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Townsend Talks Series

  • Location Oyster Bay
  • Price from $10.00


Date: Thursday, May 16, 2024, 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Join us for a talk by Dr. Megan Rhodes Victor on the history and archaeology of molly houses, clandestine locations in the English colonies wherein gay men and cross-dressing individuals could meet and participate in elaborate gendered performances. They served as spaces to interact, to socialize with others ‘like them’, to engage in more intimate relations, and to participate in complex rituals simulating births, ballroom dances, marriages, and tea parlor gatherings. As taverns, molly houses were places where individuals could conduct social negotiation and form bonds of community, due to these buildings’ inherent “alcosocial” nature. Taverns were largely male-coded drinking spaces in the eighteenth century, and yet these were also one of the few places where women – especially unmarried or widowed women – could work and even manage (or own) a business. This apparent gender contradiction may have played a role in taverns and inns serving as the location for molly houses. Dr. Victor will discuss how the Molly House Project seeks to explore these archaeological spaces and provide a window into the lived experience of individuals in LGBTQ+ communities in the eighteenth century.

Dr. Victor is an anthropologist who specializes in historical archaeology from 1700 to 1900 CE. In particular, she is interested in commensal politics, drinking spaces, trade and exchange, informal economy, and gendered spaces. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 2010, her MA in 2012 and her PhD in 2018, both from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She held a postdoctoral scholarship at the Stanford Archaeology Center at Stanford University, where she directed the archaeological excavations of the Arboretum Chinese Labor Quarters (ACLQ).

Townsend Talks is a monthly lecture series in which speakers from Long Island and around the country offer fascinating insights into history, decorative arts, architecture, horticulture, and other fields that connect with our site and our mission. Lectures are $20 for museum members, $25 for nonmembers, and $10 for students (with ID) unless otherwise noted. The program begins in the Visitors’ Center and light refreshments are included.
Previous talks:
Date: February 29, 2024. Christopher Minty of the University of Virginia examines the origins of the American Revolution in New York City through the lens of political culture and the development of loyalist networks. Drawn largely from his recent book, Unfriendly to Liberty: Loyalist Networks and the Coming of the American Revolution in New York City, Minty’s talk addresses the complicated relationships between loyalists and patriots in New York, which in turn sheds light on the experiences of the Townsend family of Oyster Bay, who were patriots living under British occupation in a largely loyalist community. Minty is an editor at the Center for Digital Editing at the University of Virginia, where he works on various projects, including the Papers of George Washington and the Naval documents of the American Revolution. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Stirling, and his research has been supported by Harvard University, the New-York Historical Society, the Huntington Library, and the New York State Archives.

Date: March 22, 2024. New York played an underacknowledged role in the transatlantic slave trade. Drawing on new data that documents slave ships that moved into and out of New York, Philip Misevich sheds light on how New Yorkers organized transatlantic trading, the individuals involved in financing slave ships, the places in Africa to which New York-based voyages traveled, and the African origins of enslaved people forced back to New York. Misevich is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department at St. John’s University, in New York. HeHis is the author of three books: with David Eltis, An Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 2nd Edition (forthcoming); Abolition and the Transformation of Atlantic Commerce in Southern Sierra Leone, 1790s-1860s (2019); and, with Kristin Mann, The Rise and Demise of Slavery and the Slave Trade in the Atlantic World (2016). He helped create Slave Voyages, an online database that documents more than 36,000 transatlantic slave trading voyages.

Date: April 12, 2024. Based on the new book of the same name, Making Long Island: A History of Growth & the American Dream tells the fascinating story of the development of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk counties) between 1920 and 1980. Between the 1920s and 1950s, Long Island served as a primary site of the pursuit of the American dream, as it was affordable home ownership for the middle class that most compellingly expressed the nation’s core mythology. Beginning in the 1960s, however, that dream began to dissolve, as the postwar economic engine ran out of steam and as Long Island became as much urban as suburban. Despite all its current economic and social challenges, a new and improved American dream appears to be emerging on Long Island, and the place unarguably remains one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Samuel is a Miami- and New York City-based cultural historian and a Long Island native. He holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota and was a Smithsonian Institution Fellow. His previous books include The End of the Innocence: The 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair (Syracuse University Press, 2007), New York City 1964: A Cultural History (McFarland, 2014), Tudor City: Manhattan’s Historic Residential Enclave (The History Press, 2019), and Dead on Arrival in Manhattan: Stories of Unnatural Demise from the Past Century (The History Press, 2021).


    What's included

  • Food
  • Drink


  • Custom Policy


Oyster Bay