Lola Belle Holmes and Julia Brown were African American women who spied for the FBI within the U.S. Communist Party in the 1940s-50s. In the 1960s, Brown and Holmes became speakers for the John Birch Society. Condemning Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a Communist sympathizer, they claimed subversives permeated the civil rights movement. [Read more…] about Civil Rights, Anticommunism & Black FBI Informants Lola Belle Holmes and Julia Brown
Massachusetts Historical Society
Admired by George Washington, ridiculed by Thomas Jefferson, published, and read far and wide, Phillis Wheatley led an extraordinary life. Seized in West Africa and forced into slavery as a child, she was sold to a merchant family in Boston, where she became a noted poet at a young age.
Mastering the Bible, Latin translations, and literary works, she celebrated political events, praised warriors, and used her verse to variously lampoon, question, and assert the injustice of her enslaved condition. [Read more…] about The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journey
In the mid-20th century, Americans had a great enthusiasm for all manner of keepsakes and mementos cast in bronze. On October 17, 1960, the National Hot Dog Council presented a life-size hot dog cast in bronze on a marble base to Republican vice-presidential candidate Henry Cabot Lodge Jr (1902-1985).
In the blur of events during the hard-fought presidential campaign, Lodge came to mistakenly believe that he had received the unusual gift during a visit to Nathan’s, the famous hot dog emporium in New York City. [Read more…] about Henry Cabot Lodge’s Bronze Hot Dog
Mapping the Gay Guides (MGG) relies on the Damron Guides, an early but longstanding travel guide aimed at gay men since the early 1960s. An LGBTQ equivalent to the African American “green books,” the Damron Guides contained lists of bars, bathhouses, cinemas, businesses, hotels, and cruising sites in every U.S. state, where gay men could find friends, companions, and sex. [Read more…] about Historical Travel: Mapping the Gay Guides
The most recent episode of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s (MHS) Object of History podcast “Furnishing Foreign Relations: Benjamin Joy’s Sea Chest,” examines an object from the first diplomatic mission between the United States and India. [Read more…] about Furnishing Foreign Relations: Benjamin Joy’s Sea Chest
Between 1870 and 1960, at least 120 women served as judges in the United States. At the time of their service, these path-breakers attracted significant attention because they seemed to embody the promise and perils of women’s increasing political and professional power. Today nearly all are forgotten. [Read more…] about The United States’ First Women Judges, 1870-1960
In America’s long 20th century civil rights movements histories, disabled people — and especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ disabled people — are often erased. And in the prominent stories told of America’s disability rights movements histories, activist work and key issues usually have centered on comparatively privileged people: white, college-educated, cis-gendered, heteronormative, and physically disabled individuals. [Read more…] about Disability and the American Past: Failures in Intersectionality
When the history of people with disabilities is discussed, the same names pop up: figures like Helen Keller or Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, accounts of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman’s activism have often failed to mention their disabilities or think about how their disability affected their work and lives. [Read more…] about Disability and the American Past: Disappeared Disabilities
In the early modern centuries, natural variabilities in Earth’s climate disrupted the seasonal rhythms that governed landscapes and livelihoods in the Northern Atlantic world. [Read more…] about Living with Climate Change in Northern New England
The traditional narrative of corporate personhood begins in the Gilded Age, as railroad corporations permeated federal courts to challenge state regulations, leading us to assume that personhood was always a source of power for private associations.
For most of the 19th century however, legal personhood was a corporation’s most vulnerable attribute. [Read more…] about America’s First Corporate Person: The Bank of the United States, 1789-1812