The New England Quarterly

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The Colonial Society of Massachusetts


Announces the 2020 Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History

This prize, established in memory of Walter Muir Whitehill, for many years Editor of Publications for the Colonial Society and the moving force behind the organization, will be awarded for a distinguished essay on early American history (up to 1825), not previously published. The Society hopes that the prize may be awarded annually.

A committee of eminent historians will review the essays. Their decision in all cases will be final.

By arrangement with the editors of The New England Quarterly, the winning essay will be published in an appropriate issue of the journal.

Essays are now being accepted for consideration. All manuscripts submitted for the 2020 prize must be postmarked no later than January 15, 2021. The Society expects to announce the winning candidate in the spring of 2021.

Entries submitted for consideration should be addressed to:

Whitehill Prize Committee

c/o The New England Quarterly

Department of History

University of Massachusetts, Boston

100 Morrissey Blvd.

Boston, MA 02125


For additional information, including prize specifications and a list of past winners, see here.

Dear Friends of the NEQ,

We hope that you are all safe and well. We are open for business despite being locked out of our offices and having to coordinate our editorial  in isolation and remotely. Fortunately, despite being locked out of our quarters in the Healey Library at the University of Massachusetts Boston, we have been dragged into the technological present. Having long considered that the only benefit of the personal computer was that it allowed me to make wholesale edits without having to worry about renumbering footnotes, I now find that Andrew, Danny, and I can copy-edit remotely and I (especially) learned to read submissions electronically rather than in hard copy.

What might get overlooked in our isolation is the production of new scholarship on New England history and literary culture. When I was about ten, I remember being in a souvenir stand with my parents and seeing an ashtray with the following caption: “When you’re up to your butt in alligators, it’s easy to forget that your original goal was to drain the swamp.” What was hilarious to a ten-year old, now seems like wisdom in these troubled times. In the current pre-occupation with managing our COVID-imposed isolation, I am concerned the scholarly enterprise gets overlooked. With this in mind I hope to enlist you in our solicitation for submissions both to the Quarterly and for the 2020 Whitehill Prize competition. Please consider finishing that article or encouraging colleagues and students to submit something for our consideration. Readers of recent issues will also note that we have tried to introduce different forms of scholarly conversations—see for example our special issue on the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (March 2018) and our forthcoming conversations on Gordon Wood’s The Creation of the American Republic and Mark Peterson’s The City-state of Boston in our June 2020 number—so we would welcome suggestions as well.

Finally, we have tried to provide a forum for the discussion of teaching on our website, Innovations in Teaching, and can think of no better time for a conversation about the teaching of New England history and literary culture in this era of distance learning. We hope that you will consider this as well.

Of course, all submissions should be forwarded to in both word and pdf documents. Thanks again you to all our friends for your past support.


Stay well,



Jonathan M. Chu

Editor, The New England Quarterly


The New England Quarterly announces the publication of Volume 93.1: March 2020. Scroll down to see the Editorial for this most recent issue.

—  Volume 93, Issue 1: March 2020  —

by Jonathan M. Chu


Yarns Spun to Order: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Pearl of Orr’s Island and the Advent of Maine Summer Tourism

by Susan Beegel

Family and Fortune: Louisa May Alcott, Inheritance, and the Legacy of Aunts

by Susan S. Williams

The Education of Ellen Tucker Emerson

by Kate Culkin

Review Essay

Union, Loyalty, and Patriotic Sacrifice in the Civil War North

by Amy Laurel Fluker

Book Reviews

Unscripted America: Indigenous Languages and the Origins of a Literary Nation. By Sarah Rivett.
Review by Joanne van der Woude

Allegories of Encounter: Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities. By Andrew Newman.
Review by Lorrayne Carroll

Invisible Masters: Gender, Race, and the Economy of Service in Early New England. By Elisabeth Ceppi.
Review by Jason LaFountain

Treasures Afoot: Shoe Stories from the Georgian Era. By Kimberly S. Alexander.
Review by David E. (Ned) Lazaro

Stripped and Script: Loyalist Women Writers of the American Revolution. By Kacy Down Tillman.
Review by Rebecca Brannon

Beyond 1776: Globalizing the Culture of the American Revolution. Edited by Maria O’Malley and Denys Van Renen.
Review by Mark Boonshoft

Black Cosmopolitans: Race, Religion, and Republicanism in an Age of Revolutions. By Christine Levecq.
Review by Chernoh M. Sesay Jr.

Polygamy: An Early American History. By Sarah Pearsall.
Review by Carolyn Barske Crawford

Rediscovering the Maine Woods: Thoreau’s Legacy in an Unsettled Land. Edited by John J. Kucich.
Review by Daniel S. Malachuk

Claggett: Newport’s Illustrious Clockmakers.  By Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, with an introduction by Dennis Carr.
Review by Philip D. Zimmerman

Investment Management in Boston: A History. By David Grayson Allen.
Review by Michael Yogg

The Conspiracy of Capital: Law, Violence, and American Popular Radicalism in the Age of Monopoly. By Michael Mark Cohen.
Review by Chad Pearson

Robert Lowell in a New Century: European and American Perspectives. Edited by Thomas Austenfeld.
Review by Calista McRae

Volume 93.1 Editorial

“March marks the beginning of the Quarterly’s New Year, and our first issue of the year fortuitously centers around the cultural legacies of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Louisa May Alcott, and Ellen Tucker Emerson. Susan Beegel, Susan Williams, and Kate Culkin present us with the ways the legacies of these remarkable women shed unexpected light on nineteenth century culture by examining the contexts beyond the immediacy of their literary work.

Susan Beegel’s study of the impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe upon Orr Island, Maine reveals an unanticipated legacy caused by the confluence of her literary celebrity, technological change, and the beginning of nineteenth-century tourism. Accompanied by images of artifacts from Beegel’s personal collection, “Yarns Spun to Order: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s The Pearl of Orr’s Island and the Advent of Maine Summer Tourism,” reminds us of the commercial markets for romance and nostalgia and of their capacities to alter our memories and shape reality. Having spent two years in Maine with little familiarity with Orr Island, Stowe began writing The Pearl after finishing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Interrupted by the celebrity and controversies over Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Pearl was begun on the eve of the Civil War as a weekly serial and completed in 1862. Set on an idyllic Maine on the brink of being overwhelmed by steamships and commercialization, The Pearl took obvious liberties with geography and characters. Steamships and commercialization, of course, made possible the changing of Orr Island into what Beegel calls an almost theme park complete with inns, souvenir shops, invented sites, and archetypal characters given authenticity by The Pearl. More a study of the rise and fall of Orr Island tourism than one of Stowe—she may have visited the island no more than once—Beegel treats us to a different, less traumatic, but still significant legacy from Stowe. Harriet Beecher Stowe may not have been the little woman, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, who caused the Civil War, but she certainly was the source of Orr Island’s moment in Maine’s tourist season.

That the role of spinster aunts plays a significant role in Louisa May Alcott’s fiction and that she expressed an early and deep concern for financial sufficiency should not surprise us in the least. In its announcement in 1996 of the discovery of Louisa May Alcott’s unpublished first novel, The Inheritance, the New York Times pointed out that because Alcott had died childless, ownership of the manuscript had passed to three brothers who were great-great grandsons of Bronson Alcott.  Susan Williams in “Family and Fortune: Louisa May Alcott, Inheritance and the Legacy of Aunts” points out the irony of the Times feeling the necessity to explain that Alcott’s literary rights to The Inheritance had descended through Bronson Alcott, “a vertical male genealogical lineage that starts with Alcott’s father and incorporates two male scholars [who discovered the manuscript in the Houghton Library] through a social network of ‘kindness.’” What the Times seemed to have missed, according to Williams, was that it was the childless Alcott who had specifically planned for and determined the conveyance of the economic legacy of her work upon her death. Williams uses these two biographical details, her status as an unmarried aunt and the agent of her family’s financial security and an examination of The Inheritance and Little Women to enrich our understanding not only of the two works of literature but as a window into Alcott’s financial and probate knowledge and her understanding of the definitions of nineteenth-century family life. Williams sees in Alcott’s work the use of unmarried aunts as liminal figures capable of bridging convention and change and thus figures of unique economic consequence in a gendered inheritance system. Written when she was eighteen, The Inheritance illustrates Alcott’s concern about the legal, social, and economic roles of unmarried aunts from an early age and her sophisticated understanding of nineteenth-century inheritance law. The deliberation of her conveyance of the economic rights to her literary oeuvre to the children of her siblings, Williams argues, enriches our understanding of her ideas about gender and family life in the nineteenth century, her legal acumen, and the careful deliberation and planning she put into the preservation of family and fortune.

In “The Education of Ellen Tucker Emerson” Kate Culkin makes us aware of how Ellen Emerson’s education made possible her legacy. Discussions about the Emerson household, Culkin tells us, has left unexplored the impact of domestic life upon the work of Emerson’s father Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellen Emerson’s educational journey provides a window into the history of the family especially as to how it prepared her to care for her mother’s various illnesses and her father in his later years when his memory began to fail. Although Ellen Emerson dismissed her intellectual gifts when she assumed management of the Emerson household and became caregiver, secretary, nurse, and accountant for her parents, her education, Culkin argues, reveals and explains a legacy, the significant editorial contributions she made to her father’s work, that remains obscured. Recent scholars have noted that Ellen Emerson in helping to conceal her father’s memory losses transitioned into editor and collaborator, and Culkin’s essay both demonstrates Ellen Emerson’s modesty and explains how her education prepared her for the transition into her father’s literary guardian and for her gifts to us.

Sharp-eyed readers of our masthead will see that two of the most distinguished members of our boards of directors and of editors have stepped back from active roles with the Quarterly. In 1981, Professor William Fowler Jr. took the New Quarterly to Northeastern from Bowdoin College and who, with Linda Smith Rhoads, established the practices that guide our daily editorial work and facilitate the production of the journal still. Bill has also served as a personal mentor who not only accepted my first journal article, wrote what I expect must have been a favorable tenure review, and been a source of strength and encouragement in the Quarterly’s move from Northeastern to the University of Massachusetts Boston. Even in retirement while usually on some cruise to distant places, he remains a willing and reliable reviewer of manuscripts. Scholars, of course, recognize the monumental contributions Professor Bernard Bailyn has made to the study of early American history. We know him also as a member of our boards of editors and directors since 1961. In those capacities we have learned to appreciate his contributions to the more immediate, practical gifts he brings to the publishing enterprise and most especially in his generosity with his time and his gentle editorial advice and guidance. His support of our endeavors has been deeply appreciated. Historians better than most should understand the inevitability of change even as they regret it. The editorial staff expresses its deepest appreciation for the contributions of Professors Fowler and Bailyn and wish them both well.

In marking the beginning of our ninety-third year, the editors would like to express our thanks to all who make the Quarterly possible. We especially want to give thanks to the contributors to our 2019 Annual Appeal who represent a critical source of support. When we reported our preparations for the Annual Appeal to the Quarterly’s Board of Directors, it was pointed out to us that our donors are remarkably loyal for which we are deeply grateful. We also send our thanks to the many friends this past year who have taken the time to help with evaluating manuscripts, writing book reviews, and providing essential logistical support in many diverse ways. We hope to be worthy of your continued support.”

Jonathan M. Chu

Jonathan Chu, Editor


Innovations in Teaching

The New England Quarterly is pleased to announce the addition of Innovations in Teaching to our website. As teachers as well as editors and scholars, we began discussions three summers ago on how we might make the Quarterly useful for a larger audience. Last August we finally got around to placing the conversation on the functional equivalent of our New Year’s resolutions. Shortly thereafter, one of us reviewed a submission from the University of Vermont with a long list of co-authors which to our subsequent delight was an essay on the life of Frances Parkinson Keyes, author and the wife of Senator Henry Keyes of New Hampshire, written by eleven undergraduates in the US social history undergraduate seminar under the direction of Professor Melanie Gustafson. Sometimes, as the great Oakland and Yankees outfielder Reggie Jackson used to say, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” We agreed that however the department evolved, this essay and Professor Gustafson’s seminar needed a larger audience, hence its publication here as our inaugural effort.

Grateful for the contribution of Professor Gustafson’s class, we solicit responses to continue the conversation we hope this essay initiates on teaching. We also welcome comments, suggestions, and contributions that would facilitate other conversations on the teaching of history. Our only guidance at this point is that all contributions be directed towards advancing New England history and literary culture and being of use to teachers. Those interested in contributing a pedagogical exercise or commentary should forward pdf and word documents to for the editors’ review.

“Each generation must rewrite history from its own point of view.” 
NEQ’s Founding Editors, 1928