Massachusetts Historical Society


The collection of the MHS provides an unparalleled record of American history. Well-known for extensive holdings of personal papers from three presidents—John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Thomas Jefferson—the MHS also holds accounts of the lives of thousands of ordinary Americans. This extraordinary collection helps to tell the story of America through millions of rare and unique documents, artifacts, and irreplaceable national treasures. We collect materials from all segments of the population and all time periods--including current day. Our project to collect first-person accounts of daily life during COVID-19 is one example.

The collection is available to all in person, online, and through exhibitions and programs. Learn more about doing research at the MHS.


Search The Catalog


Use these tools to view highlights, digital collections, and other resources.

Our Collection

The MHS actively collects diaries, letters, and other personal papers of individuals and families, as well as the records of institutions and organizations that document the history of Massachusetts and the nation.

Digital Collections

Browse web presentations by subject, era, or medium.

Collection Highlights

Browse a selection of objects from the Society’s vast collection showcasing a range of items—from iconic treasures to quirky historical artifacts.

Donate to the Collection

The MHS collects materials from all time periods and all segments of the population and is particularly interested in acquiring letters, diaries, and other personal accounts.

Permissions and Licensing

The MHS welcomes use of materials from our collection in publications, exhibitions, presentations, film and video projects, websites, and other works.

Use the Library

We welcome researchers of all ages and experience levels.

Reproduction Services
Contact the Library
Library FAQ

Adams Family Resources

Spanning the years 1639 to 1889, the Adams Family Papers are the most comprehensive and historically complete family collection held by an American cultural institution.

Thomas Jefferson Papers

The Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts is the largest collection of private papers kept by the third president of the United States.

Other Presidents

The MHS holds letters written by every US president through George H.W. Bush.

The Latest