Special Events

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


Treasured Lands - Final Gallery Talk

Quang-Tuan Luong at workAll good things must come to an end. The last day to view "Treasured Lands: The Fifty-Eight National Parks in Focus" is Saturday, August 4.

Join us for a final gallery talk on Saturday, August 4 at 2 PM in the "Treasured Lands" gallery. Photographer Quang-Tuan Luong has created stunning works depicting the natural beauty of America's landscapes. We will explore his techniques as well as his artistic project of capturing all of America’s national parks in large-format photographs.

The gallery talk is free. For further information, call the Museum's front desk at 781-861-6559 or refer to our website.

For more on Quang-Tuan Luong and his work, read two of our previous blog posts: on how the exhibition has been received by the public and on the show itself.

Credit: Quang-Tuan Luong at work in King’s Canyon National Park, August 2007. Photograph by Buddy Squires. © Buddy Squires, used with permission.


Gallery Talks: "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles"

2010_006DP1 Statue Liberty quilt_WebCompressWhat contribution did women’s textiles make to Freemasonry’s vibrant shaping of American families and communities in the 1800s and the 1900s?

To find out, join Director of Collections Aimee E. Newell on Saturday, July 28, 2:00 p.m. in the "Threads of Brotherhood: Masonic Quilts and Textiles" exhibition. This free gallery talk will offer visitors insights into how women demonstrated knowledge of Masonic values with their needles and created lasting reminders of their skills. This new exhibition features more than 25 quilts, coverlets, needlework pictures, and hooked rugs drawn from the Museum's collection. It tells a compelling story of connected lives and shared values.

We will offer two "Threads of Brotherhood" gallery talks in the fall:

Saturday, September 15, 2:00 p.m. and Saturday, October 20, 1:00 p.m.

2002_008T1 cover quilt_WebCompressThe October gallery talk is scheduled prior to Pamela Week's 2 p.m. lecture on Civil War quilts for soldiers.  Combined, the two programs provide an ideal opportunity to explore how women used their needlework to help shape public life in 19th century America.

Save the dates! We'll see you at the Museum!

Photo Credits:

Lady Liberty Lights the Way, 1985, Nancy M. Crasco, Massachusetts. Gift of Nancy Crasco, 2010.006.  Photograph by David Bohl.

Masonic Quilt, 1880-1920, unidentified maker, probably Ohio.  Musuem purchase, 2002.008. Photograph by David Bohl.


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


Visit Us on Patriots' Day!

Join Us for Patriots' Day Activites!

DSCF7856There is always plenty to do in Lexington when April vacation rolls around. The town and neighboring communities have many traditional events that commemorate the beginning of the American Revolution in 1775 and celebrate the community spirit of today. While you and your family are out, plan on dropping by the Museum for some fun programs. We've scheduled them conveniently so that they fall before or after the main reenactments and parades. Please note that the Museum will be open on Patriots' Day, Monday, April 16.

Farmer-soliderSaturday, April 14
11 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Gallery Talks: “Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution”
Get the inside scoop on the tendencies and tensions in Lexington before the British marched into town on April 19, 1775. Join Museum staff for this free gallery tour.

Monday, April 16
10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Patriots’ Day Activities
Celebrate Patriots’ Day with arts and crafts activities exploring life in 1775. While you are here, take the opportunity to view "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty:  Lexington and the American Revolution." $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members).

You'll also find the Lexington Alarm Letter on display in the Museum's lobby.

Revere ladleVisitors will be interested in exploring our exhibition "Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection." There, you'll find two objects related to the most famous midnight rider, Paul Revere. One is a wonderfully crafted silver ladle that showcases Revere's great talent as an silversmith. It's no wonder his works were coveted in their day. The other is much more recent - it dates to 2009. It's an ice cream carton. Brigham’s, a local ice cream company, created a special edition flavor called “Paul Revere’s Rocky Ride.” The name was the contest-winning suggestion by a couple from Charlestown, Massachusetts, where Paul Revere began his ride late at night on April 18, 1775. Come see what else you can discover in Curators' Choice.

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

Photo Credits

Farmer, 2007. Joe Farnham, National Heritage Museum.

Ladle, ca. 1765, Paul Revere, Jr. (1734–1818). Boston, Massachusetts. Loaned by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, GL2004.2088.


The Lexington Alarm Letter on View at the Museum!

LexingtonAlarm_A95_011_1T1_croppedEach year around the time of the Patriots' Day holiday, the Museum is proud to display the Lexington Alarm Letter. Our document is a copy, made at Brooklyn, Connecticut on the morning of April 20th, of the original letter, written on the morning of April 19, 1775. The Connecticut copy was made by Brooklyn town officials from the original, now lost, which was sent by post rider to notify the colonies south of Massachusetts that war had begun. Visitors will have the opportunity to see the letter during its annual appearance between Wednesday, April 10 and Saturday, April 21. Please note that the Museum will be open on Patriots' Day, Monday April 16.

What makes this hand-written document such an exciting piece of American history is the urgency with which it was written. As we read the text, we can sense the shock and concern of its author, Joseph Palmer, a member of the Committee of Safety in Watertown, a near neighbor to Lexington:

Watertown Wednesday Morning near 10 o’Clock

To all the Friends of American Liberty, be it known that this Morning before breake of Day a Brigade consisting of about 1000 or 1200 Men landed at [David] Phip’s Farm at Cambridge & marched to Lexington where they found a Company of our Colony Militia in Arms, upon Whom they fired without any Provocation and killed 6 Men and Wounded 4 others.

By an Express from Boston this Moment, we find another Brigade are now upon their march from Boston supposed to be about 1000. [...]

I have spoken with Several Persons who have seen the Dead & Wounded. Pray let the Delegates from this Colony to Connecticut see this they know.

Why does Palmer emphasize the events in Lexington, failing to mention the confrontation in Concord? Perhaps he wanted to spread news that portrayed the colonists as victims in order to garner sympathy for the cause of rebellion? Certainly this was popular strategy of the patriotic colonial press, perfected in broadsheets such as "A List of the Names of the Provincials who were Killed and Wounded in the late Engagement with His Majesty's Troops at Concord, &c." 

Or perhaps there is a simpler explanation. The letter was written at 10 o'clock, only one half-hour after the skirmish at Concord's North Bridge. Not enough time had passed for witnesses of the second phase of the Battle of Lexington and Concord to reach Watertown. The encounter between Lexington's militia under Capt. John Parker and the force of 700 or so Regular Army soldiers sent out from Boston was much earlier, at around 4:30 a.m. Palmer has spoken to witnesses of the destruction at Lexington and fears that more unprovoked attacks are to come from the second brigade he has learned is on its way from Boston. His letter spreads the news of unfolding events, the outcome of which he does not yet know.

When you visit the Museum to view the Lexington Alarm letter, don't miss "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty: Lexington and the American Revolution." In the exhibition, you'll find a map that traces how a group of riders spread the alarm throughout eastern Massachusetts. The adventures of some of these riders, such as Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott, are the stuff of legend. However, countless men rode through the night of April 18 and into the morning of April 19, 1775, to let the countryside know of the unfolding events. Colonial leaders who opposed the Crown, anticipating a move by the British Army, had set a communication network in place. Towns had prepared systems using bells, drums and gunshots to call militia units to gather at specified locations. Throughout April 19th, militias from 23 Massachusetts towns fought in the battles, and many more towns were alerted.

Those curious about how the people of Lexington experienced the beginning of the American Revolution, mark your calendars and and join us for our "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" gallery talks. We'll be offering two this year, both on Saturday, April 14. Join us at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for these free programs that explore of life in this small community where ordinary people took extraordinary actions and shaped history as a result.

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

Photo credits

Lexington Alarm Letter, 1775. Daniel Tyler. Brooklyn, Connecticut, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, # A95/011/1.

 


Deadlines Looming for April 28 Symposium - Register Now!

90_20T1Register now for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Symposium, Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism, on Saturday, April 28, 2012.   Discounted hotel rates MUST be booked by MARCH 25, 2012, and the registration deadline is APRIL 14, 2012. 

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for fresh interpretations of American society and culture.

Seven scholars from the United States, Britain and Belgium will fill the day’s program:

• Jeffrey Tyssens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, “The Goatee’s Revenge: A Founding Myth and a Founder’s Cult in American Fraternalism”

• Yoni Appelbaum, Brandeis University, “The Great Brotherhood of Toil: The Knights of Labor as a Fraternal Order”

• Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, “The Shadow of the Pope: Anti-Catholicism, Freemasonry, and the Knights of Columbus in 1910s California”

• Samuel Biagetti, Columbia University, “A Prehistoric Lodge in Rhode Island? – Masonry and the Messianic Moment”

• Alyce Graham, University of Delaware, “Secrecy and Democracy: Masonic Aprons, 1750-1830”

• Bradley Kime, Brigham Young University, “Masonic Motifs in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

• Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, “The Significance of Fraternalism in Three Criminal Organizations of Late Nineteenth Century America: The Mollie Maguires, the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia”

All Symposium attendees are invited to a public lecture by Michael Halleran, Independent Scholar, “Gentlemen of the White Apron: Freemasonry in the American Civil War,” at 1 PM, in the Maxwell Auditorium. This presentation is made possible through the generous support of Ruby W. Linn.

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, 33°, N. M. J., U.S.A. Registration is $65 ($60 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception. To register, complete the Registration Form and fax to 781-861-9846 or mail to Claudia Roche, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421; registration deadline is APRIL 14, 2012. For more information, contact Claudia Roche at [email protected] or 781-457-4142.

ACCOMMODATIONS: A block of hotel rooms has been reserved at Staybridge Suites, 11 Old Concord Road, Burlington, MA, at the discounted rate of $110/studio suite; $120/one-bedroom suite; and $145/two-bedroom suite (taxes not included). To make a reservation, please call 781-221-2233 and mention the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum Symposium. DEADLINE for the discounted rate is MARCH 25, 2012. Limited shuttlebus service will be available between the hotel and the Museum.

Masonic Emblematic Chart, 1840-1850, probably New York, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, Special Acquisitions Fund, 90.20.  Photograph by David Bohl.

 


School Vacation Begins with Ntrak Model Trains!

2010_02_14_0216_CroppedJoin us on Saturday, February 18 and Sunday, February 19 for a weekend filled with railroading fun! Whether you come for a weekend treat or as a way to kick off February vacation week, the N-scale train display is sure to please.

The Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will once again be with us, bringing their imaginative modular layouts based on a quarter century's club history. N-scale trains are smaller in size than traditional model trains, but are just as much fun. You'll see trains climb mountain passes, cross the Zakim Bridge, shunt freight cars, and use branch lines to pick up and set out cars at the many industries and stations along the way.

2010_02_14_0225_CroppedThe Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will be at the Museum on Saturday, February 18 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 19 from noon-4:00 p.m. Admission to the train display is $7/family, $5/individual. Proceeds support the education programs at the National Heritage Museum and the Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club.

For more information, call the Museum at 781-861-6559, ext 4101.

 


Registration Now Open! April 28, 2012 Symposium

90_20T1Plan now to join us on Saturday, April 28, 2012, for the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Symposium – Perspectives on American Freemasonry and Fraternalism, Lexington, Massachusetts.  Registration is now open!  Visit our website for a registration form.

The symposium seeks to present the newest research on American fraternal groups from the past through the present day. By 1900, over 250 American fraternal groups existed, numbering six million members. The study of their activities and influence in the United States, past and present, offers the potential for fresh interpretations of American society and culture.

Seven scholars from the United States, Britain and Belgium will fill the day’s program:

• Jeffrey Tyssens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, “The Goatee’s Revenge: A Founding Myth and a Founder’s Cult in American Fraternalism”

• Yoni Appelbaum, Brandeis University, “The Great Brotherhood of Toil: The Knights of Labor as a Fraternal Order”

• Adam G. Kendall, Henry W. Coil Library and Museum, “The Shadow of the Pope: Anti-Catholicism, Freemasonry, and the Knights of Columbus in 1910s California”

• Samuel Biagetti, Columbia University, “A Prehistoric Lodge in Rhode Island? – Masonry and the Messianic Moment”

• Alyce Graham, University of Delaware, “Secrecy and Democracy: Masonic Aprons, 1750-1830”

• Bradley Kime, Brigham Young University, “Masonic Motifs in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”

• Kristofer Allerfeldt, Exeter University, “The Significance of Fraternalism in Three Criminal Organizations of Late Nineteenth Century America: The Mollie Maguires, the Ku Klux Klan and the Mafia”Symposium 2010 People

All Symposium attendees are invited to a public lecture by Michael Halleran, Independent Scholar, “Gentlemen of the White Apron: Freemasonry in the American Civil War,” at 1 PM, in the Maxwell Auditorium. This presentation is made possible through the generous support of Ruby W. Linn.

The symposium is funded in part by the Supreme Council, 33°, N. M. J., U.S.A. Registration is $65 ($60 for museum members) and includes morning refreshments, lunch and a closing reception. To register, complete the Registration Form and fax to 781-861-9846 or mail to Claudia Roche, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 33 Marrett Road, Lexington, MA 02421; registration deadline is APRIL 14, 2012. For more information, contact Claudia Roche at [email protected] or 781-457-4142.