Membership

The Massachusetts Historical Society has two membership categories—Fellows and Members. Both groups are important to the life of the Society. Fellows and Members help support the Society's mission and receive benefits such as a subscription to our annual journal, the Massachusetts Historical Review, and invitations to special events.

Members

Membership at the MHS is open to all with an interest in American history. The Society welcomes Members from near and far to join its community of history lovers. The MHS offers a handful of different membership categories aimed to encourage participation in its various activities. Learn how to become a Member or renew your membership now.

Fellows

Election as a Fellow of the MHS is an honor bestowed by the Society on distinguished scholars and civic leaders. The Fellows are the legal governing body of the MHS, and therefore have the privilege of shaping the Society. Learn more about the MHS Fellows or renew your Fellow dues.



Join Us at an Upcoming Program

Special Event Massachusetts History Lab 25 April 2015.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Please RSVP   Students! Bring a parent, teacher, or your favorite adult and learn more about the behind-the-scene ...

Students! Bring a parent, teacher, or your favorite adult and learn more about the behind-the-scene activities at one of the country’s oldest organizations devoted to our nation’s history. Throughout the day you will be introduced to a set of characters from the periods of the American Revolution and the Civil War and investigate letters, journals, newspaper articles, account books, photographs, artifacts, and more in order to unravel their stories. As you piece together the puzzles of the past in our role as historical detectives, you will have the opportunity view some of our country’s most significant and intriguing documents.

**This program is designed for students in grades 5-8. Students must register with an adult chaperone.

For more information: contact the education department at education@masshist.org or 617-646-0557.

details
Public Program Picture Freedom 29 April 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program Jasmine Nicole Cobb, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies - Northwestern University $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members) In the decades leading up to the end of U.S. slavery, many free Blacks sat for daguerreotypes ...

In the decades leading up to the end of U.S. slavery, many free Blacks sat for daguerreotypes decorated in fine garments to document their self-possession. People pictured in these early photographs used portraiture to seize control over representation of the free Black body and reimagine Black visuality divorced from the cultural logics of slavery. In Picture Freedom, Jasmine Nichole Cobb analyzes the ways in which the circulation of various images prepared free Blacks and free Whites for the emancipation of formerly unfree people of African descent. She traces the emergence of Black freedom as both an idea and as an image during the early nineteenth century. Through an analysis of popular culture of the period—including amateur portraits, racial caricatures, joke books, antislavery newspapers, abolitionist materials, runaway advertisements, ladies’ magazines, and scrapbooks, as well as scenic wallpaper—Cobb explores the earliest illustrations of free Blacks and reveals the complicated route through visual culture toward a vision of African American citizenship. 

Jasmine Nichole Cobb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and (by courtesy) the Department of African American Studies, at Northwestern University. She earned a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania (2009). Cobb is the recipient of numerous awards, and presently, an American Fellow of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She is the author of Picture Freedom:  Remaking Black Visuality in the Early Nineteenth Century (NYUP 2015), which explores the role of visual culture within processes of abolition and the emergence of African American emancipation.  

details
May
Public Program May Day Mayday! 2 May 2015.Saturday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program William Fowler, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Michael Tougias $20 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members) From its founding, Massachusetts has looked towards the sea. Merchant trade, fishing, and whaling ...

From its founding, Massachusetts has looked towards the sea. Merchant trade, fishing, and whaling were the engines that drove the New England economy. However, the bounty of the sea was not without cost. Shipwrecks, disasters, and heroic rescues are staples of maritime history. This special evening at MHS will feature three eminent historians telling stories of catastrophes at sea and reflecting on the evening’s tales.

William Fowler is the author of a number of books dealing with American history including: Under Two Flags: The Navy in the Civil WarSilas Talbot Captain of the Old Ironsides; co-author America and The SeaWilliam Ellery: A Rhode Island Politico and Lord of AdmiraltyRebels Under Sail: The Navy in the RevolutionJack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815Samuel Adams: Radical PuritanEmpires at War: The French and Indian War and The Struggle for North America, 1754-1763. He is the former Gay Hart Gaines Distinguished Fellow in American History at Mount Vernon. He has taught at Mystic Seaport Museum and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Naval War College, and the Sea Education Association.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the 2000 National Book Award and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard; Sea of Glory, winner of the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize; Mayflower, a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in history; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award, and other bestselling works of American history.  He lives on Nantucket Island.   

Michael Tougias is an award winning author and co-author of 23 books. Among his bestsellers are A Storm Too Soon, The Finest Hours (soon to be a major motion picture by Disney), Fatal ForecastOverboard, and King Philip's War. He is a sought-after inspirational speaker to business groups such as John Hancock, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and the Gulf Coast CEO's.

details
Utopian Settlements Series Public Program Puritan Paradise: Eden in Massachusetts Bay & Beyond 13 May 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   6:00 program with 5:30 reception Zachary Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English – Colorado State University Utopian Settlements SeriesProgram 1 Thomas More’s Utopia was inspired ...

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 1

Thomas More’s Utopia was inspired by paradisiacal descriptions of the New World, and associations between Eden and the Americas persisted throughout the colonial period. Many of the immigrants arriving in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries looked to the biblical garden of Adam and Eve as a pattern of the ideal society they wished to build. Religiously-minded colonists modeled the English language after the Adamic tongue, cited Genesis during debates over natural law, and looked to the prelapsarian Eve as a physiological ideal. A belief in Eden’s historicity and the future return of paradisiacal conditions inspired Quakers to disrobe in public and led to the first judicial decision abolishing slavery in United States history. New England settlers striving to invent Eden’s perfections anew shaped American history and culture in lasting ways; their visions of paradise linger in the theology of prophets from Robert Matthews to Joseph Smith and in the enduring myth of the “self-made man.”

Zach Hutchins is Assistant Professor of English at Colorado State University, where he teaches courses on early American literature and culture. His talk will draw on research recently published in his first book, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England (Oxford UP; 2014). Hutchins is also the author of a dozen essays that have appeared in journals such as The New England Quarterly, ELH, Shakespeare, and Early American Literature. A New England native, he returns to Massachusetts regularly to wield a clamshell hoe in the garden of his aged parents, the last two surviving Puritans. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. Puritan Paradise with Zachary Hutchins is the first program in the series. Mr. Ripley's Utopia with Peter Drummey will take place on Wednesday, 20 May. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

details
Utopian Settlements Series Public Program Mr. Ripley’s Utopia 20 May 2015.Wednesday, 5:30PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   Lecture and tour at Brook Farm (670 Baker Street in West Roxbury, entrance shared with the Gardens at Gethsemane) Peter Drummey from MHS and DCR Staff Utopian Settlements SeriesProgram 2 Brook Farm, the utopian community established ...

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 2

Brook Farm, the utopian community established by George and Sophia Ripley in West Roxbury, lasted only from 1841 to 1847, but it became the country’s most celebrated experiment in Transcendentalism as a social movement. By opening the benefits of education and the profits of labor to all, the Brook Farm Association sought to prepare a society of liberal, intelligent, and cultivated men and women, whose relations with each other would permit a simple and wholesome life, apart from the competitive pressures found beyond the boundaries of the Farm. 

Peter Drummey, the Historical Society’s Stephen T. Riley Librarian (and a volunteer during the archaeological investigation of Brook Farm), will lead a discussion of what Brook Farmers attempted, what they accomplished, and why they failed as well as describing the manuscript records of the Association held by MHS.  This talk will be followed by a DCR tour of Brook Farm, led by DCR staff. We will explore the quiet woodlands and wetlands that inspired the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne and George Ripley. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. The final program in the series, Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist, will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

details
Utopian Settlements Series Public Program Fruitlands 27 May 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   6:00 program with 5:30 reception Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House Utopian Settlements SeriesProgram 3 Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard ...

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 3

Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House, the Alcott family home in Concord will give a living history presentation of Louisa May Alcott. Looking back on her time at Fruitlands, the author of Little Women will give us the behind the scenes stories from her life: family friendships with Thoreau and Emerson; her unconventional upbringing in poverty; and the family love that inspired her to write an American classic. From the youngest reader to the most sophisticated Alcott scholar, audiences have acclaimed Turnquist’s performances. The interactive presentation is an inspiring experience is open to all ages. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist is the final program in the series. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

details
June
Public Program How Community Activism Made the New Boston Better 3 June 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program Jim Vrabel, independent author $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members) Author and activist, Jim Vrabel will facilitate a conversation among history makers. The discussion ...

Author and activist, Jim Vrabel will facilitate a conversation among history makers. The discussion will focus on the role that protests, demonstrations, and increased civic involvement by residents in the 1960s and 1970s played in the physical, economic, and social improvements made to the city during and since that time – in areas like urban renewal, community development, transportation, civil rights, school and welfare reform, employment, and service delivery. The discussion will explore reasons for the rise in community activism in that era and the state of activism today. Vrabel will provide a brief overview of Boston in the 1950s and list some of the various activist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He will invite a panel of community activists featured in his book; A People’s History of the New Boston and ask each to reflect on his or her own experience.

Jim Vrabel is a former newspaper reporter, longtime community activist, local historian, and city official. He is also author of the recently released A People’s History of the New Boston, When in Boston: A Timeline & Almanac, and Homage to Henry: A Dramatization of John Berryman’s “The Dream Songs.”

details
Public Program Boston Historical Societies 10 June 2015.Wednesday, 5:30PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   Reception Although Boston does not have a city historical society, it has a wealth of neighborhood ...

Although Boston does not have a city historical society, it has a wealth of neighborhood organizations. From the North End to the South End and from Brighton to Dorchester, Bostonians are steeped in local history and proud of their neighborhood’s identity. The Massachusetts Historical Society is pleased to invite representatives of local organizations for a chance to mingle and tell their neighbors about the great projects they have started or recent accomplishments.

 

details
Special Event MHS Fellows Annual Meeting & Reception 24 June 2015.Wednesday, 5:00PM - 7:00PM This event is open only to MHS Fellows. MHS Fellows are invited to the Society's annual business meeting. A reception will follow the ...

MHS Fellows are invited to the Society's annual business meeting. A reception will follow the meeting.

Please call 617-646-0572 with any questions.

details
More events
Special Event Massachusetts History Lab 25 April 2015.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Please RSVP   registration required at no cost

Students! Bring a parent, teacher, or your favorite adult and learn more about the behind-the-scene activities at one of the country’s oldest organizations devoted to our nation’s history. Throughout the day you will be introduced to a set of characters from the periods of the American Revolution and the Civil War and investigate letters, journals, newspaper articles, account books, photographs, artifacts, and more in order to unravel their stories. As you piece together the puzzles of the past in our role as historical detectives, you will have the opportunity view some of our country’s most significant and intriguing documents.

**This program is designed for students in grades 5-8. Students must register with an adult chaperone.

For more information: contact the education department at education@masshist.org or 617-646-0557.

close
Public Program Picture Freedom 29 April 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program Jasmine Nicole Cobb, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies - Northwestern University $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members)

In the decades leading up to the end of U.S. slavery, many free Blacks sat for daguerreotypes decorated in fine garments to document their self-possession. People pictured in these early photographs used portraiture to seize control over representation of the free Black body and reimagine Black visuality divorced from the cultural logics of slavery. In Picture Freedom, Jasmine Nichole Cobb analyzes the ways in which the circulation of various images prepared free Blacks and free Whites for the emancipation of formerly unfree people of African descent. She traces the emergence of Black freedom as both an idea and as an image during the early nineteenth century. Through an analysis of popular culture of the period—including amateur portraits, racial caricatures, joke books, antislavery newspapers, abolitionist materials, runaway advertisements, ladies’ magazines, and scrapbooks, as well as scenic wallpaper—Cobb explores the earliest illustrations of free Blacks and reveals the complicated route through visual culture toward a vision of African American citizenship. 

Jasmine Nichole Cobb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and (by courtesy) the Department of African American Studies, at Northwestern University. She earned a PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania (2009). Cobb is the recipient of numerous awards, and presently, an American Fellow of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She is the author of Picture Freedom:  Remaking Black Visuality in the Early Nineteenth Century (NYUP 2015), which explores the role of visual culture within processes of abolition and the emergence of African American emancipation.  

close
Public Program May Day Mayday! 2 May 2015.Saturday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program William Fowler, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Michael Tougias $20 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members)

From its founding, Massachusetts has looked towards the sea. Merchant trade, fishing, and whaling were the engines that drove the New England economy. However, the bounty of the sea was not without cost. Shipwrecks, disasters, and heroic rescues are staples of maritime history. This special evening at MHS will feature three eminent historians telling stories of catastrophes at sea and reflecting on the evening’s tales.

William Fowler is the author of a number of books dealing with American history including: Under Two Flags: The Navy in the Civil WarSilas Talbot Captain of the Old Ironsides; co-author America and The SeaWilliam Ellery: A Rhode Island Politico and Lord of AdmiraltyRebels Under Sail: The Navy in the RevolutionJack Tars and Commodores: The American Navy, 1783-1815Samuel Adams: Radical PuritanEmpires at War: The French and Indian War and The Struggle for North America, 1754-1763. He is the former Gay Hart Gaines Distinguished Fellow in American History at Mount Vernon. He has taught at Mystic Seaport Museum and has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution, the United States Naval War College, and the Sea Education Association.

Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the 2000 National Book Award and soon to be a major motion picture directed by Ron Howard; Sea of Glory, winner of the Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Naval History Prize; Mayflower, a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in history; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award, and other bestselling works of American history.  He lives on Nantucket Island.   

Michael Tougias is an award winning author and co-author of 23 books. Among his bestsellers are A Storm Too Soon, The Finest Hours (soon to be a major motion picture by Disney), Fatal ForecastOverboard, and King Philip's War. He is a sought-after inspirational speaker to business groups such as John Hancock, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and the Gulf Coast CEO's.

close
Public Program Puritan Paradise: Eden in Massachusetts Bay & Beyond 13 May 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 6:00 program with 5:30 reception Zachary Hutchins, Assistant Professor of English – Colorado State University Utopian Settlements Series

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 1

Thomas More’s Utopia was inspired by paradisiacal descriptions of the New World, and associations between Eden and the Americas persisted throughout the colonial period. Many of the immigrants arriving in New England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries looked to the biblical garden of Adam and Eve as a pattern of the ideal society they wished to build. Religiously-minded colonists modeled the English language after the Adamic tongue, cited Genesis during debates over natural law, and looked to the prelapsarian Eve as a physiological ideal. A belief in Eden’s historicity and the future return of paradisiacal conditions inspired Quakers to disrobe in public and led to the first judicial decision abolishing slavery in United States history. New England settlers striving to invent Eden’s perfections anew shaped American history and culture in lasting ways; their visions of paradise linger in the theology of prophets from Robert Matthews to Joseph Smith and in the enduring myth of the “self-made man.”

Zach Hutchins is Assistant Professor of English at Colorado State University, where he teaches courses on early American literature and culture. His talk will draw on research recently published in his first book, Inventing Eden: Primitivism, Millennialism, and the Making of New England (Oxford UP; 2014). Hutchins is also the author of a dozen essays that have appeared in journals such as The New England Quarterly, ELH, Shakespeare, and Early American Literature. A New England native, he returns to Massachusetts regularly to wield a clamshell hoe in the garden of his aged parents, the last two surviving Puritans. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. Puritan Paradise with Zachary Hutchins is the first program in the series. Mr. Ripley's Utopia with Peter Drummey will take place on Wednesday, 20 May. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

close
Public Program Mr. Ripley’s Utopia 20 May 2015.Wednesday, 5:30PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required at no cost Lecture and tour at Brook Farm (670 Baker Street in West Roxbury, entrance shared with the Gardens at Gethsemane) Peter Drummey from MHS and DCR Staff Utopian Settlements Series

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 2

Brook Farm, the utopian community established by George and Sophia Ripley in West Roxbury, lasted only from 1841 to 1847, but it became the country’s most celebrated experiment in Transcendentalism as a social movement. By opening the benefits of education and the profits of labor to all, the Brook Farm Association sought to prepare a society of liberal, intelligent, and cultivated men and women, whose relations with each other would permit a simple and wholesome life, apart from the competitive pressures found beyond the boundaries of the Farm. 

Peter Drummey, the Historical Society’s Stephen T. Riley Librarian (and a volunteer during the archaeological investigation of Brook Farm), will lead a discussion of what Brook Farmers attempted, what they accomplished, and why they failed as well as describing the manuscript records of the Association held by MHS.  This talk will be followed by a DCR tour of Brook Farm, led by DCR staff. We will explore the quiet woodlands and wetlands that inspired the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne and George Ripley. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. The final program in the series, Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist, will take place on Wednesday, 27 May. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

close
Public Program Fruitlands 27 May 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required at no cost 6:00 program with 5:30 reception Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House Utopian Settlements Series

Utopian Settlements Series
Program 3

Jan Turnquist, Executive Director of Orchard House, the Alcott family home in Concord will give a living history presentation of Louisa May Alcott. Looking back on her time at Fruitlands, the author of Little Women will give us the behind the scenes stories from her life: family friendships with Thoreau and Emerson; her unconventional upbringing in poverty; and the family love that inspired her to write an American classic. From the youngest reader to the most sophisticated Alcott scholar, audiences have acclaimed Turnquist’s performances. The interactive presentation is an inspiring experience is open to all ages. 


Utopian Settlements Series

New Englanders have a long tradition of separating from society and trying to create a more perfect world. From the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Yankees have dreamed of a better world and tried to make it real. This series will explore the history of three utopian settlements that started in our backyard. Fruitlands with Jan Turnquist is the final program in the series. We are thankful to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) for its support of this series.

close
Public Program How Community Activism Made the New Boston Better 3 June 2015.Wednesday, 6:00PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required There will be a 5:30 reception before the 6:00 pm program Jim Vrabel, independent author $10 fee (no charge for Fellows and Members)

Author and activist, Jim Vrabel will facilitate a conversation among history makers. The discussion will focus on the role that protests, demonstrations, and increased civic involvement by residents in the 1960s and 1970s played in the physical, economic, and social improvements made to the city during and since that time – in areas like urban renewal, community development, transportation, civil rights, school and welfare reform, employment, and service delivery. The discussion will explore reasons for the rise in community activism in that era and the state of activism today. Vrabel will provide a brief overview of Boston in the 1950s and list some of the various activist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He will invite a panel of community activists featured in his book; A People’s History of the New Boston and ask each to reflect on his or her own experience.

Jim Vrabel is a former newspaper reporter, longtime community activist, local historian, and city official. He is also author of the recently released A People’s History of the New Boston, When in Boston: A Timeline & Almanac, and Homage to Henry: A Dramatization of John Berryman’s “The Dream Songs.”

close
Public Program Boston Historical Societies 10 June 2015.Wednesday, 5:30PM - 7:00PM Please RSVP   registration required at no cost Reception

Although Boston does not have a city historical society, it has a wealth of neighborhood organizations. From the North End to the South End and from Brighton to Dorchester, Bostonians are steeped in local history and proud of their neighborhood’s identity. The Massachusetts Historical Society is pleased to invite representatives of local organizations for a chance to mingle and tell their neighbors about the great projects they have started or recent accomplishments.

 

close
Special Event MHS Fellows Annual Meeting & Reception 24 June 2015.Wednesday, 5:00PM - 7:00PM registration required at no cost This event is open only to MHS Fellows.

MHS Fellows are invited to the Society's annual business meeting. A reception will follow the meeting.

Please call 617-646-0572 with any questions.

close

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