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Collection Guides

Many of the Society's collection guides—narrative descriptions of the context, arrangement, and contents of manuscript, photograph, and other collections—are now available online, and more are added regularly. Search our collection guides.

Below are just a few of the numerous collection guides at the MHS with manuscripts and artifacts related to National History Day themes.

This set of collections include digitized materials:

  • Rose Dabney Forbes Papers, 1902-1935: Forbes was involved in the American Peace movement, and her papers include records for the Massachusetts Peace Society, the American Peace Society, and the Women's Peace Party/League for Permanent Peace.
  • Women's Education Association (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1871-1935: The WEA worked to improve education for children and women, locally and nationally.
  • Presidential Letters at the Massachusetts Historical Society--An Overview : This subject guide is an overview of the Massachusetts Historical Society's U.S. presidents holdings of all known letters written by presidents found in the Society's manuscript and autograph collections.
  • Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women Records, 1894-1920: This Massachusetts Association was founded in May 1895, and its primary function was to obtain signatures for "remonstrances" against "the imposition of any further political duties upon women." These "remonstrances" were circulated to offset the petitions of the suffragists. What were the short- and long-term consequences of anti-suffrage groups and efforts?
  • The Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Indians and Others in North America Records and the Benjamin Colman Papers give insight into white Christians' missionary efforts to convert Indigenous people to Christianity. Whose perspectives are included in these documents, and whose is missing? What did 'success' look like for the Society, and how did the Society's work change over time? What was the lasting impact of the Societies for Propagating the Gospel? 
  • Visual Materials of Antislavery. MHS’s website Images of the Antislavery in Massachusetts is a digital archive that includes some 840 photographs, paintings, broadsides, banners, and sculptures related to antislavery. How do these visual materials work to persuade others to join and support antislavery efforts?
  • Who Counts?  A Look at Voting Rights Through Political Cartoons.  Political cartoons have long served to provoke public debate, illustrating opinions of the day for the masses. From early in the 19th century, arguments over voting rights—who votes and who counts the votes—have been depicted in cartoons, especially with the rise of illustrated newspapers and magazines with a national circulation before the Civil War. Featuring examples of published cartoons from the MHS collections as well as other libraries and foundations, this exhibition illustrates how cartoonists helped to tell the story of voting rights in the United States, including modern reinterpretations of these topics by Boston-area editorial cartoonists. How do prior battles over voting rights impact the present day? How are today's debates over voting rights similar? Different?

The following collections have not been digitized; however, you may make an appointment to view materials in person, or you may request reproductions of materials.

  • Massachusetts Audubon Society Records, 1874-2011: The nation's first Audubon Society, the MA branch was founded to discourage wealthy, fashionable women from wearing real bird feathers in their hats. The group was influential in advocating for the passage of the 1900 Lacey Act, which prohibited interstate shipment of birds killed in violation of local laws. 
  • Massachusetts Temperance Society Records, 1813-1929: Records span from the founding through the organization's dissolution, and include correspondence. What is the legacy of the temperance movement?
  • Timothy Pickering Papers: Following the Revolutionary War, Pickering served the federal government as a negotiator with the Seneca Nation in western Pennsylvania and, later, served on a diplomatic mission to the entire Haudenosaunee Confederacy which culminated in the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. As Secretary of State, he helped to implement the Jay Treaty, and was responsible for maintaining Franco-American relations. The latter did not go well, and his rocky relationship with President John Adams led to his dismissal in 1800.
  • Henry Lee Shattuck Diaries, 1953-1954: Housed within the Shattuck Family Papers, these diaries chronicle Shattuck's work in Germany as the chairman of the Interim Mixed Parole and Clemency Board for the U.S. State Department, including meetings with diplomats, social life and customs, and daily activities.
  • Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. Papers II: During the 1950s and '60s Lodge served as an ambassador to the United Nations, Vietnam, and Germany. In 1969, he headed the United States delegation to the unsuccessful Peace Talks with Vietnam.