American Studies Seminar

Fall 2024

Living in New England in the Age of Revolutions

Instructor: Dr. Joseph M. Adelman, Framingham State University

Massachusetts SpyPopular accounts of the American Revolution often emphasize the contributions of New England. When they invoke the region, they frequently mean Massachusetts, more specifically Boston, and often a set of fifteen to twenty men in particular—occasionally narrowed down simply to two Adamses, a Hancock, perhaps an Otis and Cushing, and maybe a Benjamin Edes or Paul Revere. This course will expand that perspective. New England encompassed a broad geography and range of experiences during the second half of the eighteenth century. There were, of course, those anti-imperial protestors who later founded a state and a nation. But many in New England were Loyalists, and many more than that avoided taking sides. Thousands of women, children, African Americans, and Indigenous people navigate the tumult in their own ways.

In the 1750s, “New England” encompassed just four colonies—perhaps part of a fifth, depending on how one feels about New York’s claims to the territory that would become Vermont. By the 1820s, the northeastern corner of the United States was home to six states that contained the full spectrum of American economic and cultural activity. We will explore the dramatic changes that New Englanders experienced through these decades and how they shaped the world around them. That will include study of the origins of the American Revolution, interactions between Native and European peoples, the anti-slavery movement, the rise of industry, women’s work, the impact of revolutions in France, Haiti, and Latin America, and more. The collections at the American Antiquarian Society are ideal for an investigation into many aspects of life in revolutionary New England. The AAS holds manuscript collections related to hundreds of individual men and women, town, colony, and state records, and a plethora of printed material from books and pamphlets to thousands of newspaper issues. Over the course of the semester, we will explore how these sources can illuminate life in New England during this transformative era.

Dr. Joseph Adelman is assistant professor of history at Framingham State University and assistant editor for digital initiatives at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture. He has written several articles on printers during the Revolution, and his book, Revolutionary Networks: The Business and Politics of Printing, 1763–1789, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2019. Adelman was elected to American Antiquarian Society membership in October 2019. He was a Stephen Botein Fellow in 2007-08 and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in 2001-12.

Working with primary materials in the libraryWHEN AND WHERE
The seminar will meet Thursday afternoons, from 2-4 p.m., at the American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts.

The 20218 American Studies Seminar class led by Holly JacksonWHO IS ELIGIBLE
The seminar welcomes applications from students enrolled at one of the five participating institutions whose academic record, personal statement, and letter of recommendation indicate a commitment to academic excellence, the ability to work independently, and a sincere interest in the seminar’s subject matter.

Apply Online

Previous American Studies Seminars

2023 Water, Land, and Ecology: Doing Environmental History in Early America Len Von Morzé
2022 We Protect Us: Early American Histories of Mutual Aid and Community Care Britt Rusert
2021 A Second and More Glorious Revolution: Protest and Radical Thought in the Nineteenth-Century United States Holly Jackson
2019 Pirates in Early America Lisa H. Wilson
2018 Early American Transgender Studies Jen Manion
2017 Industrializing Massachusetts: Lowell, Springfield, and Worcester, 1800-1875 Robert Forrant
2016 The Worm in the Apple: Slavery, Emancipation, and Race in Early New Englan Joanne Pope Melish
2015 The North's Civil War: Union and Emancipation Kevin M. Levin
2014 Portraits, Dolls, and Effigies: Humans as Objects in America Caroline Frank
2013 The Nineteenth-Century Networked Nation: The Politics of American Technology, 1776-1876 Daniel Klinghard
2012 Reason, Revival, and Revolution: Religion in America's Founding, 1726-1792 Stephen A. Marini
2011 Dressing Democracy: Clothing and Culture in America Hannah Carlson
2010 History of Sexuality in Early America Sarah Anne Carter
2009 America's Environmental Histories Megan Kate Nelson
2008 "Written by himself... Written by herself" American Life Stories: The Northern United States 1780-1860 Jack Larkin
2007 Captive Histories: Puritan Captivity Narratives and Native Stories from the Era of the Colonial Wars, 1675-1760 Kevin Sweeney
2006 Personal Narratives from the Age of the American Revolution, Or Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times Joseph Cullon
2005 Childhoods Actual and Imagined: New England, 1790-1860 Jack Larkin
2004 Communication in the Early Nation: Literacy and Print in America, 1750-1840 Catherine A. Corman
2003 Imagining the Civil War: Race, Gender and the Popular Culture, 1860-1877 Carolyn J. Lawes
2002 Private Writings: Their Uses and Value for History and Literature Helen R. Deese
2001 Crime, Punishment, and Popular Culture in Early America, 1674-1860 Daniel A. Cohen
2000 Romanticism Confronts History: Literary and Material Culture in the United States, 1820-1876 Harvey Green
1999 The Shaping of Historical Memory: Collecting the Artifacts of America's Past, 1790-1840 Barnes Riznik
1998 Seeing America First: Exploration and Imagination in North America, 1500-1900 Gregory H. Nobles
1997 Accounts of the Self: Autobiography and Personal Narrative in Antebellum America Ann Fabian
1996 Revolutionary Narratives: Memory and Desire in Antebellum America Wayne Franklin
1995 Wilderness Views: Nature as Other, Self, and Enterprise in American Culture c.1776-1900 Janice Simon
1994 Children's Books and Childhood Reading in Early America Samuel F. Pickering, Jr.
1993 The Invention of New England in the Nineteenth Century Dona Brown
1992 Little Women and Self-Made Men: Gender in the Nineteenth Century Lee Heller
1991 Slavery and Antislavery in American Civilization, 1820-1861 William W. Freehling
1990 Law and Society in America, 1760-1860 Jonathan M. Chu
1989 Religion in the American Revolution Stephen A. Marini
1988 Health and Health Care in America's Past Philip Cash
1987 The Constitution and the Press, 1787-1788: Popular Culture, Political Opinion, and the Ratification Debates Charles E. Clark
1986 The American Landscape John Conron
1985 Antebellum and Civil War Biography Betty Mitchell
1984 The Lethal Imagination: Perceptions of Western Violence in American Thought, 1850-1900 Robert R. Dykstra
1983 Ethnic America Before the Flood: The Irish and Others Charles Fanning
1982 High Culture, Low Culture: Recreation and Entertainment in Nineteenth-Century America Donald M. Scott
1981 Individual, Family, and Community in Eighteenth-Century New England Ross W. Beales
1980 Community Life in Preindustrial Worcester Kenneth Moynihan, Charles Estus
1979 Popular Culture in Preindustrial America, 1650-1850 David Hall
1978 Literature and Society in Jacksonian America: Writers Confront the Marketplace Stephen Nissenbaum

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