The Local History Guild

The Local History Guild will once again conjoin on AHA! nights here in the galleries of the Museum.

Where once the Guild featured individual speakers, the coming season will feature a new format: conversations among area experts, aficionados, librarians, archivists, curators, historic preservation specialists, historians, and collectors. Topics will run the gamut from commercial fishing to historic houses, to the latest acquisitions, collections or publications. Each moderated 30-minute program will feature two specialists who will 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, June 14, 2018
6 pm – 7 pm
New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center
38 Bethel Street
Free and open to the public. No advance registration necessary.


Past Local History Guild Programs

May 10, 2018

Mary Tallman Willis oil painting

Historic House Stories: A Conversation about People and their Dwellings in New Bedford and Fairhaven

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, will have a conversation 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.


April 12, 2018

Ricketson sketch detail

The Life and Times of Daniel Ricketson (1813-1898), Author, Intellectual, and New Bedford’s Transcendentalist Roamer of Rural Byways

Our conversation with local historians Bob Maker and Carl Simmons will delve 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 will be the grist for our evening’s conversation. Moderator: Michael P. Dyer, Curator of Maritime History.


March 8, 2018

detail of chart

Common Lives in the Coastal Region: Interpretive Patterns for Historical Societies
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.” The discussion was moderated by Michael Dyer, Curator of Maritime History, New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Image 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
Curator of Maritime History Michael Dyer moderated February’s discussion about “The Westport and Dartmouth Milieu in the Age of Paul Cuffe.” Experts were Robert Harding, Ph.D. from the Dartmouth Historical and Arts Society and Richard Gifford, an independent scholar from Westport.