Guy Goodfellow Lecture - Serena Zabin


Offering an account of the Boston Massacre that yields “fresh understandings of the cause of liberty and its consequences” and “startling revelations”, Professor Serena Zabin, a professor of American History at Carleton College, delivered a guest lecture at Washington College that provides a compelling new slant on this well-known American Revolutionary event.

Set for Tuesday, March 29 at 4:30 PM in the Hynson Lounge, this lecture was part of the Washington College History Department’s Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture series. 

Zabin’s lecture drew from her recently published book, titled “The Boston Massacre: A Family History.” The story of the Boston Massacre—when on a late winter evening in 1770, British soldiers shot five local men to death—is familiar to generations. But from the very beginning, many accounts have obscured a fascinating truth, which is that the Massacre arose from conflicts that were as personal as they were political. 

Zabin’s work uses original sources and lively stories to illuminate this tale, following British troops as they are dispatched from Ireland to Boston in 1768 to subdue the increasingly rebellious colonists. Zabin’s account reveals a forgotten world hidden in plain sight: the many regimental wives and children who accompanied these armies. We see these families jostling with Bostonians for living space, finding common cause in the search for a lost child, trading barbs and and sharing baptisms. Becoming, in other words, neighbors. When soldiers shot unarmed citizens in the street, it was these intensely human, now broken bonds that fueled what quickly became a bitterly fought American Revolution.

About Serena Zabin

SERENA ZABIN is a professor of history and chair of the history department at Carleton College. She is the author of Dangerous Economies: Status and Commerce in Imperial New York and The New York Conspiracy Trials of 1741: Daniel Horsmanden’s Journal of the Proceedings. She is also the codesigner of a serious video game about the Boston Massacre, Witness to the Revolution.