Massachusetts Historical Society
The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) was founded in 1791 for the threefold purpose of collecting, preserving, and disseminating resources for the study of American history. It was the first institution anywhere to devote its attention primarily to collecting and publishing in the field.
Today the society’s manuscripts form the centerpiece of its holdings. It has more than 12,000,000 manuscript items in thousands of collections of personal papers and institutional records. These holdings cover such diverse subjects as the history of religion, law, education, and medicine; diplomacy and international commerce; the American Revolution and the Civil War; and Native American and women’s history. Although collections on the history of New England and in the period from colonization through the late 19th century are especially strong, the society also has significant materials for the study of the West Indies, Latin America, the China trade, and the 20th century.
The society’s collection of published items complements its manuscript holdings. Printed materials include broadsides, 18th- and 19th-century pamphlets, and maps. The society also owns microforms and historic photographs as well as major collections of portraits, engravings, silhouettes, busts, and memorabilia.
The staff does all it can to make the MHS a friendly, welcoming place for researchers. MHS-NEH fellows join a community that includes active scholars on the staff as well as more than thirty visiting scholars on short-term grants over the course of a typical year. A busy calendar of programs affords frequent opportunities to meet with scholars from across New England. The society hosts or co-hosts five ongoing seminar series—in early American history, immigration and urban history, the history of women and gender, environmental history, and biography—as well as frequent brown-bag lunches at which fellows and other researchers discuss their work. Many years the MHS also holds a major conference.
Host Institutions: Massachusetts Historical Society