Massachusetts Historical Society

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the MHS?

Founded in 1791, the MHS is the nation’s first historical society and one of the greatest repositories of American history, life, and culture. We provide access to historical resources that can help people understand their past as they imagine their future.

  • What is your organization’s mission?
    • To promote understanding of the history of Massachusetts and the nation by collecting and communicating materials and resources that foster historical knowledge.
  • Who runs the organization?
    • The MHS President, employed by the Board of Trustees, administers the policies of the Society as established by the Trustees and supervises the operations and fiscal management of the Society.
  • Is your organization a 501(c)(3)?
    • The Massachusetts Historical Society is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 04-2103597. The MHS Tax ID is 042108374.

How do I contact someone at the MHS?

Telephone: 617-536-1608  
Staff directory:  
Pres/Media Inquiries -  
Adams Papers:  

Where are you located?

1154 Boylston Street  
Boston, MA 02215 (view map /link to directions)

What is the history of the building?

The MHS is housed in a National Historic Landmark building on the Fenway in Boston. It was designed by Edmund March Wheelwright and opened in 1899. The original building was expanded in 1948, and then again in 1970. Building systems and offices were renovated in 2004.

Is the building accessible?

Yes, the building is accessible. There are HP-accessible bathrooms on all publicly available floors, as well as an elevator and wheelchair ramps. There is an infant/child changing area available to visitors on the ground floor. There are HP-placard designated spaces near the building’s exterior wheelchair ramp. The library is able to accommodate researchers in need of visual or hearing accommodations, but researchers should note their needs in their research appointment request. Visitors attending an event with specific accommodation needs should specify any particular requests when registering for an event.  

Do you offer tours of the MHS?

View our calendar of events for upcoming tours of the Society's historic building.

  • Can I bring a group?  
    Yes, but parties of 8 or more should contact the MHS prior to attending a tour.
  • Can I bring a student group/school class?  
    We can organize workshops and visits for student groups drawing on resources related to themes within our collection.

To schedule a visit for K-12 student groups, please e-mail

To schedule a university/college class visit, please e-mail

What are your hours and admission costs?

Library Hours: Monday, and Wednesday through Friday, from 9:30 AM to 4:45 PM; Tuesday from 9:30 AM to 7:45 PM (opens at 12:00 PM the second Tuesday of the month); Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (library closed on Saturdays through September 2023). Please visit our Appointment Request Form to select your preferred visit dates.

Exhibition Hours: Monday, and Wednesday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:45 PM; Tuesday from 10:00 AM to 7:45 PM (opens at 12:00 PM the second Tuesday of the month); Saturday from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM (galleries closed on Saturdays through September 2023). Please note that the last admission for exhibition visitors is 45 minutes prior to closing.

Please visit hours and admission for hours and closings due to holidays and other events.

Admission: Free and open to the public. All ages are welcome in the galleries; library readers must be 16 years of age or accompanied by an adult.

When was the MHS founded?

On 24 January 1791, the Reverend Jeremy Belknap invited nine like-minded Bostonians to join him in creating what they would call simply, "The Historical Society," now the Massachusetts Historical Society, the first organization in the United States devoted to collecting materials for the study of American history.

How can I get involved?

Become a Member! Learn more at

Are you interested in working at the MHS? Visit to learn about open positions.

Internship inquiries can be sent to

Join our mailing list! E-mail:

Why should I support the MHS?

Our work to collect, preserve, and serve the community is only possible with the ongoing generosity from members of our community. We remain committed to being a forum for learning about the past—both the big pictures and the little moments—so we can appreciate the scope of human experiences and make informed decisions about our future.

In the complex world we live in today, it is imperative that the MHS take an active role in defining what it means to interact with history. Programs, educational workshops, and exhibitions are just a few of the ways that the MHS engages with the public, promotes the relevance of history, and helps to improve the understanding of the role of civics in public life.

Your gift will directly impact our efforts to share the stories, people, and experiences of the past that enable people to think critically and make informed decisions today.

How can I make a donation to the MHS?

For financial donations, please visit or e-mail

What is your tax ID number?

The MHS Tax ID is 042108374.

Where does the money go when I donate to your organization?

Gifts to the MHS Fund allow us to continue fulfilling our mission to promote understanding of the history of Massachusetts and the nation by collecting and communicating materials and resources that foster historical knowledge. Contributions also support special projects, including exhibitions and publications.

Where can I find your financial documents?

Please visit for MHS Annual Reports, financial statements, Massachusetts form PC, and Federal Form 990.

Where can I find MHS publications?

Learn more about MHS publications at

Adams Papers Volumes are available for purchase from:  
Harvard University Press  
79 Garden Street  
Cambridge, MA 02138  

How can I do research in the collection?

The MHS Library is free and open to the public. Please note that anyone wishing to access the library must complete our registration process. Learn more about using our library.

How can I attend an event?

View our calendar of events at If you missed a program, would like to revisit the material presented, or are interested in viewing past programs, visit

Do you have membership?

Learn more at

How do I apply for a job at the MHS?

Please visit to learn about open positions.

Does the MHS offer internships?

Please send internship inquiries to

Media and permissions:

  • Who do I contact for media questions?  
    Please contact the Vice President for Communications and Marketing at
  • How do I interview someone from the MHS?  
    Please contact the Vice President for Communications and Marketing at
  • Fact Checking: Upon request, MHS staff members are available to the press to serve as experts on various topics, including Massachusetts history, the Adams family, research libraries, and archives. Information on other topics may also be provided. Please e-mail questions to
  • Permissions and Licensing: Requests from anyone wishing to publish materials—either manuscript quotations or photographic reproductions—from the collections as well as questions about ordering images of MHS materials should be addressed to the Reference Librarian at For more information, see the Permissions and Licensing page.

Note: Members of the press are subject to an expedited permissions process. If you have a tight deadline or would like more information, please contact Carol Knauff at

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