The Great Molasses Flood: Misremembered Molasses

THU, JAN 31, 2019 (57:05)

The Great Molasses Flood of 1919, when remembered, is often interpreted in a dismissive, comical manner. How does this case compare with other incidences of historical events that are interpreted or "curated" at the expense of accuracy and respect for human experience? How can we bring complexity back to events that have long been relegated to the realm of local folklore?

Stephen Puleo, Allison Lange, Gavin Kleespies, and moderator Rev. Stephen T. Ayres discuss the question of misunderstood history by looking at the Great Molasses Flood, the fight for women's suffrage and Leif Erickson.

Image: Public Domain

+ BIO: Allison Lange, PhD

Allison K. Lange is an assistant professor of history at the Wentworth Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in history from Brandeis University and studies the long nineteenth century with an interest in gender, power, and political images in the United States. Various institutions have supported her work, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Library of Congress, and American Antiquarian Society. Lange has presented her work at conferences such as the American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. Her writing has appeared in Imprint, The Atlantic, andThe Washington Post. She also consults and works as a guest curator with the National Women’s History Museum and the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map Center. Lange is currently completing a manuscript, under contract with the University of Chicago Press, on the ways that woman’s rights activists and their opponents used images to define gender and power during the US woman suffrage movement. In preparation for the 2020 centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, she is curating exhibitions at the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University.

+ BIO: Steve Puleo

Stephen Puleo is an author, historian, and communications professional. His books include The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day, Due to Enemy Action: The True World War II Story of the USS Eagle 56, and Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.

In 2008, Steve was the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award, presented by the Appian Club, an Italian American organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Italian culture in Massachusetts. In 2007, he was a recipient of the prestigious i migliori award, presented by the Pirandello Lyceum to Italian-Americans who have excelled in their fields of endeavor and made important contributions to society.

+ BIO: Rev. Stephen T. Ayres

The Rev. Stephen T. Ayres has served as Vicar of the Old North Church since 1997 and as Executive Director of the Old North Foundation since 2012. Vicar Ayres was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1980 and has served parishes in Missouri, New York, and Massachusetts. He has an undergraduate degree in Comparative Religion from Hamilton College, an M.Div. from the Episcopal Divinity School, and an MA in Urban Policy from Tufts University. At Old North, Vicar Ayres is responsible for the management and preservation of the historic site. He lives near the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown with his wife Lisa and son Matthew.

+ BIO: Gavin Kleespies

Gavin is Director of Programs at MA historical Society. He has worked in public history, in some form or another, since the late 1980s. He develops community networks and builds public awareness for organizations.

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