John Adams wrote a letter to Abigail Adams in 1780 which is now considered iconic for its views on education. The letter provided the inspiration and framework for the exhibition, The Object of History: 18th-Century Treasures from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Said Adams:
|I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.|
This companion website is divided into three parts according to John Adams’s scheme: “Politicks and War,” “Mathematicks and Philosophy,” and “Painting, Poetry ... and Porcelaine." It consists of artifacts, manuscripts, medals, paintings, engravings, furniture, clothing, and early publications. These historical objects form a solid foundation on which the collections of the MHS have been built and inform us today about how our ancestors lived.