American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) – the oldest and largest genealogical society in America – held the first of a series of 400th anniversary events with a festive ceremony at their Boston headquarters on Wednesday, April 17.
The Mayflower replica ship was christened the Boston Mayflower and placed in the organization’s front courtyard to commemorate the significance of the event in the nation’s history. Unveiled adjacent to it was an artistic tribute to the people and culture of the Wampanoag Nation.
“The sailing of the Mayflower stands as an icon in American history. The Mayflower Compact was formative to our democracy. And we are just as committed to telling the Native American story,” said D. Brenton Simons, President and CEO of American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society.
The Boston Mayflower is a large replica of the iconic, square-rigged, 17th century vessel, measuring 10' long x 10' 10" high, and was crafted by marine artist Terrance "Terry" Geaghan of Bath, Maine. Anchored at the main entrance to American Ancestors on Newbury Street, it is constructed of eastern white pine. The replica was christened by Nancy S. Maulsby, of Greenwich, Conn., Chairman of the Board of Trustees of American Ancestors and NEHGS.
Maritime artist Terry Geaghan poses in front of the Boston Mayflower, a 1:12 replica of the Mayflower II (itself a replica of the original ship that sailed to New England in 1620), inside the NEHGS building (photo courtsy NEHGS).
In tribute to the Wampanoag people, American Ancestors unveiled an installation featuring a young Patuxet mother and child. Created by Steven Peters, creative director at SmokeSygnals, a Native American consultancy located in Mashpee, MA, the piece depicts the tradition in which the Wampanoag people shared stories of family through the creation of intricately woven, beaded wampum belts. These belts included symbols that informed a narrative, recorded a treaty, or represented a legacy. Usually a collaboration of many tribal artisans, these most sacred belts were held by elders, spiritual leaders, and sachems and were often left unfinished for the story to continue.
A sculptural tribute to the Wampanoag Nation inside the NEHGS building (photo courtesy NEHGS).
Also during the ceremonies on Wednesday, a new exhibit, "Origins and Legacy of the Mayflower," was opened in the first floor gallery of American Ancestors. It explores the origins of the Pilgrims' migration and their lasting legacy and presents the story of the Mayflower—the quintessential American story—across four centuries, expressed through items drawn from NEHGS. The exhibit complements the two art installations in honoring and learning from the enduring legacies of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag.
The art installations and the exhibit will be on view at the American Ancestors headquarters building (99-101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA) through the end of the 2020 commemorative year.
– The above announcement was released by the New England Historic Genealogical Society