About the MHS

Making the Past Last

Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture. Its extraordinary collections tell the story of America through millions of rare and unique documents, artifacts, and irreplaceable national treasures.

Accessible To All

As the nation’s first historical society, the MHS strives to enhance the understanding of our nation’s past and its connection to the present, demonstrating 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. Its collections are accessible to anyone with an interest in American history. Beyond research, the MHS offers many ways for the public to enjoy its collections including engaging programs, thought-provoking exhibitions, publications, seminars, and teacher workshops.

National Treasures

The MHS collections are particularly well-known for extensive holdings of personal papers from three presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The collections contain many famous documents including Paul Revere's own account of his famous ride and Abigail Adams’s famous "Remember the Ladies” letter to John Adams, where she advocates for the rights of women to be included in the founding of the United States. In addition, the MHS holds several imprints of the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson's architectural drawings, among many other treasures.

Upcoming Events

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar

POSTPONED: The Pacific Railroads and the Pacific Ocean: American Expansion, Asian Trade, and ...

31Mar 5:15PM 2020

The transcontinental railroads reshaped the United States—its politics, economy, culture and environment. But as this talk argues, late-nineteenth-century Americans ...

postponed Author Talk

The Hunt for History: On the Trail of the World’s Lost Treasures—from the Letters of Lincoln, ...

1Apr 6:00PM 2020
There is a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Nathan Raab, America’s preeminent rare documents dealer, describes his years as the Sherlock Holmes of historical artifacts and he shows us what the past can tell ...

The Revolutionary Era in Boston with Prof. Robert Allison

3Apr 2:00PM 2020
This is an online program.

Join us for a live virtual Q and A with Professor Robert Allison who will address your questions on the Revolutionary War in Boston and beyond. Subscribers will get ...

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 ...

Read more from our blog

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