Massachusetts Historical Society

Massachusetts Historical Society Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library and an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture.
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Today is Abigail Adams's 276th birthday! Did you know that Adams’s grandson Charles Francis Adams was the first to publi...
11/22/2020

Today is Abigail Adams's 276th birthday! Did you know that Adams’s grandson Charles Francis Adams was the first to publish selections of her letters in the mid-19th century? Want to know more about public memory of the second #FLOTUS? Check out this MHS Beehive blog post from the archives by #AdamsPapers editor Sara Georgini: www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2019/02/an-adams-tells-all-about-abigail.

Happy 276th Birthday to Abigail Adams! Did you know that there are approximately 2,000 extant letters and other document...
11/22/2020

Happy 276th Birthday to Abigail Adams! Did you know that there are approximately 2,000 extant letters and other documents written by Adams during her lifetime (1744–1818)? The Adams Papers editorial project at the MHS publishes most of them in Adams Family Correspondence and many are freely available to read online through the Adams Papers Digital Edition. Visit www.masshist.org/publications/adams-papers/index.php/browse/volumes.

11/18/2020
Webinar: Mass. House Museums & Local History Orgs: Part 2: Authors' Houses

New video available online! Watch "A Treasury of Massachusetts House Museums and Local History Orgs: Authors' Houses with William Hosley, Terra Firma Northeast. This is part 2 of a 3-part series. the final program will take place on 23 November at 5:30 PM. Learn more and register at www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3363.

-- Webinar recorded 16 November 2020 -- A conversation led by William Hosley, Terra Firma Northeast Massachusetts has a famously literary culture. At the bir...

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
11/18/2020

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
11/12/2020

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

We've reached the one week countdown to our  virtual Young Patron Party! Embrace your inner nerd on 17 Nov at 8 PM for c...
11/10/2020

We've reached the one week countdown to our virtual Young Patron Party! Embrace your inner nerd on 17 Nov at 8 PM for cocktail-making demos, prizes, and more. Get your tickets today at www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3395.

Our virtual Making History Gala is one week from today! Enjoy a conversation between Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential...
11/10/2020

Our virtual Making History Gala is one week from today! Enjoy a conversation between Pulitzer Prize–winning presidential historian Jon Meacham and GBH’s Emily Rooney. We will present the John Codman Ropes award to Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The festivities begin on 17 November with sponsor cocktail corners at 6:00 PM followed by the virtual program at 6:30 PM. Get your tickets today at www.masshist.org/gala.

11/09/2020
Webinar: Jefferson: Then and Now

New video available online! Watch "Jefferson: Then & Now" with Peter Onuf, University of Virginia, and Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University. Find out about upcoming programs by visiting www.masshist.org/events and watch previously recorded videos at www.masshist.org/video.

-- Webinar recorded 29 October 2020 -- With Peter Onuf, University of Virginia and Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University The reputations of all of the foun...

Embrace your inner nerd and join us at our Young Patron Party on Tuesday, 17 November, at 8:00 PM! Hosted by Tori Bedfor...
11/06/2020

Embrace your inner nerd and join us at our Young Patron Party on Tuesday, 17 November, at 8:00 PM! Hosted by Tori Bedford, reporter at GBH News and producer of the All Rev’d Up podcast, this virtual event will feature a variety of entertaining activities. See lively cocktail-making demonstrations with Bully Boy Distillers and Edgar B. Herwick III, host of The Curiosity Desk at GBH News. Engage in conversations with peer young patrons. And watch as we present the inaugural Rising History Maker Award to Dr. Karilyn Crockett, the City of Boston's first Chief of Equity. Purchase “pay-your-age” tickets to receive advance cocktail recipes and automatic entry into door prize drawings: https://www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3395.

With Election Day 2020 fast approaching, take a look at this lapel pin dating from Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 re-election ca...
11/02/2020
MHS Collections Online: Abraham Lincoln ferrotype pin

With Election Day 2020 fast approaching, take a look at this lapel pin dating from Abraham Lincoln’s 1864 re-election campaign. In the 1860 presidential contest, he had pioneered use of this kind of item—and specifically the reproduction of ferrotype photographs, which involves developing the image on a thin metal sheet, onto pins or pendants for large-scale distribution.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Abraham Lincoln ferrotype pin

With Election Day 2020 around the corner, enjoy this unique set of porcelain mugs depicting the heads of Richard M. Nixo...
11/01/2020
MHS Collections Online: GOP campaign mugs of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

With Election Day 2020 around the corner, enjoy this unique set of porcelain mugs depicting the heads of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Republican candidates for president and vice president in the election of 1960. They once belonged to U.S. Representative Richard B. Wigglesworth. Look closely at the handles--they are in the shape of elephants' trunks.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: GOP campaign mugs of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

This October, current events dictate that we must keep our tricks and treats indoors. Fortunately, working at the MHS pr...
10/31/2020

This October, current events dictate that we must keep our tricks and treats indoors. Fortunately, working at the MHS provides more opportunities to get scared than one might think. An MHS staff member pulled together a blog post with some glimpses into the more macabre side of the MHS and its collections. Visit www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2020/10/scary-stories-to-tell-in-the-stacks/ to read about strange lights appearing in the sky in the 1630s and 1640s; a shiver-inducing spider encounter; the Boston Belfry Murderer; a doll who keeps her watchful eye over the MHS collection; and several unexplained happenings at the MHS over the years. Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Happy Birthday, John Adams! Born on this day in 1735, John Adams loved books, his family, and the nation he helped estab...
10/30/2020

Happy Birthday, John Adams! Born on this day in 1735, John Adams loved books, his family, and the nation he helped establish, maintaining a keen interest in American politics in retirement. In 1802 he wrote to son Thomas Boylston Adams, “When Cares for my Country arise, as they do very often, I Silence them and divert them as well as I can, by reflecting that I have done all in my power and can do no more.” A lifetime of public service invested him in the success of the government and people of the United States. “The Revolution was effected before the War commenced,” he wrote in 1818, “The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.”

10/21/2020
Webinar - "The Peoples Guide to Greater Boston"

New video available online! Watch "The Peoples Guide to Greater Boston" with Joseph Nevins, Suren Moodliar, and Eleni Macrakis. Take a look at the online programs we have planned at www.masshist.org/events.

-- Recorded 13 October 2020 -- Co-authors Joseph Nevins, Suren Moodliar, and Eleni Macrakis discuss "A People's Guide to Greater Boston," revealing the regio...

In 1767, three days before her second birthday, Abigail Adams 2d, or “Nabby,” received the perfect birthday present—a li...
10/21/2020
Nabby and John Quincy Adams: Life Strangers | Beehive

In 1767, three days before her second birthday, Abigail Adams 2d, or “Nabby,” received the perfect birthday present—a little brother named John Quincy. As she remembered it, the love was instant, and history is on her side. In the midst of revolution and war, they found time to be children—trading books, going fishing and ice skating, taking long walks, and gossiping about their cousins. Then in February 1778 their father was sent to Paris, and he decided to take ten-year-old John Quincy with him. Over the next six years, Nabby felt the loss of John Quincy’s company severely. Nabby wrote to her brother, “I cannot bear the idea of growing into life strangers to each other; this may, in some degree, be avoided by writing to and for each other.” Did Nabby and JQA become life strangers? Read a blog post about the siblings and the correspondence they maintained.

Nabby and John Quincy Adams: Life Strangers October 16, 2020 by Gwen Fries, Adams Papers Three days before her second birthday, Abigail Adams 2d, or “Nabby,” received the perfect birthday present—a little brother named John Quincy. As she remembered it, the love was instant, and history is on ...

10/16/2020
Webinar - Tour of Boston Monuments

New video available online! Watch "Tour of Boston Monuments" with Eleanor Citron. Additional videos are available at www.masshist.org/video. Visit www.masshist.org/events to register for upcoming programs.

-- Webinar recorded 9 October 2020 -- Join Eleanor Citron, MHS’s summer intern, for a virtual tour of Metro Boston’s monuments--from those championed by the ...

In his 16 October 1846 diary entry, Dr. John Collins Warren gave an account of his role in a world-changing event that h...
10/16/2020
MHS Collections Online: John Collins Warren journal, entry for 16 October 1846

In his 16 October 1846 diary entry, Dr. John Collins Warren gave an account of his role in a world-changing event that had taken place at the Massachusetts General Hospital—the first widely publicized operation using anesthesia: “Did an interesting operation at the Hospital this morning while the Patient was under the influence of Dr. Morton’s preparation to prevent pain – the Substance employed was Sulphuric Ether –”

Physicians had long sought a method to perform surgical procedures without pain, but anesthesia had far-reaching consequences beyond the relief of human suffering. It was no longer necessary to operate quickly to prevent shock so surgeons could perform more dramatic and intrusive operations. The 16 October operation was repeated successfully. News of anesthesia—a term suggested by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes of Boston—quickly spread throughout the United States, on to Europe, and elsewhere in the world. Within a few months of Dr. Warren’s public demonstration in Boston, ether was being used by surgeons in Scotland and England, and within a year under battlefield conditions in the Mexican War.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: John Collins Warren journal, entry for 16 October 1846

10/15/2020
Webinar - Will Public Education Survive?

New video available online! Watch "Will Public Education Survive?" with Katherine Stewart and Diane Ravitch, New York University. Visit www.masshist.org/video to view other online programs.

-- Webinar recorded 30 September 2020 -- Will Public Education Survive?: A Look at the Threats to Education Systems from Privatization and Religious National...

Thomas Nast was a cartooist based in New York who drew for a national audience. Massachusetts politicians—Benjamin F. Bu...
10/07/2020
MHS Collections Online: The Cradle of Liberty in Danger.

Thomas Nast was a cartooist based in New York who drew for a national audience. Massachusetts politicians—Benjamin F. Butler in particular—were too tempting not to satirize. In this cartoon, Nast depicts Benjamin Butler “bottled up” (a jibe at the former Union general’s dismal performance during the Civil War when his army was “bottled up” before Richmond) as an evil spirit escaping from confinement. He threatens Boston, illustrated as an infant in the “Cradle of Liberty.” Butler was a perennial candidate who, while often defeated, easily exchanged one political party for another and became, in part through Nast’s savage caricatures, a national symbol of grasping political ambition and corruption.

Learn more about Thomas Nast by exploring our virtual exhibition "Thomas Nast: A Life in Cartoons" at www.masshist.org/thomasnast.

Visit www.masshist.org/whocounts to explore an online exhibition that looks at how cartoonists helped to tell the story of voting rights in the United States.

Join us online on Thursday, 15 October, at 5:30 PM, for "Thomas Nast: The Father of Modern Political Cartoons" presented by Fiona Deans Halloran and Pat Bagley. Register at www.masshist.org/calendar/event?event=3354.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: The Cradle of Liberty in Danger.

“Who Counts? A Look at Voter Rights through Political Cartoons,” a virtual exhibition, is live on our website. Visit www...
10/01/2020
Massachusetts Historical Society | Home

“Who Counts? A Look at Voter Rights through Political Cartoons,” a virtual exhibition, is live on our website. Visit www.masshist.org/whocounts and explore how cartoonists helped to tell the story of voting rights in the United States.

And it doesn't end there! This week we unveiled a brand-new online exhibition: “Thomas Nast, A Life in Cartoons.”

Thomas Nast's political cartoons popularized icons such as the Republican elephant, the Democratic donkey, and even the modern image of Santa Claus! Learn more about his fascinating life and influence through a cartoon biography created by local artists at www.masshist.org/thomasnast.

Join us online this evening for “Political Cartooning” with Paul Szep and William Martin. This is the first in a series of programs related to our virtual exhibitions. Register at www.masshist.org/2012/calendar/event?event=3350.

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 ma...

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo
10/01/2020

Massachusetts Historical Society's cover photo

09/26/2020
Webinar - Music of the Plimoth Colony Settlers 1590-1645

New video available online! Watch "Music of the Plimoth Colony Settlers 1590-1645" with Karen Burciaga, Dan Meyers, and Matthew Wright of Seven Times Salt. Visit www.masshist.org/video to view other programs and go to www.masshist.org/events to see what is coming up next.

-- Webinar recorded 16 September 2020 -- With Karen Burciaga, Dan Meyers, and Matthew Wright of Seven Times Salt The Plimoth colonists were a diverse group o...

An MHS staff member made the decision that for one week she would live as closely as she could to the way John Quincy Ad...
09/25/2020

An MHS staff member made the decision that for one week she would live as closely as she could to the way John Quincy Adams lived. Looking for a place to start, she turned to his July 1803 diary where he summarized his daily routine: “Rise between 5 and 6. Bathe and walk about two hours— Read or amuse myself with George untill 9. Breakfast— At Market— Read or write untill 2. p.m. Dine— Read again untill Sunset— Walk an hour. Lounge away the time untill 10.” Sounding doable, our staff member took on the challenge. Read a blog post about her experience: www.masshist.org/beehiveblog/2020/09/i-lived-like-john-quincy-adams-for-a-week-and-this-is-what-i-learned.

This letter was written by Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight on the field at Antietam on 17 September 1862. He was writing to his m...
09/17/2020
MHS Collections Online: Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862

This letter was written by Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight on the field at Antietam on 17 September 1862. He was writing to his mother when fighting broke out. After the battle, when troops had withdrawn and he lay wounded, he finished the letter. He describes his hopes for victory and his faith in God. He died two days later. The letter is stained with his blood.

Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections Online: Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862

09/15/2020
Webinar - Bill Weld & John Dean on Political Courage

New video available online at https://youtu.be/YOWxoLkHO24! Watch "Standing Up, Stepping Forward, and Speaking Out" with John Dean, William Weld, and Edward Widmer. Visit www.masshist.org/video to view other programs and go to www.masshist.org/events to see what is coming up next.

-- Webinar recorded 9 September 2020 -- Standing Up, Stepping Forward, and Speaking Out: The Political Courage to take a Principled Stand With John Dean, Wil...

William Clark Hawes, a private in the Eighth Battery Massachusetts Light Artillery Volunteer Militia, kept a diary that ...
09/14/2020

William Clark Hawes, a private in the Eighth Battery Massachusetts Light Artillery Volunteer Militia, kept a diary that provides a detailed account of the critical days between 14 and 19 September 1862 when General George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac confronted Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia in and around Sharpsburg, Maryland. On 14 September 1862 he wrote: "At 9.A.M. the battery moved through Middle town on towards Sharpsburg about two miles then took a road to the left which crossed South Mountain at Fox's Gap. Here the Gen. ordered our Battery to ascend the mountain to a certain point & then engage a Rebel Battery supposed to be about one & a half miles off." Read more at www.masshist.org/database/viewer.php?item_id=2318&pid=25.

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1154 Boylston St
Boston, MA
02215

General information

Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society is an invaluable resource for American history, life, and culture. Its extraordinary collections tell the story of America through millions of rare and unique documents, artifacts, and national treasures, including the personal papers of three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Through its research library, online resources, publications, exhibitions, and programs, the MHS makes its holdings accessible to anyone with an interest in the people and events that shaped our country. As the nation’s first historical society, the MHS strives to enhance the understanding of our nation’s past and its connection to the present, demonstrating that history is not just a series of events that happened to individuals long ago but is integral to the fabric of our daily lives.

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Monday 10:00 - 16:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 19:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 16:00
Thursday 10:00 - 16:00
Friday 10:00 - 16:00
Saturday 10:00 - 15:30

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(617) 646-0500

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Comments

Here’s my story about the first bicycle race in the U.S. – Boston, Boneshakers and Harvard lads!
Please help me with some documents....I live in Tennessee and got about 25 documents aand 4 or 5 little books to do with schooners and people who was asscoicated with them...From what I can determine is this material belonged to Captain Atwood L. Drew.. There are some letters dated in 1944 from William A. Drew to his father and mother , William N. Drew....Mainly the dates sre 1798 to 1835...Are they good material ande what all were schooners used for? Thank you for your time.....Tony E. Tony Epps England.
I am looking for a little history from Dartmouth Ma. Joseph T. Fernandes started Gulf Hill Dairy in 1896. How do I go about finding who sold him the land? Thank you for any help on this.
Emergency Solar Power
I find it very disappointing that a Massachusetts landmark with such rich history has been so easily approved for demolition! Are you aware of this? Can nothing be done?
Wanted to share family members that moved out of Eastern Ontario to Holyoke Mas. where they were married before the turn of the 20th Century. Here is Celina Pagé & Ovila Bourbonnais along with their children, that are not identified in my great aunt's album. My family branch remained in Eastern Ontario but clearly there was correspondence & travel that was maintain for at least the first portion of 1900s. There's likely descendants of this couple still residing in Massachusetts.
Would the Massachusetts Historical Society be interested in a newspaper page from the Lowell Evening Citizen dated March 24, 1892? I found the page tucked in a frame that I purchased at a church rummage sale. It is a tattered but the publication name and date are clear.
Thanks for adding me to this group.
Followers and members might be interested in the chapters on Roger Williams, Anne Bradstreet, and William & Ellen Craft from my recently published non-fiction book "Mavericks, Mystics, and Misfits: Americans Against the Grain." The Crafts were an escaped slave couple from Georgia who were harbored in Boston by abolitionists, but had to flee to England following passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. Book is available from Sunbury Press Books, your local bookstore, and Amazon, which provides a Look Inside and reviews.
In 1846, The townsfolk of Bridgwater (without the e), England, sent a letter to the inhabitants of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, stating that they were happy that a town that shared their name was against slavery. They were prompted to do this after Frederick Douglass spoke to a large crowd in their town, discussing slavery in America. The letter that was sent to Bridgewater, Massachusetts included the signatures of all inhabitants of Bridgwater, England. Bridgwater was the first Town in England to abolish slavery. The people of Bridgewater, Massachusetts responded in February of 1847, stating that they were against slavery. The names of all residents were included in the response. We have a copy of this important document in the Bridgewater Historical Commission room at the Bridgewater Public Library. I shared this document on one of Bridgwater’s Facebook groups and it has received a lot of attention. The Bridgwater town council and Mayor are interested in starting up discussions with Bridgewater again.
I am seeking a photo of Co. A, of the 54th Massachusetts, All Black, Volunteer Unit. My ancestor, Charles Henry Whitford, was a member of that unit from 1863-1865. Additionally, Lewis and Charles Douglass, the two sons of Frederick Douglass, were also in that company. Another place you might obtain a photo is when Boston held the Reunion for the Survivors of the 54th Mass, met in the Boston Common, around 1897. My great-grandfather, Charles was also at the famous assemble. Thanks to those who can help with this effort.