“Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award” at the Boston Public Library

The Associates of the Boston Public Library cordially invite you to their Hundred-Year Retroactive Book Award, a competition that weighs the enduring literary merits of three bestsellers, all published in 1917. Contenders for the prize are T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock and Other Observations, Mohandas Gandhi’s Third Class in Indian Railways, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s His Last Bow: An Epilogue of Sherlock Holmes. The books will be defended by poet and author Charles Coe, Michael Patrick MacDonald, memoirist, and suspense author Jacquelyn Mitchard respectively. Author Stona Fitch will moderate the irreverent debate, after which the audience will vote to determine the winner. A reception with the panelists will follow.

Insider Tour of the Historic Omni Parker House

Where did Charles Dickens practice his reading of “A Christmas Carol” before speaking in front of an American audience? Where did the Transcendentalists hang out on the last Saturday of every month? Where did Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X work before they were Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X?

House historian Susan Wilson is back by popular demand to uncover the rich literary history of the Omni Parker House. Don’t miss this private talk and tour of the hotel, retracing the steps of renowned writers, including those of the “Golden Age of American Literature” like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Longfellow as well as Mark Twain, Willa Cather, and Britain’s Charles Dickens.

This event is limited to the first 15 registrants. (Note: this event always sells out.) Once registered via Eventbrite, please meet up at Parker’s Bar at the appointed day and time, a half flight up from the 60 School Street entrance to the hotel.

ROSALYN ELDER on Massachusetts’ African American Heritage

The Boston Public Library welcomes author ROSALYN ELDER for an exploration of African American Heritage in Massachusetts. This combination tourist guide and history book explores the contributions of African Americans to the history of Massachusetts through 742 sites around the state.  Ignorance about these contributions have blinded many to the vision, faith, and determination that allowed these ancestors to persevere and accomplish so much in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

“Black Orators: By Word and By Pen” at the Museum of African American History

The Museum of African American History is pleased to host an evening of history, poetry and music dedicated to the unwavering persistence shared in three literary giants:  MARIA STEWART (1803-1879), DAVID WALKER (c.1797-1830) and SAMUEL ALLEN (1917-2015).

MARIA STEWART was the first woman to speak to a mixed-gender audience in public to address political topics. DAVID WALKER wrote and published An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World.  As orators and publishers, both contributed to the African American literary canon. Maria Stewart and David Walker were good friends and neighbors on Joy Street.  After David died, Maria often quoted him and his efforts to unite black people.

SAMUEL ALLEN, whose pen name was Paul Vesey, began his literary career in Europe where he was a contemporary of Richard Wright and James Baldwin.  First recognized in Europe in the late 1940s and early 1950s, his reputation spread to the U.S. in the 1960s.  His poetry books include Ivory Tusks and Other Poems and Paul Vesey’s Ledger.  Allen served on the Board of the Museum of African American History for over ten years.

L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Education, Museum of African American History will provide historical context.  Castle of Our Skins musicians will perform the work of black composers including String Quartets by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Spoken word artist, Regie Gibson, will recite original poetry and select readings from the pens of Stewart, Walker and Allen.


6:00 pm     Maria Stewart and David Walker

History Talk by L’Merchie Frazier, Director of Education & Interpretation, Museum of African American History

81 Joy Street, Beacon Hill

6:15 pm     Reception

African Meeting House, 46 Joy Street

7:00 pm     The Music of Black Composers, Castle of Our Skins

Tribute to Black Orators, Regie Gibson

African Meeting House, 46 Joy Street

This program is made possible with support from the National Parks of Boston “Art on the Trails to Freedom” initiative, the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

ANDREA PITZER on One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps

Harvard Book Store and the Nieman Foundation welcome Nieman Storyboard founder ANDREA PITZER—author of The Secret History of Vladimir Nabokov—for a discussion of her latest book, One Long Night: A Global History of Concentration Camps.

In this harrowing work based on archival records and interviews during travel to four continents, PITZER reveals for the first time the chronological and geopolitical history of concentration camps.  Beginning with 1890’s Cuba, she pinpoints concentration camps around the world and across decades.  Often justified as a measure to protect a nation, or even the interned groups themselves, camps have instead served as brutal and dehumanizing sites that have claimed the lives of millions.

This event is not ticketed.

One Long Night will be on sale at the event for 20% off.

ELI FINKEL on the “All-or-Nothing Marriage”

If you think you know all there is to marriage, don’t be afraid to put that to the test. Brookline Booksmith welcomes ELI J. FINKEL, professor at Northwestern University, to read from and discuss his book The All-or-Nothing Marriage.

The institution of marriage in America is struggling, but— as FINKEL’s most recent research reveals— the best marriages today are better than the best marriages of earlier eras.  FINKEL provides a sweeping historic overview, showing that the primary functions of marriage from 1620 to 1850 revolved around food, shelter, and protection from violence.  From 1850 to 1965, the primary functions increasingly revolved around love, companionship, and sexual fulfillment.  Nowadays, a new kind of marriage has emerged, one that can promote self-discovery, self-esteem, and personal growth like never before.

This event is free and open to the public.

The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship

New England is the land of history, some of which is still mysterious from lack of recorded information.  For all history buffs out there, take note!  Porter Square Books welcomes author JILL FARINELLI for a reading of her historical nonfiction book, The Palatine Wreck: The Legend of the New England Ghost Ship.

Two days after Christmas in 1738, a British merchant ship traveling from Rotterdam to Philadelphia grounded in a blizzard on the northern tip of Block Island, twelve miles off the Rhode Island coast. The ship carried emigrants from the Palatinate and its neighboring territories in what is now southwest Germany. The 105 passengers and crew on board—sick, frozen, and starving—were all that remained of the 340 men, women, and children who had left their homeland the previous spring. They now found themselves castaways.

Shortly after the wreck, rumors began to circulate that the passengers had been mistreated by the ship’s crew and by some of the islanders. The stories persisted, transforming over time as stories do and, in less than a hundred years, two terrifying versions of the event had emerged.  In one account, the crew murdered the captain, extorted money from the passengers by prolonging the voyage and withholding food, then abandoned ship. In the other, the islanders lured the ship ashore with a false signal light, then murdered and robbed all on board. Some claimed the ship was set ablaze to hide evidence of these crimes, their stories fueled by reports of a fiery ghost ship first seen drifting in Block Island Sound on the one-year anniversary of the wreck. These tales became known as the legend of the Palatine, the name given to the ship in later years, when its original name had been long forgotten. The flaming apparition was nicknamed the Palatine Light.

This event is free and open to the public.


The Suffragents: the hidden history of the men behind the struggle for women’s suffrage

Porter Square Books is pleased to welcome NYU journalism professor BROOKE KROEGER for a reading and discussion of The Suffragents.

The Suffragents is the untold story of how some of New York’s most powerful men formed the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, which grew between 1909 and 1917 from 150 founding members into a force of thousands across thirty-five states. KROEGER explores the formation of the League and the men who instigated it to involve themselves with the suffrage campaign, what they did at the behest of the movement’s female leadership, and why. Led by such luminaries as Oswald Garrison Villard, John Dewey, Max Eastman, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, and George Foster Peabody, members of the League worked the streets, the stage, the press, and the legislative and executive branches of government. In the process, they helped convince waffling politicians, a dismissive public, and a largely hostile press to support the women’s demand. Together, they swayed the course of history.

This event is free and open to the public.


Book Release Party: Boston 1945-2015

Russ Lopez will read selections from and sign copies of his new book, Boston 1945-2015: The Decline and Rebirth of a Great World City. Published by Shawmut Peninsula Press, this book traces the path of the city from its decades of economic depression that marked it as one of the most distressed urban areas in the country to its current prosperity that is the envy of cities around the world. This story includes the new residents of the city who are creating and benefiting from this turn around and those others who have been pushed out and closed off from the new economy powering Boston.

This event is free and open to the public.