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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Sunday, January 12, 2014

“For Adams’s Sake” Talk in Medford, 15 Jan.

I’m breaking away from the last act of the Deborah Champion saga to note an event this week at the Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford.

On Wednesday, 15 January, the site will host an illustrated talk by Allegra di Bonaventura, an assistant dean at Yale, on her book For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England.

Di Bonaventura studied the diary that Joshua Hempstead, an established farmer, tradesman, and magistrate in New London, Connecticut, kept from 1711 to 1758—one of the most remarkable records of daily life in colonial New England. In particular, she looked at what that document reveals about the life and work of Adam Jackson, who was Hempstead’s slave for more than thirty years. He was part of the household, and by some definitions part of the family, but also part of Hempstead’s assets and estate.

Here’s an article about the Hempstead diary, and here’s a link to the 1901 edition, open to the page on which Hempstead recorded buying Adam for £85. He seems to have done so as part of settling an estate, but some sort of lawsuit followed. The story is undoubtedly easier to read in Di Bonaventura’s book.

The talk starts at 7:30 P.M. It’s free to Royall House members, $5 for others. There’s on-street parking around the site, and it’s also on the 96 and 101 bus lines.

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