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

Brown Bag; Research Fellow

The Ordeal of Homecoming: Northern Civilians and Union Veterans

30Aug 12:00PM 2019

Recent studies of Union veterans hold that northern civilians were eager to forget the Civil War, ignorant of the plight of the veteran, and inept in their few attempts ...

Conversation; Legacies of 1619

Legacies of 1619: Recognition & Resilience

7Sep 4:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 3:30.

The institution of slavery in English North America began in 1619 with the arrival of roughly 20 Africans in the settlement of Jamestown. What has followed has been 400 ...

Author Talk

Properties of Empire: Indians, Colonists, & Land Speculators on the New England Frontier

10Sep 6:00PM 2019
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30.

Properties of Empire challenges assumptions about the relationship between Indigenous and imperial property creation in early America. Many colonists came to believe ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

Join us for a program this week! Here is a look at what is going on: - Tuesday, 29 January, 5:15 PM: Better Teaching through Technology, 1945-1969, with Victoria Cain, Northeastern ...

Founder to Founder

Like so many good stories here at the Historical Society, it began with a reference question. Jeremy Belknap, hunting through his sources, asked Vice President John Adams for some help. Belknap, the ...

Read more from our blog

Have you seen?