Visiting the Library

The Massachusetts Historical Society's library operates differently than most public or university libraries. While we strive to provide researchers with access to the contents of all our collections, the preservation of our unique materials is our primary concern. To that end, we enforce strict security protocols. Explore the pages in this section in order to become familiar with library policies and procedures so that you can make the most of your visit to the library.  

What to Expect

Prepare for your first visit by learning about Portal1791 (our online request system), the researcher registration process, how to request materials, and basic security policies.

What to Bring

Learn what personal materials are allowed into the library and what materials the MHS provides for researchers.

How to Prepare

Find advice on where to begin your research, how to search the MHS catalogs, and how much time you will need to complete your research. 

Upcoming Events

Author Talk

Animal City: The Domestication of America

27Jan 6:00PM 2020
There is a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

American cities were once full of animal life: cattle driven through city streets; pigs feeding on trash in public alleys and basements; cows crammed into urban feedlots; ...

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar

Genetown: The Urbanization of the Boston Area Biotechnology Industry

28Jan 5:15PM 2020

Today, the Boston area hosts the densest cluster of biotechnology firms anywhere in the world. Yet in the 1980s, the rapid concentration of the industry within ...

Conversation

Historical Perspectives on Today’s World: Our Nation's Founders and Today's Political Challenges

30Jan 6:00PM 2020
This program will be held at the Edward M. ...

Our Founding Fathers were progressive for their time in establishing a new nation. Many of them grappled with the same issues that we face today, including political ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

Read more from our blog

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