1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
phone: 617-536-1608
Association Type(s)
Patricia Bruttomesso, Program Coordinator
phone: 781-899-3920


The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is an independent research library and manuscript repository. Its holdings encompass millions of rare and unique documents and artifacts vital to the study of American history, many of them irreplaceable national treasures. A few examples include correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, such as her famous "Remember the ladies"; several imprints of the Declaration of Independence; and Thomas Jefferson's architectural drawings.


The Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library that collects, preserves, makes accessible, and communicates manuscripts and other materials in order to promote the study of the history of Massachusetts and the nation-a mission it has pursued since 1791.


The Founding

When the Reverend Jeremy Belknap, a Boston minister, brought together nine acquaintances in a friend's parlor on January 24, 1791, his goal was to find a way to gather and protect the basic sources of American history. As he envisioned it, the historical society would become a repository and a publisher collecting, preserving, and disseminating resources for the study of American history. Through their pledges of family papers, books, and artifacts the founding members made the Society the nation's most important historical repository by the end of their initial meeting. With the appearance of their first title at the start of 1792, they also made the MHS the nation's first institution of any description to publish in its field.

In the absence of any other American historical repositories in the 1790s, the MHS took on a broadly national role, one still apparent in both its collections and its publications. As other historical institutions were founded elsewhere—for instance, the New-York Historical Society in 1804 and the American Antiquarian Society in 1812—the Society started to direct special attention to Boston, Massachusetts, and New England. The continuing legacy of its early years as the nation's only repository of American history, however, is a program of collections and activities of national and international importance

The Society Today

In the two centuries since the founding of the MHS, its mission has remained constant: to collect, preserve, make accessible, and communicate manuscripts that promote the study of Massachusetts and the nation. The institution today encompasses five programmatic areas: Library, Publications, Research Programs, The Adams Papers, and Education and Public Programming. The MHS is a member of the Independent Research Library Association (IRLA).


Going Public: Community Program and Project Ideas for Historical Organizations ($15); Painting Historic Exteriors: Colors, Application, and Regulation ($10)