bostonian Society

Overview: Traditionally focused on the broad scope of Boston history, the Bostonian Society has narrowed its focus somewhat in recent years to the history of eighteenth-century Boston, with a particular concentration on the Old State House and the American Revolution in Boston. As such, the archival collections at the Bostonian Society are particularly rich in materials related to these topics.

In addition, however, the Society also houses a large photography collection, which documents the development of the city and its architecture from the 1850s to the present. This collection contains thirty-three individual photography collections, most of which have been digitized and are available on the Society’s website.

American Revolution Materials: The archives at the Bostonian Society are particularly rich in materials related to the Boston Massacre. Particularly notable documents include Crispus Attucks’s Coroner’s Report and Paul Revere’s “Bloody Massacre” print.
Other materials related to the American Revolution include an official broadside of the Declaration of Independence printed by John Gill, as well as copies of newspapers, particularly the Boston Gazette and Country Journal, and almanacs of the era.
The archives also contain a number of materials related to John Hancock, including letters by him and his wife and his personal Bible. There are also the papers of a several other Bostonian families of the era, whose collections include correspondence, wills, and deeds.

The Bostonian Society is also rich in government materials related to the American Revolution. Documents that fall under this category include Suffolk County deeds from the era, maps and plans, currency and receipts, and military records. There is also a collection of Thanksgiving and Fast Day Proclamations issued by various Massachusetts governors following the Revolution.

Key Words: African Americans, almanacs, Crispus Attucks, commemorations, currency, Bibles, Boston, Boston Gazette, Boston Massacre, Declaration of Independence, deeds, ephemera, John Gill, John Hancock, letters, maps, periodicals, prints, receipts, Paul Revere, soldiers/militia, wills

Collection Policies: The Bostonian Society is not actively expanding its archival collections at this time; however, it continues to accept donations that align with its mission statement. To be considered, donations must relate to the history of the Old State House, the Bostonian Society, eighteenth-century Boston, or Revolutionary Boston.
The majority of the manuscript collection has been processed and printed finding aids are available, however, many are in the process of being updated to follow current archival standards. The Bostonian Society is also in the process of digitizing finding aids for its online catalogue, which currently lists materials following the Society’s older organizational scheme, but does not contain formal finding aids. Until the updated finding aids are available online, the archivist is happy to scan and email finding aids to interested researchers.

Materials (primarily facsimiles) from the Bostonian Society archives are on display at the Old State House. Though the Society has not lent materials for exhibition in recent years, it is not opposed to the possibility. All requests for loans would need to be approved by the Bostonian Society’s Collections Committee and Board of Directors.