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, April 06, 2014

Meeting Saunders and Tremain at the Antiquarian Society

I’m interrupting my discussion of the Fleet printing families to mention two events at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester this spring about other Boston-born printers, real and fictional.

On Thursday, 10 April, Kenneth Carpenter will deliver the James Russell Wiggins Lecture in the History of the Book in American Culture on “The Incredible Journey of Franklin’s ‘Way to Wealth’.” Benjamin Franklin wrote his essay of that title in 1757 in the voice of Richard Saunders, almanac-maker, and ascribed its wisdom to an old man named “Father Abraham.” But it became a cornerstone of his public and historical persona. This talk will explore how Franklin’s text spread so widely and deeply into the western world.

Carpenter had a thirty-five-year career in Harvard University’s library system and published many works of bibliography and library history. He’ll start speaking at 7:00 P.M. This lecture is free and open to the public.

On Saturday, 10 May, the A.A.S. is hosting a hands-on history workshop for educators and others based around Esther Forbes’s novel Johnny Tremain. (As we all recall, when Johnny crippled his hand and couldn’t work with silver anymore, he found a job at the Boston Observer newspaper.)

The “Exploring Johnny Tremain workshop will examine the novel by the A.A.S.’s first female member. (Forbes was made a member over a decade after she’d used the library to research this novel and her Pulitzer-winning biography, Paul Revere and the World He Lived In.) The workshop description says:
In this award-winning novel, which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1943, Forbes follows a smart, charming, and somewhat reckless apprentice silversmith through a series of personal and political trials leading up to the Battles of Lexington and Concord. She not only paints a vibrant picture of Revolutionary-era Boston, but also tells a coming-of-age story that remains relevant today.

Joan Shelley Rubin will serve as lead scholar for the day placing the novel in the context of the time it was written. Participants will also examine original documents from the AAS collection that relate to the scenes and events in the novel, putting the story in its literary and historical context.

Whether you loved the novel as a child, are looking for ways to incorporate it into your classroom teaching, or are planning to introduce it to a child or grandchild of your own, you’ll find this workshop both enlightening and entertaining!
Rubin is Dexter Perkins Professor in History and Director of the American Studies program at the University of Rochester. She is the author of The Making of Middlebrow Culture, among other books, and co-editor-in-chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Cultural and Intellectual History.

Registration for this workshop is $65 for A.A.S. members and K-12 educators, $75 for others. That fee covers pre-readings, materials, refreshments, and lunch. Professional development points will be available for K-12 educators.

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