The Local History Guild

The Local History Guild

The Local History Guild takes place on AHA! Nights.

Join informal conversations with experts, aficionados, librarians, archivists, curators, historic preservation specialists, historians, and collectors. Topics run the gamut from commercial fishing to historic houses, to the latest acquisitions, collections, or publications. Each moderated conversation is roughly an hour long.

Free and open to the public.
This program made possible in part by:

Upcoming Program

New BEdford's changing cityscape

Historic Preservation and Urban Renewal
New Bedford’s Changing Cityscape in the 20th Century

Thursday, December 9, 2021 | 6 PM | FREE
Advance registration required.

Join Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History, Michael P. Dyer as he moderates a discussion with local historians and people who were present when the face of New Bedford changed permanently. Our four distinguished panelists, Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History Michael P. Dyer as he moderates an online discussion with local historians and people who were present when the face of New Bedford changed permanently. Our four distinguished panelists, William do Carmo, Esq., Jennifer Smith, Joan Henderson Beaubian, and David Kennedy, will discuss New Bedford's period of urban renewal from the 1930s to1970s, drawing on scholarship, firsthand observations, and the records of the New Bedford Chamber of Commerce and Board of Trade.

William “Bill” do Carmo, Esq., is a descendant of Cape Verdean immigrant whalers and local South Coast farmers. He served in the U.S. Air Force in World War II and in the Korean War. After his service he was the President of the New Bedford Chapter of the NAACP and owned a real estate development company in New Bedford specializing in housing, and housing inspections. Today he is a consultant and a self-described Advocate for Civility.

Jennifer Smith, Superintendent of the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, grew up in New Bedford's center and as a child played on the construction site, which would eventually become what we know as Route 18. In 2004 she completed a Master's Degree in Community Planning at the University of Rhode Island focusing on the South Terminal urban renewal project analyzing the once-vibrant community along Water Street in the city's south end. She has maintained her interest in historic preservation, interpretation, and community planning.

Joan Henderson Beaubian is a New Bedford native. Her husband was in the U.S. Air Force, and she traveled extensively before returning in 1980 to a city that bore little resemblance to the home town that as a younger person she couldn’t wait to leave. She served on the New Bedford Historical Commission, and was a co-founder of the New Bedford Historical Society intent upon retrieving and preserving a community decimated by Urban Renewal.

David Kennedy graduated from UMass Amherst with a degree specializing in Urban Planning. He served with the City of New Bedford Planning Department from 1974 to 1988, and remains today President of the New Bedford Redevelopment Authority.

Past Programs


Thursday, October 14, 2021 | 7 PM | In-person event
Jonathan Bourne Historical Center - 30 Keene Street, Bourne, MA

Sailing Day off Palmer's Island - detail from a Charles Sydney Raleigh paintngNew Bedford Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History, Michael P. Dyer moderated this discussion with Ron and Tracy Lindholm of Cape Cod Picture Framing and Preservation about the recent restoration and exhibition of two massive marine paintings by local artist Charles Sidney Raleigh.

Image: Detail of a painting Sailing Day, off Palmer’s Island, New Bedford: Ship Niger, from a panel of Charles Sidney Raleigh’s Panorama of a Whaling Voyage in the Ship Niger, 1878. Oil on canvas. 75 x 135 inches. NBWM #1918.27.

Race and the Voting Block in Antebellum New Bedford

Thursday, September 9, 2021 | 6PM | Free via Zoom

We enjoyed a conversation about race, voting, and politics in nineteenth century New Bedford and America during this Local History Guild.

Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History Michael P. Dyer moderated this discussion with esteemed scholars Van Gosse, author of "The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War," and David Waldstreicher, Editor of "Revolutions and Reconstructions: Black Politics in the Long Nineteenth Century."

Photo Caption: From a Pen and Ink Sketch by Elisha C. Leonard, Esq.

All Hands!

Thursday, August 12, 2021 | 6PM | Free via Zoom

Image of sea chart

Distinguished scholars came together for Local History Guild to discuss points of intersection between 19th century commercial whaling and the U.S. Navy. Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History Michael P. Dyer moderated this discussion with local historians, authors, and antiquarian book dealers David R. Nelson and Greg Gibson. Explore mutiny, Herman Melville, Pacific explorations, and the place of New Bedford mariners in peace and war, during this free online event on AHA New Bedford night.

IMAGE: A Chart of the sea coast of Newfoundland, New Scotland, New England, New York, New Jersey, with Virginia and Maryland. London: Printed for W. and J. Mount, T. Page and son, on Tower Dash-Hill MDCCLIX [1759}

A Press for the People: Enabling Local History Access at a National Level

Thursday, July 8, 2021 | 6PM | Free via Zoom

Local historians Robert Demanche and Peggi Medeiros join Mike Kinsella of The History Press and Arcadia Publishing, for a discussion about the impacts, viability, and value to local communities of a nation-wide publisher of local history books.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Curator of Maritime History Michael P. Dyer moderates this free, virtual Local History Guild event on AHA! New Bedford night.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

In Pursuit of History: A Conversation About a Great Americana Collection

Book cover of In Pursuit of HistoryJoin editors H. Richard Dietrich III, Deborah M. Rebuke, and the museum's Curator of Maritime History and publication contributor, Michael P. Dyer, for a discussion around their newest publication, In Pursuit of History: A Lifetime Collecting Colonial Art and Artifacts.


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Sea Faring, The Underground Railroad, and Slavery in the Coastal Northeast

Schooner Ellenor, Boston; by William Bradford, Oil on canvas, circa 1854.Join editor Timothy D. Walker, Ph.D. and author Jonathan M. Olly, Ph.D., and the museum’s Curator of Maritime History, Michael P. Dyer, for a discussion around two of their newest publications, Sailing to Freedom, and Long Road to Freedom, featuring topics surrounding sea faring, the Underground Railroad, and slavery in the coastal Northeast.

Buy a copy of Sailing to Freedom here. Enjoy 30% Off & Free Shipping with code: MAS022


Thursday, March 11, 2021

“How do we trust?: Documentary photography past and present” with Peter Pereira, Photojournalist

Join internationally acclaimed photojournalist Peter Pereira, who is currently working for the New Bedford Standard-Times, the Museum’s Director of Digital Initiatives Michael Lapides, and Curator of Maritime History Michael P. Dyer, for a conversation around the history of ethics in photojournalism and the future of documentary photography in the digital age. Learn more about Peter’s work.

Noonday fire at Elm and Cottage Street

Photo Caption: Noonday fire at Elm and Cottage Street.” Standard-Times, April 17, 1914. A closer look reveals that this is a drycleaners, which burned probably from using the very naptha method advertised. This little-documented technique had disappeared by the mid-20th century probably because of the volatility of the cleaning agent.



February 11, 2021

“His Record Lives: William P. Randall and the Battle of Hampton Roads” with Gordon Calhoun

Join the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Curator of Maritime History, Michael P. Dyer, and the National Museum of the United States Navy’s historian and curator, Gordon Calhoun, as they discuss Calhoun’s recent project, “His Record Lives: William P. Randall and the Battle of Hampton Roads.” Gordon comes to this conversation with 26-years experience working for the Navy museum system, including 19-years at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. He specializes in 19th-century Naval History, the history of animals in the Navy, and U.S. Navy museum exhibits.

1862 battle HR sinking of Cumberland

Photo Caption: 1862: The Battle of HR Sinking – Sinking of USS Cumberland from the Battles and Leaders series.



CANCELLED: April 9, 2020

Author Talk: Peggi Medeiros – Harriet Jacobs in New Bedford

Harriet Jacobs book cover

Join local historian and author Peggi Medeiros, and archivist Carole Foster, for a discussion of Medeiros’ new book, Harriet Jacobs in New Bedford (Charleston, 2020). Using a wide variety of primary sources, Medeiros tells this gripping tale of a woman who escaped slavery in 1840, wound up in New York in 1842, and later grew to develop a deep and abiding friendship with Cornelia Grinnell Willis of New Bedford. Harriet Jacob’s story is a remarkable parallel to the life of Frederick Douglass, and a uniquely detailed look at the lives of two women of disparate backgrounds in a mid-nineteenth century seaport.


painting of woman in white dress

February 13, 2020

Chief Curator, Christina Connett-Brophy and Curator of Social History Akeia Benard discussed William Allen Wall’s allegorical painting, The Nativity of Truth. Michael P. Dyer moderated the discussion and read sections from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 essay, Nature.

Born a New Bedford Quaker Wall earned his living as a self-taught portrait painter but he sought greater themes. In this allegorical interpretation, possibly based on the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wall replaced the iconic American figure of Lady Columbia/Liberty with a similar character. Does she represent a view of American Manifest Destiny, or perhaps other ideas such as Nature as a defining good unto herself? “Truth, and goodness, and beauty, are but different faces of the same All.”

Photo Caption: William Allen Wall, The Nativity of Truth, or the Spirit of the Age. Oil on canvas, circa 1849-1853.


image of 1901 bill -- Morgan

December 12, 2019

New Bedford Whaling Museum Librarian Mark Procknik and Curator Michael Dyer displayed a “show and tell” of maritime documents from the museum’s permanent collection.

Hundreds of different types of documents from authorized Consular Certificates to receipts scribbled on scraps of paper make up the primary materials of maritime history.

Photo Caption: Paid invoice on bark Charles W. Morgan & Owners, dated San Francisco, November 26, 1901, for carpentry and repairs. KWM Loose Manuscript Collection