Library: Library Collections
Adams Family Papers (manuscript collection)
The Adams Family Papers, the most important manuscript collection owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society, is comprised of an enormous amount of material relating to John Adams (1735-1826) and Abigail Adams (1744-1818), as well as previous and subsequent generations. The collection, dating from 1639 to 1889 includes correspondence, letterbooks, diaries, literary manuscripts, speeches, legal and business papers, and other papers.
The Adams Family Papers covers almost all of American history and members of the Adams family were involved in many important political events including the evolution of the American Revolution and the diplomatic negotiations of peace; the formation of the new government in 1789; the international and internal crises at the end of the century; the founding of a permanent navy, the Louisiana Purchase and the policy of neutrality by embargo; the War of 1812; the establishment of U. S. Policy in this hemisphere by the terms of the Monroe Doctrine, largely written by John Quincy Adams; the expansion of the nation to continental proportions, complicated by the slavery issue; the Civil War, both in its military and diplomatic sphere; and the problems of reconstruction and party struggles that followed the war.
The collection includes papers relating to Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886), John Quincy Adams (1767-1848), Louisa Catherine Adams (1775-1852), Charles Francis Adams (1835-1915), and Henry Adams (1838-1918) and includes a large file of incoming correspondence from hundreds of major and minor figures in America and Europe. See ABIGAIL (the Massachusetts Historical Society's online catalog) for bibliographic descriptions of other collections relating to the Adams Family, including the Charles Francis Adams Papers and the Hooper-Adams Papers.
The Adams Manuscript Trust generously donated the manuscripts to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956. This gift corresponded to the Adams Papers editorial project, established in 1954. (Please see the Adams Papers editorial project's microsite.)
The entire manuscript collection is available on microfilm. (Please see the extended Microfilm Guide on the Adams Papers editorial project section of this website.) Portions of the manuscript collection have been published. (For more information please refer to the Volumes Published page in the Adams Papers editorial project section of this website.) Selections of the manuscript collection appear online. (Please see the Guide to the Adams Papers Online.)
Addtional Manuscript Collections
Please see this brief overview to other holdings relating to the Adamses: Additional Manuscript Collections of the MHS Relating to Adams Family Members.