Presentations

“From Wharves, to Exchange Buildings, to Dressing Tables: Forming American Identity in Colonial Port Cities”

Speaker:  Jennifer Van Horn, PhD

Step back in time with art historian Jennifer Van Horn to encounter the physical worlds of Anglo-American colonists in New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, South Carolina. Elite residents of early American port cities amassed a variety of fine and decorative arts to assert their polite status. This talk will concentrate on engraved images of ports paid for by local subscribers to uncover how colonists thought about their cities and sought to change them. We will venture inside residents’ houses to discuss the dressing furniture women used to prepare themselves for public scrutiny and to connect themselves with other elites in the British Atlantic world. Colonial ports were vibrate places where elites sought to impose a new civil society. Through their possessions colonists imagined that they could tame the wild physical and human landscapes of the Americas and transform themselves into genteel Britons. Come and see how material artifacts were vital for that process.

 

“Salem, Massachusetts – So Much More Than Witches”

Speaker: Emily Murphy, PhD

Salem, Massachusetts is most closely associated with the infamous witch trials of 1692, but what most people don’t realize is that the trials only lasted for 10 months. In this talk, Salem Maritime National Historic Site curator Dr. Emily Murphy will cover the other nearly 400 years of Salem’s rich history, a history shaped by maritime trade.  Dr. Murphy will introduce you to the merchants, sea captains, and business owners who built the town’s trade, especially the introduction of spices to the Colonies.  We will meet the architect who designed their homes, the free and enslaved African-Americans who worked throughout the town and became leaders of the early abolitionist movement, the minister who recorded it all in his diary, and the author who used the history of his native town to create enduring works of literature. All of this is set against a background of political upheaval, privateers, international trade and exploration, and a dynamic expression of decorative arts and literature.

“Mardi Gras in Mobile”

Speaker: L. Craig Roberts, AIA

Mobile, Alabama is the nation’s 7th largest port with 42 nations using it as a port-of-call.  Founded in 1702, Mobile is also a city of historic architecture with thousands of restored homes and buildings in 7 historic districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the culture of Mardi Gras drives the city’s social life and generates more jobs than any industry in town.  Brought by the French Catholics, the first celebration of Mardi Gras in the New World was held in Mobile in 1703.  The celebration culminates in 3 weeks of Carnival Season preceding Mardi Gras Day.  There are 2 Royal Courts and 77 Mystic Societies which put on Balls with over 180,000 people attending in formal attire.  Prior to the Balls, 37 Societies also put on parades through downtown streets.   Last year more than 1.7 million people attended the parades and over 2 million attended all Carnival events making Mobile’s Mardi Gras one of the largest community events in the Northern Hemisphere.