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, November 13, 2010

Meeting Jane Mecom in Quincy, 18 Nov.

Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy will present a lecture by Harvard historian Jill Lepore at 7:00 P.M. on Thursday, 18 November, in Shrader Lecture Hall. The history department’s announcement says:

Titled “Poor Richard’s Poor Jane,” Lepore’s lecture is based on her forthcoming biography of Benjamin Franklin and his sister, Jane Mecom.
Lepore’s lecture is free and open to the public. On Wednesday night I spotted a poster about this lecture and two others, which were already past.

Jane Mecom was also the subject of a biography by Carl Van Doren, published posthumously in 1950. It’s based mostly on the letters that she and Franklin exchanged, which Van Doren also published, and their letters with other family members. There’s been a lot of scholarship on women’s lives since that book, as well as a lot of cultural change, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Lepore has new insights to share.

Thumbing through Van Doren’s book, I see that in 1789 Mecom told Franklin:
If my dear Brother would add to his superscriptions [i.e., addresses] of his letters “At the back of the North Church,” I might get them the readier.
That’s another example of post-Revolutionary Bostonians using the term “North Church” to apply to Christ Church, as Paul Revere did in his 1798 account of his ride. Longfellow later called it “the old North Church,” which stuck.


Chris said...

What great events. Wish I lived close enough to take advantage of this.

Charles Bahne said...

My understanding is that Jane Mecom's house was on Unity Street, immediately adjacent to (and behind) Christ Church a/k/a "Old North Church". I believe that her house stood in what is now a courtyard next to the Clough House; in other words, it was at the base of the present stairway leading up to the church from the Paul Revere Mall. This 1789 letter seems to further confirm what J.L. said in his 2007 posting -- that by 1790, people were commonly referring to Christ Church as the "North Church".

DAG said...

This sounds great, and it is right in my backyard. Thanks for letting us know.