J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Needlework and Other Material Culture

The Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts, is hosting an exhibit on American needlework titled "Needles & Haystacks." It includes several pieces by young women and girls from New England. I suspect that some of them studied at Elizabeth Murray's school in Boston; as this page from Radcliffe says, she was a leading tutor in the needle arts and mentor to other businesswomen. (Detail from her Copley portrait to the left.)

The needlework exhibit was organized by the Winterthur Museum, which is an amazing testament to what happens when a crazed collector has all the money in the world.

In other material culture news, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts and the Center for Historic American Visual Culture at the American Antiquarian Society have issued a Call for Papers for a conference titled "Fields of Vision: The Material and Visual Culture of New England, 1600-1830." This will be held on 9-10 November 2007 in Boston and Worcester.

The conference write-up states:

It has been twenty-five years since the path-breaking exhibition "New England Begins" opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The exhibit, and its comprehensive three-volume catalogue, brought new scholarly attention to the art, artifacts and built environment of early New England. Since that time, the discipline of material culture has matured, while the emerging field of visual culture has brought new methods and genres to bear on the study of images, objects, landscapes and the technologies that shaped them.

This two-day conference...will assess new approaches to the material and visual culture of New England. Reflecting the scholarly trends that have emerged in the past quarter-century, the conference will extend the chronological scope of inquiry to embrace the eighteenth and early nineteenth century and will explicitly address the innovative work being done in the field of visual culture. We particularly welcome proposals that address Native American and African-American material and visual culture as well as proposals that engage broad theoretical, methodological, and historiographical approaches. The conference committee will consider individual submissions as well as panels with three papers and a moderator/commentator.
Two-page proposals accompanied by a two-page c.v. for each presenter should be sent via electronic mail to Georgia B. Barnhill, curator of graphic arts at the American Antiquarian Society. For further information, please contact her or Martha McNamara. The deadline for submissions is 1 December 2006.

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