Mission and Vision Statements

Mission Statement

The Massachusetts Historical Society is a center of research and learning dedicated to a deeper understanding of the American experience. Through its collections, scholarly pursuits, and public programs, the Society seeks to nurture a greater appreciation for American history and for the ideas, values, successes, and failures that bind us together as a nation.

Vision Statement

The Massachusetts Historical Society will continue to be widely recognized as a preeminent institution of American history, a thriving center for research and learning, and a respected voice for the importance of understanding our nation’s past.

The Society's programs and exhibitions will celebrate the perspective American history brings to our own time and illustrate how it sustains our republic and guides our future. As the region's major venue for history presentations, the MHS will produce programs and exhibitions that are thematic, tell stories, and explore turning points in the past. Where opinions vary, it will provide a forum for debate.

MHS exhibitions will travel nationally and internationally and will reinforce the Society's mission and significance. The Society's collections will be viewed as a preeminent resource for the study of America by scholars and history enthusiasts around the globe, and the MHS will provide unprecedented access to those materials through its library and website. The Society's center for teaching history will enliven the classroom experience through web-based materials, and we will advocate for the value of history in our schools' curricula.

The MHS will establish itself in Boston and New England not only as the premier resource for American history but also as a leading cultural institution. As a result it will attract increased financial support from individuals, foundations, corporations, and governmental agencies. Based on an assessment of our capital needs and financial capacity, we will launch a capital campaign to endow critical staff positions, to fund ongoing scholarly and educational programs, and to support the renovation of our facility to include additional space for programs, exhibitions, and classrooms.

Improved funding will reinforce the Society's core activities. Enhanced processing and increased digitization of the Society's collections will open avenues of research. Seminal national conferences, seminars, and additional research fellowships will advance scholarship. The MHS will extend the Adams Papers through another generation, publish other essential collections in print and online, launch an online magazine, and enrich our website. Greatly expanded public relations and marketing will support the Society's presence, mission, and activities.

In 2020 the MHS will be a thriving and influential center for the study and advancement of historical knowledge and an advocate for its importance. The MHS will reach a much larger audience who will use its resources, take part in programs, join as members, and support its mission to achieve a deeper understanding of the American experience. And we will have taken a significant step forward toward our vision of a renewed American understanding that our nation’s past is fundamental to its future. 

We welcome everyone to support our mission, use our resources, take part in our programs, and become a Member.

Upcoming Events

History of Women and Gender Seminar

Transgender History and Archives: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

18Dec 5:30PM 2018
Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute

This panel aims to begin an interdisciplinary conversation in transgender history. What is the state of the field of transgender studies in history, archiving, and public ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

22Dec 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, ...

Early American History Seminar

The Consecration of Samuel Seabury and the Crisis of Atlantic Episcopacy, 1782-1807

8Jan 5:15PM 2019

Samuel Seabury’s consecration in 1784 signaled a transformation in the organization of American Protestantism. After more than a century of resistance to the office ...

From our Blog

“On the Borders of Nonsense”: John Quincy Adams, Poet

It was a rainy day in May 1839 and John Quincy Adams, stuck inside, was amusing himself writing poetry. He was trying to imitate the Roman poet Horace, and outdo the English poet Alexander Pope. ...

Barefoot Families and Demon Rum: The Work of an Urban Missionary

In June 1854, the Boston City Missionary Society appointed a Methodist Episcopal clergyman named Luman Boyden to serve as missionary to the poor in East Boston. The 48-year-old Boyden (pictured above, ...

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