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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Friday, April 02, 2021

Monumental Events, Upcoming and Recorded

Here are links to four events, two upcoming and two already recorded, about how we preserve and commemorate American history in concrete forms.

Last November, historian Judy Anderson gave an online talk about “The History of Fort Sewall.” Marblehead built a fortification on a rocky point overlooking its harbor in 1644 and then rebuilt and strengthened the structure in several stages through the end of the eighteenth century.

Today the town uses the site as a public park. Anderson spoke about how changes at the fort reflected shifts in Marblehead and the broader Atlantic world.

That illustrated talk can now be viewed on YouTube.

On Wednesday, 7 April, the Paul Revere House and the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum in Arlington will host an online presentation about Cyrus Dallin, the sculptor who spent more than half a century working to see his statue of Paul Revere installed in the North End. In the meantime, Dallin created some other iconic sculptures, including the Angel Moroni on the Salt Lake Temple and the “Appeal to the Great Spirit” in front of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

“A 57-Year Ride: Cyrus Dallin’s Quest to Raise his Iconic Paul Revere Statue” will start at 6:30 P.M., and folks can register here.

On Thursday, 8 April, Revolutionary Spaces will host a panel discussion on the theme “A New Space for Our Ideals: Revolutionary-Era Buildings As Monuments.” The event description says:
Many Americans visit Revolutionary Era sites to connect to our national founding story and ideals. These places were not built as monuments, but previous generations turned them into just that: Iconic places that venerate the past to create a collective American identity. Yet the stories embedded in these sites are often of white founding fathers with ideas that continue to inspire us, and actions that fall well short of their rhetoric.

“A New Space for Our Ideals” asks us to reckon with the role these Revolutionary sites play as monuments in our society, and how we might view them as an invitation to a contemporary conversation about our national values.
The panelists for that discussion will be:
  • Gary Sandling, Vice President of Visitor Programs and Services at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  • Nathaniel Sheidley, CEO of Revolutionary Spaces
  • Kyera Singleton, Executive Director of the Royall House & Slave Quarters
  • Karin Wulf, Professor of History at William & Mary and Director of the Omohundro Institute
  • moderator Cristela Guerra, arts and culture reporter for WBUR’s The ARTery
That online event will start at 5:30 P.M., and here’s the registration link.

Finally, for a more light-hearted look at the same themes, Revolutionary Spaces also offers an installment of its Tea Party Tonight! “history-themed comedy talk show” with Rob Crean on the theme of “Monuments and Historical Memory.” This episode features as guests the artist and activist Tory Bullock and the historian Jacqueline Beatty. It can be viewed here.

All these online events are free to the public, so donations to the Marblehead Museum, Paul Revere House, Cyrus Dallin Art Museum, and Revolutionary Spaces are welcome.

(The photograph above shows Cyrus Dallin’s statue “Memory” in Sherborn.)

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