Spring Public Programs are here!

2015 Spring Program cover_Page_1We’re finally starting to see some melting and hear some birds singing after this never-ending winter, which also means we’re gearing up for the start of our Spring Public Program series! This series begins with newly published books about Lincoln, set to coincide with sesquitennial of the end of the Civil War and the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death this April. It continues with highlights from our NEH fellows, a new look at the religion and philosophy of the Founding Fathers, and concludes with a historical music program culled directly from our archives.

See below for short descriptions, and visit our website for more information. All programs are free and open to the public and take place in Antiquarian Hall at 185 Salisbury St., Worcester. We hope to see you there!


Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m.
“Lincoln’s Last Speech and the Problem of Reconstruction”
by Louis Masur
Co-sponsored by the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series at Becker College

Louis P Masur by Nick Lacy(2)On April 11, 1865, Abraham Lincoln delivered what would turn out to be his last speech. Coming only two days after Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, the speech confounded expectations; northerners anticipated a victory speech, but instead Lincoln focused on reunion and the challenge of reconstruction. He used the occasion to declare support for limited black suffrage. John Wilkes Booth was in the crowd and declared, “that is the last speech he will ever make.” Three days later, he delivered on his boast. This lecture is based on Louis Masur’s latest book, Lincoln’s Last Speech: Wartime Reconstruction and the Crisis of Reunion.


Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m.
“Lincoln’s Republicanism as a Way of Life”
by Richard Wightman Fox
Co-sponsored by the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series at Becker College

FOX photo three by EthingtonLincolns Body_978-0-393-06530-5In this lecture based upon his recently published book, Lincoln’s Body: A Cultural History, Richard Fox will describe how Lincoln’s physical appearance and the way the sixteenth president consciously made himself accessible to the public informed his political views and his concept of equality. Lincoln’s physical appearance has been an important component of our understanding and appreciation of the man both in his own time and in the subsequent years since his assassination. Lincoln’s Body explores how a president ungainly in body and downright “ugly” of aspect came to mean so much to us.


Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
“A Panel of Recent National Endowment for the Humanities Scholarship”
with Elizabeth Maddock Dillon, Kyle Volk, and Lisa Wilson

NEH Logo MASTER_082010This panel discussion will feature three National Endowment for the Humanities fellows who were in residence during the 2010-11 academic year and whose research has resulted in recently published books. They are: Elizabeth Maddock Dillon for her work New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849; Kyle Volk with his book, Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy; and Lisa Wilson and her study, A History of Stepfamilies in Early America.


Tuesday, May 12, at 7 p.m.
“Radical Philosophy at the Origin of the American Republic”
by Matthew Stewart

Stewart headshotStewart bookcoverThis presentation will explore the philosophical and religious influences not just on the more famous names, such as Jefferson, Franklin, and Paine, but also some less well-known figures, including Ethan Allen and Thomas Young, the unsung hero of the Boston Tea Party and the Pennsylvania Revolution. Drawing on his recent book, Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic, Stewart will make the case that the unusual philosophical religion that inspired many of America’s revolutionaries was more radical than we now tend to think and at the same time central in the creation of the world’s first modern republic.


Thursday, May 21, at 7 p.m.
“‘Mild Melodious Maze’: Songs and Instrumental Music from Early America (1770-1830)”
with Anne D. M. Harley, voice, Olav Chris Henriksen, guitar, and Na’ama Lion, flute

AnneHarleytrioThis musical program performed on period instruments celebrates some of the over 70,000 musical scores in the Society’s collections of American music. Come hear the heroic spirit in music from the first years of the American nation, the political songs of the Early Republic, shape note and Shaker tunes, popular hits from imported English stage shows, and the strains of the first art music composed on American soil.

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