Donor and Member Events, Online Event

Thomas Dowse & His Library

Peter Drummey, Chief Historian and Stephen T. Riley Librarian, MHS

Thursday, March 23, 2023, 12:00PM - 1:00PM

Join us for a presentation with Chief Historian and Stephen T. Riley Librarian Peter Drummey to learn more about this unique library and the voracious reader behind its existence. Questions and conversation follow the presentation.

Members register to attend online

The second floor of the Massachusetts Historical Society houses a substantial library gifted to the MHS by Thomas Dowse in July 1856. Ultimately one of the Society's greatest benefactors, Dowse amassed a library worth more than $40,000 at the time—more than one million dollars today. The collection comprises 4,665 volumes, ranging in genre from bibliographical rarities to English literature, foreign literature in translation, travel accounts, and history. Incredibly, the entire library—including the wood moldings—was dismantled and moved to the MHS's current location from its previous location at 30 Tremont Street.

This is program is open to Members only. Not yet a Member? Please join the MHS by making a fully tax-deductible donation of $250 or more by visiting this page:

Questions about the online event?

Contact Assistant Director of Individual Giving Patrick Holmes at or call (617) 646-0551.