- Tuesday, March 29
Fourth Annual Adopt-A-Book Evening
See books, pamphlets, newspapers, prints and other items that have found a home at AAS and make a contribution to help the library take in other waifs and strays. AAS curators will give a brief overview of what they buy and why.
- Tuesday, April 5
"Teapot in a Tempest:
Massachusetts and the Boston Tea Party"
by Benjamin L. Carp
On the evening of December 16, 1773, a group of disguised Bostonians boarded three merchant ships and dumped more than forty-six tons of tea into Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party, as it later came to be known, was an audacious and revolutionary act. It electrified Massachusetts, set the stage for war, and cemented certain values in the American psyche that many still cherish today. But why did the Tea Party happen? Whom did it involve? What did it mean throughout Massachusetts and beyond?
Based on his new book, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, Benjamin L. Carp will tell the full story of the Boston Tea Party—capturing the unique city life of Boston and setting this extraordinary event in a global context. Bringing to life a diverse array of people involved—from Chinese tea-pickers to English businessmen, Native Americans to sugar plantation slaves, Massachusetts farmers to tea-sipping ladies—Carp illuminates how the Boston Tea Party shook the foundations of a mighty empire and its colonies, resonating around the world and across the centuries.
Benjamin L. Carp is Associate Professor of History at Tufts University, where he teaches the history of early America. He has a broad interest in revolutionary political activity, cities, and the American Revolution. He has written about the contemporary tea party movement and the Boston Tea Party for the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. His first book, Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution, was published in 2007. Professor Carp held a Kate B. and Hall J. Peterson Fellowship at AAS in 2001-2002.
- Tuesday, April 19
"Noah Webster and the Creation of an American Culture"
by Joshua C. Kendall
Noah Webster was not only America's greatest lexicographer; he was also a Founding Father who helped define American culture. In 1783, he published the first edition of his legendary spelling book, which would teach five generations of Americans how to read. A leading Federalist and confidant of both George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, he was in Philadelphia during the Constitutional Convention and wrote an influential essay on behalf of the nation's founding document. He edited New York City's first daily newspaper, served as a state representative in both Connecticut and Massachusetts, and was a founder of Amherst College. The first edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1828, and he continued working on revisions until the day he died. Webster loved compiling and defining words more than just about anything else, and his obsession, which helped a high-strung genius live an amazingly vibrant life, ended up giving America a language of its own. This talk is based on Kendall's new book, The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture.
Joshua C. Kendall is an award-winning freelance journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications including The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, and Business Week. In 2008, he published a biography of Peter Mark Roget, The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus.
- Thursday, May 12
"Liberty and Justice for All: The Civil War as Blacks' Second American Revolution"
by James O. and Lois E. Horton
African Americans saw the Civil War as the second American Revolution. The Revolution brought freedom to the North, but slavery gained strength in the South during the nineteenth century. Black abolitionists argued that the Declaration of Independence expressed the nation's values and that slavery was incompatible those values. In this lecture, James O. and Lois E. Horton will explore the ways blacks mobilized to effect the changes that they sought. During the increasingly militant 1850s, African Americans formed unofficial militias to prepare themselves for an anticipated conflict. At first rejected as soldiers by the federal government, about 200,000 blacks eventually fought in the Civil War, insisting it was a war for freedom, turning the tide of the war, and helping fulfill the promise of the American Revolution.
James Oliver Horton is the Benjamin Banneker Professor Emeritus of American Studies and History at George Washington University. Lois E. Horton is professor of history emerita at George Mason University in Virginia, where she was also on the faculties of Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, and the Honors Program. The Hortons have co-authored numerous scholarly studies, including Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory (2006); Slavery and the Making of America (2004); Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America (2001); In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 (1997); and Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North (1979; 1999). Both of them have had distinguished careers in teaching and public history. They are currently in residence at the American Antiquarian Society as the Mellon Distinguished Scholars where they are primarily working on a project titled "A Documentary History of African Americans from 1619 to the Civil War." This book will be part of the Oxford University Press "Pages in History" series.
- Tuesday, May 24
"Igniting the War: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Antislavery Politics, and the Rise of Lincoln"
by David S. Reynolds
Twenty-eighth Annual James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture
Lincoln reportedly called Harriet Beecher Stowe "the little woman who made this great war." Although Stowe's mammoth best-seller Uncle Tom's Cabin is vaguely associated in many people's minds with the Civil War, several modern commentators have tried to argue that it actually had only a minimal influence on the political decisions that led to the war. One historian maintains that "its political effect" was "negligible." Another asks, "In what sense does a novel have the power to move a nation to battle?" Such remarks ignore the tremendous power of public opinion in America, which Tocqueville regarded as stronger than the government—an idea Lincoln echoed when he declared, "Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion can change the government."
No book in American history molded public opinion more powerfully than Uncle Tom's Cabin. Based on his new book, Mightier Than the Sword: Uncle Tom's Cabin and the Battle for America, David S. Reynolds will describe how Stowe's novel shaped the political scene by making the North, formerly largely hostile to the antislavery reform, far more open to it than it had been. The novel and its dissemination in plays, essays, reviews, and the tie-in merchandise directly paved the way for the public's openness to an antislavery candidate like Lincoln. Simultaneously, it stiffened the South's resolve to defend slavery and demonize the North. Uncle Tom's Cabin thus ratcheted up the political tensions that led to the war that ended slavery.
David S. Reynolds is a Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His works include the award-winning Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson, Walt Whitman's America, Beneath the American Renaissance, and John Brown, Abolitionist.
- Thursday, October 13
As the United States commemorates the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, Adam Goodheart urges us to recapture the moment of uncertainty and change at the beginning of the conflict. Early in 1861, a second American revolution unfolded, inspiring a new generation to reject their parents. faith in compromise and appeasement, to do the unthinkable in the name of an ideal. It set Abraham Lincoln on the path to greatness and millions of slaves on the road to freedom.
Based on his book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, Goodheart will introduce us to a heretofore little-known cast of Civil War heroes.among them an acrobatic militia colonel, an explorer's wife, an idealistic band of German immigrants, a regiment of New York City firemen, a community of Virginia slaves, and a young college professor who would one day become president. He will take us from the corridors of the White House to the slums of Manhattan; from the mouth of the Chesapeake to the deserts of Nevada; from Boston Common to Alcatraz Island; vividly evoking the Union at this moment of ultimate crisis and decision.
Adam Goodheart is a historian, essayist, and journalist. His articles have appeared in National Geographic, Outside, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, and The New York Times Magazine, among others, and he is a regular columnist for the New York Times' acclaimed Civil War series, "Disunion." He lives in Washington, D.C., and on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where he is director of Washington College's C. V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.
- Thursday, October 20
"The Unredeemed Captive: Her Journey, and My Own"
by John P. Demos
The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America was published by Knopf in 1994, and won the Francis Parkman and Ray Allen Billington prizes in American history. Since then, it has become a model for new approaches to writing narrative history. In The Unredeemed Captive, Demos offers a striking retelling of the aftermath of the 1704 French and Native American raid on the Puritan settlement in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Reverend John Williams, his wife, and five children were captured during this raid, forever altering the bonds that held the Williams family together. Although Williams and four of his children were later released, his wife died on the march. His fifth child, Eunice, converted to Catholicism and married a Native American in Canada. Despite the ongoing attempts of Eunice's family to persuade her to return to Massachusetts, she chose her new life, and her new family, thus remaining "unredeemed." In this lecture, Demos will reflect on the book's career, as well as its impact on his own career as a scholar and teacher of generations of early Americanists at Brandeis and Yale.
John Demos is the Samuel Knight Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University. Demos's award-winning books cover topics ranging from family life in Plymouth County, Massachusetts to witch-hunting in the Western World. These works include A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony (1970), the Bancroft Prize-winning Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England (1982), Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America (2004), and The Enemy Within: 2,000 Years of Witch-hunting in the Western World (2008). Demos is a member of the Antiquarian Society, and he will be the Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence during the 2012 calendar year.Named in honor of Robert C. Baron, past AAS chairman and president of Fulcrum Publishing, the annual Baron Lecture asks distinguished AAS members who have written seminal works of history to reflect on one book and its impact on scholarship and society in the years since its first appearance.
Tuesday, October 25
"American Love Story: Abigail and John"
by Joseph J. Ellis
In this lecture, Joseph J. Ellis will recount one of the most remarkable partnerships in all of American history. The friendship and love of John and Abigail Adams is contained in the letters they left behind, nearly twelve hundred of which still exist today. Only exchanged when the couple was separated by the call of patriotic duty, the letters are a remarkable source on several accounts. John and Abigail's discussions on raising their children, their home finances, and their marriage give a vivid glimpse into the private world of an eighteenth-century family. But as much as they are domestic, the letters are also political. Together, John and Abigail illustrate the challenges of effecting and winning a Revolution, negotiating peace, and instituting and implementing a federal Constitution.all while trying to keep their marriage strong and their family united.
Based on his latest book, First Family: Abigail and John Adams, Ellis will draw upon these sources to study the relationship of this dynamic couple, analyzing how and why their friendship prevailed even in times of doubt and distress. Professor Ellis reveals that the combination of commitment, honesty, and loyalty that made John and Abigail's marriage a success also played a significant role in the triumph of the Revolution and the early government.
Joseph J. Ellis is Ford Foundation Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College. He has written a number of award-winning books on early American politics, including His Excellency: George Washington, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, and Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams. Professor Ellis has appeared in a number of documentaries, including "John and Abigail [Adams]" for PBS's The American Experience, and his essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.
- Thursday, November 3
In the middle of the nineteenth century, middle-class Americans embraced a new culture of domestic consumption, one that centered on chairs and clocks as well as family portraits and books. How did that new world of goods, represented by Victorian parlors filled with overstuffed furniture and daguerreotype portraits, come into being? David Jaffee will talk about the significant role of provincial artisans in four crafts in the northeastern United States.chairmaking, clockmaking, portrait painting, and book publishing.to explain the shift from preindustrial society to an entirely new configuration of work, commodities, and culture. His lecture will focus on many of the objects beloved by decorative arts scholars and collectors to evoke the vitality of village craft production and culture in the decades after the War of Independence.
David Jaffee is Professor and Head of New Media Research at the Bard Graduate Center. Trained as a cultural historian, he has extensively studied the culture of the preindustrial northeast. His 1999 book, People of the Wachusett: Greater New England in History and Memory, 1630-1860, looked at town founders and local historians in Worcester County. He is now at work on a new project, New York as Cultural Capital, looking at how the nineteenth-century domestic interior, the parlor in particular, filled with furniture, displays of stereographs, plaster figure, and chromolithographs. He has held fellowships at several institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Winterthur Museum, the National Museum of American History, and the American Antiquarian Society. He is a member of the American Antiquarian Society, and he is on the board of the Society. Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC).
Professor Jaffee is also interested in pedagogy and the incorporation of new media. He has published several essays on teaching and learning with new media publications, as well as directed two NEH projects to develop multimedia resources for the history classroom. He has led numerous new faculty development seminars and programs, including the NEH-supported New Media Classroom, Learning to Look with the American Social History Program and AAS's CHAViC Summer Interpreting Historical Images for Teaching and Images.
- Tuesday, November 15
In the eighteenth century, lavishly illustrated travel narratives quickly became one of the most popular book genres for American readers. These books told the tales of daring explorers and adventurers whose experiences were so dramatic they could seem better than fiction. Better yet, their pages were interleaved with elaborately detailed copperplate engravings that offered still more insights into a world full of strange peoples.
This talk will examine more closely not just how those books taught Americans how to think about a larger world, but how men and women in remote American towns and villages learned to consider travel to be an educational and potentially life-changing experience. Using the manuscript writings of ordinary Americans who read books and kept detailed travel diaries—even if they only intended to travel from Greenfield to Boston—this talk considers most broadly the new meanings of travel during the eighteenth century and how it came to be seen as a marker of the enlightened.
This lecture is based upon Eastman's current research project at AAS that explores the changing views of gender and sexuality in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Eastman contends that ideas about gender moved around that world, much like race, religious movement, or mercantilism. These concepts of gender also changed as new peoples encountered one another on the ground as well as in print.
Carolyn Eastman is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and a 2011-12 AAS-NEH Fellow. She is the author of A Nation of Speechifiers: Making An American Public after the Revolution (2009) which won the James Broussard Best First Book awarded by the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic.
When the AAS was founded in 1812, and for much of the nineteenth century, most educated men and women took an interest in history as one of the obligations of being citizens in the American republic. As the writing and teaching of history became increasingly professionalized and specialized in the late-nineteenth and twentieth centuries, gaps developed between academic historians and the general public.
As one of the few American learned societies whose membership rolls include a substantial proportion of lay people as well as scholars, AAS is committed to help bring the work of American historians before the general public--to connect scholars and citizens, in other words. AAS public programs spotlight the work not only of historians but also of creative and performing artists and writers who have performed research at the Society.
Programs include a wide variety of events, including lectures, book discussions, theatrical and musical presentations, and film showings. Some of these public programs reach wider audiences by being taped for presentation of National Public Radio and on the weekend Book TV programming of the national cable network C-SPAN 2.
Attend a public program and earn 2 WOO points. More about the WOO card
For a complete listing of upcoming events at AAS, please view our calendar
Seating at public programs is first-come, first-served. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and we encourage you to arrive early to claim a seat. Programs start at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.
For further information about our public programs, contact James David Moran at jmoran[at]mwa.org or call our main number at 508-755-5221
Directions to Antiquarian Hall