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, May 20, 2021

Dublin Seminar on Disabilities, 25-26 June

The 2021 Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife will take place online on 25-26 June. This year’s theme is “Living with Disabilities in New England, 1630-1930.”

The founder and longtime director of the Dublin Seminar, Peter Benes, passed away in March. As a scholar, organizer, editor, and encourager of other researchers (like me), he embodied the spirit of this annual seminar, which sought to focus on ordinary people and the stuff of everyday life.

Peter and his colleagues held their first seminar in 1976 in Dublin, New Hampshire (hence the name). For over three decades now, the seminar has been hosted by Historic Deerfield. Last year’s meeting had to be postponed because of the pandemic, and this year’s will be online, but it will still come to us through Historic Deerfield.

The full schedule of presentations is available here. Among the papers that caught my eye:
  • Casey L. Green, “The Language of Impairment: Disability among New England Men, 1690-1800."
  • Andrew J. Juchno, “‘The Fancies and Whimsies of People over-run with Melancholy’: Melancholy and the New England Church from Cotton Mather to Jonathan Edwards”
  • Ross W. Beales, Jr. “‘either insane, enthusiastical, or in Liquor’: An Eighteenth-Century New England Minister’s Response to Mental Illnesses”
  • Katherine R. Ranum, “Hearing the Gospel in a Silent World: Understanding the Intersection of Theology, Disability and Religious Practice in the Early Modern British Atlantic”
  • Ben Mutshler, “For Service and Suffering: Invalid Pensioners in Colonial Massachusetts” 
  • Benjamin H. Irvin, “[‘A] number of Toes & a quantity of good health’: The ‘Black Regiment’ and Veterans’ Disability after the Revolutionary War”
  • Jennifer W. Reiss, “‘Pity That So Fine a Man Has Lost His Leg’: Gouverneur Morris and Early American Disability”
  • Jerad Pacatte, “‘Fitness for Freedom’: The Lived Experience of Disability, Enslavement, and Emancipation in Early New England”
Other sessions focus on the Civil War and later periods, and I might have missed some papers with eighteenth-century content because I didn’t see that in their titles.

Among the other sessions are a conversation with Laurie Block, Executive Director of Straight Ahead Pictures and the founder and Executive Director of the Disability History Museum, and a summary address by Nicole Belolan on “Folklife and the Material Culture of Disability History in Early America.”

There will be live captioning provided by CaptionAccess, and K-12 educators can sign up for professional development points.

Registration for the 2021 Dublin Seminar costs $75, $65 for seminar members, and $45 for students, and is available online. Registrants can request complimentary lecture abstracts through e-mail. The goal of the Dublin Seminar is to produce a volume of the best papers on each seminar’s topic a couple of years afterward.

(The picture above shows Gouverneur Morris’s artificial leg, courtesy of the New-York Historical Society.)

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