Massachusetts Historical Society

Massachusetts Historical Society Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library and an inval

12/07/2023

On this day in history, 7 December 1787, Delaware ratified the US Constitution, the first state to do so. Delaware Public Archives, what’s in your archives about the ratification?

Join the MHS in person or online tonight at 5:00 PM, for “For the Entertainment of Her Friends”: Working Actresses, Soci...
12/06/2023

Join the MHS in person or online tonight at 5:00 PM, for “For the Entertainment of Her Friends”: Working Actresses, Society & Performance in Boston, 1790-1830, with Emma Futhey, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences University, with comment by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Northeastern University. Register here: https://www.masshist.org/events/for-the-entertainment-of-her-friends

This paper explores the lives of working actresses and theatre managers in Boston through the early republic, contextualizing their places in the developing cultural identity of an “American” city. Using actress-manager Elizabeth Powell as a case study, and supplementing her story with additional figures, this paper illuminates how the working actress presented herself to potential employers and audiences, creatively deploying her femininity in an attempt to balance the dueling tensions of economic practicality and gendered social expectations. In this way, patterns of performative behavior are constructed, revealing new aspects of the working actress’s life in Boston.

Time for Trivia Tuesday! The MHS has a beautiful grand staircase going from the front lobby to the second floor, where t...
12/05/2023

Time for Trivia Tuesday! The MHS has a beautiful grand staircase going from the front lobby to the second floor, where the majority of events and exhibitions are held. How many steps are between the lobby and second floor?
A. 10
B. 20
C. 30
D. 40

Hint: The whole staircase is not pictured.

Join the MHS virtually tonight at 6:00 PM, for A Constitutional Culture: New England & the Struggle Against Arbitrary Ru...
12/04/2023

Join the MHS virtually tonight at 6:00 PM, for A Constitutional Culture: New England & the Struggle Against Arbitrary Rule in the Restoration Empire, with Adrian Chastain Weimer, Providence College. Register here: https://www.masshist.org/events/constitutional-culture-new-england-struggle-against-arbitrary-rule-restoration-empire

In "A Constitutional Culture," Adrian Chastain Weimer uncovers the story of how, more than 100 years before the American Revolution, colonists pledged their lives and livelihoods to the defense of local political institutions against arbitrary rule. With Charles II’s return to the English throne in 1660, the Puritan-led colonies faced enormous pressure to conform to the crown’s priorities. Those resisting the crown included not just freemen (voters) but also people often seen as excluded or marginalized such as non-freemen, indentured servants, and women. Together these people crafted a potent regional constitutional culture in defiance of Charles II that was characterized by a skepticism of metropolitan ambition, a defense of civil and religious liberties, and a conviction that self-government was divinely sanctioned. Weimer shows how the dissenters expressed this constitutional culture through fast days, debates, committee work, and petitions. Equipped with a ready vocabulary for criticizing arbitrary rule, with a providentially informed capacity for risk-taking, and with a set of intellectual frameworks for divided sovereignty, the constitutional culture that New Englanders forged would not easily succumb to an imperial authority intent on consolidating its power.

Exciting News! We're thrilled to announce that individual ticket sales for the 2024 Making History Gala are now OPEN exc...
12/01/2023

Exciting News! We're thrilled to announce that individual ticket sales for the 2024 Making History Gala are now OPEN exclusively for our valued Members and Honorary Fellows! Join us on Thursday, June 6, 2024, at the prestigious Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston for a night of celebration and historical elegance.

This year's featured guest speaker is none other than the esteemed Doris Kearns Goodwin! Don't miss this chance to be a part of history.

Secure your spot by visiting www.masshist.org/gala. Not a Member yet? No problem! You can join the MHS at www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund.

Stay tuned for more exciting event details coming soon on www.masshist.org/gala. Save the date, and let's make history together!

11/29/2023

This broadside details a meeting of the people of Boston on 29 November 1773. This meeting was to determine the best way to rid Boston of the tea coming into the harbor. https://www.masshist.org/database/515

Many people spoke, ones who wanted the tea gone, merchants with interest in selling the tea, and the Sherriff came and told them to disperse! Learn more by visiting the exhibition, open now! https://www.masshist.org/exhibitions

Join the MHS tonight in person or online at 6:00 PM, for Gay Community News at 50: GCN’s Impact & Legacy, with Gerard Ca...
11/29/2023

Join the MHS tonight in person or online at 6:00 PM, for Gay Community News at 50: GCN’s Impact & Legacy, with Gerard Cabrera, Gilda Bruckman, and Haden Smiley,, moderated by Michael Bronski, co-sponsored by The History Project: Documenting LGBTQ Boston. Register here: https://www.masshist.org/events/gay-community-news-50-gcns-impact-legacy

When Gay Community News ceased publishing in the 1990s, it was the oldest, continuously published national gay newspaper. This panel will explore the impact GCN had and continues to have on LGBTQ+ writing, news coverage, and activism.

Join the MHS tonight in person or online at 5:00 PM, for “Get Your Grassroots Ladies”: Pioneering a Path to Upgrade Hous...
11/28/2023

Join the MHS tonight in person or online at 5:00 PM, for “Get Your Grassroots Ladies”: Pioneering a Path to Upgrade Household Employment in Boston, MA, 1960s-1970s, with Mia Michael, Wayne State University, with comment by Erik Loomis, University of Rhode Island. Register here: https://www.masshist.org/events/get-your-grassroots-ladies

This paper uncovers a multi-generational history of domestic workers’ fight for dignity and economic justice. The problem household employees tackled in Greater Boston centered on their degraded cultural, legal, and economic standing throughout American history. Adopting a powerful and unexpected organizing style that was community-based, multi-issue oriented, and propelled by working-class women of color, local household employees and their allies blazed a trail towards systemic reform that clinched legislative victories, including the nation’s broadest state-level minimum wage protections for domestic workers since 1932. Ultimately, their historical efforts continue to inform low-wage workers’ struggles against social injustice and economic inequality in contemporary times.

It’s Trivia Tuesday! True or False, the first item on the Adams Timeline on the MHS website is “JA born.”
11/28/2023

It’s Trivia Tuesday!

True or False, the first item on the Adams Timeline on the MHS website is “JA born.”

New video available online! Wars Civil & Great: The American Experience in the Civil War & World War I, with Dr. Kanisor...
11/27/2023

New video available online!

Wars Civil & Great: The American Experience in the Civil War & World War I, with Dr. Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, MHS; Dr. David Silbey, Cornell University; Dr. Brian Allen Drake, University of Georgia; and Dr. Kathleen Logothetis Thompson. https://youtu.be/ZckEHtsFnqY?si=7AZ-8rHh1af-1lVO

Although the Civil War and World War I were fought only 50 years apart, the perceived time between these two cataclysmic events seems far longer in popular American memory. Wars Civil and Great breaks down these barriers of time and memory and shows how close and how similar these two conflicts really were in the American experience. President Wilson looked to Lincoln during the Great War for guidance on national leadership at wartime; General John J. Pershing remembered the Civil War of his childhood and sought to learn lessons from Grant and McClellan; and the doughboys on European battlefields held firm to the culture of honor and duty that had inspired their forefathers to take up arms. Wars Civil and Great questions what legacy the Civil War left, how the World War I generation interpreted the lessons of the Civil War, and how both wars contributed to the modernization of the United States.

-- Wongsrichanalai and others discuss "Wars Civil & Great..." and how the Civil War and World War I and shows how close and how similar these two conflicts r...

11/23/2023

Sarah Gooll Putnam’s diary records her experience of the first national US “Thanksgiving.” Read her quote below and consider trying MHS’s crowdsourcing tool and help transcribe Putnam’s diaries here: www.masshist.org/mymhs.

“26th. [November 1863] Thursday. Thanksgiving day. We had as usual a turkey, (It was a splendid one, for the man who sold it to us, said it was his best out of over 200!) and a plum pudding... We all eat so much turkey (Hatty, and Johnny went out a little while to get an appetite), Father wouldn’t eat any pudding, much to our disapproval. Well, we eat enough to make up. It is astonishing how much you can eat on Thanksgiving. I confess it don’t do you much good. It was a beautiful day, sunny, and warm.” – Sarah Gooll Putnam, 26 November 1863.

11/22/2023

Happy 279th Birthday, Abigail Adams!

Happy World Hello Day! Did you know that people used to leave calling, or visiting, cards when they visited as a way of ...
11/21/2023

Happy World Hello Day! Did you know that people used to leave calling, or visiting, cards when they visited as a way of saying hello? Check out some cards and card cases from the MHS collection!

It’s Trivia Tuesday and National Gingerbread Cookie Day all rolled into one! To celebrate both, today’s question is: wha...
11/21/2023

It’s Trivia Tuesday and National Gingerbread Cookie Day all rolled into one! To celebrate both, today’s question is: what year was the first United States cookbook published?
A. 1796
B. 1803
C. 1847
D. 1862

Cider-making, apple-selling, apple recipes, and presidential portraits are all in this Beehive blog post on apples in th...
11/20/2023

Cider-making, apple-selling, apple recipes, and presidential portraits are all in this Beehive blog post on apples in the archive.
https://www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2023/11/apples-and-the-mhs/

After reading the blog, read this recipe for a Pupton of Apples. But what is it? Is it a cake, a jelly, a pudding, or something else? If you make it, report back on this recipe from Hannah Glass’ "The Art of Cookery" from 1767.

11/20/2023

New video available online! Gay Community News at 50: Content, Controversy & Coverage, with Chris Bull, Gayle Rubin, Chris Guilfoy, and Craig Bailey, moderated by Amy Hoffman, co-sponsored with The History Project: Documenting LGBTQ Boston.

Throughout its run, Gay Community News' staff, volunteers, and readership all debated how to answer the question, "What is gay news?" This panel will explore the intersections and divergences of opinions about what issues GCN covered, from feminist politics to international affairs.

Phillis Wheatley’s newly published book of poems from London had just arrived in Boston harbor, November 1773, but that ...
11/20/2023

Phillis Wheatley’s newly published book of poems from London had just arrived in Boston harbor, November 1773, but that crate was surrounded by tea, & Bostonians wouldn’t allow anything taken off the ship. Find out what happened next by visiting "The Dye is cast": Interests & Ideals That Motivated the Boston Tea Party. https://www.masshist.org/exhibitions

At this special time of year, we are grateful to all the friends who support the MHS. This support enables us to provide...
11/20/2023

At this special time of year, we are grateful to all the friends who support the MHS. This support enables us to provide free and ever-expanding access to our unparalleled collection, serve multiple and diverse communities, and foster civic responsibility.

To celebrate the season of giving, please consider becoming a Member of the MHS. Membership starts at $250, covers two people, and includes free or reduced admission to our public programs, invitations to Member-only events, such as the upcoming Holiday Party, and other special perks. There are special rates for Young Patrons and K-12 Educator Members. Give today at https://www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund.

New video available online! Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy & Transparency in the Age of Revolutions, with Katlyn Carter,...
11/17/2023

New video available online! Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy & Transparency in the Age of Revolutions, with Katlyn Carter, University of Notre Dame, in conversation with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, USC Dornsife. https://youtu.be/e8-tAlsfpTQ?si=0h_J3B7vgOBzokuu

Does democracy die in darkness, as the saying suggests? Katlyn Carter’s book reveals that modern democracy was born in secrecy, despite the widespread conviction that transparency was its very essence. In the years preceding the American and French revolutions, state secrecy came to be seen as despotic—an instrument of monarchy. But as revolutionaries sought to fashion representative government, they faced a dilemma. Where gaining public trust seemed to demand transparency, was secrecy ever legitimate? Whether in Philadelphia or Paris, establishing popular sovereignty required navigating between an ideological imperative to eradicate secrets from the state and a practical need to limit transparency in government. The fight over this—dividing revolutionaries and vexing founders—would determine the nature of the world’s first representative democracies. Unveiling modern democracy’s surprisingly shadowy origins, Carter reshapes our understanding of how government by and for the people emerged during the Age of Revolutions.

-- Carter & Perl-Rosenthal discuss changing governments through the American and French Revolutions. --Does democracy die in darkness, as the saying suggests...

Take a look at this episode of Museum Open House with Jay Sugarman as he interviews Peter Drummey, Chief Historian & Ste...
11/17/2023

Take a look at this episode of Museum Open House with Jay Sugarman as he interviews Peter Drummey, Chief Historian & Stephen T. Riley Librarian of the MHS, on "The Dye is cast": Interests & Ideals That Motivated the Boston Tea Party, on NewTV. https://youtu.be/WCZzUcjkggw?si=epPBHAqar_SNhbHL

Jay talks with Joe Wallace. Joe is a highly accomplished journalist, photographer and storyteller and he’s here today to share with us his recently published...

11/17/2023

This cornbread recipe handwritten by Margaret Fuller Channing in 1898 reads “1 Pt. meal, 2 eggs, heaping spoonful melted butter poured with meal, mixed to a batter with cold milk. Add a little salt, it must be well beaten. No soda.” Watch the video to see it made!

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