“I have been induced to enquire her situation, and Character, since she quitted the Male habit, and Soldiers uniform; for the more decent apparrel of her own Sex; & Since she has been married and become a Mother. -- Humanity, & Justice obliges me to say, that every person with whom I have conversed about Her, and it is not a few, speak of Her as a woman of handsom talents, good Morals, a dutifull Wife and an affectionate parent.”

—Paul Revere to William Eustis, 20 February 1804

Deborah Sampson

Deborah Sampson was born in Plympton, Mass., in 1760. She was hired out as an indentured servant to a family in Middleborough. Upon gaining independence at age 18, she worked as a weaver and briefly as a schoolteacher.

In 1782, Sampson disguised herself in men’s clothing and enlisted in the Continental Army under the name Robert Shurtliff. Sampson was deployed to the Hudson Valley, where she saw action as a light infantryman and was wounded twice. Her masquerade was uncovered while being treated for a near-fatal fever in Philadelphia, but she received an honorable discharge from Gen. Henry Knox in October 1783.

She began a successful campaign to secure a pension and gained the support of eminent public figures including silversmith and patriot Paul Revere. In 1804, Revere visited her at her farm in Sharon. He wrote to William Eustis, the congressman for her district, on her behalf, asserting that he found her much more deserving than hundreds to whom Congress have been generous.”

View the frontispiece portrait up close here. Learn more about her story here.

Upcoming Events

Monday, 6 November | 6:00 PM

Democracy in Darkness: Secrecy & Transparency in the Age of Revolutions

Katlyn Carter, University of Notre Dame, in conversation with Nathan Perl-Rosenthal, USC Dornsife.

Register to attend online.

Wednesday, 8 November | 6:00 PM

Gay Community News at 50: Content, Controversy & Coverage

Chris Bull, Gayle Rubin, Chris Guilfoy, and Craig Bailey, moderated by Amy Hoffman. Co-sponsored with The History Project.

The in-person program has sold out, but you can attend virtually.

Register to attend online.

Thursday, 9 November | 5:00 PM

Linked Data Models for Digital Scholarly Editions of Historical Accounting Records

Kathryn Tomasek, Wheaton College, with comment by Julia Flanders, Northeastern University.

Register to attend in person.

Monday, 13 November, 6:00 PM: Wars Civil & Great: The American Experience in the CivilWar & World War I with Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai, MHS; David Silbey, Cornell University; Dr. Brian Allen Drake, University of Georgia; and Kathleen Logothetis Thompson.

Tuesday, 14 November, 5:00 PM: “Come by Water & Not by Land”: Water Sovereignty & Rival Ecologies in Mid-Atlantic Iron Country 1608–1783 with Sophie Hess, University of Maryland, with comment by Christopher L. Pastore, University at Albany, State University of New York.

Thursday, 16 November, 5:00 PM: Across Barbed Wire & Racial Lines: Interracial Friendship & Girlhood During World War II with Sonia C. Gomez, Santa Clara University, with comment by Yuichiro Onishi, University of Minnesota.

Thursday, 28 November, 5:00 PM: “Get Your Grassroots, Ladies”: Pioneering a Path to Upgrade Household Employment in Boston, MA, 1960s–1970s with Mia Michael, Wayne State University, with comment by Erik Loomis, University of Rhode Island.

Wednesday, 29 November, 6:00 PM: Gay Community News at 50: GCN’s Impact & Legacy with Gerard Cabrera, Gilda Bruckman, and Haden Smiley, moderated by Michael Bronski, co-sponsored with The History Project.

Friday, 1 December, 3:00 PM, & Saturday, 2 December, 9:00 AM: Empire & Its Discontent, 1763–1773.

See full calendar.

Looking for More?

Registration and Events


Visit www.masshist.org/events for more information and to register.

Interested in Past Programs?


If you missed a program or would like to revisit the material presented, please visit www.masshist.org/video.

Click below to view the video, Bringing Phillis to Life, with Ade Solanke, Greenwich University; David Waldstreicher, CUNY; and Tara Bynum, University of Iowa. Enjoy more videos by subscribing to the MHS YouTube channel after you view the video.

Exhibition and Library Hours

Now Open! The Dye is cast: Interests & Ideals That Motivated the Boston Tea Party. The exhibition is open through 29 February 2024. Learn more about the exhibition and explore items from our collection related to the Tea Party


Our galleries and library are open Monday and Wednesday through Friday, from 9:30 AM to 4:45 PM, Tuesday from 9:30 AM to 7:45 PM, and Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (the galleries and library open at 12:00 PM the second Tuesday of the month). Please note that the last admission is 45 minutes prior to closing.

Please check our hours and admissions for hours, building closings, and other events.

An advance appointment is strongly encouraged. Please log in to your Portal1791 account to select your preferred visit dates.


Set up an appointment via Zoom or live chat with a member of our reference staff. 


Learn more at www.masshist.org/library.

The MHS Fund and Membership

Our Members make it possible for us to offer an array of complimentary services including admission to our exhibition galleries and library, online access to our collections and digital editions, and onsite and remote reference services for all. Membership begins with a fully tax-deductible contribution of $250 or more to the MHS Fund. All Members enjoy a full year of social, cultural, and educational experiences, including invitations to our annual Holiday Party, FREE program registration, and Member Week perks. Learn more and join today!
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