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Scholars team up to dispel 400-year-old 'fake news' about US


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BOSTON (AP) -- Fake news, quadricentennial edition: America's early settlers were all pious. The native people were savages. Freedom and liberty were available to all from Day One.

As the U.S. gears up to mark the 400th anniversary of its roots as a nation, leading scholars from around the globe are teaming up to dispel myths and challenge long-held assumptions about how the country was settled.

Their group, New England Beginnings, is using phone apps and searchable online archives to help set the record straight about the early 1600s - and fill in some important knowledge gaps.

"All many people know is that the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, Boston was started in 1630, and then in 1776 we had a revolution," said Rose Doherty, president of the Partnership of Historic Bostons, a group devoted to the 17th-century history of the city and the much-older Boston in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England.

Doherty's organization is among 19 prominent groups that comprise New England Beginnings. Others include the American Antiquarian Society, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Rhode Island's Tomaquag Museum, Britain's History of Independence Project and the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in the Netherlands.

Together, they see an opening as the U.S. prepares in 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620.

"There's a lot of attention being paid right now to how you distinguish between real news and fake news. But this is something historians grapple with all the time," said Francis Bremer, a professor emeritus of history at Pennsylvania's Millersville University and the coordinator of New England Beginnings.

A key focus, Bremer said, is presenting a much more complete and accurate picture of how the early settlers interacted with Native Americans.

Underscoring the gulf between how natives and white Americans see history, on every Thanksgiving since 1970, members of New England tribes have gathered in downtown Plymouth for a solemn National Day of Mourning observance that recalls the disease, racism and oppression the settlers brought.

"It's an important part of the story that's really taken a back seat for a long time. You just can't bury history," said Paula Peters, a writer and activist and a member of Massachusetts' Wampanoag tribe. "People don't know how quickly it became repressive for the Wampanoags. Ship after ship after ship arrived, and they came with laws and deeds. You really have to put yourself in the moccasins of the people who were enduring that."

Peters' pet peeve: "This myth of the friendly Indians and the grateful Pilgrims who met in Plymouth by the grace of God and everyone lived happily ever after."

New England Beginnings is turning to technology to remedy such misapprehensions - and highlight the crucial role the 1600s played in shaping what would become the U.S.

One member, the Boston-based Congregational Library and Archives, has launched a new app - "Puritan Boston Tests Democracy" - that sheds light on colonial hypocrisy. (Example: The settlers' first legal guarantee of individual liberty adopted in 1641 also condoned slavery.)

Another member, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, is preparing an online edition of Plymouth Gov. William Bradford's history, "Of Plymouth Plantation," with notes reflecting Native American perspectives. A third, the Massachusetts Historical Society, soon will release a searchable online version of "The Winthrop Papers," a trove of material on early New England.

Scholars hope they can finally turn the page on folklore suggesting that all 102 Mayflower passengers were Pilgrims (only about 40 were) or that Puritan piety was as omnipresent as the Almighty (the word "fornication" peppers many early accounts).

"There's a very human record in church documents of people getting in fights, abandonment, sexual abuse," said Peggy Bendroth, director of the Congregational Library and Archives.

"They were very complicated people full of paradoxes and subtleties," she said. "It was just as much of a struggle for them as for us."

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Follow Bill Kole on Twitter at https://twitter.com/billkole. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/william-j-kole.

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To hear more about the two Bostons from Liz Covart's 2016 interview on "Ben Franklin's World," click here.  Over 10,000 downloads in six months!
Washington Post "Five Myths About the Puritans" <iframe width='480' height='290' scrolling='no' src='//www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/6a4eb560-ab52-11e6-8f19-21a1c65d2043' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

The reasons we recall the Pilgrim feast the true first Thanksgiving 

by Dr. Frank Bremer  HERE  

"Five Myths About the Puritans" with Lori Rogers Stokes, Boston Public Library, on C-SPAN3
https://www.c-span.org/video/?414926-1/myths-new-england-puritans
"Fifty Shades of Gray," PuritanEdition? by William J. Kole
This AP article appeared first in The Washington Post and was picked up over time by multiple outlets including the UK's Daily Mail, in multiple papers across the USA to Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, and in Eastern Canada.  When the the number of outlets was over ninety, counting stopped.  

The article was often illustrated by a picture of the John Winthrop statue outside First Church in Boston.   
Boston Magazine  HERE  
"Ravishing Affection: Debunking the Myth Surrounding the Puritans and Sex.

The Puritans weren’t prudish. In fact, they were passionate."


The Passion of the Puritans
Photograph courtesy of Will Holton

By Kara Baskin

Globe Correspondent


Grab your corset and fess up: Have you quietly longed to explore the seamy sex lives of the Puritans? Well, now you can, thanks to the Partnership of Historic Bostons. The nonprofit launched in 1999 to celebrate the historical connection between our Boston and Boston, Lincolnshire, England, founded in 1086. This fall, they’ll run a series of free events about “Passionate Puritans: Marriage, Love, and Sex in 17th-Century Massachusetts.’’ Smelling salts not included. The series kicks off on Sept. 7 at 4:30 p.m. with a walking tour, followed by a scintillating lineup led by Puritan historians and scholars (who appear to have a sense of humor). Visit the mansion of an ex-governor who married a friend’s young paramour, listen to the love letters of John Winthrop, learn about Boston’s blue-bloodiest sex scandals, and attend scholarly talks about love and romance among our forefathers at locations throughout the city. The series runs through October. 


For a full list of events, visit www.historicbostons.org.


Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com

Boston Globe, September 3, 2016


Rose Doherty, A Tale of Two Bostons: The History of Boston, England & Boston, New England   Click here to listen.





"Paper Pilgrims: Reflections on Life & Letters in Early New England" by Katherine Grandjean

Professor Katherine Grandjean was part of our panel at the Old State House during Charter Day 2015.  She also led a lively discussion of her book in February, 2016, for the Partnership at Massachusetts Historical Society. 


Click here to read the article.


Reprinted by permission of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Katherine Grandjean, “Paper Pilgrims: Reflections on Life & Letters in Early New England.” American Ancestors vol. 17, no. 1 (winter 2016): 33-36. For more information about American Ancestors magazine and the New England Historic Genealogical Society, visit AmericanAncestors.org.

The Pleasure of the Taste pictured in an article about the 1630 Shop
Fanueil Hall Marketplace

                                                         here                                                                                         here         
"Purveyors: Haute History"
Improper Bostonian 17 February to 1 March  2016

Boston 1630 started as a pop-up shop on Newbury Street before the holidays and now has a permanent home at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  "Tourists and Bostonians can browse a selection of antiques and ware by local makers that reflect New England's rich history."  We are so proud that Boston 1630 has stocked The Pleasure of the Taste from the beginning.

Boston Magazine

24 November 2015

Three 17th-Century Recipes to Try This Thanksgiving


Thanks to a new recipe book from the Partnership of the Historic Bostons, you can cook a feast like the Puritans did.  Click here for the review.  Consider The Pleasure of the Taste for yourself or holiday gift giving.


WGBHs "Craving Boston"  30 October 2015
Amanda Balagur feasts with local historians during Boston Charter Day 2015 to find out what early New Englanders ate and tells all about the evening.  Click here to read "Learn To Eat Like A Puritan Settler."
Loyal Nine’s Marc Sheehan Cooks a 17th-Century Meal

Click here to read the article by Ryan Molloy



Freedom Trail Newsletter September 2015
Boston Charter Day 2015 celebrations take place this month highlighting "Food and Drink in Early Boston." Old State House will participate with a free lecture on Monday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. with "The Proof Is in the Pudding: New England's First Food Fight," a discussion about Native American and English food traditions.
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