Books & Pamphlets

The Massachusetts Historical Society's collection of published materials is divided into several broad categories: Books and Pamphlets (described below), Broadsides, Early Imprints, Maps, and Newspapers

Books

The General Research Collection

The books in the General Research Collection primarily address the history of Massachusetts from the time of European settlement to the present, although not exclusively. Materials about the early history of New England and the United States in general, especially from the colonial period through the Civil War, are also available.

The MHS research collection also includes valuable primary and secondary published materials on Canadian history, religion, 19th-century popular literature, music, and education, especially Boston imprints. Records for all books in the Research Collection are available in ABIGAIL.

Family History Resources

The MHS has strong collections of published biographical, genealogical, and local history information that support research on its manuscript collections, but our holdings do not duplicate the exhaustive family and local history collections or services provided by The New England Historic Genealogical Society (www.AmericanAncestors.org). Researchers working primarily on family history should consult the collections of the NEHGS first.

Special Libraries

Over the years, the MHS has received collections of books from individual donors that have been kept intact and are referred to as "special libraries." These special libraries range from the private libraries of Henry Adams, Thomas Dowse, and Robert C. Waterston, to organizational collections of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture, and subject-specific collections of collectors William Bentinck-Smith (U.S. history), Francis Russell Hart (Caribbeana), and Russell Knight (Shakers).

Records for most of the Society's special libraries are available in ABIGAIL. A few of our smaller special libraries are stored offsite and are available only in our internal card catalog; consult the reader services staff for more information.

Pamphlets


The MHS holds more than 30,000 pamphlets, arranged by date of publication, from 1820 to the present. The strength of the pamphlet collection lies in the diversity of subject content: almost every facet of 19th- and early-20th-century life in Massachusetts, and to a lesser extent in New England, appears in contemporary pamphlet literature. Researchers will find the collection especially strong for the last half of the 19th century. Records for the pamphlet collection are available in ABIGAIL.

 



Upcoming Events

Environmental History Seminar

The Fight before the Flood: Rural Protest and the Debate over Boston’s Quabbin Reservoir, 1919 ...

16Jan 5:15PM 2018

In 1919, state engineers proposed solving Boston’s water supply crisis by damming the Swift River, flooding a western Massachusetts valley and evicting 2,500 ...

Brown Bag

Skulls, Selves, and Showmanship: Itinerant Phrenologists in 19th-Century America

17Jan 12:00PM 2018

"Come, then, one and all, and learn to know yourselves." With these words, a traveling phrenologist advertised his lecture to the public. Proponents of phrenology ...

Author Talk

Pauline Maier Memorial Lecture - Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention

17Jan 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

James Madison’s Notes on the 1787 Constitutional Convention have acquired nearly unquestioned authority as the description of the U.S. Constitution’s creation ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

First things first in this weekly round-up: The Society is CLOSED on Monday, 15 January, in observance of Martin Luther King, Jr., Day. Normal hours resume on Tuesday, 16 January. Now that we have ...

A Midwinter’s Tale

  At eight o-clock on a January morning in 1891, and a world away from the ice-caked streets of his native New England, 52-year-old Henry Adams leisurely began to go about his day. Armed with ...

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