Books & Pamphlets

The Massachusetts Historical Society's collection of published materials is divided into several broad categories: Books and Pamphlets (described below), Broadsides, Early Imprints, Maps, and Newspapers

Books

The General Research Collection

The books in the General Research Collection primarily address the history of Massachusetts from the time of European settlement to the present, although not exclusively. Materials about the early history of New England and the United States in general, especially from the colonial period through the Civil War, are also available.

The MHS research collection also includes valuable primary and secondary published materials on Canadian history, religion, 19th-century popular literature, music, and education, especially Boston imprints. Records for all books in the Research Collection are available in ABIGAIL.

Family History Resources

The MHS has strong collections of published biographical, genealogical, and local history information that support research on its manuscript collections, but our holdings do not duplicate the exhaustive family and local history collections or services provided by The New England Historic Genealogical Society (www.AmericanAncestors.org). Researchers working primarily on family history should consult the collections of the NEHGS first.

Special Libraries

Over the years, the MHS has received collections of books from individual donors that have been kept intact and are referred to as "special libraries." These special libraries range from the private libraries of Henry Adams, Thomas Dowse, and Robert C. Waterston, to organizational collections of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, and subject-specific collections of collectors William Bentinck-Smith (U.S. history), Francis Russell Hart (Caribbeana), and Russell Knight (Shakers).

Records for most of the Society's special libraries are available in ABIGAIL. A few of our smaller special libraries are stored offsite and are available only in our internal card catalog; consult the reader services staff for more information.

Pamphlets


The MHS holds more than 30,000 pamphlets, arranged by date of publication, from 1820 to the present. The strength of the pamphlet collection lies in the diversity of subject content: almost every facet of 19th- and early-20th-century life in Massachusetts, and to a lesser extent in New England, appears in contemporary pamphlet literature. Researchers will find the collection especially strong for the last half of the 19th century. Records for the pamphlet collection are available in ABIGAIL.

 



Upcoming Events

History of Women and Gender Seminar

Transgender History and Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

18Dec 5:30PM 2018
Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute

This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

22Dec 10:00AM 2018

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, ...

Early American History Seminar

The Consecration of Samuel Seabury and the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807

8Jan 5:15PM 2019

Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

It is our last week of programming at the MHS for 2018. Join us for a seminar, a Saturday tour, or stop by to see our current exhibition. - Tuesday, 18 December, 5:30 PM: Transgender History ...

“On the Borders of Nonsense”: John Quincy Adams, Poet

It was a rainy day in May 1839 and John Quincy Adams, stuck inside, was amusing himself writing poetry. He was trying to imitate the Roman poet Horace, and outdo the English poet Alexander Pope. ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?