2008 Public Programs
- Tuesday, April 15 - 7:30 p.m.
From Cogniac Street to State Street: The Campaign against Counterfeiters in 1830s Massachusetts
by Stephen Mihm
Counterfeiters plagued the economy of the early United States. For the first four decades of the country's existence, most of the counterfeit money in circulation originated in Canada, in a lawless settlement known as Cogniac Street. Stephen Mihm, author of A Nation of Counterfeiters: Capitalists, Con Men, and the Making of the United States, will take us back to that wild time, and talk about the key role that Massachusetts banks played in waging a war against the enterprising criminals who made money — literally and figuratively — in the early republic.
Stephen Mihm is assistant professor of history at the University of Georgia. His article, "Accept No Imitations: The Campaign against Counterfeits Past and Present," appeared in the AAS sponsored online journal, Common-place, in July, 2004.
- Tuesday, April 29 - 6:00-8:00 p.m.
First 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.
Drinks and hors d'oeuvres, $25.00. No limit on what you may contribute to adopt items, which range in price from $10 to more than $1,000. All proceeds will benefit the AAS acquisitions program for purchases in the coming year.
- Tuesday, May 6 - 7:30 p.m.
The Remarkable Revolutionary Relationship between Tadeuz Kosciuszko and Agrippa Hull
by Graham Russell Gao Hodges and Gary B. Nash
This program based upon the newly published book entitled, Friends of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull. A Tale of Three Patriots, Two Revolutions, and a Tragic Betrayal of Freedom in the New Nation (Basic Books, 2008). In it the authors will describe the relationship between Kosciuszko (1746 - 1817) and his black aide de camp and Massachusetts native, Agrippa Hull. Kosciuszko rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the American Continental Army before returning to his native Poland and becoming a national hero, general, and leader of the Kosciuszko Uprising in 1794. As completely different as these two men were, their lives and that of Jefferson intersected with the issues of freedom, race and identity on both sides of the Atlantic during the Revolutionary era.
Graham Russell Gao Hodges is George Dorland Langdon, Jr. Professor of History at Colgate University. He is the author of seven books including Root & Branch: African Americans in New York and East Jersey, 1613-1863. Gary B. Nash is professor of history emeritus at UCLA and Director of the National Center for History in the Schools. He is the author of many books on colonial and revolutionary America; past president of the Organization of American Historians; and elected member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Antiquarian Society
- Tuesday, May 13 - 7:30 p.m.
Preserving the Flash Press
By Patricia Cline Cohen, Tim Gilfoyle, and Helen Horowitz
Obscene, libidinous, loathsome, lascivious. Those were just some of the ways critics described the nineteenth-century weeklies that covered and publicized New York City's extensive sexual underworld. Most of these publications with names like The Whip and The Flash have been lost to history, but a rare collection at AAS has resurrected this lost genre and formed the basis of a new book, The Flash Press: Sporting Male Weeklies in 1840s New York (University of Chicago Press, 2008). This rare collection contains nearly 100 issues of papers acquired in 1985, which augmented an existing small set already at the AAS. In addition, in 2001 New York scholar Leo Hershkowitz added another ten issues. These antebellum flash papers might well be considered an early precursor to twentieth-century tabloids in their willingness to exaggerate, oversimplify, and sensationalize the news. This program will launch this new publication with each of the authors speaking about these fascinating newspapers and the Antebellum America they describe.
Patricia Cline Cohen is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the author of The Murder of Helen Jewett. She has held three fellowships at AAS including the Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence for the 2001-02 academic year. Timothy J. Gilfoyle is a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago and the author of City of Eros. Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz is professor of American studies and history at Smith College and the author of Rereading Sex. She held a Mellon Post Dissertation Fellowship at AAS in 1999-2000.
Thursday, May 22 - 7:30 p.m.
by Ginger Strand
Americans call Niagara Falls a natural wonder, but the Falls aren't very natural anymore. Water diverted, riverbed reshaped, landscape redesigned, stabilized and flanked with cheap thrills, the Falls are more a monument to man's meddling than to nature.s strength. Seamlessly weaving together science, history, aesthetics, and personal narrative, Inventing Niagara traces the path of America's best-loved natural wonder from sublime icon to engineering marvel to camp spectacle. This illustrated lecture is based upon the new book, Inventing Niagara (Knopf, 2008) which is a history of more than just the Falls, as it traces the course of natural wonder in America, illuminating what the Falls have to tell us about our history, our environment, and ourselves.
Ginger Strand is author of the novel Flight. She was the recipient of a 2006 Robert and Charlotte Baron Fellowship for Creative and Performing Artists and Writers at the American Antiquarian Society for her work on Inventing Niagara.
Thursday, September 25 - 7:30 p.m.
by Nancy Rubin Stuart
In this lecture based upon her latest book, The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen Of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation (Beacon, 2008), Nancy Rubin Stuart will illuminate the life and times of America's first woman playwright and historian. Mercy Otis Warren was also the fiery wife of Massachusetts patriot James Warren, the mother of five sons, and friend and close colleague to John and Abigail Adams. Warren secretly authored anti-British plays during the Revolution, penned an influential pamphlet arguing for a Bill of Rights, and authored The History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution.
Nancy Rubin Stuart is an award-winning author and journalist whose books include The Reluctant Spiritualist: the Life of Maggie Fox; American Empress: the Life and Times of Marjorie Meriweather Fox; and Isabella of Castile. She has written for The New York Times and many national magazines and is a board member of Women Writing Women's Lives Seminar for the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a speaker for the New York Council for the Humanities. Rubin Stuart received a William Randolph Hearst Fellowship in 2005 from the American Antiquarian Society to research The Muse of the Revolution.
Thursday, October 2 - 7:30 p.m.
Boom and Bust in the Early Republic
by Jane Kamensky
Andrew Dexter, Jr., dreamed and built the nation's first skyscraper, the Boston Exchange Coffee House, which opened to the public in early 1809. The tower, called a "modern Babel" in the day's newspapers, stood seven stories tall. But its massive solidity was an illusion; the building was financed by millions of unsecured paper notes printed by banks throughout the new American republic. The collapse of Dexter's pyramid scheme caused the nation's first banking collapse, imperiling everyone and everything connected with his grand building and plunging New England into a financial panic of epic proportions. Based on her latest book, The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America's First Banking Collapse (Viking, 2008), this lecture will explore America's oscillation between financial confidence and panic, a cycle as old as the United States itself.
Jane Kamensky is Chair of the Department of History at Brandeis University. In addition to The Exchange Artist, she is the author of the forthcoming novel BLINDSPOT, written jointly with Jill Lepore, among other books. A member of the editorial boards of the Journal of American History, the Journal of the Early Republic, and the Massachusetts Historical Review, Kamensky co-founded Common-place, an award-winning online journal sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society that she and Jill Lepore created and co-edited from 2000 to 2004.
- Tuesday, October 14 - 7:30 p.m.
A City and a Newspaper: Citizen Journalism in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793
by David Paul Nord
What is a newspaper for? In 1793, desperate Philadelphians turned to a single newspaper, the Federal Gazette, the only paper in the city to keep publishing during a devastating yellow fever outbreak. What did they want from their newspaper, and what did it actually provide? The readers of the Federal Gazette had dramatically different ideas about what a newspaper should be and what it should do during an urban crisis. In this lecture David Paul Nord will describe how citizens—both elites and ordinary people—used the press in Philadelphia in 1793. In the process, he will also discuss the broader subject of the civic function of newspapers in American cities—in history and today.
David Paul Nord is a professor of journalism and adjunct professor of history at Indiana University. He is currently the Mellon Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the American Antiquarian Society through December of 2008. He has written three books: Newspapers and New Politics: Midwestern Municipal Reform, 1890-1900; Communities of Journalism: a History of American Newspapers and Their Readers; and Faith in Reading: Religious Publishing and the Birth of Mass Media in America. Nord is also editor of the fifth and final volume in the Society's A History of the Book in America.
- Thursday, October 23 - 7:30 p.m.
The Fifth Annual Robert C. Baron Lecture
Reexamining The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture
by David Brion Davis
During this program one of the world's leading scholars of slavery and abolitionism, David Brion Davis, will reflect upon the influences and impact of his 1966 work The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture, which examined the various ways that different cultures responded to the contradictions of slavery from antiquity to the early 1770s. The book, which won the 1967 Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, inspired new approaches to the historical and sociological research of the subject and greatly expanded our collective understanding of the impact of slavery on the history of the United States, the Americas and the world.
David Brion Davis is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University where he taught from 1970-2001. He is also the Director Emeritus of the Glider-Lehrman Center for Slavery, Abolition and Resistance which he founded in 1998 and ran until 2004. Winner of the Bancroft Prize, the National Book Award, and the Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association, Davis is the author of several books, including Slavery and Human Progress and The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution.
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 13 - 7:30 p.m.
Finding Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon: Behind the Stories at an American Shrine
by Scott Casper
Scott Casper will return to Antiquarian Hall to describe the process of researching and writing his latest book, Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon (Macmillan, 2008) It is a process that began in the collections of the Society ten years ago. In this work Casper recovers the remarkable history of former slave Sarah Johnson, who spent more than fifty years at Mount Vernon, before and after emancipation. Through her life and the lives of her family and friends, Casper provides an intimate picture of Mount Vernon's operation during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon recounts the experience of the hundreds of African Americans who are forgotten in the narrative of one of our nation's most famous shrines.
Scott E. Casper is a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is the author of Constructing American Lives, which won the 1999 Book History Prize from the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing. He has also co-edited, with Joanne Chaison and Jeffrey Groves on American Book History and is co-editor of Volume Three of the Society's A History of the Book in America.
Friday, November 14, 2008, at 6 p.m.
The 2008 James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the History of the Book in American Culture
Babes in the Wood: Print, Orality, and Children's Literature in the Nineteenth-Century United States
by Patricia Crain
Originating as a broadside ballad in the sixteenth century, "Babes in the Wood" had a long afterlife in the United States as a staple of the nineteenth-century juvenile literature market in poetry, in prose, and in a range of printed formats. This lecture explores the striking resilience of this text and its illustrations in order to reflect on the role of "the death in childhood" in the creation of modern children's literature.
Patricia Crain is associate professor of English at New York University. She is the author of The Story of A: The Alphabetization of America from the New England Primer to The Scarlet Letter (Stanford University Press, 2000). She held an AAS-NEH fellowship in 2005-2006.
This is the twenty-sixth annual Wiggins Lecture, named for James Russell Wiggins (1903-2000), chairman of the Society from 1970 to 1977, who was editor of the Washington Post and, until his death at the age of 96, editor of the Ellsworth (Maine) American. Wiggins also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 1968.