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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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Rev. Bentley Returns to Salem, 15 Feb.

Last week I sat in a Dublin Seminar meeting with Donald Friary, former director of Historic Deerfield and now a consultant to historical organizations. As usual, he was knowledgeable, helpful, and wise. I had no idea that Donald also does first-person history interpretation.

Which is to say, he’ll be holding forth as the Rev. William Bentley (shown here, looking rather little like Donald) at Salem’s Old Town Hall on Wednesday, 15 February, starting at 7:30 P.M.

Bentley was minister in that town’s East Parish from 1783 to 1819. He left an extensive diary full of gossip, opinions, and observations about life in Salem, which was then reaching its economic and cultural peak. It’s a terrific source that I’ve never explored in depth, but keep being led back to. There’s no doubt he’d be an interesting evening companion.

Tickets for this event are $10 for general admission, and $5 for students. You can buy them in advance at Old Town Hall Lectures or at the door.

This presentation is the first of the 2012 Old Town Hall Lecture Series in Salem. Upcoming events include:
  • 21 March: Bonnie Hurd Smith on her new book, We Believe in You: 12 Stories of Courage, Action, and Faith from Massachusetts Women’s History
  • 18 April: Maryellen Smiley, curator, on the history of Brookhouse Residence for Women in Salem.
  • 16 May: public-television producer Andrew Giles Buckley on the 1787 Columbia Expedition, the first American trade voyage around the globe.

2 comments:

Jan Dumas said...

That third event sounds interesting. I am not fond of historical interpreters my self. A bit to much pretending, and not enough history.

J. L. Bell said...

I find historical interpreters bring a variety of backgrounds to their work. Some are actors interested in history, others historians with a performing bent, and some are primarily interested in recreating the experience of iiving in past style for themselves. All approaches have some strengths.