Library: Library Collections
The Massachusetts Historical Society collects manuscriptsthe letters, diaries, and other personal papers of individuals and families. While the Society holds many famous documentsPaul Revere's own account of his famous ride and manuscript copies of the Declaration of Independence by both Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, for example the true strength of the collection lies in how millions of pages of manuscript documents and diaries "weave together" as primary sources for the study of the entire course of American history right up to the present.
The Historical Society has wonderful and in some instances very large collections of other research materials, such as books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, and photographs. While the MHS is not a museum, it nonetheless also owns works of art and historical artifacts. Many of these items came to the Society along with collections of personal papers; all are here to support research on the manuscript collections. Below you will find links to pages with more detailed information about the different kinds of items in the Society's collections.
The Society primarily collects the letters, diaries, and other personal papers of individuals and families; the manuscript collection also includes the archives of organizations and businesses.
How to Search the Manuscript Collections
Publications including published versions of manuscripts as described above. The Society holds rare and valuable books as well as many reference books and recent published works on Massachusetts and New England. Please follow the links below to find out more about specific kinds of printed materials.
Works of Art
Numismatics & Historical Artifacts
The numismatic collection includes coins, medals, and paper currency. Many historical artifacts came to the Society as part of manuscript collections.