A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
Portrait of John Adams and actor Paul Giamatti Portrait of Abigail Adams and actor Laura Linney

For more than a century, the Massachusetts Historical Society has been entrusted with the safekeeping of the Adams Family Papers. This unparalleled collection of letters, diaries, and other writings by one of the nation's most prominent and influential families is the starting point for anyone interested in the lives of John, Abigail, or their descendants. No study of the American Revolution or the formation of the United States would be complete without consulting this national treasure. John Adams, frank, uncompromising, and eminently quotable, provides exceptional first-hand accounts and analysis of many of the revolutionary events and the famous personalities of the period.

Documents & Drama

Explore the connection between the miniseries episodes and the real letters from the Adamses and others

Past Exhibitions

Exhibition at the MHS

In celebration of the HBO miniseries John Adams, the exhibition “John Adams: A Life in Letters” was on display at the Society’s headquarters at 1154 Boylston St., Boston, from 8 March through 31 May 2008. The selection of items focused on Adams’s extraordinary correspondence with his “Dearest Friend,” soul mate, and closest political adviser, Abigail Adams, and later his renewed correspondence with an old friend and colleague who had become his bitter political rival, Thomas Jefferson. [read more]
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Exhibition at Vassar

From 7 to 30 April 2008, the Society mounted an exhibition of Adams manuscripts at the Vassar College Library in Poughkeepsie, New York; the exhibition was in celebration of John Adams, the miniseries broadcast on HBO over six weeks beginning on 16 March. “My Dearest Friend” consisted, primarily, of a sampling of letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams over almost 40 years. [read more]