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

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

Thursday, May 13, 2021 | 6 PM (EST)  | Free and open to the public

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, featuring topics surrounding Chinese exporting, whale trading, and the histories and interest with the maritime industry.

H. Richard Dietrich III, President of the Dietrich American Foundation and Deborah M. Rebuck, longtime Curator, worked together as co-editors of In Pursuit of History, paying tribute to a major collection and its founder, showcasing highlights from the Dietrich American Foundation. This foundation was established in 1963 by H. Richard Dietrich Jr., and focuses on 18th Century American fine and decorative art, books and manuscripts, and works with museums and cultural institutions to support their collections.

Throughout the publication, essays explore the formation of the collection and its many areas of strength, enhancing current understandings of colonial history and material culture. An array of specialists write about the scope and richness of the foundation’s holdings, of which books and manuscripts account for half. Chinese export wares, furniture, silver, fraktur, other decorative arts, and paintings of historical importance, speak in varied ways to the nature of colonial identity, while objects related to the whaling trade signal the new nation’s maritime focus. With striking new photography and insightful scholarship, In Pursuit of History brings to life both the collector and the time period that he loved.

Contributors to the book include David L. Barquist, Edward S. Cooke Jr., H. Richard Dietrich III, Michael P. Dyer, Kathleen A. Foster, Morrison H. Heckscher, Philip C. Mead, Lisa Minardi, Deborah M. Rebuck, and William S. Reese. In Pursuit of History is published by the Dietrich American Foundation, in association with the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and distributed by Yale University Press.

Past Programs

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