Abigail & John: 250 Years Together, A Historical Symposium

Honoring the 250th anniversary of the marriage of Abigail Smith and John Adams

Abigail Adams Historical Society (AAHS) (www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com), stewards of the birthplace of Abigail Smith Adams, commemorates the 250th anniversary of the marriage of Abigail and John Adams by presenting a symposium, Abigail & John: 250 Years Together, on Saturday, October 25, from 9 am to noon at the First Church in Weymouth, 17 Church Street. The event is generously co-sponsored by The Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society (www.masshist.org), and is part of a full weekend of events scheduled to honor the presidential couple’s anniversary.

Five accomplished scholars will make presentations on the roles of these important public figures and their legacy in American history. The event is structured in two sessions: the first (9 to 10:15 am) focuses on the papers of Steven Bullock (“Power and Politeness in the ‘Remember the Ladies’ Exchange”) and Sara Martin/Neal Millikan (“Reflections on the Courtship Writings of John, Abigail, John Quincy, and Louisa Catherine Adams”); the second (10:30 to 11:45 am), on the papers of Andrew Wehrman (“The Inoculations of John and Abigail Adams and the Politics of Smallpox in Revolutionary Massachusetts”) and Robina Mitchell (“Adams Family Objects at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts”). Papers will be precirculated and time will be allowed for questions and discussion.

Stanford University historian and Abigail Adams biographer Edith Gelles will serve as the keynote speaker at a luncheon at the Abigail Adams Birthplace immediately following the symposium.

Steven C. Bullock, professor of history at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is the author of Revolutionary Brotherhood: Freemasonry and the Transformation of the American Social Order, 1730 –1840, and The American Revolution: A History in Documents. In addition to serving as a Fulbright lecturer in Okinawa, Japan, he has commented on American history in settings ranging from Good Morning America to All Things Considered.

Sara Martin is the series editor of Adams Family Correspondence, a series of The Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The project has published nearly fifty annotated volumes of the papers of John and Abigail Adams and their descendants. Martin holds a doctorate in history from the University of Melbourne and has specialized training in scholarly publishing and documentary editing from Arizona State University.

Neal Millikan has served as a documentary editor at the Digital Edition of the Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry and The Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, where she worked primarily on the Adams Family Correspondence series. She recently joined the George Washington Papers, where she is an editor at the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon. She has a doctorate in history from the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree in history and public history from North Carolina State University.

Andrew M. Wehrman is assistant professor of history at Marietta College. A recipient of the 2008 Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History, his current book project, The Contagion of Liberty, examines the ways in which epidemic smallpox affected the political ideology and actions of ordinary Americans during the American Revolution.

Robina Mitchell holds a degree in history and minor in art history from the University of New Hampshire. She has interned under Nonie Gadsden, the Senior Curator of Decorative Arts in the Art of the Americas Department of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as at the Concord Museum, where she assisted in the preparation of the exhibition, The Shot Heard Round the World.

Keynote speaker and Stanford University historian Edith Gelles is the author of Portia: The World of Abigail Adams, a co-winner of the American Historical Association’s Herbert Feis Award; Abigail Adams: A Writing Life; and Abigail and John: Portrait of a Marriage. An author of many articles and reviews, she is a senior scholar at Stanford’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

Admission to the symposium is free of charge; advance registration is recommended online at www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com, beginning September 1. Admission to the post-symposium luncheon is $25, $20 for AAHS members. Luncheon seating is limited; advance reservations and payment are requested online at www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com, beginning September 1. For a complete schedule of activities planned for the 250th anniversary weekend, please visit www.abigailadamsbirthplace.com.