The Local History Guild

The Local History Guild takes place every month as part of AHA! night.

Where once the Guild featured individual speakers, the current season features a new format: conversations among area 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 30-minute program features two specialists who discuss the topics of their interest, trends, initiatives, projects and sometimes even new books, or public access databases of relevance to our local historical landscape.

Upcoming Program

Thursday, December 13, 2018
6 pm – 7 pm
Location: Gratia Houghton Rinehart Gallery (Energy and Enterprise Exhibition)
Free and open to the public. No advance registration necessary.
(Topic will be posted here soon)


Past Programs

uss cumberland

November 8, 2018
Off-site Location: Fort Taber Military Museum
Host Michael P. Dyer talked with Joe Langlois, President of the Military Museum and Ray L’Heureux, Vice President, about the mission of the Military Museum, its collections, and other features of interest surrounding the site of Fort Taber.

Caption: Confederate ironclad Virginia, a.k.a. Merrimac rams the sloop-of-war USS Cumberland during the battle of Hampton Roads, March 8, 1862. Onboard the Cumberland was New Bedford native Acting Master William P. Randall who famously commanded the pivot gun that continued to fire as the ship sank. Harper’s Weekly, March 22, 1862.


Joseph Schumacher Russell - diningroomOctober 11, 2018
Historic Houses: Techniques, Ideas, and Goals for their Interpretation
Moderator: Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
The speakers were the Executive Director of the Rotch-Jones-Duff House, Dawn Estabrooks Salerno, and the Curator of Art from the New Bedford Free Public Library, Janice Hodson. The topic for discussion was “Historic Houses: Techniques, Ideas, and Goals for their Interpretation.”

Caption: Joseph Schumacher Russell, “Dining room of Dr Whitridge’s as it was in the winter 1814-15,” circa 1814-15. Watercolor on paper. NBWM 1962.4.3


Old four corners

September 13, 2018
The National Park Service and its Local Communities

Moderator: Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
A conversation with colleagues from the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Janine V. da Silva, Acting Chief of Interpretation & Education/Cultural Resource Specialist, and Andrew Schnetzer, Supervisory Ranger focused generally on the Park Service and its role in local history, and specifically, interpretive strategies that the Park Service engages in New Bedford.

Caption: William Allen Wall, “New Bedford, 1807, Old Four Corners,” 1852-1857. Oil on canvas. NBWM 00.34


Crucible by BrightmanAugust 9, 2018
New Bedford: How Art and Collaboration Can Change a City
Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
A conversation with Milton Brightman, whose paintings and drawings are on exhibit in Into Infinity at the Museum, and sculptor and wood carver Chuck Hauck, former president of Gallery X in New Bedford. The discussion examined how artists perceive and interpret regional history.  

Caption: Milton H. Brightman, The Crucible, Oil on oak, Collection of the Artist


photo of fishermen with catch

June 14, 2018
Local Fishermen: Their Lives and Legacies
Moderator: Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
Michael P. Dyer sat down with New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Director Laura Orleans, and Fairhaven’s Millicent Library Archivist Debbie Charpentier, to talk over the important work that Debbie has done to increase public awareness and access to the legacies of local fishermen, and Laura Orlean’s important work at the Fishing Heritage Center.

Caption: Albert Cook Church, Mackerel coming aboard in a dip net, c. 1930.


Mary Tallman Willis oil painting

May 10, 2018
Historic House Stories: A Conversation about People and their Dwellings in New Bedford and Fairhaven
Moderator: Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
Beth Luey, historian and author of House Stories: The Meanings of Home in a New England Town (Amherst, 2017) from Fairhaven, and Mark Fuller, President of the New Bedford Preservation Society, conversed about historical architecture, the stories that can be generated and understood from the systematic study of house histories, and the importance of historic preservation.

Caption: Mary Tallman Willis, Indian Annis and Thomas Taber House, Oil on canvas, c. 1850.


Ricketson sketch detail

April 12, 2018
The Life and Times of Daniel Ricketson (1813-1898), Author, Intellectual, and New Bedford’s Transcendentalist Roamer of Rural Byways
Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
A conversation with local historians Bob Maker and Carl Simmons delved into the complex personality of one of the city’s most unusual minds. Ricketson wrote the first history of New Bedford in 1858. He was a naturalist, a lover of birds, plants, trees, and wild landscapes. He was a devout family man. He was a poet and music lover. He was friends with Henry David Thoreau and corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. Like Thoreau, Ricketson built himself a shanty in the woods north of town and there he wrote extensively commenting on the world around him: “with fierce madness their base conflicts wage.” He even drew a watercolor sketch of his own shanty with himself sitting and musing in the doorway around 1870. All this and more was the grist for the evening’s conversation. 


detail of chart

March 8, 2018
Common Lives in the Coastal Region: Interpretive Patterns for Historical Societies
Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
Marjorie O’Toole, Director of the Little Compton Historical Society and Jeffrey Miller, Ph.D. Director and Curator of the Mattapoisett Historical Society discussed “Common Lives in the Coastal Region: Interpretive Patterns for Historical Societies.” 

Caption: Detail from A New Chart of the Coast of America from Philadelphia to Halifax Harbor Shewing the Tracks of the American Survey Vessels Science and Orbit. A New Edition Improved by J.W. Norie, Hydrographer [London], 1825.


February 8, 2018
The Westport and Dartmouth Milieu in the Age of  Paul Cuffe
Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History
Experts were Robert Harding, Ph.D. from the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society and Richard Gifford, an independent scholar from Westport.