It’s the location from which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts derives its name. Yet until recently, it was difficult to locate or access resources highlighting the special significance of the small, wooded hillock on Quincy Bay known as Moswetuset Hummock.
Now, thanks to a group of ENC history students, people can learn more about Moswetuset Hummock with just the click of a mouse. Under the direction of History Professor Randall Stephens, students enrolled in the Critical Readings in History class have created a new website that explains the important role the hummock played in early relations between local Native American tribes and the first colonial settlers.
“The kids did a great job collecting valuable materials on Moswetuset Hummock,” said Stephens, who is currently teaching American Studies courses in Norway on a prestigious Fulbright Fellowship. “They also excelled with the history lessons and descriptions of the pages. This new website will really help fill out what little people know of this treasured historic place.”
The website explains how the hummock was the summer seat of Chickatabot, the leader of the Moswetuset, or Massachusett, Native American tribe. It was at Moswetuset Hummock that Chickatabot first met with Myles Standish in 1621 to establish trade with the pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony.
In addition to original photos and videos – including a video interview with history Professor Emeritus James Cameron – the website also brings together links to a number of historical associations and a wealth of primary source materials including centuries-old maps and writings. The hummock and Massachusett tribe are mentioned, for example, in a 1616 account of a visit to New England written by Captain John Smith, the famed explorer whose life, according to legend, had been spared several years earlier by the Powhatan tribe thanks to the intercession of Pocahontas.
Senior Alexandra Foran said that researching the website was a new experience for many of the students, most of whom are used to simply typing a phrase into a computer search engine and instantaneously receiving the information they seek.
“Working on the website seemed like a daunting task, especially because there was very little information about the hummock itself that we could find initially,” she said. “The Quincy Historical Society proved to be quite a valuable source for information and assistance, providing documents that helped to further expand the amount of research we had.”
The Moswetuset Hummock website is the second historical website Stephens’ history students have created. Last year, students developed a website for the Josiah Quincy Homestead, a historic site that in years past has been eclipsed by the nearby Adams National Historical Park. Historic New England – which owns and maintains the Josiah Quincy Homestead – credited the ENC students’ website with sparking renewed visitor interest in the historic home, prompting the organization to schedule additional tours to meet the demand.
“I definitely hope that our website about Moswetuset Hummock helps boost visitor interest,” Foran said. “The hummock is one of the few historical locations in our nation that remains untouched and appears close to what the colonists would have seen in the early 1600s. It’s like you are able to step back in time there.”
Related at ENC: ENC History Department