The collection of the MHS provides an unparalleled record of American history. Well-known for extensive holdings of personal papers from three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson—the MHS also holds accounts of the lives of thousands of ordinary Americans. This extraordinary collection helps to tell the story of America through millions of rare and unique documents, artifacts, and irreplaceable national treasures. We collect materials from all segments of the population and all time periods--including current day. Our project to collect first-person accounts of daily life during COVID-19 is one example.
The collection is available to all in person, online, and through exhibitions and programs. Learn more about doing research at the MHS.
Use these tools to view highlights, digital collections, and other resources.
The MHS actively collects diaries, letters, and other personal papers of individuals and families, as well as the records of institutions and organizations that document the history of Massachusetts and the nation.
Browse a selection of objects from the Society’s vast collection showcasing a range of items—from iconic treasures to quirky historical artifacts.
The MHS collects materials from all time periods and all segments of the population and is particularly interested in acquiring letters, diaries, and other personal accounts.
The MHS welcomes use of materials from our collection in publications, exhibitions, presentations, film and video projects, websites, and other works.
We welcome researchers of all ages and experience levels.
Spanning the years 1639 to 1889, the Adams Family Papers are the most comprehensive and historically complete family collection held by an American cultural institution.
The Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts is the largest collection of private papers kept by the third president of the United States.
The MHS holds letters written by every US president through George H.W. Bush.