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Boston Public Library hosts foremost experts on American Revolution

June 10, 2015

Boston Public Library

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Boston Public Library’s 2015 “Revolutionary Ideas” Lowell Lecture Series begins June 11 and runs through October, featuring some of the most eminent authorities to explore social, political, cultural, and economic themes related to the American Revolutionary War era (1750-1800).

“The Lowell Lecture Series is an opportunity to hear experts’ perspectives on the founding of our country and to reflect upon the ways in which our predecessors changed the course of history through revolutionary ideas,” said Beth Prindle, Manager of Exhibitions and Programming.

The series accompanies the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s gallery exhibition We Are One: Mapping America’s Road to American Independence, on view at the Central Library in Copley Square through November 29, and an expansive schedule of related programs, performances, and special events takes place in Boston Public Library locations across the city. For more information about the BPL’s Revolutionary Boston programs, visit

The Lowell Lecture Series is generously sponsored by the Lowell Institute, established in 1836 with the specific mission of making great ideas accessible to all people, free of charge. All Lowell Lectures will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the Abbey Room at the Central Library in Copley Square, located at 700 Boylston Street. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Video highlights of the lectures will be made available online.

The complete schedule is available online at Speakers appearing in the 2015 Lowell Lecture Series include:

Thursday, June 11, at 6 p.m.

Joseph J. Ellis on The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution

A leading scholar of American history, Joseph Ellis is the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation and the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx, a biography of Thomas Jefferson. In his latest work The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789 (2015), Ellis gives a gripping and dramatic portrait of the years between the end of the Revolution and the formation of the federal government, one of the most crucial and misconstrued periods in American history.. The triumph of the American Revolution was neither an ideological nor a political guarantee that the colonies would relinquish their independence and accept the creation of a federal government with power over their autonomy as states. The Quartet is the story of the second American founding and of the men most responsible—George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. A book sale and author signing follows this lecture.

Tuesday, July 21, at 6 p.m.

Cokie Roberts on Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames

Cokie Roberts has a lifetime of experience in Washington politics and a deep and abiding interest in the role women have played in American history. Her books Founding Mothers (2004) and Ladies of Liberty (2008) became instant bestsellers, and her most recent work Capital Dames: The Civil War and Women of Washington (2015) commemorates the achievements and legacies of remarkable women during that wrenching period. Ms. Roberts is a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming, as well as for NPR. In her more than forty years in broadcasting, she has won countless awards, including three Emmys. In 2008, the Library of Congress named her a “Living Legend.” A book sale and author signing follows this lecture.

Monday, October 5, at 6 p.m.

Peter Barber on The Colonies in Context: The Place of North America in King George’s World View

Peter Barber served as Head of Map Collections at the British Library from 2001 to 2015. He has a longstanding research interest in English monarchs and their maps, and he initiated the ongoing British Library project to re-catalogue and digitize King George III’s Topographical Collection. In addition to research articles and contributions to scholarly works on medieval world maps and the links between maps and government in early modern Europe, he has curated major exhibitions, acted as a consultant and presenter for television, and authored and edited several popular books on the history of maps.

Wednesday, October 14, at 6 p.m.

M. T. Anderson on A Revolution Within the Revolution: The African-American Struggle for Freedom

Award-winning author M. T. Anderson has written stories for adults, picture books for children, adventure novels for young readers, and several books for older readers (both teens and adults). His highly praised Octavian Nothing saga is set in Boston during the American Revolution; the first volume, The Pox Party, won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 2006 and both the first and second volumes of that two-part series were Printz Honor Books. Meticulously researched and presented in 18th-century prose, Anderson’s sweeping 900-page epic explores race, science, morality, and the darker facets of America’s quest for liberty. A book sale and author signing follows this lecture.

Wednesday, October 28, at 6 p.m.

Jane Kamensky on John Singleton Copley and the Sideways American Revolution

Jane Kamensky is Mary Ann Lippitt Professor of History at Brown University. Her major publications include The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse (2008) and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England (1997). She is also the author of the historical novel Blindspot, written jointly with Jill Lepore (2008). With Edward G. Gray, she edited the Oxford Handbook of the American Revolution (2012). Kamensky’s next book, Copley: A Life in Color, a history of painting and politics in the age of revolution centered on the life of John Singleton Copley, will be published in 2016.

Boston Public Library has a Central Library, twenty-four branches, map center, business library, and a website filled with digital content and services. Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library has pioneered public library service in America. It was the first large free municipal library in the United States, the first public library to lend books, the first to have a branch library, and the first to have a children’s room. Each year, the Boston Public Library hosts thousands of programs and serves millions of people. All of its programs and exhibitions are free and open to the public. At the Boston Public Library, books are just the beginning. To learn more, visit