Boston 2017

→ History Camp Boston 2018 will take place on July 7, 2018

Thanks for a successful History Camp Boston 2017. 

We opened registration on December 12 and it was sold out by January 1.

History Camp Boston 2017 was the largest History Camp held anywhere, with more people and more sessions than ever before. It was also the first time we had events on Sunday, turning History Camp Boston in to History Camp Boston Weekend. Discussions are already underway about ways to improve and expand History Camp next year to accommodate more people and include more organizations. If you have feedback or suggestions, or if you or your organization would like to participate next year, please let me know.

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If you have additional photos you’d like to share, send us a message. If you presented, please upload your slides to Slideshare, which is free, using the tags #HistoryCamp and #HistoryCampBoston2017, and then send a link to them to Jake, who will include them here.

Lee Wright  |  Founder  |  The History List  |  History Camp

Updated March 17 at 6 pm: This is the History Camp Boston 2017 final schedule. There are several changes, including moving a couple of sessions and adding two sessions. In addition, because Suffolk has made available a large room on the third floor, I’ve moved several sessions into larger rooms either on the second floor or the third.

If you’re considering use Facebook Live to stream some of the sessions—I hope you are—here are great tips for getting an audience, including how to do a post that alerts people to the fact that you’re going to be going live and giving them the option to receive a notification when you do.

Updated March 11: Completely sold out. We’ve filled up every possible spot, including those we were able to add when we got a little more space at Suffolk. At this point, there’s no hope for a spot on the waitlist, and there won’t be any room for walkups.  This year’s venue is substantially larger than last year’s and I’m sorry that we’re still not able to accommodate everyone who wants to attend.

You can follow History Camp Boston with the #HistoryCamp hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, and watch for people livestreaming sessions on Facebook and Twitter, including on The History List Facebook Page.

After History Camp we’ll work with presenters to get slides posted and will post to Twitter and Facebook, and including links in a future mailing to the History Camp Boston mailing list.

There are also (at least) three more History Camp’s this year, including one in Western Massachusetts this summer.

To be among the first to know when tickets are available for next year’s, subscribe to the History Camp Boston mailing list.

Updated March 8: Here’s the History Camp Boston 2017 – flyer.

Updated February 27: Good news: Working with Suffolk University, we’ve added space, and as a result, have taken several people off the waiting list.

Note: If you’re already confirmed and are interested in presenting, please send in your presentation.  If you’re interested in presenting but don’t have a ticket, please send me a note.


History Camp Boston 2017 is March 18, 2017

Thanks to the sponsorship of Professor Robert Allison and the support of Suffolk University, History Camp Boston 2017 will be held March 18 in Suffolk University Law School’s Sargent Hall at 120 Tremont Street, just steps from the Freedom Trail and King’s Chapel, the Granary Burying Ground, and other historic sites in downtown Boston.

History Camp Boston 2016 filled up more than five weeks in advance.  We’ll have more room in Sargent Hall, but expect that History Camp Boston 2017 will also fill up weeks in advance, so encourage you to register now (scroll down to see registration options). To receive updates before registering, sign up for the History Camp Boston newsletter.  You’ll also be the first to know about unique monthly outings for history enthusiasts that are held throughout the area.

If you are interested in speaking, see the section on “Sessions,” below.

History Camp Weekend

Registration will open at 8 a.m. on Saturday, and we’ll start with ’round the room introductions at 9 a.m.  We’ll wrap up the day with another session that brings us all back together and then pack up so that we’re out of the building by 6 p.m.

New this year and taking place on Sunday, March 19: Special events for History Camp attendees. These additional activities, listed at the bottom, are being programmed by local institutions. Each will have its own ticket, with ticketing and registration handled by each presenting organization.

If your institution is interested in participating, please contact me to discuss and get your event added.

For lodging, Hotel Boston at 1650 Commonwealth Avenue, is providing 20% off their lowest rate and free parking for people who book direct and use the discount code “historycamp.”  The hotel is a 20 minute drive or 37 minutes on the T to get to Suffolk University Law School.

A note for those who haven’t attended History Camp before

Unlike a traditional conference, there is no committee reviewing submissions and picking who gets to speak. If you have any doubts about the quality at History Camp when anyone can speak, look at the outstanding sessions from past years and read the survey results from attendees.

If you ever are in a session that isn’t meeting your expectations, use the “law of two feet:” Quietly get up and go to another session.

The desire of speakers to measure up to the high expectations set by other speakers and earlier History Camps, together with the immediate response of session attendees when a speaker doesn’t meet those expectations, serve as a democratic, participant-driven approach to what is presented at History Camp instead of the traditional, top down conference chair and committee of friends and colleagues-based approach.  Learn about the other guiding principles of History Camp in the presentation at the top of this page.

Saturday Sessions

Please consider sharing History Camp Boston on social media using the hashtag #HistoryCamp and livestreaming sessions. Here’s a quick how-to about Facebook Live that Jake put together.  Download or print a complete session list PDF.

America’s Premier Surveyor: The Life and Times of Andrew Ellicott
Lorna Hainesworth, ambassador and national traveler, Lifetime Member of the Surveyors Historical Society, the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and the Lewis and Clark Trust, Inc.

During his lifetime, Andrew Ellicott was the premier land surveyor in the United States. He was called upon to perform many significant surveys, such at the completion of the Mason/Dixon Line and the original survey of the area designated to become our nation’s capital. He also carried forth the design for the city of Washington D. C. He surveyed the borders of no less than eleven of our current or future states and he surveyed both the northern and southern boundaries of the United States. He served as a mentor for Meriwether Lewis and became a professor of mathematics at West Point Military Academy. These are but a few of the accomplishments from a very eventful life. He made his home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania from 1801 to 1813 and his house still stands. This paper is a companion to the talk: The Life and Times of Andrew Ellicott.

Beyond Rosie the Riveter: How women in Boston and beyond helped win WWII

— Jocelyn Gould, Park Guide, Boston National Historical Park (On Twitter @BostonNHP, Instagram @Boston_NHP, and Facebook @BostonNHP).

You’ve heard about Rosie the Riveter, but have you ever heard of the SWONs of the Boston Naval Yard? Between 1941 and 1945, millions of women throughout the United States stepped out of their homes and into a new world: the workforce. Here in the Boston area, over 8,000 women came to the then Boston Naval Yard (now Charlestown Navy Yard) to help the war effort. Expressing their patriotism through action, these women scrapped, painted, and welded to help win World War II. Come hear about the experiences of women from around Boston and Massachusetts through their own words.

Blood on the Snow: Discovering the History of the Boston Massacre Through Site-Specific Theatre

— Nathaniel Sheidley and Patrick Gabridge.  Nathaniel Sheidley (on Twitter @sheidley) is Historian and Director of Public History at the Bostonian Society.  Patrick Gabridge (on Twitter @PatrickGabridge and www.gabridge.comwrote the script for Blood on the Snow and the novel Steering to Freedom, about Civil War hero Robert Smalls.  

What happens when two of Boston’s most important cultural resources—its Revolutionary-era historic sites and its talented performing artists—work together? Playwright Patrick Gabridge and historian Nathaniel Sheidley reflect on their experience with Blood on the Snow, the Bostonian Society’s critically-acclaimed play about the aftermath of the Boston Massacre. The play premiered at the Old State House in May 2016. The panelists will share the lessons they learned in developing this unusual, site-specific project and help audience members feel empowered to bring live theater to their own historic sites or museums.

On Sunday there will be a special performance of highlights of the drama for History Camp attendees, followed by a discussion with the playwright, historian, and members of the cast. See below for details, including information on registering for this event.

Boston in the Women’s Suffrage Movement
Katherine Dibble and members of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.

As the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States approaches, there are events and commemorations planned throughout the country. What was Boston’s part in the campaign for the right of women to vote? We will talk about some of the important players in Boston – both women and men – and some of the strategies used to gain attention and support for the cause. Then on Sunday, join us on a walk to see the places where these women lived and where that work was carried out. (Information on this special tour for History Camp Boston attendees is below.)

Boston, Lincolnshire and its Links to Boston, Massachusetts — 1630 to the present

— Will Holton, Ph.D., ( is President Emeritus of The Partnership of the Historic Bostons.  Representatives of the Partnership will have books for sale at their table on the first floor.

Boston, Lincolnshire provided about ten percent of its population to our Boston in the 1630s. Among the approximately 200 early settlers from our “Mother Town” were many of the leaders of Massachusetts in the 17th century and the two best-known women during that period,Anne Bradstreet and Anne Hutchinson. In the first 54 years of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, there were only four years in which a man from Boston, Lincs. was not the Governor or Deputy Governor.

This illustrated talk will describe the English Boston in the early 17th century and explain why that small town came to play such a large role in the founding of Massachusetts with its “City on a Hill.” I will conclude with a discussion of The Partnership of the Historic Bostons, which was founded in both Bostons in 1999 to continue this important historic connection, and I’ll reveal the the theme of Boston Charter Day for 2017.

Cataloging a Collection for a Small Museum or Historical Organization

— Liz Holbrook ( is a Collection Manager and Registrar with Museum & Collector Resource, a specialty consulting firm providing support and services to museums, galleries, libraries, and private collectors.

This talk takes you through the process of cataloging a collection for a small museum or historical organization, including the preliminary steps needed for developing a comprehensive catalog; the organizing options for moving the project forward; tips to make the process go smoothly; and, the many benefits of having a cataloged collection. We’ll use the Wanamaker department store’s flag collection as a case study, and the recommendations presented will all be things that dedicated volunteers or paid staff can implement.

Community Outreach in the Creation of Woonsocket Works    

— Ed Malouf (781-378-1484 or of Content•Design Collaborative, an interpretive design firm in Scituate, MA, develops and implements exhibit programs for history and natural history institutions, and Amy Kerner, Phd. in History candidate, Brown University and the Research Manager for the Museum of Work and Culture Mill Project.

When the Museum of Work and Culture began the research for the Woonsocket Works exhibit, it sought residents who worked in the mills during Woonsocket’s industrial heyday of the mid-twentieth century. Last fall, the staff developed relationships with elder-care facilities in the area and used their annual open house to provide the opportunity for former, and present, mill workers and owners to share their memories. Instead of merely entering the data into a database, they developed an exhibit around it. Since everyone wants their moment in the spotlight, The Mill Memory Project is a donation-fueled and visually stunning way to gather and share this research with Museum visitors. Learn what made life in the mills bearable, even fun, and how the workers felt about their experience decades later.

Dear Mr. President: Exploring the Hidden 1960s through Letters to JFK

Stacey Chandler ( and Abigail Malangone ( are archivists at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (@jfklibrary  and in Boston.

Letters to the President from the general public can be surprisingly revealing – and surprisingly unexplored. Archivists at the JFK Library work with massive constituent mail collections that document diverse communities, lives, and opinions during the turbulent 1960s. They’ll share how they’re preserving these poignant and unique letters to make them more accessible, and discuss their value in demonstrating history’s relevance to a wide audience.

The Declaration of Independence: Which Version is This, and Why Does it Matter?

— Emily Sneff (, Research Manager of the Declaration Resources Project at Harvard University. @declarationres and

There is no singular authoritative version of the Declaration of Independence. Most Americans and many historians consider “the” Declaration of Independence to be the engrossed and signed parchment at our National Archives. The image that comes to mind when most people think of the Declaration is actually the William J. Stone facsimile of that signed parchment. But this image is just one thread in a rich tapestry of broadside, newspaper, book, and manuscript versions of the Declaration of Independence produced since July 4, 1776. In this session, we answer the questions: when you see a copy of the Declaration of Independence, how do you know what version it is? And, why does that matter?

Digitizing Collections and Making Them Available Online

Jody Blankenship, Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Historical Society; James F. Cooper, Jr. Director, New England’s Hidden Histories, Congregational Library, Boston; Susan Goganian, Executive Director of the Beverly Historical Society; and Nancy Heywood, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Discovering the History of the Boston Harbor Islands

— Christopher Klein (@historyauthor and is the author of Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands: A Guide to the City’s Hidden Shores and a writer for (  He will also be signing books at a table on the first floor.

Dennis Lehane’s thriller “Shutter Island” was set on a fictitious island in Boston Harbor, but the true stories of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands are even stranger than fiction. In this session, we’ll go on a virtual tour through the colorful history and natural beauty of one of our best-kept local secrets: the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. Hear tales of ghosts, shipwrecks, prisoners of war, and Revolutionary War battles that took place on “the real Shutter Islands.”

Five Myths about the Puritans

— Lori Stokes (, Ph.D., Independent Scholar; and Will Holton, Ph.D., (, President Emeritus of The Partnership of the Historic Bostons. Representatives of the Partnership will have books for sale at their table on the first floor.

People love to hate the Puritans. In the popular imagination, the Puritans were killjoys who banned dancing, singing, sex, alcohol, and smiling, and put people in the stocks for sneezing on Sunday. The truth, however, is very different—and much more interesting. In this session, we’ll take on the five most damaging myths about the Puritans: they came to America to establish freedom of religion; they hated sex; they were constantly executing and persecuting people as witches; they banished Anne Hutchinson because she was a woman who dared to hold religious meetings; and they established a theocracy.

“The freedom of the press, on which depends the freedom of the people”

— James David Moran, and @JamesDavidMoran ,Vice President for Programs and Outreach at the American Antiquarian Society.

This session will discuss the role colonial printers played in fermenting and fighting the American Revolution. Using specific primary sources covering the outbreak of hostilities at Lexington and Concord, Moran will explore the social and economic status, world view, and political power of printers in the thirteen colonies. Additionally, Moran will provide information about the American Antiquarian Society, a national research library and learned society dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing the printed record of the United States before the twentieth century.

Note: The American Antiquarian Society is opening their doors on Saturday, March 25, one week after History Camp Boston, for a private tour for our History Camp Boston group. Thanks to Jim for making this possible. Read more and register here.

This is one of our monthly behind-the-scenes tours for history lovers. To find out about these events, which usually fill up before they are ever publicized, subscribe to the History Camp Boston mailing list.

From Witchcraft to Slavery: The History of the Hoar/Slew Family

— Jeanne Pickering (, Graduate student, History, Salem State University.

On Pope’s Day (November 5) 1766, John Adams sat in the courtroom during the proceedings of Jenny Slew’s civil suit for freedom against her owner, John Whipple Jr. of Ipswich. His notes and diary entry were to make Slew vs Whipple one of the best-known Massachusetts freedom suits filed by enslaved individuals prior to the 1783 cases that marked the ending of slavery in Massachusetts.

But who was Jenny Slew? In my presentation at History Camp 2016, I claimed that, as historians try to put together the jigsaw puzzles of enslaved families, they could not just shave a piece to fit. In my presentation this year, one piece is out-of-sorts with my argument that Jenny Slew was a descendent of Dorcas Hoar, a notorious fortune-teller and accused witch in the Salem Witchcraft trials. Is my shaving justified or not? Does it make a difference that it is John Adams himself whom I believe got it wrong?

The Genealogy of African America & Anti-Blackness in Boston

— Joel Mackall (@reidren and is a local historian, teacher, museum & tour operator ( based in David Walker City.

This illustrated talk will draw ideas from almost four centuries of hidden black life to uncover how it “mattered” at the birth of Boston and its continuity.  Along the way, we’ll discover what connects a “disdain” singing breeding victim in 1638 (Noddles Island); a fire setting servant in 1723 (downtown wharves); an Appeal writer in 1829 (West End); and a murder case lineup suspect in 1989 (Mission Hill).  

The Hidden Domestic Lives of Puritan Women

— Lori Stokes (, Ph.D., Independent Scholar, Partnership for the Historic Bostons.  Representatives of the Partnership will have books for sale at their table on the first floor.

When you read the spiritual narratives of 17th-century Puritan women, it’s remarkable to realize that they are very like men’s narratives: completely focused on the search for grace—the tracking, interpretation, and analysis of events large and small for evidence of God’s outreach to the individual soul. Women’s narratives mention family (spouses, children, parents) as rarely and perfunctorily as men’s narratives do. In fact, it is jarring to come across the stray mentions of domestic life in women’s narratives: long descriptions of spiritual anguish so intense that it brings on physical illness or serious depression are interrupted by a short sentence about a child being unwell or, even more startling, being born. These were women raising children and creating homesteads in new colonial settlements, where the domestic labor was unceasing. How did these women live both as independent spiritual seekers—the first American individuals—and as wives and mothers?

How Governor Phips Stopped the Salem Witch Trials (sort of)

— Marilynne K. Roachauthor of Six Women of Salem and The Salem Witch Trials: a Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, and one of the group that verified the location of the 1692 hangings.

Freedom of Thought Day on October 12, a lesser-known-celebration, commemorates the day in 1692 when Massachusetts Governor Sir William Phips supposedly ended the witch trials.

But history and Massachusetts politics are seldom so straightforward. Despite growing opposition to the trials after nineteen executions and escalating accusations, Phips still had to deal with crowded prisons, potential British interference, public panic, and Chief Justice William Stoughton.

Hear how the tragedy nearly began all over again and how a tangle of incidents finally ended it for good.

Involving New Communities in Your Historic Site or Institution

Jody Blankenship, Chief Executive Officer of the Connecticut Historical Society (on Twitter @CTHistorical, Instagram @CTHistorical, and Facebook @CTHistoricalSociety), will discuss his organization’s outreach to Hartford’s West Indian Community, and Ana Nuncio, the Settlement Partnership Manager at The House of the Seven Gables  (on Twitter @H7Gables, Instagram @H7Gables, and Facebook @7Gables), will describe their Caribbean Connections, Settlement Partnerships, and Community Conversations.

James Madison on the Founding of the United States

— Bill Lewis ( portrays James Madison for high school and community groups throughout New England.

With the participation of the audience playing the parts of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Dolly Madison, etc., he will lead reenactments from Madison’s relations with Patrick Henry, the calling of the Constitutional Convention, the fight for Ratification, the “Dinner Party,” etc., ending with the peaceful transition of power from Washington to Adams. We will explore the big issues of 1787: Power, Money, Banking, Taxation, Inequality, and Slavery. 

John L. Sullivan: America’s First Sports Superstar

— Christopher Klein (@historyauthor and is the author of Strong Boy: The Life and Times of John L. Sullivan, America’s First Sports Hero and a writer for (  He will also be signing book at a table on the first floor.

John L. Sullivan lived large. He had a large ego, large appetites for women and booze, and a larger-than-life personality that captivated Gilded Age America. Born in the South End, the “Boston Strong Boy” was the last of the bare-knuckle boxing champions and the first Irish-American idol—a mighty symbol of ascendant Celtic power a generation after the potato famine. Grab a ringside seat to the colorful tale of the hard-hitting, hard-drinking boxer who became America’s first sports superstar. Travel back in time to the birth of American celebrity culture and learn how Sullivan’s decade-long reign launched America’s modern sporting obsession.

Landsknecht 101: Reenacting 16th Century Mercenaries

— Julie Stickler, founding member of Das Geld Fahnlein (on Facebook: @landsknechtguild) reenactment group and 16the century history nerd. 

You may not know what a Landsknecht is, but I can almost guarantee you’ve seen one. Landsknecht appear in military history games, on eCards circulating on Facebook, and at many renaissance faires around the country.  Landsknecht soldiers were the punk rockers of the renaissance, setting the fashion for everyone from burghers to kings. Henry VIII adopted their style from the tip of his feathered hats all the way down to his slashed square-toed shoes. Learn more about these mercenary soldiers who dominated European battlefields for almost a century and what it’s like to reenact their lives for the public.

The Lost and Legendary Riders of April 19th

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

Beyond Paul Revere and his companions, Massachusetts towns preserved stories of other riders carrying the news of the British troops marching out to Concord and fighting with militia along the way. Those warnings were crucial to the provincial response on April 19, 1775, and afterward. But have the stories been transmitted accurately? This illustrated lecture will investigate the legends of young riders Abel Benson and Abigail Smith, and of Israel Bissell, credited with carrying the news all the way to Philadelphia.

Lowell Mills, Industrialization and the Rising of Women Mill Workers

— Robert Forrant ( is a history professor at UMass Lowell.

“The oppressing hand of avarice would enslave us,” shouted Lowell’s female mill workers. Find out why. The nation’s first industrial revolution gave rise to a new class of workers laboring for wages. By 1850, what had started in Lowell, MA, with handful of mills was a textile empire. The value of MA manufacturing approached $300M. Spread along the banks of the Merrimack River and nearly six miles of canals, a workforce comprised of 70 percent women, produced profits averaging 24% annually between 1825 and 1850. Learn about these women workers and how they organized against oppressive conditions at work and in the boarding houses.

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.

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 also gathered regularly to discuss and police one another’s behavior. Ministers took careful notes of these affairs in their church record books; 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 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 New England’s early manuscript church records, the race to save them, and the Congregational Library’s efforts to make them available to the public through digitization.

North Carolina’s Regulator Rebellion and Popular Protests

— Abby Chandler ( is an Associate Professor in Early American History and Public History at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Similar to the growing revolutionary movement, the North Carolina Regulator Rebellion began in the 1760s with petitions and pamphlets from colonists calling themselves Regulators and progressed towards increasingly violent attacks on the North Carolina government before ending in defeat at the Battle of Alamance in 1771. This session will explore their actions and their ideas about legitimatizing popular protests, while simultaneously looking at the role of popular protest in our own society in the twenty-first century.

Puritan Boston Tests Democracy and Forgotten Frontier: Two New England Beginnings Projects

— Emerson W. Baker (@EmersonWBaker) is a Professor of History at Salem State University and the author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience.

New England Beginnings is a partnership of organizations formed to coordinate the coming 400th anniversaries of Plymouth and the settlement of New England. Puritan Boston Tests Democracy is a comprehensive and interactive digital reference to the first 60 years of Boston’s history. The Congregational Library & Archives produced this free app for phones and tablets. Inspired by its rich archaeological collections, the Old Berwick Historical Society’s exhibit Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua explores how merchants, slaves, captives and outcasts vied with Native Americans and French raiders for control of northern New England’s seventeenth-century frontier.

The purpose-built, multifunctional opera houses of regional New England, 1875 – 1910

— Lorie K. Komlyn (, A.B, MSt. in Building History (Cantab), J.D., independent architectural historian.

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, residents of towns across New England could purchase eggs and household staples, perform civic functions, board a train or steamship, avail themselves of resources at the public library, or attend a social gathering all in the same building where they congregated to see the latest theatrical and musical performances. These opera houses encapsulated the New England spirit of ingenuity, practicality, and commonality of experience, combined with a desire to connect with the artistic endeavors of cultured society.

A Revolution of Her Own! The True Story of the American Heroine Deborah Samson [Sampson]

— Judith Kalaora, Founder & Artistic Director of History At Play (on Twitter @HistoryAtPlay, Instagram @HistoryAtPlay, and Facebook @HistoryAtPlay).

Deborah Sampson, the first woman to enlist, to fight, and to be honorably discharged from the American Military, is portrayed in this program chronicling her life.  An indentured servant by age five, Deborah grew up in a man’s world, where women were naught but secondclass citizens.  As a self-educated master-less woman, she felt a higher calling, and on May 20, 1782, Deborah bound her chest, tied back her  hair, and enlisted in the 4th Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army as “Robert Shurtlieff.”  The American Heroine takes you back  in  time.

Scrapbooks as the Early Internet

— Erik R. Bauer (@hipster818), archivist at Peabody Institute Library, Peabody (@PeaLibArchives).

Today when people think about organizing information, they often turn to websites, such as Pinterest and Evernote. However, in 19th and 20th century America scrapbooks were the predominate way to store and organize information to share with others. This session draws parallels between how people stored and organized information in the past with present needs and the issues of understanding the creator’s original intent.

Smallpox, Localism and Liberty in Rhode Island History

— Mark Kenneth Gardner (@HistoryGardner and is an educator and public historian who serves on the board of trustees for the Center for South County History and Culture in Kingston RI, and is the archivist for the Western Rhode Island Civic Historical Society.

Long before threats to public health were coordinated by the Center for Disease Control, the response to epidemic disease handled almost entirely at the local level, with support provided only when needed from provincial governments. Using Rhode Island as a case study, WRICHS Archivist Mark Kenneth Gardner will outline the provincial laws that gave sweeping authority to town officials to act in the best interest of the community. At the same time efforts by officials to prevent outbreaks in the first place through inoculation and vaccination were often met with fierce local opposition. With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, opposition to vaccination programs in neighboring Massachusetts were ultimately settled by the Supreme Court. And conflicting priorities over public health, civil liberties and individual freedom are alive and well today despite the victory of medical science over the variola virus.

Uncovering the Mystery of a Brookline Children’s Photo Album from 1882

— Ken Liss, Brookline Historical Society.

In 2014, the Brookline Historical Society was given a tiny photo album — 3” wide by 3.75” high — with postage stamp-sized photos of 48 Brookline and Boston children, most of them girls. Written inside the front cover was the name Mamie Williams and the date March 16, 1882. Who were these children? What was the connection between them? What became of them as adults? Why were the photos so small? Learn how months of research led to answers to these questions and to some fascinating stories about individuals, about Brookline and Boston society, and about a particular type of 19th century photography called the “gem tintype”.

Understanding New England’s Earliest Houses

— Alyssa Conary (, Ryan Conary (, and David Moffat ( are co-founders of The Salem Historical Society ( and employees at The House of the Seven Gables ( 

First Period Houses are one of the largest and most prevalent artifacts that bear witness to the early English inhabitants in New England. By cataloging examples across five states, the three presenters hope to understand this critical resource. Learn about the basic architectural forms of these homes, the lives of their earliest inhabitants, and preservation efforts.

“The Unity of the Republic and the Freedom of an Oppressed Race”: Fitchburg’s Civil War Memory

— Darren Barry ( is a local historian and a high school history teacher. His first published work, “The Unity of the Republic and the Freedom of an Oppressed Race: Fitchburg’s Civil War Soldiers’ Monument, 1874,” appears in the January 2017 issue of the Historical Journal of Massachusetts.

Despite the nation’s deliberate whitewashing of the Civil War’s fundamental issues of slavery and racial equality, the small town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts remembered the country’s greatest conflict as a mission to preserve the Union and to free four million slaves from bondage. This dual memory of the war was the product of the community’s deep bond with their Revolutionary War heritage and the Abolitionist Movement of the mid-nineteenth century. Fitchburg’s unique blending of abolitionism with its vibrant connections to the Revolution offers a fresh interpretation of the meaning and memory of the Civil War and demonstrates the importance of viewing history through a local lens.   

Upstairs, Downstairs in a Back Bay Row House During the Victorian Era

— Jackie Blombach, board member of the Gibson House Museum and historic preservation consultant.

In mid-19th Century Boston why were families leaving Beacon Hill and moving to the “new land”? What were their social and family connections? What do we know about the people who worked for them? This session will introduce you to the early history of Back Bay, Boston and to the upstairs/downstairs life of the people who lived and worked there.

The Gibson House, a Victorian row house located at 137 Beacon Street built in 1859, is one of Back Bay’s earliest houses and is preserved as a time capsule of the daily life of a well-to-do Boston family and its domestic staff.

Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress Throughout our Nation’s History

— David Barron, a former Harvard law professor, is the author of Waging War: The Clash Between Presidents and Congress, 1776 to ISIS, published in October.

Concerns over the executive’s imperial reach threatened to scuttle the Constitution before it was even ratified. Since then, whether Lincoln during the Civil War, FDR during World War II, or with more recent administrations, presidents have had to accommodate or find ways to maneuver around Congress as they have sought to engage and prevail on the battlefield. Our focus will be on the history of this struggle up through Vietnam.

Women’s Self-Empowerment in 19th-century Marblehead

— Robert Booth, research historian, mental health administrator, and the author of the award-winning book Death of An Empire (2011) and a new book, The Women of Marblehead, written for the 200th anniversary last year of the Marblehead Female Humane Society. He will also be signing books at a table on the first floor.

This illustrated presentation tell a remarkable story of women’s self-empowerment in 19th-century Marblehead, Massachusetts as they broke out of extreme poverty caused by the service of more than a thousand men and boys from a similar number of families in both the Revolution and War of 1812, a dramatic change from the mid-1700s when Marblehead had been prosperous as one of the ten largest towns in British North America. Women not only reversed a 200-year heritage of death at sea for so many of the town’s men and boys, but improved the town dramatically through the 1800s, socially, economically, and spiritually.

Working Together to Maximize Major Historical Anniversaries to Attract People to Our State and to Our Sites and Events

Discussing the celebrations they’re representing: Colleen Janz, chair, Massachusetts Suffrage Centennial Celebration (1920 – 2020)Michele M. Pecoraro, Executive Director, Plymouth 400 (on Facebook @Plymouth400 and Twitter @Plymouth_400); and Bob Allison, co-convener of Revolution 250 (on Facebook and Twitter @Rev250Bos), representing the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.

In addition, Robert Forrant (, a history professor at UMass Lowell, will discuss the wide-ranging group they pulled together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1912 Bread & Roses.

Saturday Night

We’re looking for a place where folks can gather informally after History Camp for drinks, socializing, and perhaps eventually, food.  Any suggestions?


Sunday Programming for History Camp Attendees

New this year and taking place as part of History Camp Weekend: On Sunday, special events for History Camp attendees.  These are programmed by local institutions and have their own ticket.


Walking tour: Survival: Boston 1630

Sunday, March 18 – 9 – 10:45 am – Registration required – Suggested donation: $5

In the summer of 1630, a thousand people with dwindling supplies stepped off their boats into a new world. They lived in shacks, tents, or English wigwams. Food began to run out. In winter, Boston harbor froze solid for two months. Survival: Boston 1630 reveals the story of the first, dangerous year, when nearly half the original Puritans either died or fled back to England. This tour immerses you in their world. As you explore the sites where they settled, worked and lived, you’ll discover how and why they survived in the place that became the city of Boston.

Presented by the Partnership of Historic Bostons, an all-volunteer organization. If you want to help defray our expenses, we suggest a donation of $5.

“Blood on the Snow:” Performance highlights followed by a discussion with the playwright, historian, and members of the cast

Sunday, March 19 – 11 a.m. – Noon – Old State House, 206 Washington Street
Cost: $10.  Includes admission to the Old State House Museum.  Registration required

Boston, March 6, 1770. Four unarmed civilians have been killed and more have been wounded by British soldiers. The Boston Town Meeting demands that the troops be removed immediately and rumor has it that 10,000 men are prepared to enter Boston to remove the soldiers by force.

Set against a backdrop of rebellion and intrigue, the Bostonian Society’s original production of Blood on the Snow by Boston playwright Patrick Gabridge brings these events to life in the very room in the Old State House where, 250 years ago, Boston’s leaders placed Massachusetts on the road to revolution.

The Bostonian Society is pleased to offer History Camp attendees a special preview of the production, which will take place at the Old State House from June 1 to August 20, 2017.  This one-hour event includes a performance of one of the play’s climactic scenes, followed by a discussion with the playwright, historian, and members of the cast.

Walking Tour: Sites of Suffrage Activity in Boston
Sunday, March 18 – 1 – 2:30 pm – Requires separate registration (e-mail Katherine Dibble) and fee ($10)

Visit the many places in the Suffolk University area where women (and men) met, spoke, picketed and demonstrated for women’s suffrage. This will be the first time for this tour, and they’re looking for feedback from members of History Camp Boston. Registration limited to fifteen people. Cost: $10 per person paid to your guide. Tour meets near the site of History Camp Boston. To register or get further information, e-mail Katherine Dibble. Katherine is a board member of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.  If you’re interested in this topic, you may also want to see their History Camp session Saturday, “Boston in the Women’s Suffrage Movement.”

Free admission with your History Camp Boston badge

  • The Gibson House Museum137 Beacon Street.  Tours at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm Sunday.The Gibson House is a unique and authentic Victorian row house located at 137 Beacon Street. Built in 1859, it is one of Back Bay’s earliest houses and is preserved as a time capsule of the daily life of a well-to-do Boston family and its domestic staff. The house retains its original kitchen, laundry, butler’s pantry and water closets, as well as formal rooms and private family quarters, filled with the family’s original furniture and personal possessions. The Gibson House Museum is a National Historic Landmark and listed on the Massachusetts State Register of Historic Places.
  • The Loring-Greenough House, 12 South Street, Jamaica Plain. (Easily accessible by T and buses.) Private tours led by trained docents 1 – 3 pm Sunday. The Loring-Greenough House was built in 1760 as a gentleman farmer’s mansion by retired Royal Navy officer Joshua Loring, a retired Royal Navy officer, and Mary Curtis Loring, his wife. Commodore Loring was named to the Mandamus Council by Governor Gage, which prompted Patriot threats against the Lorings’ lives and property. They abandoned the House and moved downtown just before the Siege of Boston, then sailed with other Loyalists to Halifax and ultimately to London, never to return. The House saw brief service as headquarters for Nathanael Greene’s regiment and a hospital for soldiers wounded at Bunker Hill. Confiscated by the Continental Congress, it was purchased in 1784 by Ann Doane Doane, a wealthy widow who soon married her late husband’s executor, David Stoddard Greenough. Five generations of Greenoughs lived in the House until 1924, when they moved to Medfield, avoiding the urbanization of Jamaica Plain. Their long ownership preserved many original features, including a summer kitchen and 1811 wood barn. Furnished in various period styles, the Loring-Greenough House and its two-acre landscaped grounds now serve as a community gathering place.