Lecture

Civil War Photography on the Battlefront and Home Front : : May 4 at 2 p.m.

AWLee_PublicityPhoto_smOur 2013 Civil War Lecture Series continues this weekend! The series explores the history of this divisive war and its meaning for our nation today.

Anthony Lee
Civil War Photography on the Battlefront and Home Front
Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m., free

What did Americans see and feel when they looked at the first photographs of Civil War battlefronts? Join Anthony Lee, Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College, in a discussion of Civil War photography, focusing on Alexander Gardner's work. Lee will be available after the talk to sign his book, On Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War.

This free lecture is made possible by the generous support of the Ruby W. and LaVon P. Linn Foundation.

For more information on the Civil War Lecture Series, please refer to the Museum's programs page. For information on visiting the Museum please click here, or call 781-861-6559.

Photo credit: Courtesy Anthony Lee

Lecture and Gallery Talk: Women, Quilting, and the Civil War

Be sure to join us at the Museum on Saturday, October 20. We are offering two free programs about women's contributions to 19th century American public life.

Pam weddingAt 2 pm, Pamela Weeks, Curator of the New England Quilt Museum, will present "Quilts for Civil War Soldiers: Stories from the Home Front and the Battlefield." Weeks is a quilt historian, appraiser, and artist well-known in the region for her expertise. She will share the stories behind three rare surviving Civil War quilts made by caring hands for soldiers fighting for North and South. At her talk, you can learn about the quilts, their makers, life on the home front during the war, and about how civilians organized to get desperately needed aid and supplies to the battlefield.

After the talk, Weeks will sign copies of her 2012 publication, Civil War Quilts, co-authored with Don Beld, which will be available for purchase. Weeks also curated the 2011 New England Quilt Museum exhibition "One Foot Square, Quilted & Bound." The quilts and objects she assembled for it explored a quilting method developed in New England in the nineteenth century. These "potholder quilts" were made from fabric blocks individually layered, quilted and finish-bound, and only then whip-stitched together — "one foot square, quilted and bound." Known in the pre-war period, the technique became a popular way for groups of seamstresses to work together to make quilts for injured and recuperating Civil War soldiers.

This is the final lecture in our 2012 Civil War series of programs. Look for a new Civil War series for 2013 - more information is coming soon! The series explores the history of this divisive conflict, and its meaning for our nation today. It also relates to Museum’s mission of fostering an appreciation of American history, patriotism and Freemasonry, and reflects both current research and exciting themes relevant to our world. The generous sponsorship of Ruby W. Linn permits us to offer the program in both series at no charge to the public. 

MasonicQuilt 1860For further insights into how women used their needlework to help shape public life in 19th century America, join Director of Collections, Aimee Newell, for a 1 PM talk in the "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles" gallery on the same day, Saturday, October 20. See our previous blog post for more information on the talk.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo Credits:

Pamela Weeks. Courtesy of Pamela Weeks

Masonic Quilt, ca. 1860, American. Museum purchase, 95.043.11. Photograph by David Bohl.


Lecture: A Massachusetts Soldier Experiences the Civil War, Sept. 29

CFMorse_FromLettersThe Museum resumes its Civil War lecture series on Saturday, September 29, with a talk presented by Megan Kate Nelson of Harvard University. Join us at 2 PM for “Among the Ruins: Charles F. Morse and Civil War Destruction.” The lecture is free and is sponsored by Ruby W. Linn.

Nelson will share the Civil War experience of one Massachusetts soldier, Charles F. Morse, an officer in the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment Volunteer Infantry. His letters, drawings, and other contemporary images speak eloquently across the years of the world of ruin and destruction that participants in the war found themselves confronting. 

The immense-scale destruction that the Civil War brought to southern farms, cities, and landscapes is no longer part of the world we live in. Unlike other countries, America did not choose to preserve landscapes of ruin as memorials to past wars, opting instead to rebuild or replace what was lost. Because we have forgotten, today we must employ the words and the images recorded by soldiers who saw the Civil War and its consequences if we wish to gain an understanding of the enormity of the ruin they experienced. When we do so, we encounter chaotic and brutal worlds that challenge the coherent narratives of war that popular books and films, reenactments and memorials have given us. For those who lived through the Civil War, as soldiers or as civilians, wartime ruins held vast imaginative significance, powered the emotional reactions they unleashed.

Charles Fessenden Morse was a Massachusetts native and Harvard graduate who led Company B of the 2nd Mass. Rgt. as its captain in the battles of Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. A successful company captain in his early twenties, Morse was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after Gettysburg. The young man corresponded extensively with family members and friends throughout the four years of his war experience, during which he participated in some of the Union Army's most devestatingly successful forays into Confederate territory. Morse shared his thoughts with the likes of close friend and fellow Harvardian Robert Gould Shaw; look for a fictionalized portrayal of Morse in the film Glory. To learn more about Morse, explore this letter posted by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Morse self-published some of his correspondence in Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865 in 1898. You can access the very copy that Morse donated to the Harvard College Library in 1898 at Google Books.

Nelson_MeganKateFor her lecture, Nelson draws on dozens of letters written by Morse, held by the Massachusetts Historical Society. She places Morse's observations in the context of her innovative scholarship on the meaning of the destruction caused by the Civil War, the impact of which on the American landscape is almost unimaginable for us today. Megan Kate Nelson is a lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University. Her second book, Ruin Nation: Destruction and the American Civil War was recently published in May 2012 and has garnered critical acclaim from scholars and Civil War buffs alike. It will be available for purchase after the talk and the author will be on hand to speak with visitors and sign books. You can sample Nelson's work by reading her contribution to the New York Times' Civil War blog Disunion or by exploring the University of Georgia's "Weirding the War" project, to which she was a contributor.

Save the date of the next talk in the series: on October 20, 2012, Pamela Weeks, Curator of the New England Quilt Museum, will speak on "Quilts for Civil War Soldiers: Stories from the Home Front and the Battlefield."

Photo credits:

Charles Fessenden Morse, ca. 1861-1865. Frontispiece of Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865 (1898), available via Google Books.

Megan Kate Nelson. Courtesy of Drew Fritschel Photography


Don't Miss Our Lecture: Michael Halleran on Civil War Freemasonry

Rollins powder horn cropped 77_11_2We would like to remind our readers about the next lecture in our Civil War series. Michael Halleran will join us this Saturday, April 28, at the special time of 1 p.m. to speak on "Gentlemen of the White Apron: Freemasonry in the American Civil War." To learn more about the talk and the speaker, read our previous blog post about Halleran.

Here at the Museum, staff has done quite a bit of interesting research on the Civil War. Take a look at some of these previous posts - they are sure to engage your interest. If they do, Michael Halleran's lecture on Saturday may be just the way to flex your historical imagination this weekend.

Have you heard of silver badges worn by Freemasons fighting on the battlefields of the Civil War? We have some in our collection. Were they really used to identify a wounded Mason, so he could receive aid and comfort from Masonic brothers fighting under the opposing flag?

What do the Confederate imprints in our Van Gorden-Williams Library reveal about Masonic activities in the Confederacy during the American Civil War?

How hot was an 1863 discussion of what to do about a newly commissioned Confederate officer who was a longstanding member of a Masonic lodge in Indiana

What did we learn about a Union soldier's entry into the world of Freemasonry during the Civil War?

What did inquisitive Museum staff discover about a mysterious Civil War POW powderhorn that entered our collection without a history?

During the Civil War, federally issued currency included gold and silver coins. How did the world of commerce respond when those valuable metals disappeared into hoards and legal tender became scarce?

How did the Harper's Ferry arsenal bell end up on Marlborough, MA's town common?

Help us solve a mystery - If the men in our 19th century photo were not Civil War soldiers, who might they have been?

The Museum is offering the lecture as one in a series dedicated to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The series is designed to explore the history of this divisive conflict, and its meaning for our nation today. It is sponsored by Ruby W. Linn.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo credit:

Powder horn, ca. 1863, Henry S. P. Rollins (1832-1869), Tyler, Texas, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 77.11.2.  Photo by David Bohl.


Michael Halleran on Civil War Freemasonry, 4/28

MHalleranMichael A. Halleran, a freelance historian, practicing attorney and Freemason, sets the standard for scholarship on Freemasonry in the Civil War. On Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 1 pm, he will present a talk entitled “Gentlemen of the White Apron: Freemasonry in the American Civil War.” The lecture will reveal the history behind the many mythical stories of Masonic Brotherhood across the Civil War battle lines. A signing of his acclaimed book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, will follow. Admission is free.

Halleran's research has helped Museum staff better understand objects in our collection, such as silver Civil War identification badges that display Masonic symbols. Read our previous blog post about how pleased we were to learn more about these objects. 

Halleran received the Mackey Award for Excellence in Masonic Scholarship by the Scottish Rite Research Society for his article on Civil War Freemasonry in that society’s journal, Heredom. He is a member of the Quatuor Coronati Correspondence Circle, and the Scottish Rite Research Society where he studies American military Masonry and the traditions of military lodges worldwide.

The Museum is offering the lecture series on occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The series is designed to explore the history of this divisive conflict, and its meaning for our nation today. It is sponsored by Ruby W. Linn.

Upcoming lectures in the series are:

Among the Ruins: Charles F. Morse and Civil War Destruction - Saturday, September 29, 2 pm. Megan Kate Nelson of Harvard University will unfold the Civil War experience of one Massachusetts soldier, Charles F. Morse, an officer in the 2nd Mass. Rgt. His letters, drawings, and other contemporary images will draw us into the world of ruin and destruction that participants in the war found themselves confronting.

Quilts for Civil War Soldiers: Stories from the Home Front and the Battlefield - Saturday, October 20, 2 pm. Pamela Weeks, Curator of the New England Quilt Museum, knows the stories behind the rare surviving Civil War quilts made by caring hands for soldiers fighting for North and South. Learn about the quilts, their makers, life on the home front during the war, and about how civilians organized to get desperately needed aid and supplies to the battlefield.

For more information about visiting the Museum, call 781-861-6559 or see our website, www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

Photo credit:

Courtesy of Michael Halleran


Tony Horwitz to Speak on Raid on Harper's Ferry to Kick off Museum's Civil War Lecture Series

 

Press-th_croppedJohn Brown_againJoin Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tony Horwitz at the Museum on Saturday, March 10 at 2 pm to hear the electrifying tale of John Brown and his mission that changed the course of American history.

Plotted in secret and launched in the dark, Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry ruptured the union between North and South. Yet few Americans know the true story of the militant idealists who invaded Virginia before the the shelling of Fort Sumter opened the Civil War. The lecture, “Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Civil War,” is based on Horwitz’s acclaimed Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War, which takes an unblinking look at a nation on the brink of explosive conflict. A book signing will follow. Admission is free. The lecture is part of a series on the Civil War, and is made possible by Ruby W. Linn.

Horwitz is a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He worked for many years as a reporter, first in Indiana and then during a decade overseas in Australia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, covering wars and conflicts for The Wall Street Journal. He won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and worked as a staff writer for The New Yorker before becoming a full-time author. Four of his books have been national and New York Times bestsellers: A Voyage Long and Strange, Blue Latitudes, Confederates in the Attic, and Baghdad Without A Map. He lives with his wife and sons on Martha’s Vineyard.

JBLastProphecyThe Museum is offering the lecture series on occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The series is designed to explore the history of this divisive conflict, and its meaning for our nation today. It also relates to Museum’s mission of fostering an appreciation of American history, patriotism and Freemasonry. All talks are sponsored by Ruby W. Linn.

Other lectures in the series are:

Gentlemen of the White Apron: Freemasonry in the American Civil War - Saturday, April 28, 1 pm

Michael Halleran, a freelance historian and practicing attorney, sets the standard for scholarship on Freemasonry in the Civil War. This talk will reveal the history behind the many mythical stories of Masonic Brotherhood across the Civil War battlelines.

Among the Ruins: Charles F. Morse and Civil War Destruction - Saturday, September 29, 2 pm

Megan Kate Nelson of Harvard University will unfold the Civil War experience of one Massachusetts soldier, Charles F. Morse, an officer in the 2nd Mass. Rgt. His letters, drawings, and other contemporary images will draw us into the world of ruin and destruction that participants in the war found themselves confronting.

Quilts for Civil War Soldiers: Stories from the Home Front and the Battlefield - Saturday, October 20, 2 pm

Pamela Weeks, Curator of the New England Quilt Museum, knows the stories behind the rare surviving Civil War quilts made by caring hands for soldiers fighting for North and South. Learn about the quilts, their makers, life on the home front during the war, and about how civilians organized to get desperately needed aid and supplies to the battlefield.

For further information, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559. www.nationalheritagemuseum.org

Image credits:

Courtesy Tony Horwitz

John Brown in late 1856 (Courtesy of the West Virginia State Archives, Boyd B. Stutler Collection)

Brown's Last Prophesy, 1859. Courtesy of the Virginia State Archives, Boyd B. Stutler Collection