2020-2021 Lecture Series in Partnership with the Wellesley Library

Open History, Enter Democracy
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7pm

Photo courtesy of Justin Saglio

For the first of three free virtual lectures, the Society proudly presents a free virtual talk by Nat Sheidley entitled Open History, Enter Democracy, on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 7pm.

About the Talk:

In 2020, Revolutionary Spaces launched as a new public history organization on Boston’s Freedom Trail. This talk introduces the two nationally significant historic sites we care for—Boston’s Old State House and Old South Meeting House—and argues that uniting them in a single visitor experience creates a new cultural resource unlike any other, where our nation’s most urgent questions first took shape and where the work of answering them can continue today. Using recent efforts to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Boston Massacre as a lens, we will explore the challenges of connecting past and present in a way that is relevant to all.

About Nathaniel Sheidley:

Nathaniel Sheidley is the first President and CEO of Revolutionary Spaces, a new cultural organization dedicated to connecting people to the history and continuing practice of democracy through an encounter with two of the nation’s most important Revolutionary sites. Previously Nat taught at Wellesley College and served as the Bostonian Society’s Director of Public History. He has curated and provided creative direction for numerous exhibitions and programs, including Blood on the Snow, an immersive, site-specific work of theater that dramatizes the pivotal aftermath of the Boston Massacre in the very room where the events took place. Nat’s work is guided by a deeply held belief that public history at its best can do more than tell us about the past; it can also deepen our understanding of the present and equip us to build a more just and equitable future.

Advanced Registration Required via Zoom. Click here to register.

Ben Franklin, The Early Years
Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 7pm

Join the Wellesley Historical Society on Thursday, April 22nd at 7pm for our second virtual lecture in our lecture series, Robert Martello’s talk on Ben Franklin, The Early Years.

About the Talk:

Benjamin Franklin is rightly praised for his transformative achievements as a scientist, statesman, philanthropist, diplomat, and inventor, and the city of Philadelphia hails him as one of their greatest heroes. In this talk, Robert Martello, Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Olin College, will explore Franklin’s earliest years. Franklin’s story begins right here in Boston with his childhood as one of the 17 children of a hardworking candle maker, and his earliest experiences allowed him to develop the skills that catapulted him to worldwide fame. Franklin’s experiences as an apprentice printer, his daring and illegal relocation to Philadelphia, and his dynamic career as a young printer, newspaper editor, postmaster, and writer offer a thrilling story of artisan traditions, literary and entrepreneurial innovation, and social mobility in early America.

About Robert Martello:

Dr. Robert Martello is a Professor of the History of Science and Technology at Olin College of Engineering, where he teaches innovative courses such as “Six Microbes that Changed the World.” Professor Martello has researched topics such as interdisciplinary integration and intrinsic motivation, and has delivered educational workshops for teachers, administrators, and public audiences around the world. A graduate of MIT’s program in the History and Social Study of Science and Technology, he is the author of Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise, a study of how Paul Revere’s manufacturing career helped pioneer America’s transition into the industrial age. Professor Martello is currently researching Benjamin Franklin’s printing and business endeavors, and regularly lectures on Revere and Franklin, our “Founding Makers,” for audiences of all backgrounds.

Advanced Registration Required via Zoom. Click here to register.

A Brief Literary History of New England
Thursday, May 27, 2021 at 7pm

Join the Wellesley Historical Society on Thursday, May 27th at 7pm for our third and final virtual lecture this spring: Robert Allison’s talk entitled A Brief Literary History of New England.

About the Talk:

Robert Allison, Professor of History at Suffolk University, will give us a brief overview of some of the literary lights of New England during the 18th and 19th Centuries, including such figures as Mather, Franklin, Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, Stowe, Hale, and Poe. He will discuss the interactions of these individuals with Boston society in order to provide more insight into the prevailing mores of their times.

About Robert Allison:

Robert J. Allison is a professor of history at Suffolk University. He chairs Revolution 250 and is also the president of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, a Life Trustee of the USS CONSTITUTION Museum, a Fellow of the American Antiquarian Society and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and an honorary member of the Massachusetts Chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati.

In addition to Stephen Decatur, American Naval Hero (2004) his books include A Very Short Introduction to the American Revolution (2015), A Short History of Cape Cod (2011), A Short History of Boston (2004), and The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World 1776-1815 (2000).

He earned his doctorate at Harvard (History of American Civilization) and his undergraduate degree at the Harvard Extension School, where he has taught since 1993.

Advanced Registration Required via Zoom. Click here to register.


For more information about our programs, please call the Society at (781) 235-6690 or email director@wellesleyhistoricalsociety.org.