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

Author Talk

Under the Starry Flag: How a Band of Irish Americans Joined the Fenian Revolt and Sparked a Crisis ...

24Sep 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

In 1867 forty Irish-American freedom fighters, outfitted with guns and ammunition, sailed to Ireland to join the effort to end British rule. Yet they never got a chance ...

Modern American Society and Culture Seminar

Radical Nonviolence and Interracial Utopias in the Early Civil Rights Movement

25Sep 5:15PM 2018

This paper examines how radical pacifists refined nonviolent direct action to challenge racial segregation and inequality in the United States. These activists adopted ...

Author Talk

Race Over Party: Black Politics and Partisanship in Late Nineteenth-Century Boston

27Sep 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

In late 19th-century Boston, battles over black party loyalty were fights over the place of African Americans in the post–Civil War nation. Party politics became ...

From our Blog

Of Adamses & Ancestry

John A. Grace, Memoranda Respecting the Families of Quincy and Adams, 1841 For historian Henry Adams, the morning mail meant a fresh round of research questions. “Here comes your troublesome ...

Rachel Wall's Confession, the words of a Pirate?

For Talk Like a Pirate Day we bring you the words of a Pirate! The MHS holds an interesting broadside featuring Massachusetts' only female Pirate: Life, last words and dying confession, of ...

Read more from our blog

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