Online Resources What is this? Our online resources are sets of digitized items which have been organized either around a common topic, such as the American Revolution, or to highlight a specific collection, such as the papers of Thomas Jefferson.

All of the MHS online resources

In addition to the web presentations below, we also have catalogs and collection guides available online.


Images and searchable transcriptions of the correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, the diary of John Adams, and the autobiography of John Adams.
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Full title: Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive

This searchable digital collection (entitled, Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive) presents images of manuscripts and digital transcriptions from the Adams Family Papers including the complete correspondence between John and Abigail Adams, the diary of John Adams, and the autobiography of John Adams.

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Digital edition of the content of the previously printed documentary editions of The Adams Papers; includes full annotations, index, and a search tool.
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Full title: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses

With a fast and comprehensive search tool new in summer 2010, this is the digital edition of the content of the previously printed editions of the Revolutionary-era Adams Papers, a long-standing documentary edition prepared at the Massachusetts Historical Society. This digital edition includes all text of the historical documents, all editorial text, and a single index with consolidated entries for the 16 printed Adams Papers indexes. Another forthcoming digital edition will present the Winthrop Papers, a documentary edition created at the MHS.

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The Massachusetts Historical Society presents the complete four volume set of Revolutionary-era Boston newspapers and pamphlets collected, annotated, and indexed by Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a shopkeeper in Boston.
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Full title: The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr.

Beginning in 1765 and continuing over the course of more than a dozen years, Harbottle Dorr, Jr., a Boston shopkeeper, collected Boston-area newspapers and arranged them into four volumes. He thoroughly read the articles, inserted many annotations, and created indexes for them. This website presents high-quality images of all index, newspaper and pamphlet pages; transcriptions of the index pages; and a search tool allowing user to search for words Dorr used in the index terms.

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Boston Abolitionists, 1831-1865, features important manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts from the Massachusetts Historical Society's collections that convey how Boston became a center of the national antislavery movement.
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Full title: Boston Abolitionists, 1831-1865

The Massachusetts Historical Society holds many important manuscripts, photographs and artifacts that relate to the abolitionist movement in Boston. This website includes a range of materials from the first antislavery tract published in America, The Selling of Joseph by Samuel Sewall, (printed in New England in 1700) to a broadsheet with William Nell's tribute in December 1865 to last issue of The Liberator (the country's leading abolitionist newspaper).

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Diaries of John Quincy Adams

Digital Collection  Diaries of John Quincy Adams
Images of all the pages (over 14,000) within 51 volumes of John Quincy Adams's diary, ranging in date from 1779 to 1848.
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Full title: The Diaries of John Quincy Adams: A Digital Collection

This digital collection presents images of the 51 volumes of John Quincy Adams' diary in the Adams Family Papers. Adams began keeping his diary in 1779 at the age of twelve and continued until shortly before his death in 1848. There are over 14,000 pages within these diaries and a date search tool is available.

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Web presentations of hundreds of pages of Jefferson documents selected from the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the MHS.
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Full title: Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive

Featuring selections from the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts at the Massachusetts Historical Society, this digital collection (entitled, Thomas Jefferson Papers: An Electronic Archive) includes Jefferson's manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence, Farm Book, Garden Book, book catalogs, and architectural drawings.

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A selection of historical objects from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society that provide the foundation on which its collections have been built and inform us today about how our ancestors lived.
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Full title: The Object of History: 18th-Century Treasures

This companion website is divided into three parts according to John Adams’s scheme: "Politicks and War," "Mathematicks and Philosophy," and "Painting, Poetry ... and Porcelaine." It consists of artifacts, manuscripts, medals, paintings, engravings, furniture, clothing, and early publications. These historical objects form a solid foundation on which the collections of the MHS have been built and inform us today about how our ancestors lived.

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Primary sources and contextual essays arranged into 15 topics relating to the events leading up to the American Revolution.
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Full title: Coming of the American Revolution

In the years between 1764 and 1776, America truly became a nation. Using letters, diaries, broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, maps, and engravings, this website brings those tumultuous years to life for students of all ages. The site is organized around fifteen key topics and features more than 150 documents from the Society's collections. Additional resources include primary-source-based lesson plans developed by middle- and high-school educators, study questions, and contextual essays.

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War of 1812

Online Feature  War of 1812
Web presentations of selected broadsides, letters, and artifacts relating to the War of 1812.
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Full title: The War of 1812: Items from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

The Massachusetts Historical Society has a rich collection of materials relating to the War of 1812, as it was the first major military conflict that the United States was involved in after the Society's founding in 1791. In recognition of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, the Society presents a selection of broadsides, letters, and artifacts.

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Antislavery Images

Digital Collection  Antislavery Images
Online displays of photographs, paintings, and other visual materials illustrating the role of Massachusetts in the national debate over slavery.
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Full title: Images of the Antislavery Movement in Massachusetts

This website presents digital images of 840 visual materials from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society that illustrate the role of Massachusetts in the national debate over slavery. Included are photographs, paintings, sculptures, engravings, artifacts, banners, and broadsides that were central to the debate and the formation of the antislavery movement.

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Web displays of manuscripts and early printed works about the lives of African Americans in Massachusetts from the late 17th century through the abolition of slavery in the state in 1780.
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Full title: African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts

This website features 117 items from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, including historical manuscripts and early printed works that offer a window into the lives of African Americans in Massachusetts from the late 17th century through the abolition of slavery under the Massachusetts Constitution in the 1780s.

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Selections of rings, bracelets, brooches, and other pieces of mourning jewelry from Massachusetts Historical Society dating from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.
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Full title: The Tradition of Anglo-American Mourning Jewelry: 17th to 19th Centuries

Americans, like their English counterparts, wore rings, brooches, pendants, and other jewels in memory of family and friends. Over the centuries a striking range of design, styles and craftsmanship was employed, from the simple gold bands of the 17th century to the intricate and opulent earring and brooch sets of the late Victorian era. The way memorial jewelry was worn also shifted over the years and these changes tell the story of a culture’s changing sensibility around death and grief.

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Massachusetts Maps

Digital Collection  Massachusetts Maps
Web displays of over 100 manuscript and printed maps of Boston and other Massachusetts towns and counties.
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Full title: Massachusetts Maps

This website presents manuscript maps of local towns and counties dating from 1637-1809, iconic printed maps of Massachusetts and Boston, and meticulously drawn manuscript maps by Samuel Chester Clough (1873-1949) presenting a wealth of information about property owners in Boston during the 17th and late 18th centuries.

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View a selection of documents, photographs, broadsides, and maps featured in the exhibition, The Purchase by Blood: Massachusetts in the Civil War.
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Full title: Massachusetts in the Civil War, 1861-1862

This website presents letters, photographs, and broadsides related to the first two years of Massachusetts's involvement in the Civil War. In addition to essays on the four key engagements, Ball's Bluff, the Peninsula Campaign, Cedar Mountain, and Antietam, each web page illustrates the sacrifices made by Massachusetts's sons, particularly those of William Lowell Putnam, James Jackson Lowell, Wilder Dwight, and their families.

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The Case for Ending Slavery

Online Feature  The Case for Ending Slavery
Primary sources and lesson plans arranged around five topics relating to slavery, the end of slavery, and the Civil War.
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Full title: Massachusetts Historical Society: The Case for Ending Slavery

This website features more than 50 primary sources from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Library of Congress that reveal how slavery, and debates about slavery, contributed to the formation of the United States. Using letters, diaries, broadsides, artifacts, songs, legal notebooks, and photographs representing a variety of viewpoints, this site highlights the complex nature of ideas about slavery and freedom that circulated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Available are lesson plans, study questions, and resources for educators.

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Online displays of maps depicting North America around the time of the French and Indian War, 1754 to 1763.
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Full title: Maps of the French and Indian War

Online displays of maps depicting North America around the time of the French and Indian War, 1754 to 1763. The maps in this web exhibition are drawn from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society and provide valuable information about the planning and conduct of the war; commanders on both sides relied on maps as they made their decisions about troop and fleet movements, where to engage the enemy, and what territory to try to hold.

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View one entire album assembled by Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams and selected letters and documents conveying her approach to photography.
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Full title: Marian Hooper Adams: Selected Photographs and Letters

This website presents 48 photographs (one entire album) from the Marian Hooper Adams photograph collection, five selected letters from the Hooper-Adams papers, and two letters by Henry Adams (from a new acquisition) in which he reflects on his wife's death. This website also provides information about Clover's approach to photography by presenting a digital facsimile of a notebook Clover kept from May 1883 to January 1884 in which she listed many of her photographs and commented on exposures, lighting, and other technical details.

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Web presentations of 185 items selected from the extensive Saltonstall Family Collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society.
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Full title: Highlights from the Saltonstall Family Collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society

The papers, photographs, art, and artifacts of the Saltonstall family, one of the founding families of Massachusetts, chronicle five centuries of family history and involvement in public life, from before the European settlement of America through the 20th century. Saltonstall family collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society include papers of Leverett Saltonstall (1783-1845), mayor and U.S. representative from Salem, Massachusetts; Eleanor "Nora" Saltonstall's letters home to her family while serving as a volunteer in France during World War I; and the personal and political papers and photographs of U.S. Senator Leverett Saltonstall (1892-1979).

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Siege of Boston

Online Feature  Siege of Boston
Read manuscripts written by soldiers, residents, and prisoners who describe their experiences during the Siege of Boston, a tense 11-month period from April 1775 to March 1776 at the beginning of the American Revolution.
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Full title: The Siege of Boston: Eyewitness Accounts from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This website presents more than one dozen accounts written by individuals personally engaged in or affected by the Siege, including soldiers, prisoners (one imprisoned Loyalist and one Patriot), and residents along with the record of a town meeting during the Siege. These first-hand experiences recounted in 25 manuscripts (approximately 300 pages of letters, diaries, and documents from the Massachusetts Historical Society collections) give the human side of the American Revolution, a perspective often overlooked in histories that describe the Siege as a series of military events.

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Online presentations of selected items in the MHS collections
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Full title: MHS Gallery: Highlights from Our Collections

Online presentations of significant items selected from the collections. Included are manuscripts, artifacts, paintings, broadsides and maps that showcase highlights from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

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Early Photographs

Online Feature  Early Photographs
Online presentation of early photographs (daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and stereoviews) depicting people and places.
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Full title: Early Photographs from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Browse online presentations of early photographs from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS). These images include portraits taken by some of Boston's most notable photographers as well as depictions of locations in and around Boston.

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Object of the Month

Online Feature  Object of the Month
A different web display each month showcasing an item from the collections of the MHS.
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Full title: Object of the Month

A different web display each month showcasing an item from the collections of the MHS; sometimes the features relate to anniversaries, or convey the variety of historical sources within the collection, as well as help the public understand American history.

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Full title: Looking at the Civil War: Massachusetts Finds Her Voice

As part of the Massachusetts Historical Society's commemoration of the Civil War sesquicentennial, each month a different item from the collection will be selected to share voices of the people of Massachusetts as they experienced the war 150 years before. When the project concludes in April 2015, fifty-two items from our collection will tell the story of Massachusetts' role in the Civil War in an online exhibition.

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Web presentations of original newspapers from the collections of the MHS featuring the earliest published prose by Benjamin Franklin writing as Silence Dogood.
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Full title: Silence Dogood: Benjamin Franklin in The New-England Courant

This website presents includes images and transcriptions of fourteen newspaper essays by Benjamin Franklin, written in 1722 under the pseudonym Silence Dogood. Concise explanatory essays provide information about the setting in which Franklin composed what became his first published prose--his apprenticeship to his brother James, the printer of the Boston newspaper, The New-England Courant. Web presentations of the full issues of the 14 newspapers also are available allowing web users to examine the context in which the Silence Dogood essays appeared.

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Battle of Bunker Hill

Online Exhibition  Battle of Bunker Hill
Web exhibition about the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775 featuring eyewitness descriptions of the battle, along with contemporary maps and engravings.
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Full title: Battle of Bunker Hill

Web exhibition about the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1775 featuring personal accounts and eyewitness descriptions of the battle, along with contemporary maps, drawings, engravings, broadsides, and artifacts, either preserved by the participants or found on the battlefield.

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Web displays of manuscripts, artifacts, portraits, and sculpture relating to Abraham Lincoln drawn from the MHS collections.
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Full title: Celebrating Lincoln

In recognition and celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln in 2009 the Massachusetts Historical Society is hosting a public exhibition about Lincoln and Massachusetts, as well as online displays of manuscripts, artifacts, portraits, and sculpture drawn from the MHS collections.

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Lectures at or sponsored by the MHS and its partners.

Striking photographs of Native Americans taken between 1860 and 1913, selected from four different collections held by the MHS.
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Full title: Photographing the American Indian: Portraits of Native Americans, 1860-1913

This web exhibition includes carte-de-visite photographs taken in the 1860s and 1870s depicting posed portraits of Cheyenne, Pawnee, Sioux, and Ute men and women. Selections of Adam Clark Vroman's arresting photographs of the landscape and native peoples of the American Southwest in the 1890s showcase the wide tonal range and pleasing aesthetic quality of platinotypes. Also included are dramatic images taken by Joseph K. Dixon during the Wanamaker expeditions, 1908-1913, used to advocate for the rights of Native Americans.

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Photographs depicting life and work on sugar plantations in Cuba in the late 19th century.
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Full title: Atkins Family in Cuba: A Photograph Exhibit

A selection of photographs providing a unique visual record of life and work on sugar plantations in Cuba during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These photographs were taken and collected by Boston merchant Edwin F. Atkins and other members of his family are from the Atkins Family Photographs. Edwin Atkins was a dominant force in the U.S.-Cuban sugar market and his firm, E. Atkins & Co., established sugarcane plantations along the southern coast of Cuba near the cities of Cienfuegos and Trinidad.

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Photographs of Francis Blake

Online Exhibition  Photographs of Francis Blake
A selection of photographs, including stop-action images, taken by Francis Blake, in the nineteenth century.
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Full title: The Photography of Francis Blake

A selection of photographs taken by Francis Blake, an innovative man who lived in Massachusetts in the nineteenth century. In the 1880s Blake designed a focal-plane shutter that allowed him to take photographs with exposure times of 1/1000 to 1/2000 of a second and he took stunning stop-action images of trains, pigeons, horses, bicyclists, and athletes.

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A photographic history of the current home of the MHS.

Images and transcriptions of the documents that provided the historical background for David McCullough's Pulitzer-Prize winning biography and the miniseries about John Adams.

54th Regiment

Online Feature  54th Regiment
Visual materials from the MHS relating to the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.
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Full title: The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment from the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

The Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first military unit consisting of black soliders to be raised in the North during the Civil War. Browse online presentations of photographs and broadsides relating to a notable Civil War army regiment.

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Browse selections of newspapers, engravings, printed materials and manuscripts about the debate in Massachusetts about the ratification of the U. S. Constitution.
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Full title: Massachusetts Considers Ratifying the U. S. Constitution

The following web presentations of selections from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) relate to the debate about the ratification of the U. S. Constitution in Massachusetts (including the District of Maine). These materials have been assembled for a workshop, Ratification! The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788.

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Boston By Manuscript

Web Resource  Boston By Manuscript
Browse documents and artifacts relating to significant historical buildings, locations, and events in Boston, Massachusetts.
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Full title: Boston By Manuscript

The following web presentations of selections from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) relate to Boston history, places, and events. The following primary sources offer details and perspectives that should complement and supplement the existing knowledge base Boston experts have already established regarding the events and history of the city.

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Online resources relating to the Massachusetts Historical Society's John Quincy Adams Twitter project including links to the Twitter page, scans of the manuscript diaries, background information, and blog posts about JQA and his time in Russia.
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Full title: John Quincy Adams: About the Diary Entries from the 1809 Trip to Russia

On 27 June 1809, President James Madison appointed John Quincy Adams (JQA) minister plenipotentiary to Russia. On 5 August 1809, JQA set sail for St. Petersburg. In addition to writing long entries in one of his diary volumes, JQA also summarized each day of his trip in his line-a-day diary volume. Since 5 August 2009, the Massachusetts Historical Society has been posting John Quincy Adams's line-a-day diary entries on Twitter, exactly 200 years after his journey across the Atlantic. This web page contains many links to online resources about the diary and the Twitter project.

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Long Road to Justice

Online Exhibition  Long Road to Justice
Web version of a traveling exhibition about the African American experience in the Massachusetts courts. PLEASE NOTE: this exhibition features items and images that aren't part of the collections of the MHS.
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Full title: Long Road to Justice

Web exhibition by the Ruffin Society (website currently hosted at MHS) relating to a traveling exhibition about the African American experience in the Massachusetts courts. PLEASE NOTE: this exhibition features items and images that aren't part of the collections of the MHS.

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