Books & Pamphlets

The Massachusetts Historical Society's collection of published materials is divided into several broad categories: Books and Pamphlets (described below), Broadsides, Early Imprints, Maps, and Newspapers

Books

The General Research Collection

The books in the General Research Collection primarily address the history of Massachusetts from the time of European settlement to the present, although not exclusively. Materials about the early history of New England and the United States in general, especially from the colonial period through the Civil War, are also available.

The MHS research collection also includes valuable primary and secondary published materials on Canadian history, religion, 19th-century popular literature, music, and education, especially Boston imprints. Records for all books in the Research Collection are available in ABIGAIL.

Family History Resources

The MHS has strong collections of published biographical, genealogical, and local history information that support research on its manuscript collections, but our holdings do not duplicate the exhaustive family and local history collections or services provided by The New England Historic Genealogical Society (www.AmericanAncestors.org). Researchers working primarily on family history should consult the collections of the NEHGS first.

Special Libraries

Over the years, the MHS has received collections of books from individual donors that have been kept intact and are referred to as "special libraries." These special libraries range from the private libraries of Henry Adams, Thomas Dowse, and Robert C. Waterston, to organizational collections of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, and subject-specific collections of collectors William Bentinck-Smith (U.S. history), Francis Russell Hart (Caribbeana), and Russell Knight (Shakers).

Records for most of the Society's special libraries are available in ABIGAIL. A few of our smaller special libraries are stored offsite and are available only in our internal card catalog; consult the reader services staff for more information.

Pamphlets


The MHS holds more than 30,000 pamphlets, arranged by date of publication, from 1820 to the present. The strength of the pamphlet collection lies in the diversity of subject content: almost every facet of 19th- and early-20th-century life in Massachusetts, and to a lesser extent in New England, appears in contemporary pamphlet literature. Researchers will find the collection especially strong for the last half of the 19th century. Records for the pamphlet collection are available in ABIGAIL.

 



Upcoming Events

Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar

Murder at the Manhattan Well: The Personal and the Political in the Election of 1800

19Nov 5:15PM 2019

In 1800, journeyman carpenter, Levi Weeks, was accused of murdering Guliema Sands, a young woman living in the same boarding house. Using the trial transcript, this paper ...

Conversation; Housing as History

Housing as History: New Directions for Boston’s Subsidized Housing: Learning from the Past

20Nov 6:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

As neighborhoods across Boston face enormous development pressure, there is a risk that low-income residents will be forced out of the city. Social disruption due to ...

African American History Seminar

Mary Church Terrell’s Intersectional Black Feminism

21Nov 5:15PM 2019

Civil rights activist Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954) highlighted the intersections of race and sex in black women’s lives. This paper focuses on Terrell’s ...

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