POSTPONED! South Shore History Symposium

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Due to increasing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak and the state’s recommendation that all large public events be cancelled, we have made the decision to postpone the Back Roads of the South Shore Symposium. We regret that we will not be able to hold our annual exploration of local history as planned. We are working with our speakers to reschedule the same program for later in 2020 and will keep you informed when a date is selected. We will honor all tickets already purchased for March 28th at the rescheduled event. If you have any concerns, please contact BRSS Co-Chair Anne Mason at or 508-746-0012.  

The year 2020 marks major milestones in American and local history, including the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the Mayflower. The way we choose to interpret and commemorate such significant historical events—as well as the people impacted by them—can provide valuable insights into contemporary society. The Back Roads of the South Shore is pleased to present the 2020 South Shore History Symposium, Myth, Meaning & Memory: Commemoration on the South Shore. This annual conference offers an exciting opportunity for regional historians to present research and share behind-the-scenes projects happening at local museums and historic sites.


Registration Fee: $20/person, includes refreshments and presentations

To register for the symposium, please download and complete the registration form.

Make checks payable to: Back Roads of the South Shore

Mail registration form and checks to: Plymouth Antiquarian Society, P.O. Box 3773, Plymouth, MA 02361

Pre-registration deadline is March 23, 2020If space permits, tickets may also be purchased at the door with cash or check.


9:00 AM          Registration & Refreshments

9:30 AM          Welcoming Remarks

Anne Mason, Back Roads of the South Shore Co-Chair

9:45 AM          Mayflower Compact: Short-Term Expedient or Lasting Precedent?

David A. Furlow, Editor of the Pilgrim Isaac Allerton Society Journal

Was the Compact merely an expedient solution to a temporary crisis? Or did it have lasting consequences for Plymouth, New England, and America? This talk explores the Compact’s roots in English law, its flowering in Plymouth Colony, and the seeds of democracy, constitutionalism, and the rule of law.

10:15 AM        The Critical Backstory to Mayflower

Paula Peters, Member of Plymouth 400 Wampanoag Advisory Committee

This year’s commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage seeks to illuminate the perspective of the indigenous people who were here in 1620 and who still remain. Two groundbreaking exhibits in the US and the UK, “Our”Story: 400 Years of Wampanoag History and Wampum: Stories from the Shells of Native America, are challenging earlier narratives of colonialism. 

10:45 AM        Food of the Fathers: The Story of Succotash

Paula Marcoux, Food History Writer

How did a 17th-century Wampanoag staple food come to be a durable symbol of cultural identity for the descendants of Plymouth’s English “forefathers”? A commemorative dish of great longevity, succotash has provided the culinary centerpiece for Forefathers’ Day celebrations over the entire documented history of the holiday—from 1769 to the present day. An investigation of this foodways tradition over the course of its evolution reveals much about Plymoutheans’ changing needs to both memorialize the experience of their ancestors and to come to grips with polarizing contemporary events.

11:15 AM        Coffee Break

11:30 AM        Summer Suffragists: Woman Suffrage Activists in Scituate, Mass.

Lyle Nyberg, Independent Historian and Scituate Historical Society Member

Scituate was the summer home of a surprising number of nationally known leaders of the women’s suffrage movement. This talk tells their little-known stories as suffragists and summer residents of Scituate.


One Hundred Years Later: Re-examining the Case of Sacco and Vanzetti

Stephen Kenney, Director of the Commonwealth Museum

In the spring of 1920 two Italian immigrants were arrested for murder in a South Braintree payroll robbery. Their anarchist political beliefs became central issues in the case. The trial of Sacco and Vanzetti gained international attention in the 1920s and continues to fascinate legal historians and armchair detectives today. Highlighting trial documents and artifacts held at the Massachusetts Archives, this lecture examines the case, its many South Shore connections, and the continuing question of fairness in the trial.

12:50 PM        Conclusion


David A. Furlow, J.D.,has won important First Amendment, voting rights, and commercial cases in trial and appellate courts, the Texas Supreme Court, the Fifth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court. He founded the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society Journal and has served as its Executive Editor since 2011. He is Editor of the Pilgrim Isaac Allerton Journal and a Trustee of the Pilgrim Society.

Stephen Kenney has been Director of Massachusetts’s state history museum, the Commonwealth Museum, since 2002. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston University and has taught and held administrative positions at several colleges, including serving as Interim President of Quincy College. The exhibits he’s curated at the Commonwealth Museum include A Tale of Two Colonies: “Plimoth” and Massachusetts Bay in the Seventeenth Century and the Suffragist of the Month centennial commemoration with Suffrage100MA.

Paula Marcoux is a Plymouth-based food history writer who has spent considerable time exploring local archives in search of ancient food scraps. As author of Cooking with Fire and food editor of edible South Shore & South Coast, she is committed to bringing local food history to cooks, readers, and eaters.

Lyle Nyberg is an independent historian who documents historic houses, and writes and gives public talks about Scituate history. He is currently working on a book about the summer suffragists of Scituate. A retired attorney, he graduated from Dartmouth College and Boston University School of Law. He is a member of the Scituate Historical Society, a volunteer for the Scituate Historical Commission, and a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Paula Peters is an independent indigenous scholar and member of the Wampanoag Advisory Committee for Plymouth 400. She is the owner of SmokeSygnals, a creative agency based in Mashpee, Mass.

For more information about the South Shore History Symposium, please contact Anne Mason of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society at 508-746-0012 or

Back Roads of the South Shore is a consortium of 20 non-profit organizations operating over 25 historic sites in twelve towns along the South Shore of Massachusetts from Weymouth to Plymouth. The group is dedicated to celebrating the history and spirit of the region. Visit for more information.