The Massachusetts Archives Building will be closed Monday, September 12 due to the President’s visit to Columbia Point. The Archives, Commonwealth Museum, and Massachusetts Historical Commission can be reached by phone and email during the closure.
ONCE MISSING, ALEXANDER HAMILTON LETTER WILL BE FEATURED IN JULY 4TH COMMONWEALTH MUSEUM EXHIBIT
Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin has announced that a 1780 letter from Alexander Hamilton to the Marquis de Lafayette will be the feature piece of the Commonwealth Museum’s annual 4th of July exhibit this year.
The Hamilton letter, which is believed to have been stolen from the Massachusetts State Archives during World War II, was recently returned to the Commonwealth after a lengthy court battle. This will be the public’s first opportunity to view the letter on exhibit since it was returned to Massachusetts.
In celebration of Independence Day, the Hamilton letter will be featured alongside the Commonwealth’s original copy of the Declaration of Independence, signed by John Hancock.
Visitors to the Commonwealth Museum on July 4th will be able to read the Revolutionary War letter written by Hamilton, in his role as Aide de Camp to General George Washington, in which he warned of imminent danger to French troops in Rhode Island. The letter was forwarded by Massachusetts General William Heath to the President of the Massachusetts Council, along with a request for troops to be sent to support French allies.
Also featured in the July 4th exhibit will be a collection of other documents from 1776, including a letter from John Hancock to the Massachusetts Assembly announcing our independence from Great Britain and a letter from George Washington to the Massachusetts General Court, enclosing a copy of the Declaration of Independence and directing troop movements.
The Commonwealth Museum will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on July 4th. Admission and parking are free for all visitors. Additional information on the museum is available at www.CommonwealthMuseum.org.
is a perfect reminder to take a pause to observe the natural scenery that surrounds us and capture its beauty. Two Massachusetts natives were quite famous for doing this. Frances and Mary Allen were sisters, born four years apart during the 1850s in Deerfield, Massachusetts. They were both schoolteachers but after becoming deaf in their thirties, left teaching to take up photography. The sisters specialized in capturing idyllic images of life and local scenery in Deerfield and surrounding towns. Frances and Mary Allen earned recognition as two of the best women photographers of the period. More of their collection can be found on the websites of the Digital Commonwealth and UMass Amherst Archives.
June 10, 1692, Bridget Bishop was the first to be tried and executed in the Salem Witch Trials. She was accused of bewitching pigs, hiding poppets in the walls of her cellar, and dispatching her spirit and a deformed monkey (“satanic minion”) to torment Salem residents. Her one-day trial took place on June 2nd, she was found guilty and sentenced to death on June 8th, and subsequently executed on June 10th.
Bishop was long since a source of gossip. Straying from typical Puritan ideals, her actions, attitude, and manner of dress were bold for the time and exuded independence. Prior to her arrest on April 18, 1692, Bishop had previously faced legal repercussions for fighting with her second husband, Thomas Oliver, in 1670 and 1678, and in 1680, she had been charged but cleared of witchcraft. Scandalized and described as having a “dubious moral character”, Bridget Bishop was an unwelcome woman in Salem. Despite her assertions of innocence and lack of proof save outlandish and rambling testimonies, her reputation ultimately doomed her and marked her as a clear target for a witchcraft conviction. Bridget Bishop’s name wasn’t officially cleared until 2001.
Image: Joseph Baker “The Witch No. 1,” 1892
Boston’s first official Gay Pride March was held on Saturday, June 26, 1971. The march took place after a weeklong series of workshops aimed to address issues relevant to the le***an and gay community. They both served to provide a sense of community and garner support for political action. Participants followed a route that included several stops. At each stop, speakers called for reform and equal rights while enumerating action items that addressed the needs and concerns of the GLBT community (GLBT was contemporary to the time, and it was not until after the AIDS pandemic of the 90s that it became standard to use “L” first).
The lavender rhinoceros was created in 1974 to increase visibility of Boston’s gay and le***an community and be the feature of posters to be advertised on the MBTA Green Line. It also became the symbol of that year’s Pride march. The lavender rhino was maintained as a notable symbol through the 70s. Artists Daniel Thaxton and Bernie Toale chose the rhino, for “it is a much maligned and misunderstood animal,” while using the color purple, as it came from the mixture of pink and blue.
Picture: pride parade, Back Bay, Boston, 1970 (Smithsonian Magazine)
For the final week of May, the Commonwealth Museum wishes to highlight statues and monuments in our very own neighborhood of Boston – Dorchester. In comparison to other neighborhoods of Boston, Dorchester has a massive amount of total area that is now used for residential, recreational, and commercial purposes. Prior to the Civil War, however, Dorchester had a miniscule population and was recognized primarily for its agricultural contributions and fruit cultivation.
Laura Baring-Gould was the artist who designed the Clapp’s Favorite Pear statue to commemorate the agricultural history of our neighborhood. Clapp’s Favorite is a type of pear that was originally bred in Dorchester and has since become a popular variety across the United States. This towering sculpture can be found in Dorchester’s Edward Everett Square and was erected on the very same land that was used to cultivate Clapp’s Favorite pears in the late nineteenth century.
Surrounding the massive pear sculpture are several smaller artworks that also memorialize the neighborhood of Dorchester. These smaller works assist visitors in comprehending the history of Dorchester and its residents – both past and present.
Most individuals who pass through Edward Everett Square will notice this massive sculpture, but very few will understand its significance. Baring-Gould’s public artwork honors the history and people of Dorchester in several different ways, but these histories cannot be fully understood without taking time to appreciate the art and its correlating themes!
The Commonwealth Museum is now booking IN-PERSON field trips for the 2022-2023 school year! Visit sec.state.ma.us/mus/field-trips.html for more information (also accessible through our Linktree), and contact [email protected]
to schedule a trip for your class!
“Indian Hunter” and “Pronghorn Antelope” were originally sculpted by Paul H. Manship in 1917 for Herbert L. Pratt, the head of Standard Oil of New York, to be placed at his country estate in Glen Cove, NY. Pratt was an avid art collector and, when he died, donated much of his collection, including these ones, to the Mead Art Museum of Amherst College, his alma mater.
In 2001, the college entered into an agreement with Graham Gund, architect and art collector, and allowed a cast to be made of the original structures, so long as they were donated to charitable institutions. In 2011, Graham and Ann Gund gifted these sculptures to the MFA, and the pieces are now located at the State Street Corporation Fenway Entrance.
Throughout this week, the Commonwealth Museum will focus on highlighting statues and monuments from the Museum of Fine Arts and elsewhere within Boston’s South End neighborhood.
Carl Paul Jennewein’s statue of John Endecott was the first monument that caught our attention as we toured the area. Located near Fenway and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston’s Forsyth Park, this massive monument was constructed in the 1930’s and has received both praise and backlash for Endecott’s role in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
John Endecott (also spelled Endicott) had sailed to New England in 1628 with about fifty servants and laborers, settling in present day Salem. In 1629 a royal charter - which is on display in the Commonwealth Museum - established the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Endecott became the first governor of the colony, serving briefly in that role until the arrival of a Puritan fleet under Governor John Winthrop in 1630. In addition to John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley, Endecott was an instrumental figure in establishing the English colony and the capital was moved from Salem to Boston after Winthrop’s arrival.
Despite his influence on the founding and formation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Endecott was an extremely intolerable man who adhered to strict Puritan ideals. This intolerance is showcased in his decisions to execute four Quakers for returning to the colony after they were banished and for his role in the Pequot War.
A Massachusetts force under the command of John Endecott provoked the Pequot tribe on Block Island and then returned to Boston with no further action taken. This incitement placed the surrounding English settlements in danger from Pequot raids while Endecott remained safe in Boston. As a result of the Pequot War, the tribe ceased to exist and their lands were divided amongst the colonies and Indigenous allies.