Lectures and Performances

Previous Lectures and Performances

Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m.
“Re-envisioning Black ‘Book History’: The Case of AME Church Print”
James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the History of the Book in American Culture
by Eric Gardner

This year’s James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture will be delivered by Eric Gardner on Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. In this lecture, Professor Gardner will ask how careful consideration of nineteenth-century African American experiences can and should reshape our discussions of early Black print. His talk will draw on diverse print material that was produced by, for, or via the African Methodist Episcopal Church between 1840 and 1870. He will focus especially on how and why diverse African Americans came to, conceived of, and used print, with emphasis on the ways such exploration challenges dominant senses of terms like “writer,” “editor,” “reader,” and especially “print,” “history,” and “American culture.”

Professor Gardner is professor of English at Saginaw Valley State University is the author of Black Print Unbound: The Christian Recorder, African American Literature, and Periodical Culture (2015) and the award-winning Unexpected Places: Relocating Nineteenth-Century African American Literature (2009). He has also edited or co-edited three books, as well as a recent special issue of the journal American Periodicals focused on Black periodical studies.

The annual Wiggins Lecture is named for James Russell Wiggins (1903–2000), chairman of the Society from 1970 to 1977. He was editor of the Washington Post and, until his death at the age of ninety-six, editor of the Ellsworth (Maine) American. Wiggins also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1968.


Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m.
“Ballads from Boston: Music from the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballad Collection"
with David and Ginger Hildebrand

David and Ginger Hildebrand will feature the music of the Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballad Collection. This concert will serve to launch an enhanced version of the digital project Isaiah Thomas Broadside Ballads Project: Verses in Vogue with the Vulgar that will feature audio recordings of some of the ballads.

David and Ginger specialize in researching, recording, and performing early American music. Their most recent focus was on the War of 1812 and the bicentennial of "The Star-Spangled Banner." They present concerts and educational programs throughout the country for museums, universities, and historical organizations. They have consulted for and provided soundtrack materials for numerous documentaries, including the PBS series Liberty!--the American Revolution, Rediscovering George Washington, and Anthem. David and Ginger have issued seven full-length recordings, including CD/music book sets focused on George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. In 1999 they founded The Colonial Music Institute. Ginger holds an M.M. from the Peabody Conservatory; David's M.A. is from George Washington University and his Ph.D. from Catholic University. David is also an author for the Johns Hopkins University Press, and they both teach privately in addition to performing widely.

Photo: White House Historical Association, Matthew Paul D'Agostino


Tuesday, May 3, 6-8 p.m.
9th Annual Adopt-a-Book

The American Antiquarian Society will hold its ninth annual Adopt-a-Book fundraiser at Antiquarian Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. This event will feature books, newspapers, manuscripts, broadsides, ephemera and prints up for "adoption." Support of this program aids the Society’s curators as they pursue new acquisitions for the collection.

Support of this program aids the Society’s curators as they pursue new acquisitions for the collection. This listing of objects below includes material from each curatorial area. When you find an image/volume you like in the catalog below, click on it to read a description and follow the link at the bottom to adopt.


Thursday, May 5, at 7 p.m.
“The Citizen Poets of Boston: A Collection of Forgotten Poems”
with Paul Lewis, Harrison Kent, and Alexandra Mitropoulos

This presentation by Professor Paul Lewis from Boston College and some of his students showcases a newly released anthology of early American poetry that originally appeared in early newspapers and periodicals, including Isaiah Thomas’s Massachusetts Spy. The anthology is the result of a three-year project in which small groups of undergraduates at Boston College reviewed about 4,500 poems published in fifty-nine literary magazines.


Thursday, May 19, at 7 p.m.
“George Washington’s Journey”
by T.H. Breen
Cosponsored by the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series at Becker College

Historian and AAS member T. H. Breen (elected 1994) will return to Antiquarian Hall on May 19 to discuss his latest book, George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (2016), which explores a 1789 trip to all thirteen states made by the first president to fulfill the goals of the American Revolution. This journey aimed to bring the new federal government to the people and it transformed American political culture.

T.H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University Emeritus and a James Marsh Professor at Large at the University of Vermont.


Thursday, June 9, at 7 p.m.
“Valiant Ambition”
by Nathaniel Philbrick

AAS member Nathaniel Philbrick (elected 2002) comes back to Antiquarian Hall to discuss his forthcoming book, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (May 2016). This work details the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. It is a complex, controversial, and dramatic portrait of a people in crisis and the war that gave birth to a nation.



Tuesday, October 4, at 7 p.m.
"The Arms Race of 1774”
by J. L. Bell

This season’s public programs will begin with an exploration of the 1774 arms race between the Royal Army and colonial militia by AAS member J. L. Bell (elected 2011). Starting in September 1774, Massachusetts patriots and royal governor Thomas Gage raced for the province’s most powerful military resources—cannon and other artillery pieces. That competition cost the royal government control of most of Massachusetts, spread to neighboring colonies, and led to war the following spring. Bell’s AAS program, “The Arms Race of 1774,” is based upon his latest book, The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War.



Thursday, October 13, at 7 p.m.
"An Inside Story of African American Imprisonment before Emancipation:
Austin Reed's ‘The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict’”
by Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith will discuss the memoir of a free black man from Rochester, New York, who spent most of his early life in the juvenile reformatories and state prisons of the antebellum period. Discovered in 2009 and recently published by Random House, Austin Reed's "The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict," gives an inside account of the origins of the American prison system, providing a link between slavery and mass incarceration.




Thursday, October 27, at 7 p.m.
“Revisiting America’s Unfinished Revolution”
The Twelfth Annual Robert C. Baron Lecture
by Eric Foner

Columbia University professor and AAS member Eric Foner (elected 1989) will discuss his groundbreaking and definitive 1988 book, Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. This work won the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Avery O. Craven Prize, and the Lionel Trilling Prize. Reviews of this work when it first appeared called it a “history written on a grand scale, a masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history." In the tradition of the Baron Lecture—named in honor of Robert C. Baron, the past chairman of the AAS Council—Foner will reflect on writing this work and the book’s impact on scholarship and society in the years since its first appearance.

Foner is the author of ten other works, including: Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party Before the Civil War (1970); Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (1976); Politics and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War (1980); A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (1990); Slavery and Freedom in Nineteenth-Century America (1994); The Story of American Freedom (1998); and Who Owns History?: Rethinking the Past in a Changing World (2002). His book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.



Thursday, November 3, at 7 p.m.
“‘The Bank of Industry’: Rewards of Merit and the ‘Emotional Capitalism’ of Nineteenth-Century Schoolroom Ephemera”
by Patricia Crain

AAS member Patricia Crain (elected 2002) will return to the AAS reading room to discuss her latest book, Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth-Century America. This work explores what it meant for a child to be a "reader" and how American culture came to place such a high value on this identity. Crain conducted the research for Reading Children at AAS when she was an AAS-NEH fellow in the 2005-06 academic year.



Nat TurnerTuesday, November 15, at 7 p.m.
“Did Nat Turner 'confess'?"
by Patrick Rael

This program will explore the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in August 1831. Patrick Rael will offer a new interpretation of Turner’s purpose and assess the significance of the rebellion for the national argument over slavery then underway. Ultimately, he argues, one of the least overtly “political” of all slave rebellions had political consequences that led to the breakdown of the union and the civil war that set African Americans free. This public program will also showcase an AAS-sponsored online exhibition that explores various imprints associated with Nat Turner and his rebellion.


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