The Trials of Old New England Towns in a New Nation
Mary Fuhrer, Independent Scholar
6:00pm (with 5:30 reception)
We tend to think of New England towns in the first decades of the 19th century as peaceful, bucolic havens -- they were not. In this talk, Mary Babson Fuhrer will discuss the remarkable stories of conflict and transformation that reshaped local communities in the decades leading up to the Civil War. As people struggled to work out the promises of the Revolution on the personal level, contrary ideals of community identity and individual interests clashed, until, as one observer noted, "the most malignant passions of our depraved natures raged." The diaries, letters, and account books she draws on form the basis of her recent book, Crisis of Community: Trials and Transformation of a New England Town, 1815-1848.
Mary Babson Fuhrer is a public historian and independent scholar who lives in Littleton, Mass. Fuhrer provides research, interpretation, and programs for humanities associations, museums, historical societies, and educational institutions. She specializes in using primary sources to recover everyday lives from the past. Her scholarship has received generous support from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium. Fuhrer was recently awarded the Massachusetts History Commendation for 2014 by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. She is currently pursuing research on the illness narratives of consumptives (tubercular patients) across gender, class, ethnicity, and race in antebellum New England.