About the MHS

Making the Past Last

Founded in 1791, the Massachusetts Historical Society, an independent research library, 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 irreplaceable national treasures.

Accessible To All

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. Its collections are accessible to anyone with an interest in American history. Beyond research, the MHS offers many ways for the public to enjoy its collections, including free exhibitions, public lectures, tours, brown-bag lunches, seminars, and teacher workshops.

National Treasures

The MHS collections are particularly well-known for extensive holdings of personal papers from three presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The collections contain many famous documents including Paul Revere's own account of his famous ride and Abigail Adams’s famous "Remember the Ladies” letter to John Adams, where she advocates for the rights of women to be included in the founding of the United States. In addition, the MHS holds several imprints of the Declaration of Independence, and Thomas Jefferson's architectural drawings, among many other treasures.


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