Boston Historical Events for the Week of September 15, 2014

Boston Historical EventsBoston Historical Events: A list of history-related events taking place in Boston between Monday September 15 and Sunday September 21, 2014.


Boston by FootBoston By Foot

Thursday, September 18, 6-7:30pm, Walking Tour, Outside Charles/MGH T Station, $5 Members/$15 Nonmembers, Tickets Required

Join Boston by Foot for “The Flat of Beacon Hill” a historic walking tour inspired by Samuel Eliot Morison‘s childhood memoir, One Boy’s Boston. Today, the Flat of Beacon Hill stands as one of Boston’s least known and most delightful neighborhoods. Built in the 19th century, the neighborhood sits on made-land along the Charles River. Geographically the neighborhood belongs to Back Bay, but it bears a cultural resemblance to Beacon Hill and architecturally, the Flat resembles both neighborhoods. Over time, the wealthy families of Beacon Hill built their carriage houses and horse stables on the Flat. Today, these buildings stand as charming residences which blend in seamlessly with notable landmarks such as the Charles Street Meeting House, the Church of the Advent, and the Sunflower Castle. Tour will depart from outside the Charles/MGH T Station (Red Line).


Saturday, September 20, 11am-12:30pm, Walking Tour, Dillaway-Thomas House, $5 Members/$15 Nonmembers, Tickets Required

Gain a new perspective of Roxbury as you walk between 2 of its prominent hills, Fort Hill and Mission Hill. The tour will begin with colonial First Church in Roxbury and end with the puddingstone grandeur of Mission Church. You will also visit other prominent religious buildings, which relay the history of Roxbury, and hear about the demographic changes and industrial developments that have impacted the neighborhood.


Historic-New-England-300x272.jpgHistoric New England

Saturday, September 20, 11am-1pm, Walking Tour, Otis House, $6 Members/$12 Nonmembers, Tickets Required

Join Historic New England for a walking tour of Beacon Hill. Your knowledgeable guide will take you beyond the neighborhood’s charming brick sidewalks and gardens. On this tour you will learn about Beacon Hill’s development during the Federal era and the stories behind the fortunes, ambitions, and struggles of the neighborhood’s early residents, not all of whom had a lot of money. The program will start with a tour of the Otis House.


Old South Meeting HouseOld South Meeting House

Wednesday, September 17, 6:30-7:30pm, Paul Revere Memorial Association Lecture Series, Free

The third part of the Paul Revere Memorial Association Lecture Series will examine 18th-century Bostonians’ cautious embrace of the lively international “modern” style that collectors have come to call “Chippendale” and art historians the “rococo.” Boston cabinetmakers and carvers such as George Bright, John Cogswell, and John Welch created masterworks in this ornamental, curvilinear mode that owes its name to the Englishman Thomas Chippendale and his influential book of designs. Using objects from important public and private collections, Gerald W.R. Ward, Senior Consulting Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, will discuss Boston rococo furniture in the context of its heyday in Boston, the 1760s and 1770s.


 *Photo of Old South Meeting House courtesy of BPL Photostream

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5 Must-Have Experiences for History Graduate Students

Must-HaveIf you enrolled in graduate school today, what courses would you take?

What experiences would you make sure you had before you graduated?

For the last few weeks I have been reflecting on theses questions.

A prospective graduate student asked me to lunch to learn more about my grad school experiences. He wanted advice about how to apply, what courses he should take, and what experiences he should have while in graduate school.

I gave him advice about what I would do if I enrolled in graduate school today. The advice amounted to five different courses or experiences.

In this post you will learn about the what I think are the five must-have experiences for a history graduate student today.



I would like to note that I had a fantastic graduate school experience.

I enrolled in a funded program that was focused on collaboration. I also worked with an advisor who took the time to teach me how to write, teach, research, and apply for funding.

My advice does not stem from any deficiencies in my program, but from how technology and the economy have changed over the last decade.


5 Must-Have Courses & Experiences

In my opinion, these are 5 experiences that history graduate students should strive to have while in graduate school.


1. Keep an Open Mind to Non-Academic History Careers

I wish I had kept an open mind to non-academic history careers while in graduate school.

As a grad student, I thought I wanted to be a professor and I had rather strong feelings about an academic career path.

I had entered graduate school with a bit of public history experience; I spent five summers working as an interpretive ranger for the National Park Service in Boston. I respected the work of public historians, but I had decided I wanted to do more research and writing than many public historians get the opportunity to do.

Open MindI attended talks by the public historians my department occasionally brought in, but during each talk I told myself that I wanted to research and write more. I wanted to be like my advisor, someone who conducts serious scholarly work and then volunteers his time to bring that work to public history institutions.

The funny part about my young, naive view: By the end of my fourth year I began having doubts about working as an academic.

In fact, my extracurricular activities suggested that I might be better suited to a career in public history. My frequent presence in the archives led me to volunteer at a couple of the historical societies and museums where I researched.

Even with my volunteer work and doubts, I clung to the idea of an academic career.

My close mindedness prevented me from seeking internships and volunteer opportunities that could have helped me land a public history job.

When I finally admitted that I did not want to be a traditional academic (ca. 2011/2012), I had missed my opportunity to prepare for the public history job market.

The public history job market is just as competitive as the academic job market and, despite what many professors had told me, most public history institutions do not want to hire traditionally-trained historians.

What type of historian do they want?

My experience has been that public history institutions want candidates with experience in creating digital exhibits, some background in nonprofit management and donor cultivation, and experience, or at least knowledge, of how to apply for institutional grants. The ability to do traditional historical work, i.e. research, writing, analysis, and interpretation, is a bonus.

This realization leads me to recommend the next two graduate school experiences.


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Revisions, Revisions

EditHave you ever reached a point in your writing where it seems like no matter what words you put on to the page, they just rehash the same ideas and the same words over and over?

By mid-August I had reached that point with Chapter 1 of my book. It was a brand new chapter, that I over researched, and every time I tried to rewrite and improve my draft, the same ideas and words appeared on the page.

I decided it was time to take a break from the chapter.

Before I shelved it, I organized all of my thoughts and printed out what I had written. Today, my unfinished chapter sits just out of sight, neatly packaged in a notebook I created.

I still have to get through 4 chapters by early February.

I pitched the Boston Early American History Seminar my fourth chapter for its workshop and they accepted it. I will present it at the Massachusetts Historical Society on March 3, 2015. However, as the seminar pre-circulates papers, I have to finish Chapter 4 by February 3, 2015.

With time of the essence, I realize I cannot approach Chapter 2 the same way I approached Chapter 1.

In this post you will learn more about my dissertation-to-book revisions process.


Problems with My Chapter 1 Approach

Chapter 1 ShelvedI know where I went wrong with Chapter 1: I started with a chronological reading list, not an outline.

My dissertation committee and potential publisher feel that in order for my readers to understand my ideas and story, I need to provide more context about how the people of Albany, New York in the Revolutionary and Early Republic periods had their roots in the people who settled in Beverwyck.

They are right.

Understanding that Albany had a different cultural tradition from other colonies and communities, and how the people governed as though they lived in a quasi-independent city-state from the 1650s onward, provides important context and adds to my story.

In an attempt to provide the requested background, I needed to develop a deeper knowledge of New Netherland. This need prompted me to generate the reading list that I used for my Chapter 1 outline. The more I read the more this reading list/outline grew.

I became consumed with learning about every facet of life in New Netherland. The material was new and exciting; it wasn’t my project, which I have grown a bit tired of.

A friend’s intervention helped me close my books. We took stock of what I need to do in Chapter 1 and of what I really need to know to convey the one or two points I want to make.

In hindsight, I should have approached Chapter 1 with one or two key points to begin with.


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Wednesday Link Roundup #66: Independence from England & Other Fun Links

Washington Link RoundupWednesday Link Roundup: Links to the most interesting history, news, writing, and technology posts that passed through my RSS and Twitter feeds over the last week.



The Continental Army proved a great place for doctors to get hands-on surgical experience. However the doctors’ desire for the experience also proved to be a headache for General Washington. J.L. Bell investigates in “General Washington and the Body Snatchers.”

Edward Baptist discusses why “We Still Lie About Slavery: Here’s the Truth About How the American Economy and Power Were Built on Forced Migration and Labor.”

Did the people of New York City really turn George III’s statue into musket balls after they tore it down? Bob Ruppert explores the history of the statue and what became of it after July 1776 in “The Statue of George III.”

Before there were circus elephants there were circus pigs,  “Fred Kerslake’s Famous Pig Circus.”

Tom Cutterham asks “Is the History of Capitalism the History of Everything?

Do you teach? If so, Joseph M. Adelman’s new “Commonplace Book Assignment” may be of interest to you.


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Boston Historical Events for the Week of September 8, 2014

Boston Historical EventsBoston Historical Events: A list of history-related events taking place in Boston between Monday September 8 and Sunday September 14, 2014.


Boston-Athenaeum.gifBoston Athenaeum

Tuesday, September 9, 5:30-7:30pm, Exhibition Opening Reception, Free

Join the Boston Athenaeum for the opening of their new exhibition Over Here: World War I Posters from Around the World, a collection of posters and other graphic material produced during World War I. The exhibition commemorates the centennial of the Great War with a display  of 44 framed posters from 10 nations as well as related archival material such as leaflets, handbills, and book and magazine illustrations. All of the prints and photographs on display come from the Athenaeum’s Prints & Photographs Department. Together these 44 images highlight the wide array of printed propaganda employed by artists and the unique national characteristics of poster production during the war.


Amazon ImageWednesday, September 10, 12-1pm, Author Talk, Free

Doug Most will share his favorite details and stories from his new book, The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway. In this illustrated talk, Most will delve into the characters behind these huge projects, including the important roles played by the Whitney Brothers of Massachusetts.


Boston-by-Foot.gifBoston By Foot

Saturday, September 13, 2-3:30pm, Walking Tour, Ashburton Park Entrance to MA State House, $5 Members/ $15 Non-Members, Tickets Required

Join Boston by Foot for a tour of the “North Slope of Beacon Hill.” The historically more fashionable South Slope has defined the character of Beacon Hill with is famous architects and homogeneity. The North Slope presents a different story. The North Slope was an unsavory neighborhood during the colonial period. In the 19th century, it became a free black neighborhood and a driving force in the abolitionist movement. Immigrant populations moved to the North Slope during the 20th century. The neighborhood has a long history as a working-class neighborhood and your guide will point out its eclectic, heterogeneous architecture and how the neighborhood is undergoing change and development today. Tour departs on time from the Ashburton Park Entrance to the Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street.


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