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Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

3
Followers
24
Plays
Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

Boston Athenæum

3
Followers
24
Plays
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About Us

The Boston Athenæum, a membership library, first opened its doors in 1807, and its rich history as a library and cultural institution has been well documented in the annals of Boston’s cultural life. Today, it remains a vibrant and active institution that serves a wide variety of members and scholars. With more than 600,000 titles in its book collection, the Boston Athenæum functions as a public library for many of its members, with a large and distinguished circulating collection, a newspaper and magazine reading room, quiet spaces and rooms for reading and researching, a children’s library, and wireless internet access throughout its building. The Art Department mounts three exhibitions per year in the institution's Norma Jean Calderwood Gallery, rotating selections in the Recent Acquisitions Gallery, and a number of less formal installations in places and cases around the building. The Special Collections resources are world-renowned, and include maps, manuscripts, rare books, and archival materials. Our Conservation Department works to preserve all our collections. Other activities for members and the public include lectures, panel discussions, poetry readings, musical performances, films, and special events, many of which are followed by receptions. Members are able to take advantage of our second- and fifth-floor terraces during fine weather, and to search electronic databases and our digital collections from their homes and offices.

Latest Episodes

Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

March 3, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family’s legal status in the country has always hung by a thread—for a time, they were “illegal.” Family, she’s told, must be put first. The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to re...

41 minMAR 18
Comments
Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

March 4, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Art + Design is part of a trio of events for ‘Curator’s Choice’ hosted by the Boston Athenæum’s Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art & Culture Theo Tyson and Assistant Curator Ginny Badget. An evening to celebrate the historical and contemporary intersections of fashion, art, and design, Tyson will begin by unpacking the subtle, yet salient feminism and sartorial commentary embedded in one of Polly Thayer Starr’s most popular and painterly portraits, Shopping for Furs, and share fashion plates from our special collections. She will then be joined by longtime Boston Athenæum member and interior designer, Heidi Pribell for a candid conversation on how fashion and art influence her practice.

30 minMAR 18
Comments
Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

February 19, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In partnership with the Network for Art Administrators of Color Boston (NAAC). Join us for an artful conversation with three preeminent leaders catalyzing change in Boston to make its cultural landscape more inclusive and supportive of Black women artists. Representing backgrounds ranging from music and museums, to the public art sector and philanthropy, our experts and advocates will explore their views on the importance and necessity of the work they’re doing to empower Black women artists. The Athenæum is excited and fortunate to welcome Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Director of Theater Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts, Catherine T. Morris, Founder and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest and Manager of Public Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Courtney D. Sharpe, Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Boston, as our featured guests. The event will be interspersed with performances by Boston-bas...

65 minFEB 29
Comments
EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

February 26, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Few American cities possess a history as long, rich, and fascinating as Boston’s. A site of momentous national political events from the Revolutionary War through the civil rights movement, Boston has also been an influential literary and cultural capital. From ancient glaciers to landmaking schemes and modern infrastructure projects, the city’s terrain has been transformed almost constantly over the centuries. The Atlas of Boston History traces the city’s history and geography from the last ice age to the present with beautifully rendered maps. Edited by historian Nancy S. Seasholes, this landmark volume captures all aspects of Boston’s past in a series of fifty-seven stunning full-color spreads. Each section features newly created thematic maps that focus on moments and topics in that history. These maps are accompanied by hundreds of historical and contemporary illustrations and explanatory text from historians and other expert contr...

43 minFEB 29
Comments
Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

February 11, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In this talk Russell Maret will discuss the three year process of making his most recent artist’s book, Character Traits. The book continues Maret’s investigation into alphabetical form, which he has undertaken over the last twenty years in a series of printed books and manuscripts, many of which are in the Athenæum’s collection. This newest project is composed of two parts: a volume of essays about alphabetical character traits, specifically how different lettering technologies affect alphabetical form; and a portfolio of twenty-five prints that explore these ideas in a series of texts chosen for their insights into human character traits, each of which is set in unique lettering designed by Maret. The making of Character Traits took on a whole new level of production because during the preliminary work on the project Maret realized it would be conceptually inconsistent to print the plates using the printing method in which he is train...

33 minFEB 29
Comments
Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

February 6, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. A gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of l...

36 minFEB 8
Comments
Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

Rabbi Dan Judson, Dr. Lorna Rivera. Rajini Srikanth, and Sarah Turner, “Community Conversations”

February 5, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. To demonstrate the variety and richness of “essential knowledge” and the ways it can be defined, the cabinet in “Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library” is filled with titles selected by ten community partners. Join Rabbi Dan Judson, Dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College; Lorna Rivera, Director of the Gaston Institute for Latino Public Policy at UMass Boston; and Sarah Turner, President of North Bennet Street School for a panel discussion moderated by Rajini Srikanth, Dean of the Honors College at UMass Boston, centered on the question, "What qualifies as knowledge and how is it transmitted?"

40 minFEB 8
Comments
Rabbi Dan Judson, Dr. Lorna Rivera. Rajini Srikanth, and Sarah Turner, “Community Conversations”

Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, “Plymouth Colony First Lady Penelope Winslow”

January 28, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Penelope Pelham Winslow was a member of the English gentry (her third great-grandmother was Anne Boleyn's sister Mary) who was married to Plymouth Colony Governor Josiah Winslow. Although she was one of the most powerful women in Plymouth's history, she, like most of her female contemporaries, has been largely forgotten. Penelope authored or is mentioned in just a few surviving documents; however, a wealth of physical evidence survives to tell her story, ranging from surviving homes and possessions to archaeological artifacts. These items also offer insight into the world of Plymouth Colony's women. In her new book, Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin discovers that blending historical records with material culture provides the keys to re-imagining Winslow's world in all its rich complexity.

45 minFEB 1
Comments
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, “Plymouth Colony First Lady Penelope Winslow”

Kerri Greenidge, “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter”

January 20, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter’s essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes. William Monroe Trotter (1872– 1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working- class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post- Reconstruction America. For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Synthesizing years of archival ...

22 minFEB 1
Comments
Kerri Greenidge, “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter”

Roxana Robinson, “Dawson’s Fall”

January 14, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In Dawson’s Fall, a novel based on the lives of Roxana Robinson’s great-grandparents, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape. Dawson, a man of fierce opinions, came to this country as a young Englishman to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, finding a platform of real influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his staunch principles: equal rights, rule of law, and nonviolence, unswayed by the caprices of popular opinion. But he...

42 minFEB 1
Comments
Roxana Robinson, “Dawson’s Fall”

Latest Episodes

Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

March 3, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Born in the Philippines, young Grace Talusan moves with her family to a New England suburb in the 1970s. At school, she confronts racism as one of the few kids with a brown face. At home, the confusion is worse: her grandfather’s nightly visits to her room leave her hurt and terrified, and she learns to build a protective wall of silence that maps onto the larger silence practiced by her Catholic Filipino family. Talusan learns as a teenager that her family’s legal status in the country has always hung by a thread—for a time, they were “illegal.” Family, she’s told, must be put first. The abuse and trauma Talusan suffers as a child affects all her relationships, her mental health, and her relationship with her own body. Later, she learns that her family history is threaded with violence and abuse. And she discovers another devastating family thread: cancer. In her thirties, Talusan must decide whether to undergo preventive surgeries to re...

41 minMAR 18
Comments
Grace Talusan and Elif Armbruster, “The Body Papers: A Memoir”

Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

March 4, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Art + Design is part of a trio of events for ‘Curator’s Choice’ hosted by the Boston Athenæum’s Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art & Culture Theo Tyson and Assistant Curator Ginny Badget. An evening to celebrate the historical and contemporary intersections of fashion, art, and design, Tyson will begin by unpacking the subtle, yet salient feminism and sartorial commentary embedded in one of Polly Thayer Starr’s most popular and painterly portraits, Shopping for Furs, and share fashion plates from our special collections. She will then be joined by longtime Boston Athenæum member and interior designer, Heidi Pribell for a candid conversation on how fashion and art influence her practice.

30 minMAR 18
Comments
Heidi Pribell and Theo Tyson, “Curator’s Choice: Art + Design”

EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

February 19, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In partnership with the Network for Art Administrators of Color Boston (NAAC). Join us for an artful conversation with three preeminent leaders catalyzing change in Boston to make its cultural landscape more inclusive and supportive of Black women artists. Representing backgrounds ranging from music and museums, to the public art sector and philanthropy, our experts and advocates will explore their views on the importance and necessity of the work they’re doing to empower Black women artists. The Athenæum is excited and fortunate to welcome Lyndsay Allyn Cox, Director of Theater Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts, Catherine T. Morris, Founder and Executive Director of Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Fest and Manager of Public Programs at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and Courtney D. Sharpe, Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Boston, as our featured guests. The event will be interspersed with performances by Boston-bas...

65 minFEB 29
Comments
EmpowerHER: Black Women in the Arts

Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

February 26, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Few American cities possess a history as long, rich, and fascinating as Boston’s. A site of momentous national political events from the Revolutionary War through the civil rights movement, Boston has also been an influential literary and cultural capital. From ancient glaciers to landmaking schemes and modern infrastructure projects, the city’s terrain has been transformed almost constantly over the centuries. The Atlas of Boston History traces the city’s history and geography from the last ice age to the present with beautifully rendered maps. Edited by historian Nancy S. Seasholes, this landmark volume captures all aspects of Boston’s past in a series of fifty-seven stunning full-color spreads. Each section features newly created thematic maps that focus on moments and topics in that history. These maps are accompanied by hundreds of historical and contemporary illustrations and explanatory text from historians and other expert contr...

43 minFEB 29
Comments
Nancy Seasholes, “The Atlas of Boston History”

Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

February 11, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In this talk Russell Maret will discuss the three year process of making his most recent artist’s book, Character Traits. The book continues Maret’s investigation into alphabetical form, which he has undertaken over the last twenty years in a series of printed books and manuscripts, many of which are in the Athenæum’s collection. This newest project is composed of two parts: a volume of essays about alphabetical character traits, specifically how different lettering technologies affect alphabetical form; and a portfolio of twenty-five prints that explore these ideas in a series of texts chosen for their insights into human character traits, each of which is set in unique lettering designed by Maret. The making of Character Traits took on a whole new level of production because during the preliminary work on the project Maret realized it would be conceptually inconsistent to print the plates using the printing method in which he is train...

33 minFEB 29
Comments
Russell Maret, “The Making of Character Traits”

Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

February 6, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. A gripping and true story about five boys who were kidnapped in the North and smuggled into slavery in the Deep South—and their daring attempt to escape and bring their captors to justice. Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home. Their ordeal—an odyssey that takes them from the Philadelphia waterfront to the marshes of Mississippi and then onward still—shines a glaring spotlight on the Reverse Underground Railroad, a black market network of human traffickers and slave traders who stole away thousands of l...

36 minFEB 8
Comments
Richard Bell, “Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home”

Rabbi Dan Judson, Dr. Lorna Rivera. Rajini Srikanth, and Sarah Turner, “Community Conversations”

February 5, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. To demonstrate the variety and richness of “essential knowledge” and the ways it can be defined, the cabinet in “Required Reading: Reimagining a Colonial Library” is filled with titles selected by ten community partners. Join Rabbi Dan Judson, Dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College; Lorna Rivera, Director of the Gaston Institute for Latino Public Policy at UMass Boston; and Sarah Turner, President of North Bennet Street School for a panel discussion moderated by Rajini Srikanth, Dean of the Honors College at UMass Boston, centered on the question, "What qualifies as knowledge and how is it transmitted?"

40 minFEB 8
Comments
Rabbi Dan Judson, Dr. Lorna Rivera. Rajini Srikanth, and Sarah Turner, “Community Conversations”

Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, “Plymouth Colony First Lady Penelope Winslow”

January 28, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. Penelope Pelham Winslow was a member of the English gentry (her third great-grandmother was Anne Boleyn's sister Mary) who was married to Plymouth Colony Governor Josiah Winslow. Although she was one of the most powerful women in Plymouth's history, she, like most of her female contemporaries, has been largely forgotten. Penelope authored or is mentioned in just a few surviving documents; however, a wealth of physical evidence survives to tell her story, ranging from surviving homes and possessions to archaeological artifacts. These items also offer insight into the world of Plymouth Colony's women. In her new book, Penelope Winslow, Plymouth Colony First Lady: Re-Imagining a Life, Michelle Marchetti Coughlin discovers that blending historical records with material culture provides the keys to re-imagining Winslow's world in all its rich complexity.

45 minFEB 1
Comments
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, “Plymouth Colony First Lady Penelope Winslow”

Kerri Greenidge, “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter”

January 20, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. This long-overdue biography reestablishes William Monroe Trotter’s essential place next to Douglass, Du Bois, and King in the pantheon of American civil rights heroes. William Monroe Trotter (1872– 1934), though still virtually unknown to the wider public, was an unlikely American hero. With the stylistic verve of a newspaperman and the unwavering fearlessness of an emancipator, he galvanized black working- class citizens to wield their political power despite the violent racism of post- Reconstruction America. For more than thirty years, the Harvard-educated Trotter edited and published the Guardian, a weekly Boston newspaper that was read across the nation. Defining himself against the gradualist politics of Booker T. Washington and the elitism of W. E. B. Du Bois, Trotter advocated for a radical vision of black liberation that prefigured leaders such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. Synthesizing years of archival ...

22 minFEB 1
Comments
Kerri Greenidge, “Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter”

Roxana Robinson, “Dawson’s Fall”

January 14, 2020 at the Boston Athenæum. In Dawson’s Fall, a novel based on the lives of Roxana Robinson’s great-grandparents, we see America at its most fragile, fraught, and malleable. Set in 1889, in Charleston, South Carolina, Robinson’s tale weaves her family’s journal entries and letters with a novelist’s narrative grace, and spans the life of her tragic hero, Frank Dawson, as he attempts to navigate the country’s new political, social, and moral landscape. Dawson, a man of fierce opinions, came to this country as a young Englishman to fight for the Confederacy in a war he understood as a conflict over states’ rights. He later became the editor of the Charleston News and Courier, finding a platform of real influence in the editorial column and emerging as a voice of the New South. With his wife and two children, he tried to lead a life that adhered to his staunch principles: equal rights, rule of law, and nonviolence, unswayed by the caprices of popular opinion. But he...

42 minFEB 1
Comments
Roxana Robinson, “Dawson’s Fall”
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