Visiting the Library

The Massachusetts Historical Society's library operates differently than most public or university libraries. While we strive to provide researchers with access to the contents of all our collections, the preservation of our unique materials is our primary concern. To that end, we enforce strict security protocols. Explore the pages in this section in order to become familiar with library policies and procedures so that you can make the most of your visit to the library.  

What to Expect

Prepare for your first visit by learning about Portal1791 (our online request system), the researcher registration process, how to request materials, and basic security policies.

What to Bring

Learn what personal materials are allowed into the library and what materials the MHS provides for researchers.

How to Prepare

Find advice on where to begin your research, how to search the MHS catalogs, and how much time you will need to complete your research. 

Upcoming Events

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar; The Irish Atlantic

Moving News, Affecting Relief: The Irish Famine’s Trans-Atlantic Circulations

28Mar 5:15PM 2017

The ships that carried Irish famine victims across the Atlantic also carried tragic accounts of those left behind; in response, North Americans sent millions of dollars ...

Brown Bag

An Actor’s Tale: Theater, Culture, and Everyday Life in Nineteenth-Century U.S. America

29Mar 12:00PM 2017

Hughes will discuss her monograph-in-progress, inspired by the diary of U.S. actor Harry Watkins (1825-1894). In “An Actor’s Tale,” she deploys ...

Author Talk; Politics of Taste

Tea Sets and Tyranny: The Politics of Politeness in Early America

29Mar 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

Even as eighteenth-century thinkers from John Locke to Thomas Jefferson struggled to find effective means to restrain power, contemporary discussions of society gave ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

Even though March is on its way out, it seems bent on imposing its will. Escape the late-winter bluster in the week ahead with some history: - Monday, 27 March, 6:00PM : First up this week is a ...

Gertrude Codman Carter’s Diary, March 1917

Today we return to the 1917 diary of Gertrude Codman Carter. You may read the previous entries here: Introduction | January | February All but the last page of March 1917 is sliced out of the diary; ...

Read more from our blog

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