Boston Public Library
Programs and Events

Local & Family History Lecture Series at the Central Library

 

The Boston Public Library's Local & Family History Lecture Series is in its 10th year of sharing information about the history of Boston and its neighborhoods along with tips and guides for those beginning their own genealogical research.
 

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The Revolutionary War Battle of Chelsea Creek

Wed.
Sep. 11
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Victor T. Mastone

The Battle of Chelsea Creek was a significant event in the siege of Boston. On May 27–28, 1775, American militia raided British supplies along Boston Harbor’s northern shore, resulting in the capture and destruction of the schooner HMS Diana. Development has since obscured or destroyed features of the battlefield. Archeologists have used the documentary record and geographic information system (GIS) analysis to better understand the battle and the physical landscape on which it occurred. Victor T. Mastone is the director and chief archaeologist of the Massachusetts Board of Underwater Archaeological Resources. From 2000–2004, he served as assistant secretary for administration and finance at the Massachusetts Executive Office. He holds a BA from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and an MA and MBA from SUNY-Binghamton.

Researching Your Colonial Ancestors at the Massachusetts Archives

Wed.
Sep. 25
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
The Kings Handbook to the Boston Harbor Islands

The Massachusetts Archives contains rich collections of records for family historians, including colonial, provincial, and Revolutionary-era records as well as materials relating to witchcraft trials and Indian affairs. In addition, the Archives holds the Eastern Lands papers covering the district of Maine prior to its separation from Massachusetts in 1820 along with the archives of the Plymouth Colony. Martha Clark is curator at the Massachusetts Archives. Her talk will prepare researchers for a visit to the Archives.

Defiant Brides: Two Revolutionary-Era Women and the Radical Men They Married

Wed.
Oct. 16
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Nancy Rubin Stuart

The book Defiant Brides offers a rich portrait of two rebellious women who defied expectations at a volatile political moment in early America. When Peggy Shippen married military hero Benedict Arnold, financial debts and political intrigues prompted her to conspire with him against George Washington. Lucy Flucker defied her Tory parents by marrying Henry Knox, a poor Boston bookbinder. When Knox became a general in the Revolution, Lucy followed him through Washington’s army camps where she befriended Martha Washington and secured her legacy as an admired patriot wife. Nancy Rubin Stuart is a board member of the Women Writing Women’s Lives seminar of the City University of New York Graduate Center and is executive director of the Cape Cod Writers Center. She has contributed to the New York Times and other national publications.

The Last Muster: Photographs of the Revolutionary War Generation

Wed.
Oct. 30
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Maureen Taylor

Every school-aged child in the United States learns about the “shot heard ‘round the world” and the American Revolution, but how many have seen the faces of the men and women who lived it? As unbelievable as it sounds, many of the participants in the American Revolution actually lived into the age of photography. Learn about the detective work involved in uncovering these “misplaced” pictures and the life stories of the individuals depicted. Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective, is the author of several books on photography and genealogy. Her decade-long search for the Revolutionary War generation has resulted in two books and is now being made into a documentary, Revolutionary Voices: A Last Muster Film.

Boston’s Pre-Revolutionary Newspaper Wars

Wed.
Nov. 6
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
J.L. Bell

The mass media of the American colonies were its thirty-eight newspapers. Speaker J.L. Bell examines the highly partisan political environment in the decade prior to the Revolution as well as the personal and political rivalries of some of the men who published newspapers and magazines in that era. Bell has written and presented lectures on a variety of topics including the role of watchmen at the Boston Massacre and Boston’s raucous Pope Night holiday. He served as a consultant on an episode of PBS’ History Detectives, and contributed two essays to Reporting the Revolutionary War, published last year. He maintains the blog Boston1775.net.

Finding and Using Colonial Records in Genealogical Research

Wed.
Nov. 20
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
Barbara Jean Mathews

With superb availability of records and excellent access, genealogists will find the colonial period a wonderful and productive work environment. The period from 1620 to 1776 saw change in society and settlement. What made that society different from ours today? What roles did the institutions play in the lives of the settlers? Did a man serve in the militia or represent the town in the General Assembly? What records did they keep? Where can you find them today? Barbara Jean Mathews is a professional genealogist who works for the Welles Family Association. She is also a verifying genealogist for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America, a representative to the National Records Access and Preservation Committee, and a contributor to her own website, DemandingGenealogist.com.

A Recipe for Wellbeing: Health and Illness in Colonial New England

Wed.
Dec. 4
6:00 p.m.

Commonwealth Salon
A Recipe for Wellbeing: Health and Illness in Colonial New England

Have you ever wondered what British colonists in New England used for medicine? Learn about some of the popular theories of the causes of illness as well as some common illnesses and treatments, including the roles of food, herbs, bleeding, cupping, blistering, purging, religion, astrology, and superstition. Examples of some of the treatments will be presented and their efficacy discussed. This talk will help genealogists place the role of health and medicine in their colonial ancestor’s life into perspective. Lori Lyn Price is a professional genealogical speaker who is working on a Master’s degree in history. Her blog, BridgingthePast.com, provides a social and historical context for the lives of our ancestors.