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

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar

"For I'd Rather Be Dead Than Not to Dream of a Better World": Mae Gadpaille's Vision of the ...

21Jan 5:15PM 2020

In 1967, Mae Gadpaille, the director of a black Montessori preschool in Roxbury, faced displacement; the church that housed her school was slated to be cleared for an ...

Author Talk

The Puritans: A Transatlantic History

22Jan 6:00PM 2020
There is a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

David Hall presents a sweeping transatlantic history of Puritanism from its emergence out of the religious tumult of Elizabethan England to its founding role in the story ...

Biography Seminar

The Art of Family History: Visual Imagery, Family Narrative and Native American Modernism

23Jan 5:15PM 2020

Decades ago, historian Philip Deloria (Harvard University) found some drawings in the basement. These distinctive prints turned out to be the iconic work of his great ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

Read more from our blog

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