2017 NHC Boston Tours

Concord Day, Boston Harbor, and Black Heritage Trail Tours Available for Conference Attendees.

2017 Conference Tours

The 2017 National Humanities Conference offers three offsite cultural tours around Boston, MA on Thursday, November 2 just before the opening plenary and reception. Scroll down to learn about the Concord Day Tour, the Boston Harbor Tour, and the Black Heritage Trail Tour, and don’t forget to register early to secure a spot!

Concord Day Tour



Tour Stops

This tour takes place on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

What can we learn about Henry Thoreau by seeing the objects that surrounded him, the Journal in which he recorded and reflected on his observations, and the landscapes which served as both his laboratory and sanctuary? What understandings about Thoreau come best from an immersion in the places that inspired him and what recent scholarship connecting Thoreau to the physical world has led to new insights about Thoreau’s life and work? Let’s investigate these questions while exploring his hometown in the 200th year of his birth.

Explore the Concord Museum, the Old North Bridge, Emerson House (outside viewing only), Thoreau Farm, Authors Ridge, and Walden Pond in this thematic tour led by Jayne Gordon.

This tour is offered to all #NHC17 participants and takes place Thursday, November 2 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Participants planning to join the tour should arrive at the conference hotel lobby at 9:00 am. A boxed lunch will be provided for tour participants shortly after 12:30 pm.

Space is limited to 50 participants. Cost is $75 per person.

About the Guide:

Jayne Gordon is a former board member and executive director of the Thoreau Society, has directed NEH Landmarks workshops this summer for the Concord Museum, Living and Writing Deliberately: The Concord Landscapes and Legacy of Henry Thoreau, as well as Landmarks workshops in 2010, 2012, and 2015 on the American Revolution for the Massachusetts Historical Society. She was also on the faculty of the NEH seminar on Transcendentalism and Reform for college teachers, leading tours of Concord. Gordon has also taught an eight-week local history course for the Town of Concord over the last twenty years.

Please note that these times and activities may change slightly.

9:00 am: Meet in the Hyatt Regency Boston hotel lobby.

10:00 to 11:00 am: Travel to the Concord Museum and view the special exhibit, “This Ever Self: Thoreau and His Journal,” in partnership with the Morgan Library. From the museum, catch a glimpse of the Emerson House before heading to the Thoreau Farm and birthplace of Henry Thoreau.

11:15 to 11:45 am: Tour Thoreau Farm.

12:00 pm: Get dropped off at Sleepy Hollow and tour Concord afoot with Jayne Gordon who will lead participants on a walking tour of the town, including to Authors Ridge and down to the jail site in Concord Village.

12:45 pm: Enjoy a boxed lunch at the Wright Tavern in Concord.

1:20 pm: Walk up Main Street to Thoreau’s Yellow House and Sudbury River and view the river and the railroad in Thoreau’s neighborhood.

2:15 to 3:00 pm: Enjoy a walk around Walden Pond.

3:00 to 4:00 pm: Travel back to the Hyatt Regency Boston.

Concord Museum
From the “shot heard round the world” to the writers of the American literary renaissance, the Concord Museum captures these important historical events which changed the face of nation. Highlights of the museum feature Native American stone tools from 4,000 to 7,000 years ago, Revolutionary War artifacts including the 1775 Paul Revere lantern, and much more.

Old North Bridge
The Old North Bridge spans the Concord River a mere half-hour to the west of Boston, and is the site of the first battle of the American Revolution in 1775. The North Bridge visitors walk over today is a recent restoration of the bridge that was built in 2005. Prior to this the North Bridge underwent five renovations since the original battle bridge was taken down in 1778.

Emerson House (outside viewing only)
The Ralph Waldo Emerson House was the dwelling where Emerson composed his most important written works, including the final draft of his groundbreaking essay Nature in 1836 and Self Reliance in 1841. Emerson’s residence helped make Concord the center of American Transcendentalism, home of the Concord authors, and the place that sparked a new literary renaissance.

Thoreau Farm
The Thoreau farmland has a rich history that began long before the birth of Henry Thoreau in 1817. Native Americans cultivated the land until the town of Concord was chartered in 1635, where the grandparents of Henry Thoreau would eventually settle later in the 19th century. The Thoreau Farm now stands as a source of inspiration for living deliberately, practicing simplicity, and exploring new ideas for positive change and is being preserved by the Thoreau Farm Trust.

Sleepy Hollow
Nestled in the city of Concord, Sleepy Hollow, was one of the first cemeteries in the United States designed to have a forested layout and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It has an estimated 10,000 grave sites many of local, national, and international interest.

Concord Village
West Concord Village is a vibrant center full of independently-owned shops, small businesses and public resources, including a commuter rail station, library, post office, playgrounds and a pond. As one of the oldest town’s in Massachusetts, West Concord is committed to preserving the historic and rural character of the area.

Wright Tavern
Wright Tavern was built in 1747 by Ephraim Jones served as a popular gathering place for Concord’s leading citizens, many of whom were congressmen and clergymen.

Authors Ridge
Nestled within Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts, is a little plot that is full of the graves of a staggering number of famous authors. Author’s Ridge is a small scenic corner of the large cemetery, and is the final resting place of many legendary authors and transcendentalists who once lived in the city of Concord.

Walden Pond
Henry Thoreau resided at Walden Pond from July 1845 to September 1847, where he created the material for the book Walden, which is credited with helping to inspire awareness and respect for the natural environment. Because of Thoreau’s legacy, Walden Pond has been designated a National Historic Landmark and is considered the birthplace of the conservation movement.

Boston Harbor Tour
Thursday, Nov. 2 from 1:00 to 3:30 pm

After a $5 billion clean-up effort, Boston has transformed its harbor giving the city the cleanest urban beaches in the nation. Learn more about this effort, the history of the Harbor, and sing a sea chantey as part of a 90-minute narrated tour by Bruce Berman, director of strategy and communication at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. Berman will be accompanied by a costumed pirate who will share stories from the “Age of Sail” and lead willing participants in the historic sea chantey, “Haul Away Joe,” a cornerstone of the Save the Harbor’s youth program curriculum, developed in partnership with Mass Humanities. Bring your best song writing skills, because the person who writes the best verse for the sea chantey gets a chance at winning a pair of roundtrip JetBlue tickets to any non-stop destination!

The tour will depart Rowes Wharf and take a close look at the downtown waterfront before proceeding to the historic North End and Charlestown neighborhoods of Boston, where the tour group will view the USS Constitution, which has just undergone extensive restoration. From there, the group will head along the East Boston shoreline, which was home to Donald McKay’s shipyard, and then head to the outer harbor past Castle Island. There participants can see Spectacle Island, which was once a dumpsite and now the most popular destination in the Boston Harbor Islands National Park. Lastly, the tour will travel past the Deer Island Treatment Plant and participants will be able to view the South Boston Seaport District and the Fort Point Channel on the return back to Rowes Wharf.

Please note: There is a 20-minute walk from the National Humanities Conference Hyatt Regency Boston hotel to the harbor. Individuals planning on joining the tour should meet in the hotel lobby at 1:00 pm.

This tour is open to all #NHC17 participants and their families and runs from 1:00 to 3:30 pm.

Space is limited to 100 participants. Cost is $35 per person.

About the Guide:

Bruce Berman is an advocate, author and educator who has served as a spokesman and the director of strategy, communications and programs for the public interest environmental advocacy organization, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay in Boston since 1990. As director, he was integral to the development of the organization’s youth environmental education, recreation, and stewardship programs. Berman is also an editor and contributor to numerous blogs and publications such as, Sea, Sand & Sky, Surroundings Magazine, Coastal Angler Magazine and the author of several op-eds in the Boston Globe. Read more about Bruce Berman and his work here.

Black Heritage Trail Tour
Thursday, Nov. 2 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm

Spend Thursday afternoon exploring Boston’s Black Heritage Trail in a tour led by the Museum of African American History’s Director of Education and Interpretation L’Merchie Frazier. The tour will begin at the Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ famous memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment across from the Massachusetts State House and will proceed to The African Meeting House, built by Boston’s free black community in 1806, and now one of the preeminent National Historic Landmarks in the United States. Participants will then walk the museum’s Black Heritage Trail and explore sites of Boston’s abolitionist movement and Underground Railroad history with a National Park Service Ranger as a guide.

The tour will end back at the museum where participants will be able to view the current exhibit, “Picturing Frederick Douglass: The Most Photographed American of the 19th Century.” At the exhibit, Douglass Scholar and Harvard Professor of English and African and African American Studies John Stauffer will join participants for a gallery talk. Stauffer is the co-author of the book on which the exhibition is based upon.

Please note: There is a 15 minute (0.6 miles) walk from the hotel lobby to the Museum of African American History.

Space is limited to 40 participants. Cost is $35 per person.

About the Presenters:

L’Merchie Frazier has been the director of education and interpretation for the Museum of African American History, Boston/Nantucket for fifteen years where she’s worked to highlight the Museum’s collection and exhibits, provide a place-based education and interdisciplinary history programs, projects and lectures, and most recently promoting STEM/STEAM education pedagogy. She also serves as adjunct faculty for Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, MA and African American history advisor to Bunker Hill Community College faculty in Charlestown, MA. Read more about L’Merchie Frazier here.

John Stauffer is a leading authority on antislavery, the Civil War era, social protest movements and photography. He currently serves as a Harvard University professor of English and American Literature, American Studies and African American Studies and has published 19 books, more than 50 academic articles and essays that have appeared in Time, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Washington Post, among other places. Read more about John Stauffer and his work here.