Mission and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

The Massachusetts Historical Society is a center of research and learning dedicated to a deeper understanding of the American experience. Through its collections, scholarly pursuits, and public programs, the Society seeks to nurture a greater appreciation for American history and for the ideas, values, successes, and failures that bind us together as a nation.

Vision Statement

The Massachusetts Historical Society will continue to be widely recognized as a preeminent institution of American history, a thriving center for research and learning, and a respected voice for the importance of understanding our nation’s past.

The Society's programs and exhibitions will celebrate the perspective American history brings to our own time and illustrate how it sustains our republic and guides our future. As the region's major venue for history presentations, the MHS will produce programs and exhibitions that are thematic, tell stories, and explore turning points in the past. Where opinions vary, it will provide a forum for debate.

MHS exhibitions will travel nationally and internationally and will reinforce the Society's mission and significance. The Society's collections will be viewed as a preeminent resource for the study of America by scholars and history enthusiasts around the globe, and the MHS will provide unprecedented access to those materials through its library and website. The Society's center for teaching history will enliven the classroom experience through web-based materials, and we will advocate for the value of history in our schools' curricula.

The MHS will establish itself in Boston and New England not only as the premier resource for American history but also as a leading cultural institution. As a result it will attract increased financial support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and governmental agencies. Based on an assessment of our capital needs and financial capacity, we will launch a capital campaign to endow critical staff positions, to fund ongoing scholarly and educational programs, and to support the renovation of our facility to include additional space for programs, exhibitions, and classrooms.

Improved funding will reinforce the Society's core activities. Enhanced processing and increased digitization of the Society's collections will open avenues of research. Seminal national conferences, seminars, and additional research fellowships will advance scholarship. The MHS will extend the Adams Papers through another generation, publish other essential collections in print and online, launch an online magazine, and enrich our website. Greatly expanded public relations and marketing will support the Society's presence, mission, and activities.

In 2020 the MHS will be a thriving and influential center for the study and advancement of historical knowledge and an advocate for its importance. The MHS will reach a much larger audience who will use its resources, take part in programs, join as members, and support its mission to achieve a deeper understanding of the American experience. And we will have taken a significant step forward toward our vision of a renewed American understanding that our nation’s past is fundamental to its future. 

We welcome everyone to support our mission, use our resources, take part in our programs, and become a Member.

Upcoming Events

Environmental History Seminar

The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919 ...

16Jan 5:15PM 2018

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 ...

Brown Bag

Skulls, Selves, and Showmanship: Itinerant Phrenologists in 19th-Century America

17Jan 12:00PM 2018

"Come, then, one and all, and learn to know yourselves." With these words, a traveling phrenologist advertised his lecture to the public. Proponents of phrenology ...

Author Talk

Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

17Jan 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

First things first in this weekly round-up: The Society is CLOSED on Monday, 15 January, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Normal hours resume on Tuesday, 16 January. Now that we have ...

A Midwinter’s Tale

  At eight o-clock on a January morning in 1891, and a world away from the ice-caked streets of his native New England, 52-year-old Henry Adams leisurely began to go about his day. Armed with ...

Read more from our blog

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