Skip to Main Site Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Footer
Back To Top
decorative element

Published on January 31, 2020

Allen Horn on the NEHA 2019 conference

The following was written by Junior History Major Allen Horn about his visit to the New England Historical Association conference last October.  It's appearance is here somewhat delayed because of the transition to the new blog format, but in the grand sweep of history, three months counts for very little.

Allen writes,

I had an excellent and productive experience at the New England Historical Association Conference, held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI, on the 26th of October. While there, I had the opportunity to attend three interesting panels and meet many wonderful historians.

The first panel I attended was “Religious Reform and the Common Good in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century New England,” chaired by Eastern’s own Dr. Thomas J. Balcerski. The first paper, by Charles Hartman, presented was on John Myles, a figure in the proto-Baptist movement both in England and New England. He was in contact with many of the era’s preeminent theologians and founded the Baptist Church in Swansea, Massachusetts. The next one, from Dominic DeBrincat, was about the Rogerenes, an anti-Puritan sect from New London that frequently came into conflict with Connecticut governor Gurdon Saltonstall. When patriarch John Rogers became ill with smallpox after a proselytizing trip to Boston, Governor Saltonstall used it as a pretext to impose harsh restrictions on the sect, quarantining both the disease and their ideology. The final paper, by Christopher Martin, was on African-American leaders in 1790s Providence and dealt with what made them unique compared to other cities. Though they had contact with Boston figures such as Prince Hall, the Providence community’s more accommodationist style caused them to often be disparaged and disregarded.

The second panel I went to was a roundtable called “Teaching Slavery in the Public Square and Classroom,” which provided several helpful bits of advice and resources for properly discussing American slavery. Overall, the consensus was that North American slavery needs to be put in a wider geographic and temporal context, teachers need to be more confident and well-read in sources on slavery, more room should be made for joy and community rather than pain, and that different tactics are needed for different types of people. As someone considering going into teaching, this was an especially productive panel.

The final panel I attended was  “Designing Public History: Faculty, Student, and Community Perspectives,” which dealt with community projects happening at Roger Williams and Bristol in general. Graphic design professor John Farmer spoke about his class’ partnership with Roger Williams National Memorial and other history organizations to make displays and art. Multiple RWU students spoke about projects they had undertaken with the help of the University, from teaching British students remotely to being reenactors at Plymouth Plantation. I also heard about the ongoing project to get Bristol and surrounding places recognized as Sowams National Heritage Area. This area is home to many important sites in Native American history, especially due to King Philip’s War. Sowams honors the original Native American name for Bristol and aims to raise awareness of this history for both education and tourism purposes.

I also had the opportunity to network with several interesting people during my visit to Roger Williams. I was grateful for the chance to get helpful advice and encouragement for my ongoing Honors thesis, and hope to see everyone again at future NEHA conferences.


-Allen F. Horn IV

Written by Allen Horn