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

Brown Bag; Research Fellow

The Last & Living Words of Mark: Following the Clues to the Enslaved Man’s Life, Afterlife, and to ...

16Oct 12:00PM 2019

Mark (1725-1755), a blacksmith, husband, and father, might have slipped from public memory if not for his brutal end: his body gibbeted for decades on Charlestown Common ...

Conversation; Housing as History

Housing as History: Villa Victoria and the Fenway Community Development Corporation

16Oct 6:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

In the 1960s and 1970s Boston struggled to stem urban flight and a landscape of deteriorating housing stock. Massive redevelopment projects, such as the razing of the ...

Digital History Seminar

The World Comes to Lowell: Building a Digital Immigration History Website

17Oct 5:15PM 2019

Based at UMass Lowell, this digital project provides an entry point to the immigrant and refugee history of Lowell with an eye toward greater New England. An ...

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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