Imagining Lives: Preserving & Interpreting Personal Stories

A Conference for Massachusetts History Organizationslogo

Co-sponsored by
Mass Humanities, The University of Massachusetts Amherst Program in Public History, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Joseph P. Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Monday, June 7, 2010

9:00am – 4:00pm
Hogan Campus Center, College of Holy Cross, Worcester


Join us for the annual Mass History Conference for Massachusetts history organizations. A daylong exploration of preserving and interpreting personal stories.

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, June 1, 2010     REGISTRATION CLOSED – SOLD OUT!

Cost: $55/person, $35/student, $45/person if three or more individuals from same organization
Registrations cannot be refunded; however you may send another person in your place. Questions? Call (413) 588-1606.

Sorry – SOLD OUT – Conference is Full.

Visit the Mass History Commons wiki, a companion site where you can interact with other attendees, participate in eRideShare for the conference, sign up for space in the Mass Commons room, and later find the presentations from the various sessions.

Registration Fees (includes morning refreshments and box lunch, vegetarian option available)
$35/student (mail registration form in with copy of student ID or bring ID to event if registering online)
$45/person (if registering 3 or more individuals from the same organization at the same time, mail in registration form only, online registration not available for discounted rate)


Program [facilitator profiles] [printer friendly program]
9-9:30am Registration & Continental Breakfast
9-4:00pm Massachusetts Common
A place to exchange ideas and conversations; to showcase your organization, projects, and products.
9:30-9:40am Welcome
Bay State Legacy Award
Ellen K. Rothman
Ellen K. Rothman is Deputy Director of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a national non-profit dedicated to the history of Jewish women in America. She received a Ph.D. in American History from Brandeis. Ellen has spent her career promoting public history—developing exhibits and curricula, producing programs for public radio, and as an innovator in Web-based and online history. Before moving to JWA, she was Associate Director of Mass Humanities, where she was responsible for Massachusetts history programming and grants. Ellen’s larger projects have included the State House Women’s Leadership Project, Bringing History Home, and Mass Moments. Earlier in her career, she oversaw the interpretive programming in the Massachusetts state parks.
keynote address
Jane Kamensky, Brandeis University, & Jill Lepore, Harvard University
“Heads or Tales? History and the Art of Story”

JANE KAMENSKY is the Harry S. Truman Professor of American Civilization and chair of the History Department at Brandeis University, where she has won two awards for excellence in teaching. Her major publications include The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (2008) and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (1997). She is also the co-author of novel Blindspot, written jointly with Jill Lepore (2008). Coeditor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution, she is currently at work on a book about American artists in London in the late 18th century.

JILL LEPORE is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and chair of the History and Literature Program. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her books include New York Burning (2005), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History; A is for American (2002); The Name of War (1998), winner of the Bancroft Prize; and Blindspot (2008), a novel written jointly with Jane Kamensky. Her current projects include a biography of Benjamin Franklin and his sister, Jane Mecom, and The Quick and the Dead, a short history of life and death. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and three sons.
concurrent sessions A

  1. Creating Public Programs from Personal Correspondence
    Panelists from regional historical organizations will demonstrate how to bring letters from your collection “to life” through public conversations. Panelists will share how they identify topics, select letters, edit letters/scripts, select readers, and run the resulting public program. This intergenerational programming yields insights into community life while encouraging participants to actively listen to voices from the past.
            Elizabeth Sharpe, Patricia Kennedy, Diane Brenner
  2. Seldom Heard Voices: Bringing Veterans’ History to Light
    Join panelists from the Veterans Education Project, the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association and the Morse Institute Library to learn how to successfully integrate veterans’ histories and personal stories into exhibits and classroom and public programming, and onto your website. By using historic photos combined with local Civil War records, the Morse Institute Library has created the “Legacy of Service” exhibit, which through work with local veterans’ organizations, has grown into a tribute to those who have and are now serving in the armed forces. The VEP, an Amherst-based non-profit that trains military veterans to share their oral histories in Western New England schools, presents over 150 hours of veterans’ presentations annually, and has developed high school and middle school history curricula that utilize first person stories in the teaching of history. For this project the PVMA is adding to its online feature, First Person, the oral histories of five local veterans who were active in the World War II military and home fronts. Four of these interviews can be viewed at the American Centuries Web site.
    Karol Bartlett, Rob Wilson, Darlene Marshall, Cary Holmes
  3. Conversion Narratives: Q & A on Digital Technology for the Humanities
    Facebook, Flickr, Garage Band – are these just the latest teen fads or do these technologies hold opportunities for humanities organizations to reach new audiences? Learn how to use the latest in free digital technologies to enhance your organization’s exhibits, website, and programming. Bring your questions about using Facebook for networking, Flickr for posting museum event photos, updating VHS content to digital, Garage Band for audio tours and learn from other participant’s success stories.
            Laura Miller, Kate Freedman

12:15-1pmLunch Buffet (vegetarian option available)1-4pmOral History Workshop: Doing Oral History: From Concept to Podcast
Thinking about starting an oral history project, but don’t know the basics? Then join Rob Cox and Joyce Follet as they share their experience gained from their years of work in history, film, and oral history. This three hour workshop offers a basic introduction to oral history as an interactive method of saving stories. Cox and Follet will outline the steps in developing an oral history project, from project design and selection of interviewees to archiving and publicizing results. They will also address the dynamics of participating in an oral history, including interviewing techniques and ethical concerns. Sample forms and a bibliography for further reading will be provided.

concurrent sessions B

  1. Diaries on the Web
    Combine the best of the past and the future by learning how to bring historic diaries to life on the web. Eight-year-old Laura Jernegan, who accompanied her parents on a whaling expedition aboard the Roman in 1868, gives unique insights into life on a 19th century whaling ship in a new website developed by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Learn how you can use online diaries in exhibits and programs, as well as get hints for ways to launch and use historic diaries online.
            Nancy Cole, Joanne Riley
  2. National Events through the Local Lens
    The California Gold Rush, the Civil War . . . how did these national events play out in your community? Did local residents actively participate in these events or just view them from afar? Join panelists from the Peabody Institute Library and the Pioneer Valley History Network to learn how these organizations researched, created exhibits, developed websites, and organized public programming to highlight the local impact of these national events.
    Nancy Barthelemy, Cliff McCarthy
  3. Every Picture Tells a Story: Identifying, Dating, and Interpreting Family Photographs
    Learn ten easy steps to help identify family photographs such as researching photographers, dating costume clues, and comparing facial characteristics. Each point is illustrated with an instructional case study.
    Maureen Taylor

concurrent sessions C

  1. Stories from within the Community
    The 351 towns and cities of Massachusetts house a multitude of communities. Learn how history organizations can work with these varied communities to bring their stories to life and enrich the interpretation of community history. Panelists from Historic New England and the Mass Memories Road Show will detail how they developed and executed community based history programs, as well as how the lessons they learned from these projects can be transferred to your local community.
            Heather Cole, Ken Turino
  2. Every House Has a Story
    Every house has a story to tell, whether the occupants were national leaders or local tradesmen. Digging through the traditional history to uncover the history behind a house and its occupants can lead to new interpretations. Learn how a historic house museum is revising its traditional focus on decorative arts to a unique interpretation as the setting for the writings of its resident early American female essayist. Explore how a community-wide initiative in Fall River is inspiring children and adults of all ages to expand pride in their city, with its rich cultural diversity and history, by collecting and preserving the history of houses and surrounding neighborhoods, and sharing this history with the general public through a website, blog, and wiki.
            Stefani Koorey, Barbara Silberman
  3. Historic Lives in the Classroom
    Explore ways to bring history into the classroom through the use of community voices. Learn how teachers and historians are collaborating to make history relevant for students. Seventh grade students in Quincy have been recognized nationally as well as locally for their ongoing oral history projects focusing on their city’s once world famous Fore River Ship Yard. Boston school teachers are learning how to incorporate contemporary voices into their history lessons by using first person accounts of the Boston busing crisis in the early 1970s. A teacher and a historian, using their projects as models, will demonstrate successful collaborations between historians and the classroom.
            Ron Adams, Jeffrey Robinson

  Capstone Discussion