The Massachusetts Studies Network

Theatre Espresso Taking Center Stage at Massachusetts History Conference

To mark the 100th anniversary of the “Bread and Roses” strike in Lawrence, known for a high level of collaboration between various groups of immigrants, the 2012 Massachusetts history conference, will explore im/migration history. The conference, tentatively entitled Taking Center Stage: Conflict and Collaboration in the Peopling of Massachusetts, will give special attention to theatrical expression as a tool for historians. Wendy Lement and Derek Nelson of Theater Espresso have agreed to feature selections from and talk about their production American Tapestry: Immigrant Children of the Bread and Roses Strike as the keynote address. The conference is likely to be held at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA, on Monday June 11, 2012. We hope to offer a workshop on theater in history education, ranging from enactment to readings and theatre pieces.

The process we call “peopling” signifies the successive waves of migrants who move into any particular place, and presumes an empty slate at the start, and a full State at the end. The “peopling” of Massachusetts referred to in the conference title likely started some 10,000 years ago, and is in full swing today. This messy process has involved successive “waves” of internal and external migrants, jostling and helping each other, vying for “center stage” in smaller or larger theaters. The conference will feature historical programming on such topics as how did this group end up in this particular place?,  oral histories with recent immigrants, youth/immigration projects, comparisons of colonial and current immigrants, the mapping of migration, web projects, “Immigrant City” identities, internal migration, political and economic refuge taking, and immigration legitimacy and conflict. 

Each year, Mass Humanities (along with the UMass Amherst Program in Public History, the Massachusetts Historical Society, and Mass. Studies at UMass Boston) organizes a service conference for small historical organizations and independent professionals in the field of local (Massachusetts) history.  It is a “service” conference, a networking hub, idea factory, and skills workshop – all rolled into one. While it does have a different historical theme each year, this is not an academic conference per se. Most of the approximately 30 presenters at this conference present a project they or their organization have undertaken.

We are currently accepting ideas for breakout sessions and workshops for the conference.  If you have created a program related to our topic, let us know!  Please contact Patty Bruttomesso, Local History Coordinator ( no later than January 15th with your ideas and suggestions.

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