New Collection Available

by Susan Martin, Senior Processing Archivist

I’m very pleased to announce a new collection available for research, the Perry-Clarke additions. I’ve been processing this collection for a while now, and I can honestly tell you I’m a little sorry to be finished with it. It’s been one of the most interesting (and challenging) I’ve worked on here at the MHS.

The collection contains the papers of Unitarian minister, transcendentalist, author, and social reformer James Freeman Clarke, as well as many family members from multiple generations. The “Perry” in the title comes from the collection’s donor, Clarke’s great-granddaughter Alice de Vermandois (Ware) Perry.

Black-and-white photograph of a white man with gray hair, beard, and glasses seated at a desk writing. Below the photograph is the signature “James Freeman Clarke.”
James Freeman Clarke (Photo. #81.151) from Portraits of American Abolitionists

As you can probably tell from the name, these papers consist of additions to the Perry-Clarke collection, which Alice Perry gave to the MHS back in 1979. After that collection was processed and made available to researchers, Perry donated multiple subsequent installments of family papers. These additions posed a number of problems: many of them were completely unorganized and unidentified, and some portions were even covered in active mold.

Unfortunately, because of these problems and the lack of time and staff to address them, most of the additions have been malingering in our backlog. We did arrange, catalog, and make available four boxes of some of the most significant material—all the letters James Freeman Clarke wrote to his wife between 1832 and 1888—but the rest was largely unusable.

Thankfully that’s no longer the case! While it wasn’t possible, at this late date, to incorporate the additions into the primary collection, I’ve processed the additions separately and created links between the two. At 46 boxes, this collection is smaller than the first (64 boxes), but there’s a lot of overlap.

The collection contains ten boxes of family correspondence (the previously cataloged letters from James to Anna are filed here), followed by nine boxes of James’s papers, primarily manuscript and printed copies of his sermons and other writings.

James may be the headliner, but the collection also includes papers of several equally impressive relatives. Among them are his sister Sarah Freeman Clarke, an artist, author, teacher, and philanthropist; his wife Anna (Huidekoper) Clarke and members of the influential Huidekoper family of Meadville, Pennsylvania; his incredibly high-achieving children, Lilian (reformer and translator), Eliot (engineer and mill manager), and Cora (botanist and entomologist); and his daughter-in-law Alice and her family.

In fact, while the additions complement the original donation in many ways, they have even more to offer. Alice was, through her mother, a member of the famous Lowell family of Boston, so about a third of the additions is made up of Lowell family papers that Alice brought along with her when she married Eliot Channing Clarke in 1878.

The Lowell material includes, for example, nearly 30 volumes kept by Alice’s great-aunt Rebecca Amory Lowell during her decades of work as a Sunday School teacher, as well as 21 diaries of another great-aunt, Anna Cabot Lowell, that neatly fill the gap in one of our other collections! An entire box consists almost exclusively of letters written by Alice’s great-great-aunt, another Anna Cabot Lowell, during the Federalist Era.

Processing this collection meant opening a lot of boxes of miscellaneous unidentified loose manuscripts and crumbling volumes and identifying, to the best of my ability, what they were, who wrote them, and where they belonged. I was particularly impressed by how much material I found documenting the accomplishments of women.

I hope and expect the Perry-Clarke additions will get a lot of use by researchers. I know I intend to mine it for many future blog posts. Thanks to Interim President Brenda Lawson for prioritizing the processing of this collection.

Announcing 2024-2025 MHS Research Fellows

by Cassandra Cloutier, Assistant Director of Research

Each year, the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) awards dozens of fellowships to support scholars from a variety of fields as they use our collections in new and exciting ways. The Society offers a variety of short-term fellowships, which include the Suzanne and Caleb Loring Fellowship in collaboration with the Boston Athenaeum and the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium award in collaboration with thirty other institutions throughout New England, and the MHS-NEH Long-Term Fellowship.

For the 2024-2025 fellowship season, we offered three new fellowships for our short-term award. These included the Abigail Bowen Wright Fellowship for projects concerning the long twentieth century, the Elizabeth Woodman Wright Fellowship for projects on the relationship between Massachusetts and the world, and a fellowship to support the study of social and cultural club life in Boston supported by the Algonquin Club Foundation.

The Research Department at the Massachusetts Historical Society is delighted to announce its newest cohort of fellows awarded for the 2024-2025 academic year. With this cohort of Research Fellows, we have supported over 1,000 scholars through our various fellowship programs. We look forward to learning more about the following projects in the coming year!

MHS-NEH Long Term Fellows

  • Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut, “The Man Who Married Phillis Wheatley: John Peters, Trader, Lawyer, Physician, and Gentleman”
  • Donald F. Johnson, North Dakota State University, “The Popular Politics of American Independence”
  • Betsy Klima, University of Massachusetts, Boston, “The Muses of Massachusetts and the Drama of Revolutionary Boston”
  • Ross Nedervelt, Florida International University, “Security, Imperial Reconstitution, and the British Atlantic Islands, 1763-1824”

New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC)

Fellows Visiting the MHS

  • Emma Chapman, University of California, Davis, “Missing: Mobility, Kinship, and Absent People in New England and New France, 1680-1720”
  • Andrew Colpitts, Cornell University, “Rehearsing Rurality: Theatricality, Rural Identity, and the Performance of Nostalgia in New England”
  • Al Coppola, John Jay College, CUNY, “Enlightenment Visibilities”
  • Blake Grindon, Johns Hopkins University, “The Death of Jane McCrea: Sovereignty and Violence in the Northeastern Borderlands of the American Revolution”
  • Timothy Hastings, University of Massachusetts Amherst, “Situating Race in New Hampshire’s Atlantic World”
  • Monique Hayes, Independent Scholar, “Sally Forth”
  • Elizabeth Hines, University of Chicago, “Anglo-Dutch Commerce, Religion, and War, 1634-1652”
  • Thomas Lecaque, Grand View University, “Holy War Rhetoric in Early America, 1680-1765”
  • Gerard Llorens-DeCesaris, Pompeu Fabra University (Spain), “Antislavery imperialism: the United States, Cuba, and Spain during Reconstruction”
  • Robin Preiss, New York University, “Sounding Rot: Diagnostic Listening for Decay and Danger in the North Atlantic Maritime”
  • Catherine Sasanov, Independent Scholar, “The Last & Living Words of Mark: Following Clues to the Enslaved Man’s Life, Afterlife & to His Community in Boston, Charlestown, & South Shore MA”
  • John Suval, Independent Scholar, “Visionaries & Reactionaries: The Battle for America in the Age of Whitman and Pierce”
  • Eric Totten, University of Arkansas, “‘Demoralized on the Slavery Question’: Military Occupation in the Federal Department of the South and the Politics of Emancipation, 1862-1863”
  • Elliott Warren, College of William & Mary, “The Common Hall: Local Leaders and the Development of America’s Political Economy in the Era of the French Revolution, 1786-1800”

Fellows Not Visiting the MHS

  • Chloe Bell-Wilson, University of California, Los Angeles, “So Hormonal: Estrogenic Bodies in the United States”
  • Julie Burke, Columbia University, “Irregularities of the System: Women and their Abortions in Nineteenth-Century Britain”
  • Savannah Clark, University of Maine, “Letters from Home: Northern New England Women and the American Civil War”
  • Lydia Crafts, Manhattan College, “‘Little Empire’: Medicine, Public Health, and Human Experimentation in 20th Century Guatemala”
  • Courney Dorroll, Wofford College, “Women in Higher Education Leadership”
  • Bruce Dorsey, Swarthmore College, “What Happened in 1977 and Why?: Stories from the Origins of America’s Culture Wars”
  • James Fortuna, Santa Fe College, “The Civilian Conservation Corps in New England, 1933–42”
  • Whitney Gecker, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, “The Self- Memorializing of Elite Colleges: Oral History Archives and the Production of Prestige”
  • Elizabeth Hauck, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Mrs. Batson and Mrs. Hicks: Race, Rights, and the Mothers’ Fight for Boston Public Schools”
  • Joshua Iaquinto, University of Sydney, “Imperfect Parts: The Manuscript Fragment in American Verse, 1840-1900”
  • May Jeong, Independent Scholar, “The Life: Sex, Work, and Love in America”
  • William Little, The Ohio State University, “Annotating Classical Latin Poetry in the Fifteenth Century”
  • Nathan Lucky, Clark University, “Resistance with Words: The Jewish Telegraphic Agency during the Holocaust”
  • Mackenzie Tor, University of Missouri, Columbia, “Spirited Struggles: The Black Temperance Movement in Nineteenth-Century America”
  • Joseph Weisberg, Brandeis University, “From Generation to Generation: Understanding Jewishness, Family, Commerce, and Slavery in Early and Antebellum America”

Suzanne and Caleb Loring Fellowship on the Civil War, Its Origins, and Consequences

  • Sarah Gardner, Mercer University, “Shakespeare Fights the American Civil War”

Short-Term Fellowships

  • Chelsi Arellano, Florida State University, “Glorious Change: Gender, Politics, and the Popular during the Reign of William III and Mary II” (Samuel Victor Constant Fellowship from the Society of Colonial Wars)
  • Jared Asser, University of Georgia, “A Reconstruction of Feeling: How Emotions Shaped Change in the Post-Civil War Period” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Boone Ayala, University of Chicago, “Leviathan’s Peripheries: Political Ideology and Corporate Autonomy in England and its Empire” (W. B. H. Dowse Fellowship)
  • Megan Baker, University of Delaware, “Crayon Rebellion: The Material Politics of North American Pastels, 1758-1814” (Andrew Oliver Research Fellowship)
  • Collin Bonnell, Concordia University, “Joining the Ascendancy: Six Old English Families’ Transformations from ‘Irish’ to ‘British’ Elites” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Galen Bunting, Northeastern University, “Gendered Trauma in World War One Nurse Narratives” (Ruth R. Miller Fellowship)
  • Emma Chapman, University of California, Davis, “Missing: Mobility, Kinship, and Absent People in Early New England and New France, 1680-1720” (Samuel Victor Constant Fellowship from the Society of Colonial Wars in Massachusetts)
  • Abby Clayton, Indiana University Bloomington, “Narrating Abolition: Scissors-and-Paste Reform in the Emerging Anglosphere” (Malcolm and Mildred Freiberg Fellowship)
  • Sara R. Danger, Valparaiso University, “American Girls, Literary Labor, and The Lowell Offering” (Marc Friedlaender Fellowship)
  • Madeline DeDe-Panken, The Graduate Center CUNY, “Gathering Knowledge, Sustaining Science: Women Foragers and American Mushroom Culture, 1880- 1930” (Mary B. Wright Environmental History Fellowship)
  • Shaibal Dev Roy, University of Southern California, “Pandita Ramabai and the Nineteenth-Century American Feminists” (Alyson R. Miller Fellowship)
  • Ethan Gonzales, University of Virginia, “The Visible State: U.S. Diplomatic Agents and Information in Europe and the Federal Territories, 1789-1800” (Louis Leonard Tucker Alumni Fellowship)
  • Timothy Hastings, University of Massachusetts Amherst, “Situating Race in New Hampshire’s Atlantic World” (African American Studies Fellowship)
  • Seokweon Jeon, Harvard University, “Guardians of Divine Borders: Tracing the Religious Underpinnings Boston’s Nativist Movement and Immigration Policy Formation, 1894-1921” (C. Conrad & Elizabeth H. Wright Fellowship)
  • Adam Laats, Binghamton University (SUNY), “School Children: A New History of US Public Education” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Thomas Lecaque, Grand View University, “Holy War Rhetoric in Early America, 1680-1765” (Kenneth & Carol Hills Fellowship)
  • Arya Martinez, University of New Hampshire, “The Turbulent Confederation: The Bank of North America and the Emergence of a New National Economy” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Peter C. Messer, Mississippi State University, “Pressing Problems and Riotous Customs: The Liberty Riot and the coming of the American Revolution” (Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati Fellowship)
  • Marcus Nevius, University of Missouri, “Internal Enemy of the Most Alarming Kind: Marronage and the Political Economy of Fear in the British Atlantic in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Isaac Robertson, New York University, “Phillis Wheatley (Peters) and the Peril and Deliverance of Shipwreck” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Erin Russell, American University, “Keeping the Books, Minding the Linens: Household Recordkeeping in Seventeenth and Eighteenth-century New England” (Benjamin F. Stevens Fellowship)
  • Alaina Scapicchio, University of South Florida, “America Bewitched: Memory and Commemoration of Witchcraft” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Wulfstan Scouller, Yale University, “Money, Guns, and Land: A Longue Durée History of King Philip’s War” (Samuel Victor Constant Fellowship from the Society of Colonial Wars in Massachusetts)
  • Rebecca Simpson Menzies, University of Southern California, “From Agawam to Springfield: Society, Culture, and the Environment in a Seventeenth Century Town” (W. B. H. Dowse Fellowship)
  • Kwelina Thompson, Harvard Business School, “A Literary Life: Exploring the Publishing Industry in Boston’s World of Letters” (Fellowship to Support the Study of Social and Cultural Club Life in Boston sponsored by the Algonquin Club Foundation)
  • Andrew Walgren, University of Georgia, “Media Combat: The Great War and the Transformation of American Culture” (Abigail Bowen Wright Fellowship)
  • Elliott Warren, College of William & Mary, “The Common Hall: Local Leaders and the Development of America’s Political Economy in the Era of the French Revolution, 1786-1800” (Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship)
  • Christopher Willoughby, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, “Collected Without Consent: A Global History of Harvard Medical School’s Racial Skulls” (Elizabeth Woodman Wright Fellowship)
  • Cooper Wingert, Georgetown University, “Wartime Freedom Seekers, Provost Marshals, and Emancipation during the US Civil War” (Military Historical Society of Massachusetts Fellowship)

Learn more about the MHS Fellowship programs.

John Quincy Adams Diary Now Fully Online!

by Neal Millikan, Series Editor for Digital Editions, The Adams Papers

The 15,000+ page diary kept by John Quincy Adams from 1779 to 1848 is now fully accessible online as the John Quincy Adams Digital Diary. A publication of the Adams Papers Editorial Project at the MHS, the Digital Diary is also one of four founding member projects of the Primary Source Cooperative, a collaborative digital editions publishing platform hosted by the Society.

The Digital Diary is presented as verified transcriptions paired with manuscript images of related entries. Biographical and historical context is supplied through essays on the major personal and professional divisions of Adams’s life, and people and historical topics are also identified for each date entry. Through the project’s participation in the Primary Source Cooperative, advanced federated search features allow users to track individuals or subjects both within and across the Cooperative editions.

John Quincy Adams often kept multiple versions of his diary, and the Digital Diary provides transcriptions of the entries in each of his 51 diary volumes. These include his “Rubbish,” almanac, and line-a-day diaries. The edition also integrates Adams’s earliest diaries, which were previously published in two letterpress volumes by the Adams Papers.

Color photograph of black ink drawings of two ships with lines, masts, sales, flags, and windows. The top ship is called The Frightful of 10 6 Pounders, the bottom is called The Horis of 8 6 Pounders.
John Quincy Adams’s sketches of ships named the Frightful and the Horrid on the inside back cover of his diary, 1780

With revised transcriptions, the more than 1,500 pages in this section of the diary chronicle John Quincy Adams’s travels in Europe, as he accompanied his father, John Adams, on a diplomatic mission in 1779 and subsequently attended schools in the Netherlands and France. It also records his travels to St. Petersburg as secretary and interpreter during Francis Dana’s mission to Russia. With John Quincy’s return to the United States in 1785, the diary provides insights into Adams’s preparation for and studies at Harvard College and his legal training in Newburyport.

A color photograph of a black ink printed engraving of three buildings in the middle ground, people walking, on horseback or driving carriages on an empty field in the foreground, and a cloudy sky in the background.
“A Westerly View of the Colledges in Cambridge in New England”; facsimile engraving by Sidney L. Smith of a drawing by Joseph Chadwick after Paul Revere’s 1767 engraving of Harvard College

Thanks to the efforts of many staff members, interns, and volunteers who contributed to the project since its inception in 2016, the full corpus of John Quincy Adams’s diary is now freely accessible and searchable online. Supplemental content will continue to be added via the Digital Diary and the Adams resources portion of the MHS website. This includes a timeline of Adams’s life and visualizations of the diary data via the Cooperative’s partnership with the Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern University.

Come check it out and let us know what you think! Truly, we’d love to hear from you at

The Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society gratefully acknowledges the support of our sponsors. The Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund provided major funding for the John Quincy Adams Digital Diary, along with generous contributions by Harvard University Press and a number of private donors. The Mellon Foundation in partnership with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission also supports the project through funding for the Society’s digital publishing collaborative, the Primary Source Cooperative.

MHS Undergraduate Library Residency

By Lauren Gray, MHS Reference Librarian, and Erin Olding, 2022-2023 MHS Undergraduate Library Resident

In September 2022 the MHS launched an undergraduate library residency program, aimed to introduce students who might not otherwise consider professional paths in public history or library science to the work of those fields.  Erin Olding, then a student at Cape Cod Community College, was one of the inaugural residents, working at the MHS from September 2022 through May 2023.  At the end of her tenure, Erin drafted this blog post to help spread the word about the program.  Knowing that we would be taking a year to evaluate and adjust the program, we held onto Erin’s draft.  Now that the call has gone out for our next pair of library residents, we share Erin’s words with you.  If you know anyone that could benefit from participating in this program, please share the link ( 


One semester, I volunteered at the little archive housed in the library of the small community college I attended. Through this slow-going but very insightful work, I gained firsthand experience processing and creating a finding aid for a collection. While I was working there, the archivist saw a posting for a pilot undergraduate library residency program at the Massachusetts Historical Society and forwarded it my way. The prospect of working at such a storied archive and library—not to mention having a paid internship – enticed me to apply. 

After making a successful application, I prepared for the interview. I scoured the Society’s website, finding as many articles, videos, and other resources as possible. Discovering more about the historically rich collections housed in the MHS was like finding diamonds in a goldmine. I most enjoyed stumbling upon a beautifully painted WWI propaganda poster featuring Joan of Arc, encouraging patriotic women to buy war bonds. 

Receiving news that I landed the job made me ecstatic.  I found the prospect of working in a professional environment after my previous employments in retail and fast food very exciting. But admittedly, that meant I also felt out of my element. From the first second of my first shift, all my coworkers, including fellow library resident CJ, acted generously and graciously. They understood that working just a few shifts a week meant that I wouldn’t get the hang of things as quickly as the other staff and offered much support.   

Retrieving items from the stacks felt familiar. I had stocked new merchandise and pulled old merchandise when working retail. The motor functions are the same. Working in the stacks, slowly committing call numbers and locations to memory, and the sense of accomplishment that came with recalling both left a deep impression on me in my first handful of shifts. Sitting behind the circulation desk, however, felt like an alternate reality. A lifelong lover of libraries, I had spent so much time on the patron side of the circulation desk; now I sat on the other side of the desk.   

Readings and field trips supervised by Senior Reference Librarian Anna Clutterbuck-Cook differentiated the residency from a part-time staff position. During the first semester of the residency, Anna brought CJ and I to various archival and historical institutions in the Boston area. Seeing different places, meeting different people, learning different practices, and listening to different stories— Boston is chock full of stories—provided deep insight into the library and information science (LIS) field. CJ and I also completed assigned readings, excerpts from books pertaining to the LIS field with topics from the MHS itself to the institutional biases within established LIS systems.  

In the second semester, CJ and I began work on special projects.  For these projects we each partnered with a non-library department at the MHS.  I worked with Cassandra Cloutier and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai on the MHS’s podcast, The Object of History, producing an episode about medieval books in the Society’s collections. I examined the books in the reading room, drafted interview questions, conducted interviews with experts, and cut the raw interview audio. Being able to speak to three knowledgeable individuals (Curator of Art & Artifacts Anne Bentley, Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey, and medievalist Agnieszka Rec) about medieval books and book collecting provided much insight. What a pleasure to learn history on the job! 

Completing the yearlong library residency at the Massachusetts Historical Society, working in both the Library and Research departments, was a wonderful experience. Through this residency, I’ve had the opportunity to constantly—and sometimes unexpectedly—learn about historical Boston, American, and even medieval life. I look forward to applying these learned lessons to my future. 

A note about Anna Clutterbuck-Cook 
The undergraduate residency program would not have been possible without the work and passion of Anna Clutterbuck-Cook. A few weeks after the first semester ended, Anna passed away after a long battle with cancer. I found Anna inspirational.  She taught me so much in a very short time. Her intelligence and activism bled into her work. I can only aspire to have a tenth of her spirit. With the anti-trans legislation passing in the United States, I hope to become an archivist for LGBTQ+ history, especially the history being made right now.  

The MHS Education Team is in Our Revolutionary Era 

By Heather Wilson, Assistant Director for K-12 Learning 

As we approach the 250th anniversary of the start of the Revolutionary War, we are excited to announce the launch of four new primary source sets on topics set in the 1770s on the History Source! We were thrilled to spend the summer working with scholars and K-12 teachers to breathe new life into these historical topics, and teachers can download all materials to use in their classrooms for free! These four new source sets were made possible with funding from the MA Society of the Cincinnati. Read on for a brief description of our new sets. 

Investigating Multiple Perspectives on the Boston Massacre

several ships waving British flags approach a densely settled port with a long wharf and many church steeples in the background
In 1768, Paul Revere portrayed his anxiety over the arrival of “British ships of war landing their troops” in Boston. This print is a reproduction from 1868. 

The arrival of British troops in Boston in the fall of 1768 – dispatched to protect customs officials tasked with collecting duties put in place by the Townshend Acts – is the catalyst for this primary source set on the Boston Massacre. With this context, students then analyze visual and written propaganda created in the wake of the night of 5 March 1770. Teaching activities use witness testimonies from a diverse array of Bostonians to help students understand that people’s accounts of that night conflicted with one another and could be influenced by their existing social relationships and politics.   

The Evolving Legacy of Crispus Attucks: 1770-1863 

black ink on yellowed paper shows a line of soldiers shooting at a crowd and a Black man falling. Text around it reads: “Crispus Attucks, March 5th 1770, the day which history selects as the dawn of the American Revolution”
Broadside advertising an 1863 event during which abolitionists gathered to commemorate Crispus Attucks as a martyr, and the Boston Massacre as the “dawn of the American Revolution.”

According to a Boston newspaper a week after the Boston Massacre, Crispus Attucks, a Black and Indigenous formerly enslaved man, had been born in Framingham and was passing through Boston “in order to go for North Carolina” in his work as a sailor. Instead, Attucks was one of five victims killed by British soldiers on the night of 5 March 1770. Attucks’ role that night was contested. Some portrayed him as the instigator and leader, while others claimed he was merely a spectator. In his defense of the British soldiers, John Adams blamed Attucks for the Massacre, using only select witness testimony as evidence. In the mid-19th century, the Black abolitionist and historian William Cooper Nell revived the public memory of Attucks. Like Adams, he portrayed Attucks as the leader of the event, but in the heroic role of a martyr standing up against tyranny.  

Attucks was not the only person of color present in the streets of Boston that fateful night, even though Revere’s famous engraving depicts only white people at the scene. Witness testimony and depositions from the trial of the soldiers also include the words of Andrew (last name once known), a literate man enslaved by a member of the Sons of Liberty, and Newton Prince, a free Black lemon merchant and pastry chef who ultimately left Boston for London as a Loyalist. 

Boston 1773: Destruction of the Tea 

shriveled brown tea leaves sit inside a glass bottle that is closed up with a cork; cursive handwriting in brown ink on a yellowed paper is inside the bottle
The label on this glass bottle filled with loose tea leaves reads, “Tea that was gathered up on the shore of Dorchester Neck on the morning after the destruction of the three cargo’s, at Boston, December 17, 1773.”

December 16th of this year marks the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, or, as it was known at the time, the Destruction of the Tea. In this set, students explore broadsides, diary entries, artifacts, political cartoons, news articles and more to understand the wide variety of perspectives various stakeholders brought to the tea crisis. The set ends with the first three Coercive Acts, which Parliament enacted to punish and exert increased control over the rebellious colony. 

Massachusetts Loyalists: Revolution and Exile 

neat, large cursive handwriting on yellowed paper
On 29 September 1778, 11-year-old Eliza Byles wrote a letter to her aunts in Boston from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where her Loyalist family had fled in exile. Eliza was the daughter of Mather Byles, who had been the rector of Old North Church.

Following the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, British colonists in North America were proud to be part of such a vast empire. By 1775 – and following a series of protests against British tax policies – the first battles of the Revolutionary War had taken place in Massachusetts. However, not all colonists joined the Patriot cause. In this set, students explore who Loyalists were, why they maintained their allegiance to the British Crown, and what consequences they faced as a result.  

Many thanks to: Kate Bowen, Abigail Portu, G. Patrick O’Brien, PhD, Ben Remillard, PhD, J.L. Bell, and Serena Zabin, PhD, for their work as writing consultants and/or scholarly advisors on these source sets!

Check out all four sets on the History Source

The MHS Welcomes Back Another Year of National History Day in Massachusetts!  

By Simbrit Paskins, Student Programs Coordinator

The 2024 National History Day Season Is Upon Us
In Massachusetts, students across the state in grade 6-12 gear up for History Day project presentations and statewide contests! While many students will present their best work at in-house, school-day history showcases, many other students are in preparation mode for the upcoming NHD competition, of which thousands of students across the country are also preparing!

This Year’s National Theme Is “Turning Points in History
The theme prompts students to think about an idea, event, or action that directly, or sometimes indirectly, causes change. While students are currently digging deep into related research and project planning, young scholars from across the commonwealth will soon be excited and eager to present their work to the community and to their peers! 

Volunteer Judges Are An Essential Part of NHD
In 2024, the MHS will host 3 Regional Competitions in Leicester, Stoneham, and Foxborough, MA, and 1 State competition in Winchester, MA. We anticipate strong student participation in the new year, and will need the support of community members who are willing to volunteer their time on contest day as NHD Judges. 

On contest day, judges work in teams to review entries in a specific category, interview students, and provide written feedback notes. Many students refer to these notes and to their judging experience to make recommended edits and improvements to their projects, whether they are moving on to the state contest or planning to compete again in the next year. Judges also help select which projects advance from the Regional to State competition.  

You don’t need to be an historian to be an amazing NHD judge or to contribute to a positive and memorable student experience. We provide a judging orientation and other training materials so that volunteers feel prepared to judge on contest day. For more information on judging at a local contest, please fill out our “2024 Judge Interest Form” and visit our website here

About National History Day
As described by the National History Day Organization, “National History Day® (NHD) is an educational nonprofit organization that engages teachers and students in historical research. The mission of NHD is to improve the teaching and learning of history in middle and high school through an innovative framework of historical inquiry and research. Students learn history by selecting topics of interest, launching into year-long research projects, and presenting their findings through creative approaches and media.” ( NHD 2024 Theme Book, “What Is National History Day?”,, Accessed: 11/15/23) 

Last year, over 600 students in MA participated in NHD in MA! With the support of local educators, parents and guardians, sports coaches, after school program coordinators, and the Massachusetts Historical Society, middle and high school students across the state created thoughtful, research-based, and informative History Day projects. We can’t wait to see what new and exciting work students are getting into in the upcoming 2024 season! 

Save the Date!

Saturday, March 2, 2024 

  • Stoneham Regional Competition: Stoneham Central Middle School (149 Franklin Street Stoneham, MA 02180). Contest Coordinator: Paula Sampson, 
  • Foxborough Regional Competition: Foxborough High School (120 South St, Foxborough, MA 02035). Contest Coordinator: Leah Cardullo, 

Sunday, March 10, 2024 

  • Leicester Regional Competition: Leicester Middle School (174 Paxton St Leicester MA). Contest Coordinator: Norman Everett, 

Saturday, April 6, 2024 

  • Massachusetts State Competition: Winchester High School (80 Skillings Road, Winchester, MA 01890). Contest Coordinator: Simbrit Paskins, 

Resource Links: 

  • To stay connected with “All Things NHD” please join our newsletter by clicking here
  • Want to volunteer as a judge? Click here to complete the “2024 Judge Interest Form”. 

Announcing our 2023 Student and Teacher Fellowship Recipients

By Kate Melchior, Associate Director of Education

The MHS Education Department is excited to announce our cohort of student and teacher fellows for the 2023 season! 

Each year, the MHS offers fellowships to three K-12 educators and one high school student; offering the opportunity to explore the Society’s archives. Teacher fellows are invited to research and create educational materials using documents and artifacts from MHS collections, responding to a gap in their curriculum or diving deeper into classroom content knowledge. High school student fellows work with a teacher mentor to research a topic of their choosing and create a project to share their findings, gaining experience in the field of history and working in archival spaces. 

We are thrilled to be working with the following scholars this year:

Swensrud Teacher Fellows

Sydney Slayer, Lyons Township HS (Illinois) is investigating American imperialism in South America and Hawai’i.

Matt Weiss, Verde Valley HS (Arizona) is exploring shifts in Haudenosaunee politics and diplomacy in the early 1700s.

Kass Teacher Fellow

Michael M. Khorshidianzadeh, Victor School (Acton, MA) is researching Massachusetts progressivism and peace movements in the lead-up to World War I.

John Winthrop Student Fellow

Sahai Virk, Milford HS (Milford, MA) is examining the history of medical care and health care on marginalized populations and communities in Massachusetts.

Our Education fellows will present their findings in blog posts later this fall.

For those who are interested in applying, the MHS Education Fellowships are available to all K-12 educators and high school students from all U.S. states and territories. Applications for next year’s fellowship cohort will open in January 2024. Visit our website for more information and sign up for the Education newsletter to be the first to hear about next year’s applications!

National History Day: National Competition 2023

By Kate Melchior and Simbrit Paskins

On 11 June, for the first time in four years, a team of 61 middle and high school students from across Massachusetts set out to the University of Maryland, College Park, for the 2023 NHD National Contest. There they joined a group of over 3,000 students representing all 50 United States, Washington, D.C., Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and international schools in China, Korea, and South Asia.  Can you picture it? A sea of young people, on a college campus, excited about history and ready to take Nationals by storm!

Image shows the backs of several students walking towards a building. Students are wearing red t-shirts and black drawstring bags with a white MHS History day logo imprinted.
Massachusetts students at NHD National Contest

Once at College Park, students spent the week presenting the documentaries, website, exhibits, performances, and papers they’ve worked on all year; traded state pins and stories with students from around the world; and shared in the incredible experience that is National History Day.

During their four-day stay in College Park, students experienced life on a college campus, staying in dorms and eating in the school dining halls with students from around the world. They viewed the exhibits and performances of other students and explained their own topics of research to new friends. They also participated in a variety of activities just for fun with their Massachusetts cohort, including a monument tour of D.C., a New England board game night, and an ice cream party. Finally, on the last day they participated in a massive parade and award ceremony in the UMD Stadium.

Image shows hundreds of students wearing different colored t-shirts and holding a variety of props to represent their state, marching in a circle around a large auditorium.
NHD parade in the UMD Stadium

We are incredibly proud to highlight the following achievements from our National History Day Massachusetts team:  

Gold Medal and National Endowment for the Humanities Scholars

Winner(s): Harry Liu, Alexander Lay, and Spencer Carman
School: Ottoson Middle School, Arlington
Teacher: Jason Levy
Junior Group Website: “PARC v. Pennsylvania: Pioneering the Right to Education for Children with Cognitive Impairments”

Special Prize: Outstanding Project in Discovery or Exploration in History

Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this prize is awarded in the junior and senior divisions for an outstanding project in any category on American or international discovery or exploration. 

Winner(s): Ruthanna Kern
School: Somerville High School, Somerville
Teacher: Adda Santos
Senior Individual Performance: “Broken: The Treaties of Fort Laramie and the Myth of the Frontier”

Outstanding Affiliate Awards: Massachusetts

Junior Division Winner(s): Cora Dutton, Nadia Hackbarth-Davis, Jiwan Ryu, and Elena Zaganjori
School: Ottoson Middle School, Arlington
Teacher: Jason Levy
Junior Group Documentary: “Now I’ve Got The Pill: Oral Contraceptives and How They Changed The Lives of American Women”

Senior Division Winner(s): Jake Bassinger and Sofia Brown
School: Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, Wenham
Teacher: Anne Page
Senior Group Performance: “CURIE: a radioactive frontier in science”

We’d also like to extend a special shoutout to our Patricia Behring Teacher of the Year Nominees Gail Buckley of Willow Hill School in Sudbury and Barbara Sturtevant of Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington. Congratulations to them and to all of our student historians and the teachers, families, friends, and communities who supported them.

If you are interested in learning more about NHD or joining us as a teacher, student, or judge for National History Day in Massachusetts 2024, please visit our website at

Celebrating “Freedom Day” 2023: A Virtual Juneteenth Exhibit with NHD Massachusetts

By Simbrit Paskins and Kate Melchior

Image of website header with 4 portraits.

There’s something quite special about the month of June, is there not? The month invites us to officially welcome in the Summer season, get excited about vacations and beach days, and everything feels inevitably brighter! June also makes way for cultural and historical celebrations across the nation, namely, LGBTQIA+ Pride month and Juneteenth, both of which honor the voices, legacies, and stories of community members far and wide. 

In the past few weeks, the MHS and our greater Massachusetts community have celebrated our National History Day students in a number of ways! While students from across the Commonwealth traveled to participate in the first in-person National competition since 2019, seventeen of our students said “yes!” to having their NHD projects featured in a virtual exhibit at the Massachusetts Historical Society to commemorate the history and legacy of Juneteenth.

Though it has long been celebrated among African American and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities, Juneteenth is a major part of American history that still remains largely unknown to the wider public. Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) celebrates the date in 1865 when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state, and enforce the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which legally freed all enslaved people, including those in Texas who had still been in bondage until union troops arrived. Since then, Juneteenth celebrations have annually created spaces for the storytelling of our country’s second independence day and recognized the ongoing fight for human rights and equality.

In 2020, Juneteenth was declared a state holiday in Massachusetts, and the following year was recognized as a federal holiday. 

The Massachusetts Historical Society began an annual NHD Massachusetts Juneteenth exhibition in 2020 with three goals in mind: 

  1. to promote an understanding of and engagement with the Juneteenth holiday; 
  2. to highlight select NHD student projects whose work explores topics related to Black/ African American history, culture, achievement, and freedom; 
  3. and to spread awareness of these often marginalized historical narratives. 

This year’s NHD projects approached history through the theme of “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.” Our virtual exhibit features students who researched leaders in history such as Dr. Anna Cooper, Marsha P. Johnson, and Katherine Johnson; and explored topics including the history of Hip-Hop, the Children’s March of 1963, and Black Wall Street. 

We invite you to explore this original and extraordinary student work from the 2023 NHD Massachusetts competition season. We invite you to think deeply and critically about the stories that our NHD youth chose to tell this year about Black and African American history, and we encourage you to share what you’ve learned with your friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors, joining us in our celebration of this invaluable and critical history. 

Congratulations to the Student Winners of our 2023 National History Day Contest in Massachusetts!

by Simbrit Paskins, Student Programs Coordinator

The 2023 National History Day season has been a whirlwind of epic proportions! Folks from across the Commonwealth came together energized for our first fully in-person contest season since the onset of COVID, and they came back with a bang! 

With 4,000 NHD participants across the state this year, over 600 middle and high school students competed in the Regional and State contests hosted by the MHS. It was impressive to witness student work come to life over the course of this program year: Guided by over 90 dedicated educators, students presented almost 350 projects to over 90 judges, all history lovers who enthusiastically volunteered their time to carefully assess the students’ work. While judges reviewed rubrics for each project category and prepared to interview the students on their topics, teachers tirelessly supported student work and helped move students’ projects from concept to reality, making this year’s local contests a collective community achievement!

Navigating after-school clubs, extra-curriculars, and even holiday breaks, students showed up this year with their historian hats on to teach us all about a wide range of topics that speak to this year’s NHD theme, “Frontiers in History.” Students developed papers, websites, performances, exhibits and documentaries to share about people, places, things, and ideas that demonstrate a frontier being crossed in history. What a sight! And we, their very impressed pupils, listened in awe! Projects covered a wide range of subjects such as: women’s roles in war, frontiers through race and gender, LGBTQ representation in literature, advancements in technology such as music and video games, frontiers in fashion, American furniture, entertainment, and even space exploration! 

2 smiling student presenters and 1 adult judge stand in front of a tri fold poster board sitting on top of a table
Students present their Exhibit to a Judge at the 2023 State Contest. Photography by Laura Wulf.
1 student in a classroom, sitting in a chair at a small desk with a pen in hand, leaning forward, enacting a performance
Student enacting an original performance at the 2023 State Contest. Photography by Laura Wulf.

On Saturday, April 1, we hosted an exciting awards ceremony at Winchester High School where NHD Winners from Massachusetts were announced at the closing of a very rich state contest. Among the many special History Day guests was Sen. Paul Feeney, who spent the morning observing project presentations and interviews and meeting NHD constituents! This visit helped all of us shine an even brighter light on the incredible experience that is National History Day.

Man in suit with soft smile facing the camera speaking to two students with backs to the camera and one students behind a piano, back also facing the camera.
Senator Feeney chats with NHD Students at the 2023 State Contest. Photograph by Laura Wulf.

This year, 50 projects received gold, silver and honorable mention awards, and local institutions sponsored 30 special prizes, including: Best Project in: Massachusetts History, LGBTQ+ History, and African American History. Our 62 Gold and Silver medalists will be moving on to the National Contest this June at the University of Maryland.

When I first began working here at the MHS, I was told that “National History Day is more than just a day, it is an experience!”, and after my first year of coordinating this program, I can see that nothing is more true. NHD builds strong community ties between folks from all different walks of life, connecting us under one common goal of supporting young people in their exploration of and relationship to history and to themselves. Teacher mentors connect their youth with the program on an individual basis, as a whole class, and even as an after-school program, opening the door for students from all backgrounds to explore history with both a critical and curious lens! Parents & guardians help students glue the pieces of their exhibits together, practice performance lines when no one is watching, equip and encourage students to advocate for themselves when in need, & usher their young people to our local contests on early weekend mornings. 

Thank you again to all of the students, teachers, parents, schools, and judges who supported the 2023 contests. Thank you as well to all of our sponsors at the Mass Cultural Council and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who help us grow the program and make it accessible to all students.

We invite members of the public to learn more about the NHD program and to contact us at for more information. There are so many ways to engage with this program and support its growth!