Taking Center Stage: Conflict & Collaboration in the Peopling of Massachusetts

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Taking Center Stage: Conflict and Collaboration in the Peopling of Massachusetts
A Conference for Massachusetts History Organizationslogo

Presented by Mass Humanities, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the University of Massachusetts Amherst Program in Public History, the Joseph P. Healey Library and the Public History Track at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Monday, June 11, 2012
9:00am - 4:00pm
Hogan Campus Center, College of Holy Cross, Worcester


To mark the 100th anniversary of the “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, known for a high level of collaboration between various groups of immigrants, the 2012 Massachusetts History Conference, will explore im/migration history. The conference will give special attention to theatrical expression as a tool for historians. The process we call “peopling” signifies the successive waves of migrants who move into any particular place, and presumes an empty slate at the start, and a full State at the end. The “peopling” of Massachusetts referred to in the conference title likely started some 10,000 years ago, and is in full swing today. This messy process has involved successive “waves” of internal and external migrants, jostling and helping each other, vying for “center stage” in smaller or larger theaters.

Detailed Schedule


9:00 – 9:30 AM Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM Mass History Commons
A place to exchange ideas and conversation, and to showcase your organization, projects, and products.
9:30 – 9:45 AM Welcome
9:45 – 10:45 AM
Keynote Address
The Power of Personal Narratives: Making Meaning of Communities in Conflict
Wendy Lement and Theatre Espresso - American Tapestry: Immigrant Children of the Bread and Roses Strike
10:45 - 11:00 AM Break
11:00 – 12: 15 PM
Concurrent Sessions A

1) Solidarity Forever: Collaborations in Lawrence
The success of the Bread and Roses Strike was in part the result of collaboration among various immigrant groups. Today, Lawrence is collaborating extensively on the strike's anniversary commemoration. Multiple local organizations are working together to create a community-wide celebration of immigrants, immigration, and labor history. Learn how a variety of commemorative programs can be implemented in other communities to commemorate other events. The session includes an in-depth study of the Lewis Hine project, in which Joe Manning has traced the lives of child workers whose images were captured in the photographs taken by Lewis Hine in his 1910-1911 visits to Lawrence.

Robert Forrant, Professor of History, Chair, Bread and Roses Centennial Committee, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Joe Manning, Lewis Hine Photograph Project

2) Documenting Undocumented History
As historians attempt to document undocumented history, issues arise around the legitimacy of immigration, some of which are addressed in the oral history installation exhibit PILGRIM FATHER/illegal son. At the same time, other historians are addressing issues involved with First Nations' materials located in local historical societies and museum collections. Who owns these materials, how should they be used, to whom should they be repatriated, and how can these materials be used in exhibits and programs appropriately and with sensitivity?

Mitchell Mulholland, Research Professor Anthropology (Emeritus), University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Wen-ti Tsen, Public Artist, PILGRIM FATHER/illegal son, Chinese Progressive Association

3) Outside the Melting Pot: Programs with and about Specific Immigrant Groups
Despite the “melting pot” of the United States, many immigrant groups retain their ethnic identity over time. The Salem Franco-American Oral History Project and Follow the Thread are two innovative projects that explore these retained group identities in creative ways. Join the directors of these projects to examine how organizations are using these projects to retain an identity that is threatened with loss, while at the same time connecting to recent immigrants who are having similar experiences as they struggle to maintain a sense of ethnic identity in today's society.

Jacqueline Cooper, Creator, Follow the Thread - America's Jewish Immigrants and the Birth of the Garment Industry
Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello, Associate Professor, Interdisciplinary Studies; Coordinator, American Studies, Salem State University
Kim Mancuso, Theater Artist and Director, Follow the Thread - America's Jewish Immigrants and the Birth of the Garment Industry

11:00 – 12: 15 PM
Concurrent Workshops A
(Space is limited. Pre-registration required.)

1) Skills Workshop: Practical Information for Immigration Projects (SOLD OUT)
Working on immigration projects brings a whole host of new challenges. Two experts on working with immigrants will address the practical issues that need to be considered when working with immigration history projects, particularly in partnership with representatives of the recent immigrant communities - language/translators, legal issues, community acceptance. Join us for this workshop to learn how to be more comfortable and sensitive working with your neighbors who have arrived from other parts of the globe.

Warren Goldstein-Gelb, Director, Welcome Project
Robert Hildreth, Director, FUEL: Families United in Educational Leadership

2) MHC Preservation Workshop: Bringing the Past into the Future: Historic Preservation Basics (SOLD OUT)
The Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) is the Commonwealth's principal historic preservation agency. Committed to preserving historic properties and sites in Massachusetts through planning, project review, grants, and education, the MHC administers many state and federal historic preservation programs and works closely with local communities and other partners to protect the Commonwealth's heritage for future generations. Join three senior MHC staff members for a basic introduction to the ways in which significant historic properties and sites in Massachusetts have been identified, officially recognized, and protected over the past 50 years. Learn about the responsibilities of municipally appointed historical commissions and historic district commissions. Gain a better understanding of the legal mechanism and financial incentives that are available to local governments, preservation advocates, and property owners concerned with preserving the historic character of their neighborhoods, communities and regions.

Betsy Friedberg, Director, National Register of Historic Places Program, Massachusetts Historical Commission
Chris Skelly, Director, Local Government Programs, Massachusetts Historical Commission
Michael Steinitz, Director, Preservation Planning

12:15 – 1:15 PM Lunch Buffet (vegetarian option available)
12:45 – 1:00 PM

BayState Legacy Award - Jessie Little Doe Baird

Axoneme of Massachusetts: Resisting The Economy of 'Peopling' Semantics

1:15 – 2:30 PM
Concurrent Sessions B

1) Collecting Immigrant History
Working with heritage organizations, cultural centers, and ethnic gathering places to preserve ethnic history provides the opportunity to develop strong ties to the immigrant group. Explore how historical organizations across the Commonwealth are working with heritage organizations to preserve these cultures and create exhibits and programs to bring these groups to the forefront of local history. Learn strategies and techniques that you can use in your own community to collaborate successfully with new partners.

Barbara Burgo, Curator, Cape Verdean Historical Trust
Carole De Christopher, Past President, Harwich Historical Society
Stanislaw Radosz, Executive Director, Polish Center of Discovery and Learning

2) Anne Makepeace Talks about Identity, Language, and Migration
In her career as a filmmaker, with Wampanoag and with Somalis in Springfield, Anne Makepeace has worked with people at both ends of the “Peopling of Massachusetts” spectrum: people whose legitimacy as occupants was discredited and who work to get it back, and people who have moved halfway across the world and gotten here quite recently. Rain in a Dry Land focuses on the question of what one has to do to “fit into” a larger society where one's practices may be frowned upon, or even illegal. Conversely, Wampanoag are working hard to establish an identity separate from that mainstream. We invite you to join Anne for screening parts of We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân) and Rain in a Dry Land to discuss the ongoing struggle for identity among diverse groups in Massachusetts.

Anne Makepeace, Producer/Director/Writer, Makepeace Productions

3) Natives and Strangers in Conflict: Exhibitions
Conflict between “natives” and “strangers” is an often-repeated theme in immigration history. Through an exploration of two exhibits that focus on this conflict at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, participants can gain insights into how organizations can use exhibits about immigration conflict to stimulate community conversation.

Barbara Berenson, Senior Attorney, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, The Case of Sacco and Vanzetti: Justice on Trial
Mary Beth Meehan, Photographer, City of Champions: A Portrait of Brockton Photography Project

1:15 – 2:30 PM
Concurrent Workshops B
(Space is limited. Pre-registration required.)

1) Skills Workshop: Thinking about Theatre in History Education (SOLD OUT)
Experts who use theatre as a means of expressing historical topics introduce workshop participants to the basic elements of historical interpretation, as well as the basic elements of theatre. Then using case studies, participants will learn how different theatre forms are used with an emphasis on advantages/disadvantages of each format, including what it takes to present it correctly.

Barbara Mathews, Deerfield Teachers' Center
Jim Moran, Director of Outreach, American Antiquarian Society
Jim O'Brien, Coordinator of Special Events and Performance, Old Sturbridge Village

2) MHC Preservation Workshop: Telling Immigration Stories through Historic Preservation (SOLD OUT)
Historic preservationists' efforts to protect community character and tell the broad stories of local, state, and national history through the historic built environment have long been entwined with the stories of immigrant people and the places they created. Mid-twentieth century urban renewal's destruction of historic ethnic neighborhoods – Boston's West End in particular – gave birth to the modern preservation movement, and neighborhood conservation remains a focal point for local documentation, planning, and advocacy today. Learn about recent historic preservation initiatives in two of Massachusetts' historically significant urban immigrant gateway communities, East Boston and New Bedford. In these communities local preservationists have taken innovative approaches to community outreach, utilized web-based historic research methods, and creative methods of interpreting local history to engage the public in order to tell the stories about the impact and influence of immigration.

Sarah D. Kelly, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance
Neil Larson, President, Larson Fisher Associates
Anne Louro, Historic Preservation Planner, City of New Bedford

2:30 – 2:45 PM Break
2:45 – 4:00 PM
Concurrent Sessions C

1) Settling in Massachusetts: Who, Where, When, and Why
Ever wonder why Cape Verdeans ended up in New Bedford, why Poles came to Holyoke and Chicopee, why Finns came to work in the cranberry bogs of Plymouth County, and Cambodians came to Lowell? Join Dr. Johnson for an overview of immigration patterns and populations in Massachusetts, both 19th century and post-1965 to help you better understand how your community fits into the larger immigration history of Massachusetts.

Marilynn Johnson, Professor of History, Boston College

2) Redefining Instead of Redlining: Immigrants and Community Projects in Lynn
Engaging local communities with your programs can make the difference between your organization being relevant or being a relic. Join us for an insightful discussion of how More Than a Number and The Highlands History Project are engaging their communities, particularly the younger generations. Learn how these programs were developed, what worked and what failed, and how the programs successfully engage the local communities.

Julia Greene, Scholar, The Highlands History Project
Wendy Joseph, Coordinator, The Highlands History Project
Sayon Soeun, Executive Director, Light of Cambodian Children
Sopheap Theam, Director, More than a Number

3) Community Histories of Food and Music
Explore intersections of people, customs, and ideas via accessible paths such as food and music. Learn how Discover Roxbury's ongoing project, The High Notes of Roxbury Jazz: An Oral History Project creates engaging public programming to explore questions such as “Did the movement of jazz musicians and Pullman Porters contribute to the birth of the Civil Rights Movement in Boston and nationally?” The Lowell Folklife Series explores how programming around foodways draws participants into deeper discussions of cultural history and ethnic identity.

Maggie Holtzberg, Director of Cultural Programming, Lowell National Historical Park
Derek Lumpkins, Executive Director, Discover Roxbury

2:45 – 4:00 PM
Workshop C
(Space is limited. Pre-registration required.)

Skills Workshop: Creating Theatre from Your Own Sources (SOLD OUT)
Interested in creating theatre from your own historical sources? Join our panel of experts in exploring the dramatic center of your historical source, as well as sources you can use to fill out the story. Following a discussion of practical suggestions, our panel with meet with workshop attendees individually to discuss their potential projects. Attendees will be required to send a précis of their sources and ideas to the panel prior to the conference.

Wendy Lement, Artistic Director, Theatre Espresso
Lynne Manring, Youth & Living History Programs Director, Deerfield Teachers' Center