History Camp: Networking galore


Last Saturday I went to History Camp in Boston. This is one of my favorite places to present and network. History Camp pulls in a huge variety of people: historians, genealogists, dramatic presenters, book authors, podcasters, and people interested in history. 2019 sessions included talks on women’s history, Boston history, archaeological digs, Vikings, Loyalism, jail records and the Bread and Roses strike, public history, and on and on. Recordings of many of the talks will be available within a few weeks.


Due to a prior commitment, I missed the morning sessions. I arrived while everyone was in a session so had ample time to explore the vendor booths and talk with the vendors. After some fun purchases from the History List booth, I spoke with Martha Bewick about her book Tranquility Grove: The Great Abolitionist Picnic of 1844. Perfect timing as my next talk will be about activism and agitation. She gave me some great ideas for places to look. And somehow we started talking about genealogy and colonists and Indian captivity (another future talk) and she pointed me towards a book about one of the captives. Score 1.

The next booth was for History at Play. Judith Kalaora, owner, was in a session (I caught the tail end of it–she was playing Dolly Madison) and I talked with the person manning her booth. Turns out this person is interested in her g-grandmother who suffered from the flu in 1918 and she wants to write a 1-woman play about that. She also gave me another road to go down re: 1918 flu research–one that I did not know about prior to our discussion. We will definitely be touching base in April. Score 2.

At her encouragement, I followed up with Judith later and she taught me that Dolly Madison was the first to bring ice cream to the U.S. (I think I have that right). In an effort to help her husband, she invited the wives of politicians to send her their favorite recipes and she would often serve those dishes when the politician and wife were invited to dinners hosted by James and Dolly Madison. She promised to follow up with information about a book describing this and some of the recipes that were shared. This may play a role in my research into recipes. Score 3.

I attended 2 afternoon sessions before teaching my own session. The first was about the Sowams Heritage Area. Although I had not heard about this before the session, it’s on my bucket list, perhaps for this summer. This is a list and map of heritage sites associated with the Sowams area, home of the Massasoit, and the English intrusion into that land. Some of my ancestors may have been in the area. They have a fabulous website. Score 4. No networking involved here, but I found a new resource of interest.


The last session was the one I was most excited about. Bernard Trubowitz used records from the Essex County Jail (closed in the late 1980s) to talk about participants in the Bread and Roses strike. What a wonderful resource for my next talk. Score 5. I spoke with him before the presentation and he is very willing to share his knowledge. The records are now at the Lawrence History Center. You can read more about him and his work that led to his talk here. historycamp3

As always, I walked away with new friends, a to-do list of contacts, and new resources to work with.

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