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Cultivating a Past

Essays on the History of Hadley, Massachusetts

edited by Marla R. Miller

In 1659, a group of Puritan dissenters made their way north from Hartford and Wethersfield, Connecticut, to a crook in the Connecticut River that cut through some of the most fertile land in New England. Three hundred and fifty years later, a group of distinguished scholars mark the founding of that town— Hadley, Massachusetts—with a book that explores a history as rich as that soil. Edited with an introduction by Marla R. Miller, Cultivating a Past brings together fifteen essays, some previously published and others new, that tell the story of Hadley from a variety of disciplinary vantage points. Archaeologists Elizabeth Chilton, Siobhan Hart, Christopher Donta, Edward Hood, and Rita Reinke investigate relations between Native and European communities, while historians Gregory Nobles, Alice Nash, and Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich explore the social, cultural, and political past of this New England town. Musicologist Andrea Olmstead surveys the career of composer Roger Sessions, costume specialist Lynne Bassett interprets the wardrobes of the town’s seventeenth-century residents, Douglas Wilson investigates the connection between Hadley and the regicides William Goffe and Edward Whalley, and Martin Antonetti charts the course of a 1599 Bible alleged to have belonged Goffe. Taken together, the essays capture how men and women in this small community responded to the same challenges that have faced other New Englanders from the seventeenth century to the present. They also reveal how the town’s historical sense of itself evolved along the way, as stories of the alleged “Angel of Hadley,” of favorite sons Joseph Hooker and Clarence Hawkes, and of daughters Mary Webster and Elizabeth Porter Phelps contributed to a civic identity that celebrates strength of character.

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Culture Club

The Curious History of the Boston Athenaeum

Katherine Wolff

Founded in 1807, the successor to a literary club called the Anthology Society, the Boston Athenaeum occupies an important place in the early history of American intellectual life. At first a repository for books, to which works of art were later added, the Athenaeum attracted over time a following that included such literary luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry James. Yet from the outset, Katherine Wolff shows, the Boston Athenaeum was more than a library; it was also a breeding ground for evolving notions of cultural authority and American identity. Though governed by the Boston elite, who promoted it as a way of strengthening their own clout in the city, the early Athenaeum reflected conflicting and at times contradictory aims and motives on the part of its membership. On the one hand, by drawing on European aesthetic models to reinforce an exalted sense of mission, Athenaeum leaders sought to establish themselves as guardians of a nascent American culture. On the other, they struggled to balance their goals with their concerns about an increasingly democratic urban populace. As the Boston Athenaeum opened its doors to women as well as men outside its inner circle, it eventually began to define itself against a more accessible literary institution, the Boston Public Library. Told through a series of provocative episodes and generously illustrated, Culture Club offers a more complete picture than previously available of the cultural politics behind the making of a quintessentially American institution.

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Dawnland Voices

An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England

Siobhan Senier

Dawnland Voices calls attention to the little-known but extraordinarily rich literary traditions of New England’s Native Americans. This pathbreaking anthology includes both classic and contemporary literary works from ten New England indigenous nations: the Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, Mohegan, Narragansett, Nipmuc, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Schaghticoke, and Wampanoag.
 
Through literary collaboration and recovery, Siobhan Senier and Native tribal historians and scholars have crafted a unique volume covering a variety of genres and historical periods. From the earliest petroglyphs and petitions to contemporary stories and hip-hop poetry, this volume highlights the diversity and strength of New England Native literary traditions. Dawnland Voices introduces readers to the compelling and unique literary heritage in New England, banishing the misconception that “real” Indians and their traditions vanished from that region centuries ago.
 

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Dickens and Massachusetts

The Lasting Legacy of the Commonwealth Visits

edited by Diana C. Archibald and Joel J. Brattin

Charles Dickens traveled to North America twice, in 1842 and twenty-five years later in 1867–68, and on both trips Massachusetts was part of his itinerary. Although many aspects of his U.S. travels disappointed him, Massachusetts was the one state that met and even exceeded Dickens’s expectations for “the republic of [his] imagination.” From the mills of Lowell to the Perkins School for the Blind, it offered an alternate vision of America that influenced his future writings, while the deep and lasting friendships he formed with Bostonians gave him enduring ties to the commonwealth. This volume provides insight from leading scholars who have begun to reassess the significance of Massachusetts in the author’s life and work. The collection begins with a broad biographical and historical overview taken from the full-length narrative of the award-winning exhibition Dickens and Massachusetts: A Tale of Power and Transformation, which attracted thousands of visitors while on display in Lowell. Abundant images from the exhibition, many of them difficult to find elsewhere, enhance the story of Dickens’s relationship with the vibrant cultural and intellectual life of Massachusetts. The second section includes essays that consider the importance of Dickens’s many connections to the commonwealth. In addition to the volume editors, contributors include Chelsea Bray, Iain Crawford, Andre DeCuir, Natalie McKnight, Lillian Nayder, and Kit Polga.

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Discovering Black Vermont

African American Farmers in Hinesburgh, 1790-1890

Elise A. Guyette

An impressive work of historical recovery, Discovering Black Vermont tells the story of three generations of free blacks trying to build a life and community in northern Vermont in the years following statehood. By piecing together fragments of the history of free blacks in Vermont--tax and estate records, journals, diaries, and the like--the author recovers what is essentially a lost world, establishing a framework for using primary sources to document a forgotten past. The book is an invaluable resource for those conducting local history research and will serve as inspiration for high school and college students and their teachers.

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Domestic Broils

Shakers, Antebellum Marriage, and the Narratives of Mary and Joseph Dyer

edited by Elizabeth De Wolfe

In 1813, Joseph Dyer, his wife Mary, and their five children joined the Shaker community in Enfield, New Hampshire. Joseph quickly adapted to the Shaker way of life, but Mary chafed under its strictures and eventually left the community two years later. When the local elders and her husband refused to release the couple’s children to Mary, she embarked on what would become a fifty-year campaign against the Shakers, beginning with the publication in 1818 of A Brief Statement of the Sufferings of Mary Dyer. The following year the Shakers countered by publishing Joseph’s A Compendious Narrative, a scathing attack on what the title page called “the character, disposition and conduct of Mary Dyer.” Reproduced here for the first time since their original publication, the Dyers’ dueling accounts of the breakup of their marriage form the core of Domestic Broils. In Mary’s telling, the deceptions of a cruel husband, backed by an unyielding Shaker hierarchy, destroyed what had once been a happy, productive family. Joseph’s narrative counters these claims by alleging that Mary abused her children, neglected her husband, and engaged in extramarital affairs. In her introduction to the volume, Elizabeth De Wolfe places the Dyers’ marital dispute in a broader historical context, drawing on their personal testimony to examine connected but conflicting views of marriage, family life, and Shakerism in the early republic. She also shows how the growing world of print facilitated the transformation of a private family quarrel into a public debate. Salacious, riveting, and immensely popular throughout New England, the Dyers’ narratives not only captured imaginations but also reflected public anxieties over rapid cultural change in antebellum America.

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Field Guide to Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic

Bill Russell

To most Americans, mushrooms are the brown lumps in the soup one uses to make a tuna casserole, but to a select few, mushrooms are the abundant yet often well-hidden delicacies of the forests. In spite of their rather dismal reputation, most wild mushrooms are both edible and delicious, when prepared properly. From the morel to the chanterelle and the prolific and aptly named chicken of the woods, mushrooms can easily be harvested and enjoyed, if you know where to look and what to look for. Bill Russell’s Field Guide to the Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic helps the reader learn just that—specifically for the often-neglected East Coast mushrooms of the United States and Canada. Suited to both the novice and the experienced mushroom hunter, this book helps the reader identify mushrooms with the use of illustrations, descriptions, and environmental observations. Russell’s fifty years of experience in hunting, studying, and teaching about wild mushrooms have been carefully distilled into this easy-to-use and well-designed guide. The book is divided into the four seasons, each with its unique mushroom offerings. Each mushroom section includes a detailed description, information about the mushroom’s biology, tips on where the mushroom is most likely to be found, and a short “nutshell” description for quick reference. The book also includes color photographs of each of the mushrooms described. Russell’s Field Guide to the Wild Mushrooms of Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic shows the reader not only how to identify the most common mushrooms found in the region but also how to avoid common copycats—and what to do with the mushrooms once they’re identified and harvested. With both color illustrations and insightful descriptions of one hundred of the area’s most common mushrooms, Field Guide is an indispensable reference for the curious hiker, the amateur biologist, or the adventurous chef.

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First Fruits of Freedom

The Migration of Former Slaves and Their Search for Equality in Worcester, Massachusetts, 1862-1900

Janette Thomas Greenwood

Greenwood chronicles one of the first collective migrations of blacks from the South to the North during and after the Civil War. She describes a network forged between Worcester County, Mass., and eastern North Carolina as a result of Worcester regiments taking control of northeastern N.C. during the war. White soldiers from Worcester, a hotbed of abolitionism, protected refugee slaves, set up schools for them, and led them north at war's end. Migrants established a small black community in Worcester with a distinctive southern flavor, but were generally disappointed in their hopes for full-fledged citizenship.

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The First Primary

New Hampshire's Outsize Role in Presidential Nominations

David W. Moore

Since 1952, the primary election in a small, not very diverse New England state has had a disproportionate impact on the U.S. presidential nomination process and the ensuing general election. Although just a handful of delegates are at stake, the New Hampshire primary has become a massive media event and a reasonably reliable predictor of a campaign’s ultimate success or failure. In The First Primary, Moore and Smith offer a comprehensive history of the state’s primary, an analysis of its media coverage and impact, and a description of the New Hampshire electorate, along with a discussion of how that electorate reflects or diverges from national opinions on candidates and issues. A book for political scientists and political junkies, media and policy professionals, and all students of American government, The First Primary ably fills the gaps in our understanding of New Hampshire’s outsize role in the nomination process.

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Food for the Dead

On the Trail of New England's Vampires

Michael E. Bell

For nineteenth-century New Englanders, "vampires" lurked behind tuberculosis. To try to rid their houses and communities from the scourge of the wasting disease, families sometimes relied on folk practices, including exhuming and consuming the bodies of the deceased. Author and folklorist Michael E. Bell spent twenty years pursuing stories of the vampire in New England. While writers like H. P. Lovecraft, Henry David Thoreau, and Amy Lowell drew on portions of these stories in their writings, Bell brings the actual practices to light for the first time. He shows that the belief in vampires was widespread, and, for some families, lasted well into the twentieth century. With humor, insight, and sympathy, he uncovers story upon story of dying men, women, and children who believed they were food for the dead. This Wesleyan paperback edition includes an extensive preface by the author unveiling some of the new cases he's learned about since Food for the Dead was first published in 2001.

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