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

Brown Bag

Conjuring Emancipation: Making Freedom in the U.S. Civil War’s Refugee Camps

30May 12:00PM 2018

Black Americans did not just pray for emancipation, they conjured it. This project examines the political work of revival in wartime refugee camps and envisions ...

Author Talk

Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe, & the Struggle against the Old Order in America & ...

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

As Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe risked their lives and their liberty for  American independence, and as reformers, each ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

2Jun 10:00AM 2018

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, ...

From our Blog

Immigration and Trade in Early 20th-Century Worcester

The Rockwood Hoar Papers at the MHS document the life and career of Rockwood Hoar, a Worcester, Massachusetts lawyer and politician who lived from 1855 to 1906. Hoar was the son of United States ...

Odd Accounts : Ship Sketches and More in the Smith Family Papers

As many of my colleagues have pointed out in the past here on the Beehive, one of the joys of working with the manuscript collections at the MHS is finding something unexcpected when going through a ...

Read more from our blog

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