Adams Papers Editorial Project

President John F. Kennedy on the Adams Papers Editorial Project: " serves as a most valuable chronicle of a long series of lives which stretch down to the present date. And therefore this formidable record of a formidable family deserves the kind of great editorial support which it is now receiving."

Project History

The Adams Papers project was founded in 1954 to prepare a comprehensive published edition of the manuscripts written and received by the family of John Adams of Quincy, Massachusetts. The Adams Family Papers manuscript collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society forms the nucleus of the project. In addition, the editors have gathered over 27,000 copies of Adams items from hundreds of libraries, institutions, and individuals in the United States and abroad. The project's cut-off date is 1889, the year Abigail Brooks Adams died.

Editorial Process

The editors do not alter the Adamses' words; rather, they continue the search for Adams documents, select the material to be included in the edition, provide a faithful transcription of the manuscripts, and supply annotation. To date, over 50 volumes have been published by Harvard University Press and are now available online as part of the Adams Papers Digital Edition.


The Adams Papers was funded originally by Time-Life Inc. and the Ford Foundation. At present funding is provided primarily by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Packard Humanities Institute, with additional funding from The Florence Gould Foundation and private donors. Over the years supporters have also included the Lyn and Norman Lear Fund, The J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and The Charles E. Culpepper Foundation through the Founding Families Papers, Inc.

Contact Information

If you have questions regarding the collection or the editorial project, please contact us:

     The Adams Papers
     Massachusetts Historical Society
     1154 Boylston Street
     Boston, MA 02215
     Tel: 617-536-1608

John Quincy Adams designed and used this acorn and oak leaf seal after 1830. The motto is from Cæcilius Statius as quoted by Cicero in the First Tusculan Disputation: Serit arbores quœ alteri seculo prosint ("He plants trees for the benefit of late generations").



Upcoming Events

canceled History of Women and Gender Seminar

On Fantasy

20Mar 5:30PM 2018
Location: Fay House, Radcliffe Institute

This program is canceled due to illness. This paper argues that fantasies of racial and gendered mastery—seen in law, racial performance, and sexual violence&mdash ...

Author Talk

People before Highways: Boston Activists, Urban Planners, & A New Movement for City Making

20Mar 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

In 1948, inspired by changes to federal law, Massachusetts officials started to plan highways circling and cutting through the heart of Boston. But when officials began ...

Brown Bag

From Corporate Charter to Modern Constitution: Massachusetts Transformations

21Mar 12:00PM 2018

The U.S. Constitution is not a “social contract,” but a popularly issued corporate charter.  America’s constitutional innovations&mdash ...

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Welcome to Our 2018-2019 MHS-NEH Fellows!

The Massachusetts Historical Society’s Research Department is pleased to announce our two 2018-2019 MHS-NEH Long-Term Fellows, Mara Caden and Brent Sirota. Mara Caden will be researching the ...

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