The Public Humanist

The Public Humanist contributor: Maggi Smith-Dalton

Maggi Smith-Dalton began her singing career in cabarets and nightclubs and has maintained a parallel career as a public historian most of her life. Her work now combines historical musical performance and lecture, specializing in American music, history, and culture of the 19th and early 20th centuries. A former Boston Globe history columnist, she is the author of two books and co-author of a third. With her husband, she has recorded four albums and toured the USA and abroad. Website: Blog:

Grace, Beauty, and … Masculine Fire?

Prejudice has proved a formidable barrier to talented women in music. Historically, as now, education enables women to cross borders into heretofore unknown musical territory.


Tea, Strawberries, and Spirits

The religious movement known as “Spiritualism” permeated nineteenth-century life, growing so rapidly that, by 1869, Emma Hardinge [Britten](1823–1899), historian of the first two decades of the religion, estimated that there were eleven million Spiritualists “on the American continent” alone.


Hidden Gems of History at “Fabergé Revealed”

As we enter the dimly lit room, adorned with family portraits and photographs, Orthodox icons glowing on walls, a frisson of mixed excitement and sadness engulfs me. Here, at hand, are fragments from a historical saga which has haunted my imagination since childhood. We have been wandering in an artistic wonderland at the Peabody Essex Museum’s “Fabergé Revealed” exhibit for nearly an hour when one work of art arrests the gaze and calls the heart with particular poignancy. A