Here are the latest Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes:

Mayflower families

The New England Historical Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St., will welcome author Rebecca Fraser in a free presentation from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11.

Fraser will speak about her latest book “The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage and the Founding of America,” a vivid narrative that focuses on the first two generations of the Winslows in America, It is the story of an ordinary English family facing the challenges of crossing the ocean and setting up in an unfamiliar new world.

Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Registration is suggested for this free program, online at or by calling 617-536-5740.

Children’s art programs

Free art discovery classes for children will be held from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 11 and 18 at the Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St.

Budding artists will learn what is so special about color. Registration is requested but not required.

Send an email to or call 617-536-7660 to register or for more details.

Irish genealogy

The Irish genealogy study group will meet from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Nov. 11 at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St.

The Irish genealogy study group will gather to talk about research problems and share solutions. Everyone is welcome and attendees are invited to stay and use the library resources afterwards. No registration is necessary.

Contact Mary Ellen Grogan at for more information.

French historians

The French Cultural Center, 53 Marlborough St., will host “The French Historians Roadshow” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 14.

The center will partner with the Consulat Général de France à Boston to present this talk about the American entry into the Great War. Historians Dr. Emmanuelle Cronier and Clémentine Vidal-Naquet will discuss World War I from an insider’s perspective, describing the social and cultural aspects of the war, its impact on families and its after-effects. This panel discussion will be moderated by award-winning professor and historian Dr. William Keylor of Boston University.

Registration is required for this free program, online at or by calling 617-912-0400.

Musical production

The Old South Church, 645 Boylston St., will present “The Queen’s Tears” at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

This musical and theatrical rendition by Ji Eun Hwang tells the story of Esther and is about hope and about praying for those that need guidance. “The Queen’s Tears” includes the characters of Esther, Mordecai, Xerxes (Ahasuerus) and Haman and allows the audience to experience the human condition through art. They will experience the story through actors, media and music.

A donation of $10 is suggested.

Visit or call 617-721-1469 for further information and to purchase tickets.

Jewish heritage

The Jewish Heritage Center at the New England Historical Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St., will host a launch reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

The evening will feature “The Future of Our Heritage: The Exponential Impact of Memory” with Barry Shrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, in conversation with professor Jonathan D. Sama of Brandeis University.

A reception will be held at 6 p.m. with the presentation at 7 p.m. Dietary laws will be observed.

Tickets are $75 and can be purchased at or by calling 888-296-3447.

World of Charles Gibson

The Gibson House Museum, 137 Beacon St., will host “A Discreet Society: The World of Charlie Gibson” with John Burrows at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15. A reception will be held at 6 p.m. with the lecture beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Burrows, a past president of the Gibson Society and longtime friend of the museum, will explore the world of Anglo-American gay men and women of the Victorian and Edwardian eras in which Charles Gibson Jr. came of age.

Burrows is nationally recognized for his knowledge of 19th century architecture and interior design. His recent projects include manufacturing reproductions of the Gibson House Museum's red and blue carpets.

Admission is $12 for members and $15 for non-members.

Pre-registration is required, through or by calling 617-267-6338.

History of the Back Bay

Author William Martin will be the guest of the New England Historical Genealogical Society, 99-101 Newbury St., from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16.

Martin will talk about “The Back Bay: From Mudflat to Landfill to Modern Metropolis.” Using photographs he discovered while researching his book “Back Bay,” he will trace the development of this iconic Boston neighborhood. This photo presentation will examine the details in old and rare images of 19th century Boston.

This program is sponsored by the Nichols House Museum, and registration should be made though Nichols House at 617-227-6993 or online at

Brass ensemble

The Boston Conservatory Brass Ensemble will entertain from 8 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 17 at the Old South Church, 645 Boylston St.

This free concert will feature works by Barber, Bliss, Böhme, Crespo, de Meij and Riegger, with Lawrence Isaacson, conductor.

Call 617-536-1970 or visit for more details.

Art exhibit

The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury St., is displaying works by Sam Vokey now through Dec. 3 in the President’s Gallery.

An opening reception will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 18 when Vokey will discuss his work while demonstrating his practice. Reservations are suggested for the reception.

Vokey’s painting style is most closely associated with the “Boston School’ and his technique crosses Realism with some of the softer edges and painterly qualities of Impressionism. His paintings explore sophisticated balances both of overall composition and of light and dark values within the composition. In 2007, he was awarded the John Singleton Copley Award, which is the highest honor given by The Copley Society of Boston, and was a featured artist in American Art Collector Magazine.

Admission is free.

Visit or call 617-536-7660 for more details.

Bach cantatas

Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., is presenting its 42nd season of the J. S. Bach Cantatas at 10 a.m. on Sundays now through May 20.

The orchestra and chorus of Emmanuel Music will present weekly performances of the cantatas and motets of J.S. Bach and others, conducted by Ryan Turner.

For more information, call 617-536-3356 or visit

Collections tour

The Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., will host tours of the collections of the society at 10 a.m. on Saturdays during November.

Led by an MHS staff member or docent, the 90-minute tour focuses on the history and collections of the MHS.

The tour is free and open to the public. Reservations are not required for individuals or small groups. Parties of eight or more should contact the MHS.

Further information can be found at or by calling 617-646-0560.

Library tours

Boston Public Library volunteers will give art and architecture tours of the McKim Building, a National Historic Landmark, in its main building, constructed in 1895, throughout the week.

Highlights include the murals of John Singer Sargent, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Edwin Austin Abbey and the work of architect Charles Follen McKim.

Self-guided tours are available as well, and literature describing the architectural highlights is available on the web at

For tours by appointment, call 617-536-5400.