Massachusetts Historical Society

Reference Services

Here at our remote reference desk you will find a growing list of resources available digitally in a single, unified list. You can also find ways to contact the Reader Services staff if you need additional assistance or cannot find what you are looking for here.

**See the Use the Library page for information about visiting the library in person.**

Personal Assistance

The MHS library staff who can usually be found behind the reference desk at 1154 Boylston are available remotely to assist you with your research! Please don't hesitate to reach out for individualized assistance.

MHS Collections Available Online

The MHS provides digital access to our collections in a variety of ways through thematic resources, digital publication projects, digital content linked to collection guides, digitized public domain materials, and subscription databases. We will be updating this section regularly as new resources become available.

ABIGAIL Catalog Records with Digital Content

Many catalog records for single items contain links to digital versions of those items. A search in our online catalog ABIGAIL for the phrase "Click here to view this item" in quotation marks using the Keyword Anywhere search option will return around 1300 items that have digital versions linked to their catalog entries.

Collection Guides with Digital Content

In recent years, the MHS has piloted full or partial digitization of manuscript and visual material collections using the online collection guides as a delivery system. Look for the blue digital content indicator next to the collection guide link and/or collection guide subsection as you browse in order to locate digital facsimiles.

MHS Publications

The MHS has been publishing since 1791 and many of its pre-1930 (public domain) publications are available full-text online.

Thematic Online Resources

Visit the Digital MHS page to find links to Digital Collections, from interactive displays of entire collections to companion sites for past exhibitions; a staff-curated set of Collection Highlights featuring some of our "greatest hits"; our institutional blog; as well as our podcast.

Digital Documentary Editions

The MHS offers digital editions of several documentary publication projects:

Subscription Databases

The MHS collections can be found in subscription databases that may be available through other research libraries. Catalog records in ABIGAIL indicate whether a specific collection has been included in a subscription database. Evans and Shaw-Shoemaker call numbers indicate whether a print item may be found in Early American Imprints series I and II. Below is a list of the subscription databases that contain MHS materials.

For an itemized list of all MHS collections represented in these databases (with the exception of Early American Imprints) click here.


The MHS holds over 800 titles on microfilm and the commercial vendor ProQuest sells copies of 65 microfilm editions of MHS collections. You can view a list of all available MHS collections on the ProQuest website (use search bar and enter Massachusetts Historical Society collections). To order copies, contact ProQuest directly at 800-521-0600 or via its webform (click Contact Us button at top-right). Materials from MHS collections sold by ProQuest may be purchased by individual reel.

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