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.

Upcoming Program

Thursday, March 11, 2021
6:00 PM
Free via Zoom  |  Register HERE

“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:

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.


Past Programs

CLICK HERE for a complete list of past Local History Guild programs.

1862 battle HR sinking of CumberlandFebruary 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.

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


Harriet Jacobs book cover

CANCELLED: April 9, 2020
Author Talk: Peggi Medeiros – Harriet Jacobs in New Bedford

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 dressFebruary 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.

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


image of 1901 bill -- MorganDecember 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.

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