Research at the MHS

Charles Francis Adams Civil War Diaries

Official title: Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries

This website presents searchable electronic transcriptions of diary entries written by Charles Francis Adams, Sr. between 1861-1865. On the eve of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln appointed Charles Francis Adams, Sr. minister to the Court of St. James's. He arrived in London on the very day Great Britain recognized the Confederacy as a belligerent. In 1863 Adams convinced the British government to prevent Confederate ironclad ships, built in Liverpool, from leaving port, thereby maintaining British neutrality. Charles Francis Adams, Sr., like his father (John Quincy Adams) and grandfather (John Adams) kept a sequence of detailed diaries. The transcription of Charles Francis Adams's diary entries from 1861-1865 has not been verified against the original manuscript, nor has any annotation been provided. The MHS makes this content available as a valuable research source but with the caveat that it is not yet an edition as established by modern documentary editing standards.


Read the diary entries (unverified transcriptions) of Charles Francis Adams (the son of John Quincy Adams, and grandson of John Adams) a key US diplomat in Great Britain during the US Civil War.

Overview of Library Collections

Descriptions of manuscripts, printed materials, works of art, photographs and artifacts in the collections of the MHS.

Visiting the Library

An overview of policies and procedures for researchers wanting access to materials held by the MHS library.

ABIGAIL Online Catalog

Official title: ABIGAIL Online Catalog

ABIGAIL is the Massachusetts Historical Society's online catalog and contains records for manuscript collections, books and other printed materials, photograph collections and works of art. ABIGAIL (which stands for Automated Bibliographic Information Gateway And Internet Link) will eventually provide access to all of the MHS's collections, but it is a work in progress.


Search the MHS online library catalog.

Guides to Collections

Official title: Finding Aids

Browse or search narrative descriptions of the context, arrangement, and contents of many manuscript and photograph collections. More of these guides (also called finding aids) are continually being created as collections are fully processed. Finding aids not yet accessible online are available in the Society's Reading Room.


Browse or search narrative descriptions of many manuscript and photograph collections at the MHS.

MHS Fellowship Programs

Information about funding opportunities to conduct research at the MHS.

MHS Collections Online

A list of the Society's collections available online.

Adams Resources at the MHS

A list of resources related to the Adams family and their papers on the Society's website.


A list of books and periodicals published by the MHS.

List of The Adams Papers Volumes in Print

Official title:

Information about the more than forty volumes in four series published by the Adams Papers editorial project. These volumes are available from the Harvard University Press.


Information about the more than forty volumes in four series published by the Adams Papers editorial project.

Revolutionary-Era Art and Artifacts

Official title: Revolutionary-Era Art and Artifacts

A selection of images of Revolutionary-era portraits and artifacts from the Massachusetts Historical Society. This website includes 67 portraits and 48 artifacts. Included are portraits of Continental Army generals George Washington, Benjamin Lincoln, David Cobb, and Henry Jackson; patriots John Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock, Jonathan Jackson, and Caleb Strong; and loyalists Charles Paxton and Thomas Hutchinson. Artifacts provide a tangible, physical connection to the individuals who witnessed the Revolutionary era. Included are Joseph Warren's sword, pistols owned by Paul Revere and Artemas Ward, and Abigail Adams's pocket.


Explore Revolutionary-era portraits and artifacts arranged by topic, by the names of the people depicted in the portraits, or by type of artifact.

Age of Exploration (available in the MHS reading room)

Official title: Age of Exploration

This digital resource presents primary sources about journeys around the globe, the expansion of colonization, and accounts of explorers. Printed sources and manuscripts from the Massachusetts Historical Society as well as other repositories are included. Published by Adam Matthew, this resource is available to researchers who visit the MHS library in person. It is also available at many college and university libraries


This digital resource features some manuscript and printed sources from the MHS related to voyages, trade and scientific activity across the globe.