MHS for the Media

Oldest Historical Society in the Nation Launches Blog


BOSTON, May 4, 2009—The Massachusetts Historical Society, an independent research library and the oldest historical society in the United States, announced today the launch of its first institutional blog, The Beehive. The Beehive will be moderated by Assistant Reference Librarian Jeremy Dibbell and include guest contributors from the Society’s five programmatic departments. New items are scheduled to be posted two to three times per week. The Beehive will be located at

According to Dibbell, “We'll be using this blog as an informal, interactive way to get the word out about the goings-on at 1154 Boylston Street.”

Initial topics include: notes, quotes, and anecdotes from the Society's 218-year history; event and program notices; news from MHS departments; profiles of MHS research fellows; announcements of new library resources, such as acquisitions and digital finding guides; and summaries and explanations of MHS collections.

The Beehive gets its name from the 1833 seal of the Massachusetts Historical Society, which features several honeybees buzzing around a predominant hive. The inscription above reads "Sic Vos Non Vobis," which approximately translates to "you work, but not for yourselves." The quote is from the Roman poet Virgil's response to another poet, Bathyllus, who had claimed credit for a pro-Caesar verse written anonymously by Virgil. According to MHS member Charles Deane's remarks at a March 1877 meeting of the Society, Virgil's line "has always been regarded as a favorite motto for quotation, to indicate devoted and disinterested labor, that is to say, for the good of others ..." This same mode of thinking continues in the work ethic of the Society’s employees today.

The Society, conveniently located between Boston’s Back Bay and Fenway neighborhoods, promotes the study of the history of Massachusetts and the nation through its extensive collections–a mission it has pursued since 1791.


  More About the Massachusetts Historical Society

The Massachusetts Historical Society is one of the nation’s preeminent research libraries, with collections that provide an unparalleled record of the vibrant course of American history. The Society holds an extraordinary assembly of personal papers from three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson—as well as accounts of the lives of thousands of ordinary Americans and their families. With millions of page of manuscript letters, diaries, and other documents, as well as early newspapers, broadsides, artifacts, works of art, maps, photographs, and prints, the Society offers a wide-ranging perspective on the United States from the earliest beginnings of the nation to the present day.

Since its founding, the Society has fostered research, scholarship, and education. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of our nation’s past and its connection to the present. Through fellowships for scholars, meticulous research volumes, seminars, conferences, teacher training programs, as well as lectures, tours, open houses, and exhibitions, the Society demonstrates that history is not just a series of events that happened to individuals long ago, but is integral to the fabric of our daily lives.