One of my favorite resources on the latest thinking in history is the Boston Area Early American History Seminar series at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Aside from a pronounceable acronym (BAEAHS?), it has everything I could wish for in an advanced history seminar. It's cheap (or even free, if you pick up the papers beforehand). It's open to all. It covers a broad range of topics and approaches. And there's never a final exam.
All seminars start on Thursday evenings at 5:15. A week or two before the date, the MHS makes a paper (30-60 pages long, usually) available to subscribers or anyone who visits the building at the end of Boylston Street. At the seminar, the author of the paper makes a few comments, and another expert in the field responds with details commentary, critique, and suggestions for further study or questions. Then the discussion becomes general. Professors, grad students, teachers, MHS employees, and the public (i.e., folks like me) all participate. Sandwiches and further discussion follow.
Since "early American" encompasses a lot of history, I'm listing just the sessions in the next academic year that touch on the Revolutionary era. For the full line-up, see the MHS page.
- 14 Sept 2006: Cornelia H. Dayton, University of Connecticut, and Sharon V. Salinger, University of California at Irvine, “Pre-Revolutionary Boston’s Residents and Strangers as Seen Through Robert Love’s Warning Book”; comment by Jacqueline Jones, Brandeis University.
- 5 Oct: Lisa Wilson, Connecticut College, “Cinderella in the News: The Codification of Stepfamily Stereotypes in Eighteenth-Century New England”; comment by Irene Q. Brown, University of Connecticut.
- 5 Nov: Ruth Wallis Herndon, University of Toledo, “Children of Misfortune: The Fates of Boston’s Poor Apprentices”; comment by Bruce Mann, Harvard Law School.
- 11 Jan 2007: Robert M. Krim, Boston History and Innovation Collaborative, “Using Economic History and an Innovation Perspective to Reinterpret Greater Boston’s History from 1629 to 1860: Methodology, Drivers of Innovation, and the Social-Scientific Interplay”; comment (and, I hope, translation into simple English) by James Anderson, Boston College.
- 1 Feb: Margot Minardi, Harvard University, “Movements and Monuments: The Politics of Commemoration in Abolitionist Boston”; comment by Len Travers, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Should there be a monument to Crispus Attucks or not? This was a nasty argument in Boston until the late 1800s.
- 1 Mar: Marty Rojas, University of Rhode Island, “Codifying Friendship: The Plan of Treaties 1776”; comment by a player to be named later.
- 5 Apr: Stephen Marini, Wellesley College, “The Transformation of American Religious Culture, 1750-1790: Patterns and Process”; comment by Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut.
- 21 June: Amanda Moniz, University of Michigan, “The Necessity and Practicability of Good-will”; comment by Peter Dobkin Hall, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.