Boston Public Library
Programs and Events

Local & Family History Lecture Series at the Central Library

 

Boston Public Library's Local & Family History Lecture Series shares information about the history of Boston and its diverse neighborhoods along with tips and guides for those beginning their own genealogical research.
 
Fall 2014 lectures will take place in the Abbey Room, which is on the second floor of the McKim Building. The one exception to this location is noted below: the October 29 discussion of the Sacco-Vanzetti Case will be located at the North End Branch, located at 215 Parmenter Street.

Three Hundred Years of North End History

Wed.
Sep. 10
6 p.m.

Abbey Room
Three Hundred Years of North End History

City Archaeologist Joe Bagley explores how the 30,000 artifacts discovered at recent digs at sites such as the Clough House shed light on over three centuries of daily life in the North End. Bagley curates thirty-one archaeological collections currently housed at the City Archaeology Laboratory, educates the public in archaeology through a number of city programs, and manages Rainsford Island, one of Boston’s most important historical holdings. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Archaeology from Boston University and a Master’s Degree in Historical Archaeology from UMass Boston.

 

A People's History of the New Boston

Wed.
Oct. 08
6 p.m.

Abbey Room
A People's History of the New Boston

Jim Vrabel’s A People’s History of the New Boston provides a grassroots perspective on the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s, when residents of the city’s neighborhoods engaged in a level of activism unprecedented in Boston since the American Revolution. Vrabel recounts protests against urban renewal, highway construction, and airport expansion; fights for civil rights, school desegregation, and welfare reform; and uprisings over Vietnam and busing. He also explores how the legacy of that era is present in Boston today. Vrabel is a longtime Boston community activist and historian. He is the author of When in Boston: A Time Line & Almanac and Homage to Henry: A Dramatization of John Berryman’s “The Dream Songs.”

 

The Sacco-Vanzetti Case Revisited

Wed.
Oct. 29
6:00 p.m.

Special location: North End Branch of the Boston Public Library, 25 Parmenter Street
The Sacco-Vanzetti Case Revisited

Christopher Daley recounts the saga of Italian immigrant anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, including the robberies in Bridgewater and Braintree, the famous trial at Dedham, and seven years of attempts to receive a new trial. He illustrates the case through period photographs, including many rare, unpublished images. Daley teaches history at the Silver Lake Regional School District in Kingston, Massachusetts, and has served as chairman of the Pembroke Historical Commission and president of the Pembroke Historical Society. His book Homicide in the Hub: Boston’s Most Infamous Murder Cases will be published in the fall of 2015 by the History Press.

 

A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience

Wed.
Nov. 12
6 p.m.

Abbey Room
A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience

In A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, Emerson W. Baker describes how conditions in the Bay Colony in the 1690s set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. He engages a range of perspectives to address why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did and to explore its enduring legacy. Baker is a professor of history at Salem State University. He is the author of The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England and coauthor of an award-winning biography of Sir William Phips. Baker has been featured as an expert consultant on the PBS series Colonial House and has provided historical consultation for Parks Canada, National Geographic, Plimoth Plantation, Historic Salem, Inc., and other historic district commissions.

 

A History of Boston Theater, 1850-1900

Wed.
Dec. 03
6 p.m.

Abbey Room
A History of Boston Theater, 1850-1900

Theater has thrived in Boston since the last decade of the eighteenth century, despite strong opposition from Puritans and its ban from 1750 to 1790. Susan Roberts reviews fifty years of Boston’s theater history, focusing on such legendary venues as the Boston Museum, the Boston Music Hall, and the Boston Theatre. Her presentation features a virtual tour of B. F. Keith’s Theatre, one the most elegant Boston theaters of its time. Roberts is an avid collector of Boston-related theater ephemera and a researcher of Boston’s theatrical history. Her hands-on theater experience includes working as an electrician, carpenter, property mistress, stage manager, and box office manager. She holds a Master’s Degree in Theatre Management from Emerson College.

 

Previous Local & family History Lectures

Listen to audio recordings of selected lectures from previous Local & Family History series: