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2007 Public Programs

  • Friday, January 19, 2007

    Rabble Rousers and Reformers A showcase of historical one person shows for schools, historical societies, and professional associations
    more information


  • Laurel Thatcher 

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Remember the Ladies: A New Reading of Abigail Adams's Famous Letter
    by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    This lecture is drawn in part from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's forthcoming book, Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History, which suggests some of the ways the recent renaissance in women's history has forced a re-examination of familiar topics. It examines the famous letter in which Abigail Adams urged her husband to "remember the ladies" in the light of new scholarship on the relationship between family values and political revolution. In their exchange, Abigail and John showed how sentimental ideas about male/female relations might help contain the social ferment unleashed by revolution.

    Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard University where she teaches in the History Department. She is the author of Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Early New England, 1650-1750 (1982) and A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (1990) which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1991 and became the basis of a PBS documentary. Her 2001 book The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Creation of An American Myth used ordinary household artifacts as a way of connecting seemingly unrelated strands of early New England history and the lives of white women and their indigenous neighbors.

    This special Women's History Month program is part of the Keepers of the Republic Teaching American History project with the Worcester, Millbury, and Sutton public schools. It is open and free to all K-12 educators; however, advance registration is required. Please contact Amy Sopcak at 508-471-2129 or to register. First preference will be given to educators in the Worcester, Millbury, and Sutton schools.

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    The Real Civil War In Soldier Testimony
    by Robert Bonner war image

    This illustrated lecture is based on Robert E. Bonner's latest book, The Soldier's Pen: Firsthand Impressions of the Civil War, for which he selected letters, diaries, and sketches by sixteen men who fought, suffered, and (in some cases) died during the Civil War. Drawn from more than 180 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection in New York City, these previously unpublished images and letters, addressed to family and loved ones, create an immediate and moving portrait of the common soldier's experiences under fire during the nation's bloodiest and most divisive war.

    Robert E. Bonner is currently in residence at the Society as an American Antiquarian Society-National Endowment for the Humanities fellow. He has taught at Michigan State University, Amherst College, and Dartmouth College and is the author of Colors and Blood: Flag Passions of the Confederate South (2002) and Southern Slaveholders and the Crisis of American Nationhood (2007).


  • Tuesday, April 24, 2007

    The Most Famous Man in America: Henry Ward Beecher
    by Debby Applegate

    The Most Famous Man in 
America Today he is remembered as the baby brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of the blockbuster novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, but in his lifetime Henry Ward Beecher was praised by great men such as Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson and President Abraham Lincoln as "the most influential man in America." The charismatic Beecher found international fame by shedding his father's fire-and-brimstone theology and instead preaching a gospel of unconditional love and healing, becoming one of the founding fathers of modern American Christianity. Beecher inserted himself into nearly every important drama of the era -- among them the antislavery and women's suffrage movements. And then it all fell apart. In 1872 Beecher was accused of adultery with one of his most pious parishioners and the salacious legal trial that followed became the most widely covered event of the century, garnering more newspaper headlines than the entire Civil War. Beecher survived, but his reputation and his causes suffered devastating setbacks that echo to this day.

    Debby Applegate is the author of The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher (2006) on which this lecture is based. This book won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for biography and was chosen as one of the 100 notable books of 2006 by the New York Times. Applegate's writing has won her numerous prizes and fellowships and has appeared in publications ranging from the Journal of American History to the New York Times. She has taught at Yale and Wesleyan universities.

    Commenting upon her upcoming lecture, Applegate said, "It is especially fitting to speak here on the heels of winning this prize since the generosity of the Antiquarian Society has been so important to my book. For a historian the Antiquarian Society is like Aladdin's cave; here I discovered Henry Ward Beecher's college essays, a picture of his long-burned-down high school, and one-hundred-and-fifty year-old gossip magazines, just the kind of details that make a biography come alive. Frankly, it wouldn.t have been much of a book without the AAS."


  • Thursday, June 21, 2007

    Financing America's First Literary Boom
    Wayne Franklin Red Rover

    American literature has had many origins, but as a modern commercial phenomenon it took its clearest rise in New York City and Philadelphia in the two decades immediately following the War of 1812. Here a group of apologists for the coming maturity of American culture battled English condescension in a series of publications such as James Kirke Paulding's Diverting History of John Bull and Brother Jonathan (1812), Robert Walsh's Appeal from the Judgments of Great Britain (1819), and Charles Jared Ingersoll's Discourse of America on the Mind (1823). More importantly, writers in this region invented both a series of popular literary types and innovative means of marketing them. "Financing America's First Literary Boom" will examine the parallel efforts of Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper to secure the profits from their wildly successful books in the United States and abroad in the years from 1820 to 1830. In doing so, it will offer a lively portrait of how literature was transformed from a cultural ambition into a paying profession in the new American nation. This lecture is based on Franklin's forthcoming book, James Fenimore Cooper: The Early Years (Yale University Press, May 2007).

    Wayne Franklin is the author of several studies of early American literature and culture, including Discoverers, Explorers, Settlers (1979) and The New World of James Fenimore Cooper (1982). He is the editor of the pre-1700 section of the Norton Anthology of American Literature and is the founding editor of the 25-volume American Land and Life series (1990-present). He is a professor of American Studies and English at the University of Connecticut.


  • Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    John Quincy Adams in Russia J.Q. Adams

    2007 marks the 200th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia. Through times of peace and turmoil the two countries have maintained diplomatic ties. John Quincy Adams in Russia is a dramatic presentation that celebrates this significant anniversary and also the life of our first ambassador to Russia. The program will take the form of a dramatic dialogue between Adams biographer Lynn Parsons and professional actor Jim Cooke. This historically accurate and dynamically entertaining performance will explore the life and times of John Quincy Adams, who in 1781 at age 15 served as Secretary to the Mission to Russia and from 1809-1814 served as the first U.S. Minister to Russia.

    John Quincy Adams in Russia is part of a region wide celebration. It will also be performed at the Old South Meeting House in Boston on September 20, 2007, at 6:30 p.m. and at the Amherst College Center for Russian Culture on September 23, 2007, at 3 p.m. Additionally, Dr. Parsons will deliver a lecture at the Massachusetts Historical Society on September 19, 2007, at 6:30 p.m. John Quincy Adams in Russia is supported by funds from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce of New England, Inc.

    Jim Cooke has been portraying figures from the past for more than twenty years including Calvin Coolidge, Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, William Lloyd Garrison, and James Whitcomb Riley. He has been invited to give presentations at several presidential libraries and has appeared on the Today Show, C-Span, and National Public Radio.

    Lynn Parsons is Professor Emeritus from S.U.N.Y. at Brockport where he chaired the history department. His biography of John Quincy Adams has been reviewed positively, and he is recognized for his expertise on John Quincy Adams and the Indians. He has published essays on Adams and his famous mother Abigail and has recently crafted a play The Tye More Binding based on the correspondence of Abigail and John Adams.


  • Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Taking a Look at Grant Twenty-five Years Later
    by William S. McFeely

    U.S. Grant In 1982, William S. McFeely won the Pulitzer and Francis Parkman prizes for his book Grant: A Biography (W.W. Norton, 1981). This seminal biography of one of America's towering and enigmatic figures traced Grant's entire life from his birth in 1822 through his boyhood in Ohio to the battlefields of the Civil War and his presidency during the crucial years of Reconstruction and finally his heroic battle with cancer and death in 1885. McFeely's work is a penetrating examination of Grant's successes and failures and his extraordinary ordinariness. During his presentation at AAS, McFeely will recount some of his experiences writing the book, its reception, as well as some thoughts on the craft of biography.

    William S. McFeely taught for many years at Mount Holyoke College and is currently the Abraham Baldwin Professor of the Humanities emeritus at the University of Georgia. His many works of biography and history include: Grant: A Biography (1981); Frederick Douglass (1991), which won the Lincoln Prize; Proximity to Death (1999); Sapelo's People: A Long Walk into Freedom (1994); Yankee Stepfather: General O. O. Howard and the Freedmen (1983); and Portrait: The Life of Thomas Eakins (2006).

    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.



  • Thursday, November 8, 2007

    Captain John Smith and the Invention of English America
    By Karen Ordahl Kupperman and Walter Woodward

    Capt. Smith In honor of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, this program will examine the role Captain John Smith played in the founding of both Virginia and Massachusetts. Historians usually treat the founding of Jamestown and the Chesapeake colonies as utterly different from the beginnings of New England with Plymouth and the Puritans. In reality, the two regions had a great deal in common in the founding era, and Captain John Smith is in many ways the link between them. Much of the experimentation involved in learning how to make colonies function was done in early Virginia. It was Smith who studied the record and presented the first full treatment of the theory and practice of colonization in his writings. He considered the north much more promising, however, and coined the name New England to cement his preference. He spent the bulk of his adult life promoting the north and describing how the region should be developed.

    Karen Ordahl Kupperman is the Silver Professor of History at New York University. Her published books include: Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America (2000); Major Problems in American Colonial History, 2nd ed. (2000,1992); America in European Consciousness (1995); Providence Island, 1630-1641: The Other Puritan Colony (1993); Roanoke: The Abandoned Colony (1984, 1991); and Settling With the Indians: The Meeting of English and Indian Cultures in America, 1580-1640 (1980).

    Walter W. Woodward is the Connecticut State Historian and an assistant professor of history at the University of Connecticut. He has published widely on Early American, Atlantic World, and Connecticut history. He is currently working on a book Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676, to be published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.


  • Thursday, November 15, 2007

    Why Transcendentalism Still Matters: Emerson and His Circle in Our Time
    By Philip S. Gura

    R.W. Emerson Based upon his forthcoming book, American Transcendentalism: A History (Hill and Wang, November, 2007), Philip F. Gura will explore the relationships between the ideas and personalities of Ralph Waldo Emerson, perhaps the most famous of the transcendentalists, and the lesser known writers, thinkers and clergymen who were his friends, followers and adversaries. American Transcendentalism is a comprehensive narrative history of America's first group of public intellectuals, the men and women who defined American literature and indelibly marked American reform in the decades before and following the American Civil War.

    Philip F. Gura is William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he holds appointments in English, American studies, and religious studies. Some of his many publications include Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical (2005); The Crossroads of American History and Literature: Essays in Cultural History (1996) and A Glimpse of Sion's Glory: Puritan Radicalism in New England, 1620-1660 (1986). He is currently writing a history of AAS for the Society's bicentennial in 2012.


For a complete listing of upcoming events at AAS, please view our calendar

For further information about our public programs, contact James David Moran at jmoran[at] or call our main number at 508-755-5221

2006 Public Programs

The American Antiquarian Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency that supports public programs in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
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Last updated August 27, 2007

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