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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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Revolutionary History for the February Vacation

When I was going to elementary school in Massachusetts, back in the last century, we called the weeklong break in February our “flu vacation.” That term dates from the great Influenza Epidemic of 1918, when many institutions closed for long periods to slow the spread of the virus. I understood that the state scheduled a week off from school at the dead of every winter for the same healthy reason.

These days, many museums schedule special family activities during that February vacation rather than help in making children stay home. Of course, the vacation already includes Presidents’ Day and usually Washington’s actual birthday. So there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy both learning about history and sharing viruses!

Monday, 18 February, 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.
Boston By Foot
Adams Family of Boston Walking Tour
Observe Presidents’ Day by following the words and history of four generations of Adamses. John, Abigail, and their descendants were prolific writers. The trove of documents they left behind intimately describe their lives, public service, and Boston from the eve of the Revolution to the turn of the twentieth century.
$15, $5 for members

Tuesday, 19 February, and Thursday, 21 February, 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.
Paul Revere House
Drop-In Family Activities: Exploring Home
What makes a house a home? Come explore some materials, techniques, and designs used in three centuries of construction in Boston. Facilitated by a staff member, families will have a chance to see some historic building materials up close and learn about the architecture found in and around the Paul Revere House. Design your own piece of block-printed wallpaper!
Free with admission to the Revere House

Friday, 22 February, 11:00 A.M. and 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 P.M.
Longfellow House–Washington’s Headquarters, Cambridge
Washington’s Birthday House Tours
The newly appointed commander-in-chief spent nine months in this mansion on Brattle Street, meeting people and facing challenges which shaped him in important ways for the rest of his life. Find out more while exploring the rooms Washington knew. Each tour takes about an hour.
Free; space is limited, so call 617-876-4491 or email reservationsat105@gmail.com to reserve spots

Sunday, 24 February, 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Salem Historical Society and Historic Salem, Inc.
Leslie’s Retreat; The Salem Resistance
March with invading redcoats or resistant colonial militia in Salem’s third annual interactive commemoration of “Leslie’s Retreat,” the 1775 confrontation in which townspeople and Essex County militia stopped British regulars from confiscating cannon. The reenactment is followed by an informal reception starting about noon at the First Church, a play reading at the Pickering House, and traditional music at O’Neill’s pub. To join the redcoats, don a red garment or scarf and meet at Hamilton Hall at 11:15. To stick with the colonists, gather at First Church at 11:30. Homemade costumes and musical instruments welcome. In the event of foul weather, the reenactment will take place inside First Church.
Free

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