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

History of Women and Gender Seminar

The "Woman Inventor" as a Political Tool of Female Suffragists: Patents, Invention, and Civil Rights ...

23Jan 5:30PM 2018
Location: Massachusetts Historical Society

After the Patent Act of 1790, patents played an important social and political role in the formation of American nationhood and citizenship. Part of a larger book ...

Conversation

Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize Award & Reception

25Jan 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Please join us for a special evening in which Tamara Plakins Thornton will receive the 2017 Gomes Prize for Nathaniel Bowditch and the Power of Numbers: How a 19th ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

27Jan 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

Life in the Boarding House: Elizabeth Dorr’s Diaries

During a recent search in our online catalog, ABIGAIL, I came across two subject headings that caught my attention – “Single women” and “Boardinghouses—Massachusetts ...

No Mere 'Adventurer': P. T. Barnum, Iranistan, and the Swedish ...

March 7 1882 Sir, I send Cards as you  request. I am too full of elephants to command much sentiment. All my thoughts & cares at present are locked up in two trunks - one of ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?