Mass Humanities online event: Threats to our Democracy in Historical Context:

Threats to our Democracy in Historical Context
Thursday, Nov. 19: 7:00-8:00 pm

What can we learn about the current state of our democracy by examining it within the long arc of American history? Please join us for the first event in our “Let’s talk about our democracy” series, hosted by Mass Humanities, for an informative and engaging exploration of this question.

Peter Levine, an expert on civic engagement, will moderate a conversation and audience Q&A with Suzanne Mettler and Robert Lieberman, authors of the new book Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy. By studying previous periods in history when our democracy has been in peril, they discovered four recurring threats: political polarization, racism and nativism, economic inequality, and excessive executive power. Today, for the first time in American history, all four threats are present at the same time, a convergence that marks a grave moment in our democratic experiment. Yet history also points the way to imagine a path toward repairing our civic fabric and renewing democracy. We hope you will join us for this important conversation!

Peter Levine, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life.

Suzanne Mettler, the John L. Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University.

Robert C. Lieberman, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Mettler and Lieberman’s Four Threats: The Recurring Crises of American Democracy, you can click here for options.

To register: Click here to register. A few days before the event, you will receive an email from Jennifer Hall-Witt, Program Officer at Mass Humanities, with the link to access this event.

Questions? Please email Jennifer Hall-Witt at

Click to register

Sign up for Mass History Alliance Conversations on the Commons

Conversations on the Commons: Local Cultural Council grants, COVID & the new normal, and more

Late fall Conversations on the Commons

These interactive community conversations are a great way to come together, share ideas with your peers, and learn what organizations all around the commonwealth are up to.

November 6 – History funding from Local Cultural Councils: A conversation about applying for grants

November 13 – Six months and counting of COVID: Are you finding a new normal?

December 4 – Holidays in history, and end of year fundraising and merchandising

December 18 – Cooking the Past: Commons Holiday Cooking Show

Contributing panelists will share their experiences and reflect on their struggles and successes. Workshop your LCC application, learn about using Google Expeditions, share your merchandising successes, and cook up a storm with Margo Shea!

Conversations on the Commons are exciting opportunities for history organizations to meet with one another and share their thoughts in an ever-changing world and field.

Join us for an online, interactive dialogue that gives people from the Massachusetts history community an opportunity to learn from each other, share ideas, vent, empathize, laugh, complain, think, collaborate, brainstorm, plan, and generally get up to no good.  Their website with more information:

We invite our colleagues from the Commonwealth’s public and community history organizations to submit ideas for future conversations, and participate as peer panelists and moderators.


The Women are Coming to Vote

South Williamstown Community Association

 Historic Preservation+Community+Neighborhood Voic

The Women are Coming to Vote

The hundredth anniversary of the first vote cast by a woman in a presidential election after the 19th Amendment was passed is being celebrated locally by the Northern Berkshire Suffrage Centennial Coalition.

That voter was Phoebe Jordan, a farmer who lived in New Ashford, Massachusetts.  On November 2, 1920, there were 28 registered voters in New Ashford, and Phoebe Jordan was first in line.  New Ashford, for four presidential election cycles – from 1916 to 1932 – was the first town in the country to report its election results.

The Women Are Coming to Vote, a special program coming to you by video produced by Willinet, will be broadcast on Willinet during election week on Channel 1303

            October 30      8pm

            October 31      4pm

            November 1    7pm

            November 2    8pm

 and will be available any time on this link  Shot on location at the restored New Ashford school house where Phoebe voted, starring the actual ballot box she used, it features historian Dr. Barbara Winslow, founder/director emerita of the Shirley Chisholm Project at Brooklyn College, and Cindy Grosso of the New Ashford Historical Commission giving a brief historical introduction.

 This is followed by a reading of a satiric suffrage play published by actress/suffragist Mary Shaw in 1914.  Mary Shaw became involved in the suffrage movement in the early 1890s and was best known for her portrayal of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler.  Originally titled The Woman in It or Our Friends the Anti-Suffragists, the play was adapted and directed by Ruth Giordano and re-named Utterly Womanly.  The readers are Penny Bucky, Deb Burns, Bette Craig, Nina Keneally and Dawn Rodrigues.

This project is part of a year-long celebration of women gaining the right to vote and is supported by a grant from the Fund for Williamstown of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.  Its constituents and planners have included the South Williamstown Community Foundation, the Williamstown League of Women Voters, the Williamstown Historical Museum, the New Ashford Historical Commission, Williams College and Images Cinema as well as many interested individuals.  Coming next, a video tour of local suffrage sites.

400 Years and Beyond: Commemorating historic events in the twenty-first century

Conversations on the Commons invites you to:


400 Years and Beyond: Commemorating historic events in the twenty-first century

October 23, 2020, 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

A Conversation with Linda Coombs, program director at the Aquinnah Cultural Center, Desiree Mobed, Director at the Alden House Historic Site, and Michelle Pecoraro, Executive Director of Plymouth 400After 400 years of colonization of Massachusetts by Europeans, we enter a period of town anniversaries. How can we use them as an occasion to start addressing that “settlement” in Massachusetts also meant “displacement”, the beginning of attenuated conflict, and the “disappearing” of Native American presence and history, often in plain sight? As some leading organizations change their identities to be more inclusive, how are you approaching these events in your own towns and institutions? Do you have celebrations coming up? What can we do to bring residents together and start telling these complex stories? Are you working on this? Are you wondering how to move forward, and thinking about how to mark significant anniversaries without celebrating conflict and dispossession? Bring your questions, observations, and experiences, as well as your obstacles and successes in reframing narratives and using your collections in a new way.

The conversation will be moderated by Gloria Greis, Executive Director at the Needham History Center & Museum. Registration is free.

REGISTER HERE or visit the Mass History Commons to learn more.

This event will be livestreamed. We will do our best to monitor questions and comments during the livestream. A recording will be publicly available in the Conversations on the Commons Archive.

Questions? Be in touch with Caroline Littlewood:

32 actors of stage and screen do a READ IN DuBois’ Black Reconstruction in America

Beginning Aug. 28 and running through Nov. 3, actors of stage and screen will do a marathon Read In of

Black Reconstruction in America. 

By W.E.B. Du Bois

Here is a link to the Read In Series site:

Here is a link to the podcast Housatonic Heritage created about how the Read In happened, a talk with producer MiRi Park and with W.E.B. Du Bois scholar Camesha Scruggs. (click on Podcasts and other Inspirations here, below):

Camesha Scruggs has worked with Housatonic Heritage on video recorded walking tours of WEB Du Bois’ Gt. Barrington, seen here:


Gender Matters: Voting, citizenship and the long 19th amendment

Gender Matters:  Voting, citizenship, and the long 19th amendment.

Aug. 26, 2020, 4 p.m., via zoom


A Radcliffe Series, linked here


Mum Bett exhibit and Mum Bett Walk to Freedom, in Sheffield

The Sheffield Historical Society will present an outdoor exhibit celebrating Mum Bett, the first slave to successfully sue for freedom, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Sunday, Aug. 21 to 23, on the Society grounds, 159 Main St., next to the Town Hall parking lot.

The exhibit is a collaboration with the Trustees of Reservations, Housatonic Heritage and Crow Flies Press.

The exhibit is free and open to the public and follows social distancing and mask guidelines. For more information visit or call 413-229-2694.

The 11th annual “Mum Bett Walk to Freedom” will be held Sunday, Aug. 23. The 4 mile walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Ashley House, 117 Cooper Hill Road, Ashley Falls, and ends at the Sheffield Town Green.

Bring a mask and water bottle. Social distancing precautions apply. No shuttle transportation will be provided this year.

This is also a Black Lives Matter march and signs are welcome. All pledges will be donated to the Berkshire Chapter of the NAACP.

For more information or to sign up, call Crow Flies Press at 413-429-6561.

Mass History Alliance, Conversations on the Commons: Reopening Part III

Conversations on the Commons invites you to:

Reopening, Part III: Planning for the fall

A conversation with Lesley Herzberg and Katie MacDonald

It’s official: we’re now in Phase III. While some places are staying closed through the summer, others are back to welcoming the public, with modifications. In these unprecedented times, history organizations across the state are redefining “open,” re-envisioning fall programming, and rethinking metrics of success. Join us on July 24th for the third in a series of informal conversations about reopening historic sites and organizations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peer panelists will be Katie MacDonald, Executive Director of the Old Colony History Museum and Lesley Herzberg,  Executive Director of the Berkshire County Historical Society. Conversation moderated by Penni Martorell, Curator and City Historian at Wistariahurst.

Friday July 24, 1:00-2:30 pm

Registration is free! After you register, we’ll send you an invitation to the meeting.


Black Artists Who Found Their Voices in the Berkshires

A talk by Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, co-hosted by The Westside Legends and The Mastheads.
Q&A to follow.
Facebook link here:
Zoom registration info here:
Black Artists Who Found Their Voices in the Berkshires
The Westside Legends and The Mastheads have partnered to bring Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed to Pittsfield for a discussion of black artists in the Berkshires. Frances Jones-Sneed is a professor of history and former Director of Women Studies at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts, and she has taught and researched local history for over twenty-five years.
The Westside Legends is a neighborhood group whose mission is to support and unite the Westside neighborhood of Pittsfield, and The Mastheads is a Pittsfield public humanities project that seeks to connect residents to the literary history of the region and create a forum for thinking about place. Its programming includes a writers’ residency, public conversation series, poetry workshops in public schools, and more, all centered around five sculptural architectural writing studios.