as students of history, we should at some point look to the objects that surround events and use them to build connections in the past, and utilize them in the present.
Engage with me in this session and you too could find connections between unlikely events, people and objects you never would have expected to discover without the study of material culture.
Poplar Forest: The Retreat Home of Thomas Jefferson
Karen Warren, Shop Manager, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest (www.poplarforest.org), Forest, Virginia
Only one of two homes Thomas Jefferson designed for his personal use, Poplar Forest was the place where Jefferson “came to indulge in the life of the mind and renew his personal creativity.” Jefferson and his wife, Martha, inherited the Bedford County plantation from her father in 1773. In 1806 Jefferson traveled to Washington to supervise the laying of the foundation for the octagonal house. When his presidency ended in 1809, Jefferson visited the retreat three or four times a year- often coinciding his visits with the planting seasons, staying from two weeks to two months.
From 1828 to 1984, the house went through private hands, unrelated to Jefferson, who made changes to the house to accommodate their large families. In 1984, in order to rescue it from commercial buyers, a group of local citizens bought Poplar Forest and began to restore it to Jefferson’s original neoclassical design, complete with original octagonal privies! You’ll learn the history of Jefferson’s “favorite” possession and how it is interpreted today.
Tide Mills – How They Worked and Where They Were Located in the Boston Area from Revere to Quincy
Earl Taylor (email@example.com), president of the Dorchester Historical Society
The topic of Tide Mills represents a forgotten piece of American industrial history. Tide mill sites have been identified along the Atlantic coast of North America from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas.
Their dependence on the tides required adaptations in infrastructure and operations that made them different in some aspects from river mills. One of their advantages was that salt water seldom freezes. One of their disadvantages was that the miller could operate the mill only for specific hours in each 24-hour period after the mill pond was full and after the tide outside the pond has fallen sufficiently to allow the mill wheel to turn.
Now built over, most of the nearby mill sites are hidden. Yet, we can see how they worked, look at variations and take an armchair tour by exploring their locations through old maps and documents.
Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site: Two Centuries of America
Garrett Cloer, Supervisory Park Ranger, Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site joined the National Park Service in 1972. The enabling legislation creating the park cited the house’s architecture and its connections to George Washington and Henry Longfellow as the reasons it should be preserved. In recent years, research has shown that the house is not only important due to the its associations with these historic “Great Men,” but also possesses connections to nearly every major event in American History for a period of roughly two centuries. This presentation look at key areas of the site’s history, its preservation, and how we interpret it today.
Documented During their Detention: Textile Workers and the “Bread and Roses” Strike of 1912
Bernard Rosenthal Trubowitz (BernardRTrubowitz@outlook.com), previously with the National Park Service in Lowell, the USS Constitution Museum, Old North, and other historic sites
When the Essex Country Jail closed in the late 1980s, more than 100,000 documents dating back to 1853 were bundled in garbage bags, ready to be transferred . . . to the incinerator!
Learn how these documents narrowly escaped that fate and the story they told of immigrant women at the center of the strike, a running gun battle in the streets, and a legal system overwhelmed during one of the most important labor actions in US history.
Erasing Native Peoples and Their Cultures: Forced Boarding Schools & Sterilization Practices
Samantha Garrity (firstname.lastname@example.org), College of the Holy Cross Center for Writing Professional Tutor, M.Ed. Endicott College ’17.
This presentation will cover the topics of how white America actively worked to erase Native American peoples and their cultures through forced boarding schools and sterilization practices. More than 100,000 Native American children were taken from their homes and forced to attend these boarding schools from the 1800s until the mid 1900s. These boarding schools, rampant with abuse, were in operation until 1978. Another form of genocide that the Native American people were subject to was forced and coerced sterilization. Forced sterilization procedures began in the United States in the late 1800s as the eugenics movement gained popularity. Both the boarding schools and the sterilizations practices were used in an attempt to end Native cultures and Native tribes in North America. In this presentation will learn about the frequently covered up or forgotten parts of dark American history.
The fastest planes in the world: The incredible Gee Bees of Massachusetts and the quest for speed in Aviation’s Golden Age
Tom Nallen, (email@example.com) Massachusetts-based aviation historian.
In a few short Depression-era years, five Granville Brothers from rural New Hampshire went from ploughing fields with oxen to developing the fastest airplanes in the world. And it happened right here in Massachusetts.
Through triumph and tragedy, innovation and hard work, the Brothers, together with a few daring young men and women aviators, rose up to set world records and alter the course of history.
This is a timeless and inspirational story of achievement against all odds. This is the story of the Gee Bee, a true American icon whose bold design continues to echo through modern life. It will include the designers, pilots and colorful personalities who participated in the Gee Bee’s meteoric rise to the top of the air-racing world in the 1930s. It will also touch on the innovative technical characteristics of the world record-setting Gee Bee racers and the bold design cues that have inspired artists and designers for generations. A brief overview of the Gee Bee and Granville Brothers exhibits at the Springfield Museum of Science in Springfield, MA and the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, CT will be included.
Scottish Highland Women’s Roles & Social Identities from the Early Modern Era to the 20th Century
Roxanne Reddington-Wilde (firstname.lastname@example.org) teaches linguistic and cultural anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography and geology at Cambridge College. She received her MA in Celtic Studies from Edinburgh University in 1985 and her PhD in Celtic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 1995.
In the Scottish Highlands, a remarkable continuity of social roles, occupations and expectations runs through the centuries, from the culture’s foremothers in Early Ireland through to the 19th C. and even, in some key roles and occupations, into the 20th.
Using legal documents, poetry, song, letters, images and more we will get an insight into the positions and occupations of women in the region during this time.
When young, aristocratic Katherine Ruthven of Perthshire dreamt of her future in 1550, what did she imagine? Marriage, yes, but what other actions and relationships were open to her? When Mairead Ghriogarach’s time with her foster child, Susuidh, came to a close in late 1700s Highlands, why did she put her farewell into poetry? For that matter, why did the Early Irish St. Bridget, an island and some 1000 years earlier, spend her summers milking cows (and miraculously multiplying buckets of milk) in the women-run grazing grounds just as Christina MacDonald did with her children in the Hebridean island of Lewis in the early 1900s?
We will learn more about these women and others, including Marsaili nighean Dòmhnaill who, in a poetic argument with her sister, asserted she wanted to be just like “All the women I’m descended from.”
The Art and Mistery of Spinning
The art of spinning fibers into thread is an ancient craft with a process that has changed only slightly over the millennia. Or has it? How has modern spinning influenced the way we think spinning was done in the 18th century? This presentation will look at how the spinning technology of the 18th century differs from the modern craft, who in the 1700s was doing the spinning and how can we change our historic demonstrations to more accurately reproduce the spinning of thread.
Printing and Revolution: The role of printers in Revolutionary Boston
Printers played a critical role in both reporting what was happening in Boston and elsewhere in the colonies, and in fomenting Revolution. In this session, Gary Gregory, who has recreated Edes & Gill, one of the most consequential print shops in Revolutionary Boston, takes us through the history of printing in the colonies and the role that notable printers played from before the Revolution through the adoption of the Constitution. Gary will also discuss his most recent project, which was a five-year-long effort to find and reproduce broadside of the Constitution that was distributed in Boston prior to ratification.
Searching For Black Confederates
In recent years, Internet stories, textbooks, and even a Harvard professor have insisted that thousands of slaves took up arms and fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War. And yet, after close to ten years of research, I have yet to find a single wartime account from a Confederate soldier or civilian demonstrating the presence of black Confederate soldiers in the army before the final weeks of the war in March 1865. This session will examine the ways in which enslaved blacks were utilized in support of the Confederate war effort, the emergence beginning in the 1970s of the myth that thousands of African Americans served as Confederate soldiers, and why this myth persists to this day.
One if by Landfill: Exploring Boston’s History through Maps
Jill Swan and Rachel Mead
Calling all map lovers! The Leventhal Map & Education Center has over 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases, from 1482-present, featuring places all over the world. Join gallery attendants Rachel Mead and Jill Swan as we explore some highlights of the collection, specifically maps of Boston and New England through the last few centuries. We’ll go through how Boston has grown over time and show you some of our favorite maps of the city, and then we’ll teach you how to access these maps yourselves! For those interested in being even more hands on, we’ll also discuss georeferencing and how you can help us create modern overlays with our historic maps. Engage in this session with us and learn to love maps as much as we do!
Colonial Burying Grounds: Hidden Histories
Barbara Donohue (email@example.com), Boston archaeologist and author, Copp’s Hill: Evolution of a Puritan Burying Place 1659 – The Present
Colonial burying grounds provide a unique look into New England’s past. While many agree that the gravestones provide striking examples of colonial folk art, what is often overlooked is how the gravestones and their surrounding landscape reflect changing attitudes towards death in an ever-changing world.
Research into church and town records often reveals a fascinating story that cannot be discovered in a history book. Join me as we take a look at the hidden histories of three colonial burying grounds. While each history is different – strangely enough each burying ground suffers from the same problem. See if you can figure out what that problem is as we take a journey from the world of the Puritan to the world of today via the colonial burying ground (don’t worry if you can’t figure it out, I will reveal it in the last slide).
What Do We Actually Know About History
Patrick Riccards is Chief Communications and Strategy Officer of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and co-director of its American History Initiative. Patrick began his career on Capitol Hill, where he served in senior communications positions for members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. The former executive director for communications and public affairs at American Institutes for Research, he has also served as executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative and de facto chief of staff for the National Reading Panel. Pat is widely known on social media for his blog and Twitter feed, @Eduflack, and he has won numerous national awards for his work in education communications and public engagement. Pat holds a B.A. in Government and in Rhetoric and Communications Studies from the University of Virginia.
Ben Franklin invented the lightbulb. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Federalist Papers. FDR was president during World War I. Ike was a General during the Civil War. While historians may recognize all of these statements to be incorrect, the same can’t be said for the average American. Recent national surveys conducted by the Woodrow Wilson Foundation found only four in 10 Americans could pass a multiple-choice test of 20 basic American history questions. And when examined state by state, only one state had more than 50 percent of its residents score a D-minus or better.
What do these results say about how American history is taught and who is teaching it? More importantly, what can and should be done improve both the teaching and learning of history. This session explores these questions, looking at both the current state of American history knowledge and what cognitive science tells us we should do.
→ To register, scroll to the bottom of the page.
If you would like to present, please send me a session title and description, and your information, similar in style and content to what you see in the listings for prior History Camp Bostons, such as History Camp Boston 2018. I’ll do the final edit, but please get it as close as you can to the style we use every year. — Lee Wright | Founder | The History List | History Camp
Sunday: Special events and discounted admission
- Coffee with Bob and Phyllis Allison and a walking tour of the Dorchester Heights National Monument. Sunday, March 17, the day after History Camp, is a special day in South Boston. Not only does the St. Patrick’s Day Parade begin at 1 pm, but it is officially Evacuation Day in the City. It marks the day in 1776 when the British evacuated Boston, the first American victory in the War for Independence. Cannon Henry Knox had brought from Fort Ticonderoga, placed on Dorchester Heights, forced the British Army and Navy to leave. Read more and register here.
- Tour Mount Auburn Cemetery with Playwright Patrick Gabridge. Explore the rich historical and natural landscape of Mount Auburn with playwright and Mount Auburn Artist in Residence, Patrick Gabridge. He will debut his first series of the “Mount Auburn Plays” beginning in June, and this tour will explore some of the sites and people associated with American history and American identity that Patrick will be highlighting in his plays. Read more and register here.
- Historic Newton maintains two museums – the Jackson Homestead and the Durant-Kenrick House. On Sunday, March 17 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. history camp attendees can visit either or both of our museums at the Newton resident rate- $5 for one site, $8 for both. A documented stop on the Underground Railroad, The Jackson Homestead and Museum displays rotating and permanent exhibits about the history of Newton, Massachusetts, and the Underground Railroad. At the Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds, you’ll find a 1734 farmhouse, restored and renovated in 2013 to present stories about colonial life, the Revolutionary War, slavery, abolitionism, the birth of American horticulture, and the historic preservation movement. Both sites have ample parking and are accessible.
→ If you have an event or program that includes a special discount for History Camp Boston attendees, please contact me with details and I will add it here. (Browse the list at the bottom of this page for what was offered at History Camp Boston 2018.)
Register for History Camp Boston 2019
Updated March 4
We’ve had an overwhelming response and have closed registration. We’ve also already assigned all of the table spots.
We plan to livestream some of our sessions on The History List Facebook page and within a few weeks of History Camp, we will post videos of many of the sessions here in the History Camp site.
Sign up to be notified when we post those and to be notified when registration for History Camp Boston 2020 opens.