Visiting the Library

The Massachusetts Historical Society's library operates differently than most public or university libraries. While we strive to provide researchers with access to the contents of all our collections, the preservation of our unique materials is our primary concern. To that end, we enforce strict security protocols. Explore the pages in this section in order to become familiar with library policies and procedures so that you can make the most of your visit to the library.  

What to Expect

Prepare for your first visit by learning about Portal1791 (our online request system), the researcher registration process, how to request materials, and basic security policies.

What to Bring

Learn what personal materials are allowed into the library and what materials the MHS provides for researchers.

How to Prepare

Find advice on where to begin your research, how to search the MHS catalogs, and how much time you will need to complete your research. 

Upcoming Events

Brown Bag

“Watering of the Olive Plant”: Catechisms and Catechizing in Early New England

17Oct 12:00PM 2018

Early New Englanders produced and used an unusually large number of catechisms. These catechisms shaped relations of faith for church membership, provided content for ...

Author Talk

The Field of Blood: Violence in Congress and the Road to Civil War

17Oct 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Joanne B. Freeman recovers the long-lost story of physical violence on the floor of the U.S. Congress. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources, she shows that the ...

African American History Seminar

Losing Laroche: The Story of the Titanic’s Only Black Passenger

18Oct 5:15PM 2018

Losing Laroche is the first in-depth study of the only black family on board the RMS Titanic. The story of the Haitian Joseph Philippe Lemercier Laroche and his ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

This week we have a pair of Brown Bag talks, two evening programs, the first seminar in a new series, and a sold out tour. Details below: - Monday, 15 October, 12:00 PM: Examining Land ...

New Transcriptions Released for John Quincy Adams' Diary

Amid his daily whirl of diplomatic duties, John Quincy Adams paused to reflect on his latest dispatch to President James Monroe. After several rewrites, Adams had drafted a course of action that would ...

Read more from our blog

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