Council Lecture Series

Organized by the OI Director and the Chair of the OI Council, the Council Lecture series reflects the Omohundro Institute’s ongoing commitment to excellence in early American scholarship. It is meant for both scholarly and non-scholarly audiences. No admission is charged and an informal reception follows the event. All speakers in the series have served on the Omohundro Institute Council—service for which we are enormously grateful.

Robert C. Ritchie delivered When Did We Start Going to the Beach?: Some Thoughts on the History of Leisure in early America on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at Blow Hall, William & Mary for the 5th annual Council Lecture.

Robert C. Ritchie specializes in Early American history. His focus has been on the seventeenth century but he also has a strong interest in early modern England. After a distinguished career at the University of California, San Diego which included stints as a professor in the History Department and as Associate Chancellor, he became the W.M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at The Huntington Library. He retired from that position in 2011 and is now Senior Research Associate there.

Professor Ritchie has received a number of awards and fellowships including recognition from the Regents of the University of California, the Danforth Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, and National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a member of the Royal Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society. He is a past chair of the OI Council and the OI Executive Board and currently serves as chair of the OI Associates. He also serves on the Executive Committee of The Thomas Jefferson Papers, the Advisory Council of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and the Humanities Panel of the Research Excellence Framework in Great Britain.

His publications include The Duke’s Province: A Study of Politics and Society in New York, 1664–1691 and Captain Kidd and the War Against the Pirates, which was translated into Italian and Portuguese. Most recently, he directed a project to make available the demographic records of the California missions via a publicly accessible database. He is currently working on a book on beach culture from Rome to the present day. His talk will draw from that research and focus on early America, broadly understood.

A question and answer period as well as a light reception will follow Professor Ritchie’s talk.

Previous Lectures


Peter C. Mancall, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of the Humanities at the University of Southern California and the Linda and Harlan Martens Director of the Early Modern Studies Institute delivered “Art and Violence in Early North America.”


Mary Kelley, Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, and author, co-author, and editor of eight books including Learning to Stand and Speak, delivered “The Difference of Color.”


Mary Beth Norton, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History at Cornell University and the author or co-author of numerous books, including the popular textbook A People & A Nation, delivered “The Seventh Tea Ship; or, a Tale of Shipwrecked Sailors, Combative Communities, and a Fractured Family.”


Alan Taylor Thomas Jefferson Foundation Chair in the Corcoran Department of History at the University of Virginia, and the author of seven monographs, including the Pulitzer Prize winning William Cooper’s Town: Power and Persuasion on the Frontier of the Early Republic and the National Book Award Finalist The Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832, delivered “The West and the American Revolution: Causes and Consequences.”