Revolutionary Spaces

Revolutionary Spaces Revolutionary Spaces brings people together to explore the American struggle to create and sustain a free society, singularly evoked by Boston's Old South Meeting House and Old State House.

We stand committed to unpacking history in new ways and shining a light on under-told (or never told) stories. A word fr...
04/17/2020
How the 18th Century (Actually) Responded to Illness

We stand committed to unpacking history in new ways and shining a light on under-told (or never told) stories.

A word from us on how we - with partners like the Upstander Project and Akomawt Educational Initiative - must confront past inequities to more fully understand the present and move toward a just future.

This post is written in response to “How the 18th Century Responded to Illness Before Netflix and Zoom,” published on April 6, 2020. Last week, we published a blog post describing how six prominent 18th-century Bostonians lived and dealt with illness in their lives. This piece drew on previous r...

It's time for a little #PastMeetsPresent today! As we've been sorting through stories of some 18th century Bostonians, w...
04/15/2020

It's time for a little #PastMeetsPresent today! As we've been sorting through stories of some 18th century Bostonians, we couldn't help but notice similarities to today's household names.

First up: William Billings & Chance the Rapper

William Billings is considered to have been the first American choral composer. His psalm-book, The New England Psalm-Singer, was published in 1770 – it would have been published earlier but for Billings’ insistence that it be printed only on American paper. His songs contained religion, but also politics – he was very involved in the Patriot movement and his song “Chester” became one of the most famous Patriot anthems.

Chance the Rapper, an activist and musical artist from Chicago, Illinois, is a modern example of an artist who is inspired by his faith and by the music of the church. His style and lyrics, especially in recent albums, are heavily influenced by his religion. Chance the Rapper was awarded “Outstanding Youth of the Year” in 2014 by the Mayor of Chicago for his activism. Earlier that year, his and his father’s campaign #SaveChicago resulted in 42 hours without a gun homicide in Chicago.

Chance’s similarity to William Billings’ religious and political balance is highlighted in the Pitchfork review of the Coloring Book album: “Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book is one of the strongest rap albums released this year, an uplifting mix of spiritual and grounded that even an atheist can catch the Spirit to.”

Who else does William Billings remind you of?

Like all of us, the Old State House and Old South Meeting House have been through their fair share of challenges.On our ...
04/14/2020
Resilience at Old South Meeting House

Like all of us, the Old State House and Old South Meeting House have been through their fair share of challenges.

On our blog today, take a deeper look at just one of the many instances when ordinary Bostonians leaped to action in the face of crisis - the Great Fire of 1872.

Every day that we adapt our lives to stay inside and protect each other or go back on the front lines as an essential worker in this epidemic, we show our capacity for resilience. While this current moment feels unprecedented, Bostonians have been through crises before, building resilience along the...

For #NationalPoetryMonth, we're highlighting poetry as it relates to our past.In 2018, Boston's historic sites and museu...
04/12/2020
Spoken Word with Zena Agha | Forum Network

For #NationalPoetryMonth, we're highlighting poetry as it relates to our past.

In 2018, Boston's historic sites and museums marked the 250th anniversary of the Town of Boston's 1768 military occupation with a variety of public programs on the theme of occupation.

In April of that year, Old South Meeting House was honored to host a performance by London-born Palestinian-Iraqi writer and poet Zena Agha, who completed her Master's at Harvard University. Zena performed and discussed original poems about her experience as a person from occupied land, and the unpleasant reception she faced when she returned to Palestine to visit her homeland.

Among the questions raised in her poetry: "If I'm from here, why can't I live here? If I am from here, why has it taken 23 years to get back?" You can learn more about Zena Agha and her wide-ranging projects here: https://zenaagha.com/.

Zena Agha is a Palestinian-Iraqi writer, poet, artist and activist from London. She performs her poetry that explores identity, immigration, space and life in the diaspora.

04/09/2020
Nat Sheidley at Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre

#ThrowbackThursday to just over one month ago when we were gathered together at Old South Meeting House to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

Like Bostonians before us, we're now living in an "in between" time. Bostonians before us lived through "before the Boston Massacre" and "after the Boston Massacre," just as we're now living through the "in between" of "before COVID," and "after COVID."

It's imperative we remember the past to better understand the world we're living in today to help build a more just and equitable future for tomorrow.

Scientists already knew that more air pollution leads to higher incidences of lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes – ...
04/08/2020
New Research Links Air Pollution to Higher Coronavirus Death Rates

Scientists already knew that more air pollution leads to higher incidences of lung cancer, heart attacks, and strokes – as well as asthma. A new Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health study indicates that counties with more air pollution will see higher rates of death from Coronavirus – a grim reminder of the links between environmental conditions and individual and community health. The most vulnerable among us are not only vulnerable because of their individual conditions, they are also vulnerable because they endure environmental conditions that cause disease.

Having survived the miserable conditions of passage on a slave ship, internationally renowned poet Phillis Wheatley suffered from asthma from the time of her sale into slavery in Boston in 1761, and she was often unwell throughout her short life. Wheatley’s asthmatic condition is the presumed reason for her attending church at the Old South Meeting House, a shorter walk from the Wheatley home than the family’s own church.

A nationwide study has found that counties with even slightly higher levels of long-term air pollution are seeing larger numbers of Covid-19 deaths.

From Fairhaven to Quincy to Salem, history is all around us in New England. Even though we’re all practicing social dist...
04/07/2020

From Fairhaven to Quincy to Salem, history is all around us in New England. Even though we’re all practicing social distancing, we can’t help but get outside every once in a while. As long as we’re working from home, we’ll share and highlight our favorite #NeighborhoodHistory gems.

What’s your favorite historic place in your neighborhood?

04/06/2020
How the 18th Century Responded to Illness

We may have cat videos, Netflix, and Zoom to keep us occupied in these times of physical distancing and quarantine. But how much do you know about how 18th century Bostonians responded to illness?

Take a look at our newest blog post where we talk about how six prominent Bostonians - including Dr. Joseph Warren, Paul Revere, Dorothy Quincy Hancock, John and Abigail Adams, and Dr. Thomas Young - reacted to illness in their lives.

https://www.revolutionaryspaces.org/2020/04/06/how-the-18th-century-responded-to-illness-before-netflix-and-zoom/

How are you and your loved ones managing isolation and physical distancing? Tell us in the comments!

04/03/2020
I'm With You - #AFuture4ThePast

"If you're worried about your community and wonder how public history can help."

We're with you.

#AFuture4ThePast

Find out more via: http://afuture4thepast.com.

The primary purpose of #AFuture4thePast is to foster a community of museum and public history professionals for advice, information, and shared experiences during an uncertain time for us all.

04/02/2020
Dr. Ted Landsmark - Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre

#ThrowbackThursday to our March 5 Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre at Old South Meeting House. We were honored to have Dr. Ted Landsmark read a remembrance of Crispus Attucks - a man of African and Native descent, who was the first person to die at the Boston Massacre.

Listen as Dr. Landsmark narrates the events of the night of March 5, 1770, and how Attucks ended up in front of the Old State House that night.

It's Census Day! (and that's no April Fool's joke!) You should have received an envelope in the mail recently with infor...
04/01/2020
Responding to the Census

It's Census Day! (and that's no April Fool's joke!)

You should have received an envelope in the mail recently with information on how to complete the Census. If you haven't, take 10 minutes and do it now!

Filling out the Census guarantees that your voice is heard when it comes to federal funding in your community. It also shows demographic data, and determines congressional districts and the number of members each state gets in the House of Representatives. Every single response matters!

https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond.html

Please complete your form online, by phone, or by mail when your invitation to respond arrives. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.

03/31/2020
Boston.com

Oh, we miss our city. But this drone footage of an eerily empty Boston is wicked cool. Take a look!

Boston looked "almost apocalyptic" this weekend, according to a Waltham resident who brought his drone downtown to shoot aerial footage of the empty city.

[h/t Michael Holzwarth / @instah_drone on Instagram]

Read more: https://trib.al/23SfGWY

Yesterday evening, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was informed that their reservation is ordered to be disestablished and t...
03/28/2020
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

Yesterday evening, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was informed that their reservation is ordered to be disestablished and that their land be taken out of trust.

This deeply concerning news should alarm all who value the sovereignty of Native peoples and the nations to which they belong. Sovereignty is a matter of justice and also a fundamental resource on which the political, cultural, and economic future of Native communities depends. This decision cannot be allowed to stand. #WeStandWithMashpee

Read more from Chairman Cedric Cromwell: https://mashpeewampanoagtribe-nsn.gov/news/2020/3/27/message-from-the-chairman-we-will-take-action-to-prevent-the-loss-of-our-land

https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/03/28/mashpee-wampanoag-reservation-secretary-interior-land-trust

03/26/2020
Tanisha Sullivan - Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre

#ThrowbackThursday - Watch Tanisha Sullivan, president of the NAACP Boston Branch, talk about self-determination and how Bostonians of all races came together for that common cause.

Thank you to WGBH Forum Network for helping us relive these moments when we were together at Old South Meeting House on March 5, 2020, commemorating the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre.

As days and nights start blending together, we turn to the words of Phillis Wheatley. She may have been looking at the W...
03/25/2020

As days and nights start blending together, we turn to the words of Phillis Wheatley. She may have been looking at the Western and Eastern skies between the Old State House - close to the Wheatley family home - and Old South Meeting House - where she attended church every Sunday - when she wrote her poem “A Hymn to the Evening,” with its description of one day’s end and anticipation of the next day’s beginning.

-----

Soon as the sun forsook the eastern main
The pealing thunder shook the heav'nly plain;
Majestic grandeur! From the zephyr's wing,
Exhales the incense of the blooming spring.
Soft purl the streams, the birds renew their notes,
And through the air their mingled music floats.
Through all the heav'ns what beauteous dies are spread!
But the west glories in the deepest red:
So may our breasts with ev'ry virtue glow,
The living temples of our God below!
Fill'd with the praise of him who gives the light,
And draws the sable curtains of the night,
Let placid slumbers sooth each weary mind,
At morn to wake more heav'nly, more refin'd;
So shall the labours of the day begin
More pure, more guarded from the snares of sin.
Night's leaden sceptre seals my drowsy eyes,
Then cease, my song, till fair Aurora rise.

-----

Read more about Phillis Wheatley via the Poetry Foundation & Poetry Magazine. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/phillis-wheatley

As we grapple with uncertainty in this pandemic, we're finding new ways to connect in the chaos. Becoming a Revolutionar...
03/24/2020

As we grapple with uncertainty in this pandemic, we're finding new ways to connect in the chaos. Becoming a Revolutionary Spaces member gives you the opportunity to connect with the history and continuing practice of democracy through the intertwined stories of two of the nation’s most iconic sites – Boston’s Old South Meeting House and Old State House.

While we can't be together in person right now, we're exploring new ways to connect virtually, and will roll out new member-exclusive content soon.

Your support is vital in helping us bring people together, and we couldn't do this without you.

https://www.revolutionaryspaces.org/membership/

In these times of social distancing, it's apparent how much we start to miss the ability to gather together. Though we c...
03/22/2020
Music At The Meeting House: In Mo Yang | Forum Network

In these times of social distancing, it's apparent how much we start to miss the ability to gather together. Though we can't gather in-person, we can still share common experiences, like In Mo Yang's 2018 performance for Music at the Meeting House.

Grab some pancakes and coffee, and listen to these soothing sounds from Old South Meeting House.

Thanks to WGBH Forum Network for helping us relive this moment and stay connected!

New England Conservatory Artist Diploma student, In Mo Yang, talks about the theme of Occupation. Yang describes how the pieces he chose to perform connect to not only the immigrant experience but also to his own country’s story of being occupied.

03/19/2020
Mayor Marty Walsh - Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre

“Your name Revolutionary Spaces says it all - something that is really important. A revolutionary history isn’t just about the past, it inspires Boston to be a revolution today, for medical treatments that heal people, for leading the fight in social justice.”

Hear more from our mayor Marty Walsh about how Boston’s diverse communities made it the city it is today.

#BostonMassacre250

Watch now! Playwright Patrick Gabridge sat down with PBS this past summer to talk about Cato & Dolly at the Old State Ho...
03/18/2020
The Future of America's Past | The Revolutions | Season 2

Watch now! Playwright Patrick Gabridge sat down with PBS this past summer to talk about Cato & Dolly at the Old State House for an upcoming episode of The Future of America's Past. You can watch it on PBS sometime in April, but it's also available to watch online right now! Make some tea, cozy up, and press play.

Caty & Dolly - presented by The Bostonian Society just before its merger with the Old South Association - is a new play offering a glimpse of everyday life inside the Hancock House through the eyes of those who lived there: Cato Hancock, an enslaved man serving the Hancock household, and Dolly Hancock, John Hancock’s wife and First Lady of Massachusetts.

What did “freedom” mean during the American Revolution?

While we celebrate St. Patrick's Day today, we also remember Evacuation Day. On this day, British troops officially left...
03/17/2020
This Week in Colonial Boston — Old State House

While we celebrate St. Patrick's Day today, we also remember Evacuation Day. On this day, British troops officially left Boston and March 17 became known as 'Evacuation Day,' and is still an official holiday here in Suffolk County, Massachusetts. One reason St. Patrick's Day celebrations became so huge in Boston is because everyone already had the day off! That, and Boston's deep Irish roots. ☘️

Read more about Evacuation Day on The Bostonian Society's blog.

The British occupation of Boston ended on March 17, 1776 when General Howe evacuated his troops from the town, leaving it open to Patriots waiting just outside its borders.

03/16/2020
WGBH Forum Network

While we adjust to social distancing over the next few weeks, we’ll highlight speakers and remembrances from our March 5 Commemoration of the 250th Anniversary of the Boston Massacre. Watch President & CEO Nat Sheidley kick off the evening with context for why we gather to remember. #BostonMassacre250

"Bostonians were deeply divided in 1770," said Nat Sheidley about the city's reaction after the #BostonMassacre "But they came together in this great hall every March 5th in order to fashion their loss into a powerful sense of shared purpose."

Watch more via Revolutionary Spaces to see what we can learn from history in moments of crisis: https://forum-network.org/lectures/commemorating-250th-anniversary-boston-massacre/

Our mission is to bring people together to explore the history and continue the work of democracy, but when the urgent i...
03/13/2020
Multiple Historic Freedom Trail Sites to Close to Address Global Coronavirus Pandemic | The Freedom Trail

Our mission is to bring people together to explore the history and continue the work of democracy, but when the urgent issue for debate is how to slow the spread of the #COVID19 (Coronavirus) and model social distancing, we must do the best thing for our greater community.

We’re proud to stand with the Freedom Trail Foundation and close our sites to the public to support important public health goals and reinforce the benefits of social distancing.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 13, 2020

🚨 The Old State House and Old South Meeting House will be CLOSED through March 31, and all events in that time period ar...
03/12/2020
Pre-Emptive Closures to Combat COVID-19, Revolutionary Spaces

🚨 The Old State House and Old South Meeting House will be CLOSED through March 31, and all events in that time period are canceled. Leadership will continue monitoring the situation and reassess closures within the next two weeks.

The primary tool for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 is to promote social distancing. Revolutionary Spaces' work is rooted in bringing people together to learn, explore, and debate at two of our nation's most iconic historic sites. At this time, we cannot continue this work without threatening the well-being of the community to which we belong.

More info below ⬇️

Revolutionary Spaces Announces Pre-Emptive Closures to Combat the Spread of COVID-19 The Old State House and Old South Meeting House museums will be closed...

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