Collections

The Massachusetts Historical Society is one of the nation’s most respected research libraries. Our extraordinary collections provide an unparalleled record of American history and are enjoyed by scholars and the public alike.

The MHS possesses a remarkable assembly of personal papers of three presidents, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The collections also contain accounts of the lives of thousands of ordinary Americans.

Explore the collections

The collections are 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 online resources.

Upcoming Events

Early American History Seminar

Panel: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Friends

2May 5:15PM 2017

Gould’s essay, “Hawthorne and the State of War,” reads the under-studied travel memoir Our Old Home (1863) as a meditation on the important—and, ...

Brown Bag

Politics of Civil War Governance: A Conversation about Lincoln and his Loyal Governors during the ...

3May 12:00PM 2017

Engle will discuss his most recent book, Gathering to Save a Nation: Lincoln and the Union’s War Governors (2016) and how it led to his current project, a ...

Cooking Boston

Cooking Boston: Where to Go

3May 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

Cooking Boston: Where to Go This series of programs explores the culinary history of Boston and the impact the city has had on the American diet. In the first half of ...

From our Blog

Reference Man in Catalog Land : Describing publications in the George ...

We here in the Library Reader Services department at the MHS concern ourselves with the user/researcher side of our collections. This job allows us to continually sharpen the skills of reference ...

“Legible only to myself”: John Quincy Adams’s Shorthand

A line in John Quincy Adams’s 1788 diary is the earliest example of his use of English poet John Byrom’s shorthand system. The system replaces words with symbols to make writing faster and ...

Read more from our blog

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