Peter Drummey, Chief Historian & Stephen T. Riley Librarian

Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/about/Peter_Drummey_headshot.jpgPeter Drummey is responsible for library outreach and exhibitions at the MHS.  Over the course of 35 years, Drummey has assisted more than 50,000 researchers who have visited the MHS and a far larger number from a distance. He has prepared exhibitions, transcribed historical documents, and written manuscript collection guides and subject surveys, including Collecting History, a guide to landmark documents and artifacts in the Society’s collections.  In addition, he has contributed book reviews and bibliographic essays to professional and historical journals.

Drummey has served as a technical adviser for documentary films and television programs with historical themes, including the HBO miniseries, John Adams; and as a commentator for BBC, C-Span, PBS, and commercial cable television programs on Charles Dickens in America, Thomas Jefferson, historian Henry Adams, the end of slavery in Massachusetts, the Boston Irish, and, most recently, the Gettysburg Address.

He has been active as an advisor and member of national, regional, and local archival and historical organizations, including friends of libraries groups. A Boston resident with professional knowledge of library preservation, he serves as a board member of the Associates of the Boston Public Library, a nonprofit corporation formed to raise private funds to conserve the immense research collection of that library.

A native of Duxbury, Mass., Drummey attended college and graduate school at Columbia University in New York City. After graduating from the program to train rare book librarians and archivists in the School of Library Service at Columbia, he returned to Massachusetts, where he was the curator of manuscripts at the New England Historic Genealogical Society before joining the staff of the MHS in 1978.  Drummey’s personal historical interests center on the era of the First World War, especially the social and technological impact of the war. 

Upcoming Events

Online Event

The First Reconstruction: Black Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War

17May 5:30PM 2021
This is an online program

It may be difficult to imagine that a consequential black electoral politics evolved in the United States before the Civil War, for as of 1860, the overwhelming majority ...

Online Event; Conversation; Racial Injustice Series

Confronting Racial Injustice: The War on Drugs in Massachusetts: The Racial Impact of the School ...

19May 6:00PM 2021
This is an online program

In the 1980s, Massachusetts embraced the War on Drugs, enacting harsh mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. It took decades to confront the reality ...

Online Event

Of Thee I Sing: The Contested History of American Patriotism

26May 5:30PM 2021
This is an online program

When we talk about patriotism in America, we tend to mean one form: the version captured in shared celebrations like the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance. But ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

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