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Privies and Peach Pits: Public Health in Puritan Boston

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New England Historic Genealogical Society

99-101 Newbury Street

Boston, MA 02116

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History is not just in books; our knowledge about the Puritans of 17th-century New England keeps growing. Boston's active urban archaeology program allows new discoveries to be made on a regular basis. In this exciting presentation, you’ll see how the things the Puritans left behind, from doll heads to DNA, tell the stories of not only how they lived but how they died.

Hear about recent and upcoming archaeological digs right here in Boston that will uncover more of the Puritan story. Learn how the best gift for any archaeologist is the site of an old outhouse.

Our presenters will talk about views of disease and public health in 17th Century Boston, and how illnesses were managed on the local and colony level – including our earliest public health legislation.

This event is co-sponsored by the Partnership of Historic Bostons and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. If you have additional questions, please call 617-226-1226 or email education@nehgs.org.

About the presenters:

Joe Bagley is the City of Boston archaeologist. He curates a growing repository of archaeological collections and acts as the review and compliance agent for below-ground cultural resources in the city. He educates the public in archaeology through a number of city programs, manages Rainsford Island, and the Archaeology Programs social media platforms. His 2017 work has included the crypt at Old North Church and the Pierce-Hitchborn house in North Square.

Alfred DeMaria, Jr., M.D. is an infectious disease specialist who serves as Medical Director of the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He is also the State Epidemiologist for Massachusetts. He has served on the board of the Public Health Museum for 15 years, as Secretary for the past 9 years. He is Vice-Chair of the Committee on History of the Massachusetts Medical Society.


About the image: City Square Archaeological District site map showing structures of tavern, house, and privies (ca. 1630-1775) in rough outlines. Photo from Massachusetts Historical Commission.


About Medicine and Mortality in 17th-Century Boston

Every fall, in honor of the naming of Boston, the Partnership of Historic Bostons hosts a series of free events exploring an intriguing aspect of Puritan life. This year’s theme is Medicine and Mortality in 17th-Century Boston. To see a list of the entire series of FREE events, please visit our website at http://www.historicbostons.org.

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New England Historic Genealogical Society

99-101 Newbury Street

Boston, MA 02116

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