Massachusetts Historical Society

Massachusetts Historical Society Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library and an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture. www.masshist.org
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The MHS recently received a collection of letters from Private Dwight Emerson Armstrong to his sister Mary written betwe...
05/16/2019
“They Dont Stop for Meetinghouses Nor Anything Else”: The Civil War Letters of Dwight Emerson Armstrong, Part II | Beehive

The MHS recently received a collection of letters from Private Dwight Emerson Armstrong to his sister Mary written between 13 June 1861 and 27 April 1863 while he served in the 10th Massachusetts Infantry.

On 9 August 1861, the 10th Regiment arrived at Camp Brightwood in northwest Washington, D.C., which would be its home for 7 months. Dwight was optimistic about the outcome of the war, felt safe at Camp Brightwood, and was adjusting fairly well to military service. He'd seen no combat yet, but every once in a while an alarm was raised, and the troops were "tumbled out of [their] tents" and held in readiness to march at a moment's notice. None of these alarms had come to anything, and Dwight found the whole thing kind of amusing writing, "It is curious how anyone can get used to almost anything so as to not mind anything about it. […] They were having a battle only a few miles off and we could hear the cannons thundering away almost as plainly as if we had been there but we had got so used to disturbances of this sort that no one minded anything about it and all laid down with their guns beside them and went to sleep as quietly as though they were a thousand miles from any danger."

“They Dont Stop for Meetinghouses Nor Anything Else”: The Civil War Letters of Dwight Emerson Armstrong, Part II May 14, 2019 By Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator This is the second post in a series. Part I can be found here. On 16 July 1861, after a month at the Hampden Park ...

The Making History Gala is just 21 days away! Join us on 5 June for a riveting conversation with acclaimed author David ...
05/15/2019
Massachusetts Historical Society

The Making History Gala is just 21 days away! Join us on 5 June for a riveting conversation with acclaimed author David McCullough and Meghna Chakrabarti, co-host and editor of On Point on NPR and WBUR. As the days count down, we want to give a shout out to media sponsor WBUR 90.9 FM! Purchase tickets today at www.masshist.org/gala.

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
05/15/2019

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

A couple of evening programs, a brown-bag lunch program, and a Saturday tour are scheduled at the MHS this week. Here is...
05/13/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

A couple of evening programs, a brown-bag lunch program, and a Saturday tour are scheduled at the MHS this week. Here is a look at what is planned: on Tuesday, 14 May, at 6:00 PM, join us for "Boston Women Designers: Then & Now" with Mikyoung Kim, Tamara Roy, Regan Shields Ives, Justine Orlando, and moderator Catherine Allgor. On Wednesday, 15 May, at 12:00 PM, Crystal Webster, University of Texas at San Antonio, presents "Beyond the Boundaries of Childhood: Black Children’s Cultural & Political Resistance." On Thursday, 16 May, at 6:00 PM, join us for "Fenway Fans" with Richard Flavin, Bill Nowlin, and Larry Ruttman. On Saturday, 18 May at 10:00 AM, stop by for "The History & Collections of the MHS," a 90-minute docent-led tour. Visit www.masshist.org/events for more information and to register.

This Week @MHS May 10, 2019 Here is a look at what is happening at the MHS this week: On Tuesday, 14 May, at 6:00 PM: Boston Women Designers: Then & Now with Mikyoung Kim, Tamara Roy, Regan Shields Ives, Justine Orlando, and moderator Catherine Allgor. Join us for a conversation with women working i...

This undated typescript draft of an article about women working in male-dominated professions was likely written in the ...
05/08/2019
Massachusetts Historical Society: “Women Who Need to Earn Their Own Living”: A Female Journalist Considers the New Woman at Work

This undated typescript draft of an article about women working in male-dominated professions was likely written in the first decade of the 20th century by journalist Margaret B. Upham Wright. With examples of exceptional women succeeding in business, law, medicine, and ministry, this article champions ambitious women who "go and take" their rights. Born in Castine, Maine in 1839, Wright was a twice-widowed mother of two and no stranger to wage work herself when she drafted this article. A supporter of women's right to vote, Wright died of a heart condition in 1919 before she herself was able to exercise her newly-won right to cast a ballot. Read more about Wright and the women she named in this article at www.masshist.org/object-of-the-month/may-2019.

This undated typescript draft of an article about women working in male-dominated professions was likely written in the first decade of the twentieth century by journalist Margaret B. Upham Wright (1839-1919). With examples of exceptional women succeeding in business, law, medicine, and ministry, th...

Here’s a look at what is planned at the MHS this week: on Monday, 6 May, at 2:00 PM, "Abigail Adams: Nature & Nurture"...
05/06/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

Here’s a look at what is planned at the MHS this week: on Monday, 6 May, at 2:00 PM, "Abigail Adams: Nature & Nurture" pop-up display and talk. The display will be up through 28 June. On Tuesday, 7 May, at 5:15 PM, Eliga Gould, University of New Hampshire; Katherine Grandjean, Wellesley College; Stephen Marini, Wellesley College; Brendan McConville, Boston University, and moderator Alan Rogers, Boston College, present "The Struggle for Revolutionary Settlement." On Wednesday, 8 May, at 12:00 PM, Andrew Kettler, University of Toronto, presents "Odor & Power in the Americas: Olfactory Racism & the Atlantic World." On Thursday, 9 May, at 6:00 PM, Theodore Sedgwick presents "Massachusetts in World War I." On Saturday, 11 May, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, the MHS presents a workshop "'Shall the Tail Wag the Dog?' The Fight For & Against Women’s Suffrage." For more information and to register, please visit www.masshist.org/events.

This Week @MHS May 3, 2019 Here’s a look at what is planned at the MHS this week: On Monday, 6 May, at 2:00 PM: Abigail Adams: Nature & Nurture. “The Earth is putting on a new Suit,” Abigail Adams wrote, savoring the arrival of spring amid the tumult of national politics in 1800. Tending her k...

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
05/01/2019

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is now open at the MHS and we are starting off the...
04/29/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

“Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is now open at the MHS and we are starting off the week with a talk by the show’s guest curator. Here's a look at what is planned: on Monday, 29 April at 6:00 PM, Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute of Technology, presents "Visual Culture of Suffrage." This program is a part of ArtWeek. On Wednesday, 1 May at 12:00 PM, Molly S. Laas, University of Göttingen Medical School, presents "Shinbone & Beefsteak: Meat, Science, & the Labor Question." On Saturday, 4 May, we have three offerings. Starting at 10:00 AM, join us for "The History & Collections of the MHS," a 90-minute docent-led tour. From 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM, MHS staff present "Preserving Family Papers." Please note that this workshop is now full. At 4:30 PM, Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein present "The Problem of Democracy: The Presidents Adams Confront the Cult of Personality." Visit www.masshist.org/events for more information and to register.

This Week @MHS April 26, 2019 “Can She Do It?”: Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote is now open at the MHS and we are starting off the week with a talk by the show’s guest curator Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute of Technology. A brown-bag lunch program on Wednesday followed by a...

Commemorating 100 years since Massachusetts ratified the 19th Amendment, "'Can She Do It?' Massachusetts Debates a Woman...
04/26/2019
Massachusetts Historical Society

Commemorating 100 years since Massachusetts ratified the 19th Amendment, "'Can She Do It?' Massachusetts Debates a Woman's Right to Vote" is now open at the MHS. Featuring dynamic imagery from the collection of the MHS, the exhibition illustrates the passion on each side of the suffrage question. Galleries are now open late on Tuesdays! Our new exhibition hours are Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Stop by 1154 Boylston Street in Boston to see the show! The exhibition is open through 21 September 2019.

These 2 letters are part of a collection of Civil War papers at the MHS, the Dwight Emerson Armstrong letters. It is a s...
04/24/2019
“I Guess I Shall Stand It”: The Civil War Letters of Dwight Emerson Armstrong, Part I | Beehive

These 2 letters are part of a collection of Civil War papers at the MHS, the Dwight Emerson Armstrong letters. It is a small collection consisting of just 38 letters written between 13 June 1861 and 27 April 1863 from Dwight to his older sister Mary. Dwight was mustered into service on 21 June 1861 as a private in the 10th Massachusetts Infantry, Company G. In letters written in July 1861, he tells his sister that it was “terrible hot,” but he was “tough as a knot.” He reassured Mary that “I guess I shall stand it as long as any of them.” He did complain about the drilling, guard duty, marching, and of course the food, but he kept it all in perspective: "We cant have a speck of butter and I miss that more than anything else. I suppose it is not best to find any fault for we cant expect to have anything as convenient as we would at home."

“I Guess I Shall Stand It”: The Civil War Letters of Dwight Emerson Armstrong, Part I April 23, 2019 By Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator I should have written to you before this but thought I would wait untill I knew when I was going to war. […] I never have been sorry yet ...

Here’s a look at the programs we have planned for this week: On Monday, 22 April at 10:00 AM, join us at the Massachus...
04/22/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

Here’s a look at the programs we have planned for this week: On Monday, 22 April at 10:00 AM, join us at the Massachusetts State House for a special event: "Celebrating National History Day in Massachusetts." On Tuesday, 23 April at 5:15 PM, James Pasto, Boston University, presents "Boston’s North End: Post-World War II Italian Immigration, Segmented Assimilation, & the 'Problem of Cornerville'" with comment by Marilynn Johnson, Boston College. On Thursday, 25 April at 6:00 PM, MHS Fellows and Members are invited to a sneak preview reception for "'Can She Do It?' Massachusetts Debates a Woman’s Right to Vote." The exhibition opens to the public on Friday, 26 April at 10:00 AM. Please note that the reading room will close at 3:30 PM on Thursday, 25 April. Visit www.masshist.org/events for information about upcoming programs and to register.

This Week @MHS April 22, 2019 Here’s a look at the programs we have planned for this week: On Monday, 22 April at 10:00 AM: Celebrating National History Day in Massachusetts at the State House. The MHS, the state sponsor of National History Day in Massachusetts, invites legislators, teachers, and ...

Between 1888 and 1892, Helen Keller was a student at the Perkins School for the Blind in South Boston. (The school moved...
04/17/2019
MHS Collections Online: Letter from Helen Keller to George Ellis, 17 April 1891

Between 1888 and 1892, Helen Keller was a student at the Perkins School for the Blind in South Boston. (The school moved to Watertown, Mass. in 1912.) The subject of this letter is four-year-old Tommy Stringer, another student at Perkins, who was also both blind and deaf. Stringer’s family was unable to support him, so he had been brought up from an almshouse in Pennsylvania to the Perkins kindergarten. Keller became his energetic advocate and wrote to friends and strangers alike, as well as newspapers, to solicit donations for his education. George E. Ellis was one of the many who contributed.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Letter from Helen Keller to George Ellis, 17 April 1891

Though the MHS is closed today (15 April), we have several programs coming up this week. Here’s a look at what is plan...
04/15/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

Though the MHS is closed today (15 April), we have several programs coming up this week. Here’s a look at what is planned: on Tuesday, 16 April, at 5:30 PM: Corinne Field, University of Virginia; Katherine Turk, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and moderator Susan Ware, Schlesinger Library, present “The Long 19th Amendment.” On Wednesday, 17 April, at 6:00 PM: Mark Peterson, Yale University, presents “The City-State of Boston: The Rise & Fall of an Atlantic Power, 1630–1865.” On Thursday, 18 April, at 5:15 PM: Francoise Hamlin, Brown University, presents “Historians & Ethics: The Case of Anne Moody” with comment by Chad Williams, Brandeis University.

This Week @MHS April 12, 2019 Please note that the MHS is closed on Monday, 15 April. Here is a look at the programs planned for this week: On Tuesday, 16 April, at 5:30 PM: The Long 19th Amendment with Corinne Field, University of Virginia; Katherine Turk, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil...

Paul Revere probably prepared this draft deposition, containing an account of his ride to Lexington on 18-19 April, in 1...
04/15/2019
MHS Collections Online: Paul Revere's deposition, draft, circa 1775

Paul Revere probably prepared this draft deposition, containing an account of his ride to Lexington on 18-19 April, in 1775, at the request of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress. To prove that the British had fired the first shot at Lexington Green, the Congress solicited depositions from eyewitnesses in 1775. The draft deposition was the basis for a clean and corrected copy and contains many deletions and corrections, as well as a note at the bottom of the first page indicating that Samuel Prescott successfully evaded capture by the British soldiers and reached Concord.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Paul Revere's deposition, draft, circa 1775

MHS short-term fellow Caroline Culp writes about "a curious, even eerie painting in the MHS collections" in a recent Bee...
04/12/2019
Living with Copley’s Fragments | Beehive

MHS short-term fellow Caroline Culp writes about "a curious, even eerie painting in the MHS collections" in a recent Beehive post. It is a portrait of Charles Russell by John Singleton Copley. The remnant of a larger canvas, Russell’s disembodied head floats as if suspended in its adopted gold frame. Why and how did this cut-out face survive? Read more at www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2019/04/living-with-copleys-fragments.

Living with Copley’s Fragments April 11, 2019 by Caroline Culp, Stanford University, Andrew W. Mellon Short-Term Research Fellow at the MHS There is a curious, even eerie painting in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s collections. The remnant of a larger canvas, Charles Russell’s disembodi...

This photograph depicts Henry Adams (1838-1918) seated on the steps of a porch with his dog, Marquis.  The photograph wa...
04/11/2019
MHS Collections Online: Henry Adams seated with dog on steps of piazza

This photograph depicts Henry Adams (1838-1918) seated on the steps of a porch with his dog, Marquis. The photograph was taken around 1883 by Marian Hooper Adams, known as "Clover" to her friends and family. #NationalPetDay

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Henry Adams seated with dog on steps of piazza

Unlike the Harvard-educated men in her family, Abigail Adams did not spend years of her life learning Latin. When John A...
04/10/2019
“Aut Ceasar aut Nullus”: The 1796 Presidential Election and Abigail Adams’ Latin Motto | Beehive

Unlike the Harvard-educated men in her family, Abigail Adams did not spend years of her life learning Latin. When John Adams wrote to her and used Latin phrases, he often included the English translation. Once, after quoting several lines of the Roman poet Horace, he advised her to have John Quincy translate it for her. Yet in 1796, when it was unclear who would succeed George Washington as president, Abigail declared, “Aut Ceasar aut Nullus, is my Motto tho I am not used to quote lattin or spell it.”

“Aut Ceasar aut Nullus”: The 1796 Presidential Election and Abigail Adams’ Latin Motto April 10, 2019 Rhonda Barlow, The Adams Papers Unlike the Harvard-educated men in her family, Abigail Adams did not spend years of her life learning Latin. When John Adams wrote to her and used Latin phrases...

Here’s a look at what is going on at the MHS this week: on Tuesday, 9 April, at 5:15 PM: Michael Brennan, University o...
04/08/2019
This Week @MHS | Beehive

Here’s a look at what is going on at the MHS this week: on Tuesday, 9 April, at 5:15 PM: Michael Brennan, University of Maine, presents "'The Dream is the Process:' Environmental Racism & Community Development in Boston, 1955-1980" with comment by Daniel Faber, Northeastern University. On Wednesday, 10 April, at 12:00 PM: Andrea Nero, University of Buffalo, presents "'Our Fellow Creatures': Discourses About Black People in Early American Scientific Societies." On Saturday, 13 April, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM: the MHS presents a teacher workshop "The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919." Please note that the workshop is full. For more information and to register, please visit www.masshist.org/events.

This Week @MHS April 8, 2019 Here’s a look at what is going on at the MHS this week: On Tuesday, 9 April, at 5:15 PM: “The Dream is the Process:” Environmental Racism & Community Development in Boston, 1955-1980 with Michael Brennan, University of Maine, and comment by Daniel Faber, Northeaste...

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
04/08/2019

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

This silhouette of Lucy Flucker Knox, the wife of U.S. Secretary of War Henry Knox, was drawn in Philadelphia by "a son ...
04/05/2019
MHS Collections Online: Lucy Flucker Knox

This silhouette of Lucy Flucker Knox, the wife of U.S. Secretary of War Henry Knox, was drawn in Philadelphia by "a son of Robert Morris the financier of the Revolution." The aristocratic Lucy Knox is depicted with an elaborate hair arrangement and a tall hat perched on top.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Lucy Flucker Knox

The apothecary of Theodore Metcalf & Co. was a Boston staple for decades. Founded by Metcalf in 1837 in the former house...
04/03/2019
Theodore Metcalf, “the Nestor of Boston’s Drug Trade” | Beehive

The apothecary of Theodore Metcalf & Co. was a Boston staple for decades. Founded by Metcalf in 1837 in the former house of Peter Faneuil at 39 Tremont Street, the pharmacy was patronized by untold numbers of the city’s residents in the 19th and early 20th century. The MHS recently acquired a fascinating volume listing thousands of daily prescriptions administered to customers of Metcalf & Co. between 19 April 1865 and 5 April 1866. Read more about Metcalf & Co. and the medicines, tinctures, extracts, and treatments prescribed to its clientele at www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2019/04/theodore-metcalf-the-nestor-of-bostons-drug-trade.

Theodore Metcalf, “the Nestor of Boston’s Drug Trade” April 2, 2019 By Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator The apothecary of Theodore Metcalf & Co. was a Boston staple for decades. Founded by Metcalf in 1837 in the former house of Peter Faneuil at 39 Tremont Street, the pharma...

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Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture. Its extraordinary collections tell the story of America through millions of rare and unique documents, artifacts, and national treasures, including the personal papers of three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Through its research library, online resources, publications, exhibitions, and programs, the MHS makes its holdings accessible to anyone with an interest in the people and events that shaped our country. As the nation’s first historical society, the MHS strives to enhance the understanding of our nation’s past and its connection to the present, demonstrating that history is not just a series of events that happened to individuals long ago but is integral to the fabric of our daily lives.

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