Arts, Culture, and Humanities

Massachusetts Historical Society

  • Boston, MA
  • www.masshist.org

Mission Statement

The Massachusetts Historical Society is an independent research library that collects, preserves, makes accessible, and communicates manuscripts and other materials in order to promote the study of the history of Massachusetts and the nation—a mission it has pursued since 1791

Main Programs

  1. Library
  2. Research
  3. The Adams Papers
  4. Education and Public Programs
  5. Public Programs
Service Areas

Self-reported

National

ruling year

1942

Principal Officer since 2006

Self-reported

Mr. Dennis A. Fiori

Keywords

Self-reported

MHS, historical, history, library, museum

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EIN

04-2108374

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Historical Societies and Related Activities (A80)

Libraries, Library Science (B70)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Accomplishments for FY2012 1) Advance the stewardship and availability of the Society's unique collections a. Experienced a record number of library researchers b. Published The Papers of John Adams, Volume 16 and Thomas Jefferson's Granddaughter in Queen Victoria's England 2) Increase the understanding of the relevance of history among our key audiences a. Committed to be the state sponsor for National History Day, working with volunteers and providing workshops and resources for teachers and students 3) Increase awareness of the Society's unique role and value a. Engaged a wider public in numerous ways, including 3 increasingly professional and accessible exhibitions as well as a popular new biography seminar 4) Build a broad institutional commitment to secure the resources essential to achieve the Society's goals a. Acquired vol. 4 of the Harbottle Dorr collection - one of the Society's most momentous purchases in recent years b. Received notable grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, NEH, and NHPRC; net $100,000 from Cocktails with Clio; and raised nearly $300,000 in Strategic Initiative gifts Goals for FY2013 1) Advance the stewardship and availability of the Society's unique collections a. Increase investment in technology b. Recognize that the ongoing work of the Society is essential to its success 2) Increase the understanding of the relevance of history among our key audiences a. Become a major influence on, and source of, services that improve the teaching of history K-12 b. Seek out underserved areas in the history marketplace 3) Increase awareness of the Society's unique role and value a. Broaden our base of support b. Make pursuit of our mission exciting and appealing 4) Build a broad institutional commitment to secure the resources essential to achieve the Society's goals a. Increase the Annual Fund and Endowment b. Develop a plan for balancing the operating budget by 2015 c. Continue to increase the funding available to purchase collections material

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Library

The library is central to the mission of the MHS—to collect, preserve, and make available sources for the study of American history—by ensuring the long-term preservation of, and continued access to, our collection of over 12 million manuscript documents, 120,000 photographs, 3,000 artifacts, and thousands of printed items including rare books, newspapers, maps, and broadsides. The library is free and open to the public. Staff work directly with researchers who visit the library and maintain an extensive reference and reproduction service for researchers at a distance. Staff assist researchers navigating the wealth of resources on our website, including both digitized collections and the online catalog, as well as instruct them on the proper handling of materials anddeveloping research strategies. To support this work, the library conserves, organizes, catalogs, and digitizes collections for presentation on the MHS website.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

$1,310,280.00

Program 2

Research

The Research Department is the MHS's principal point of contact with professional scholars. In a typical year it organizes 60 programs, including an academic conference, 5 research seminars series (28 sessions), approximately 30 lunch gatherings to discuss work in progress, and a reception for Boston-area graduate students in history and related fields. The department administers 4 fellowship competitions primarily for college and university faculty and graduate students; in 2011-12 it received 226 applications and made 37 grants (some in collaboration with other historical agencies). It also edits the Society's journal, the Massachusetts Historical Review; edits collections of essays originally presented at MHS conferences; prepares entries for the series Sibley's Harvard Graduates, a biographical dictionary of students who attended the school, now through the class of 1774; and oversees special research projects, including a history in progress of investment management in Boston.

Category

Social Science; General/Other

Population(s) Served

Adults

College Aged (18-26 years)

Budget

$430,600.00

Program 3

The Adams Papers

The Adams Papers editorial project is sponsored by and located at the MHS, the repository that contains the massive Adams Family Papers manuscript collection. The Adams Papers is a comprehensive edition of the most important materials drawn from this collection and from Adams documents in other repositories, both in the U. S. and abroad. The project produces edited and annotated documents, in both print and digital formats, concentrating on John and Abigail and their family. The project runs two publication programs, the Papers of John Adams, which chronicles John Adams' career as a statesman and diplomat, and the Adams Family Correspondence, which includes John and Abigail Adams' correspondence with their family and friends. In addition to these ongoing series, the Adams Papers produces unique publications, such as the Diaries of Louisa Catherine Adams, due out this winter, and free digital tools such as the Online Adams Catalog.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

$901,630.00

Program 4

Education and Public Programs

The Education and Public Program department develops engaging activities and resources for two of the Society's three key constituencies - educators and intellectually curious adults. Through interactive primary source-based workshops for teachers; digitized documents, contextual material, and curricula available free of charge at the MHS website; and fellowships that bring educators to the MHS to develop lessons based on primary sources, the MHS has had tremendous success providing resources for the educational experience. Starting in FY2013, the MHS will use its unique resources and expertise to contribute to the improvement of the teaching of American history by serving as the official state sponsor of National History Day in Massachusetts. The MHS also strives to provide the community with an array of broad-based, widely appealing, intellectually strong programming to enhance the understanding of our nation's past and its connection to the present.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Adults

General Public/Unspecified

Budget

$321,700.00

Program 5

Public Programs

For over 200 years the MHS has been publishing in American history. These items have served two purposes, both based on founder Jeremy Belknap's vision of the MHS mission: preservation of the historical documents in the Society's collections and communication of historical knowledge to the citizens of the nation. Today, alongside standard promotional pieces such as printed calendars and a biannual newsletter, the Publications Department publishes an annual journal, the Massachusetts Historical Review; publishes soft- and hardcover books, currently about one each year, generally based on MHS collections, including the longstanding series Collections of the MHS; and prepares digital content for the Society's website, such as the Adams Papers Digital Edition. Staff in the Research and Adams Papers departments work on books that are released through other publishers.

Category

Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Adults

Budget

$219,710.00

Service Areas

Self-reported

National

Funding Needs

1) We need to broaden and diversify our base of financial support. The Society's endowment provides nearly 60% of its operating revenue. Its donor base is largely limited to its membership. The MHS must reach out to new groups and build a more robust fundraising program. 2) We need to increase our visibility. The MHS is considered a hidden gem. We need to reach out, particularly to those in our own backyard, and let them know how we contribute to the community—that we are a resource. We hope this will lead to larger audiences. 3) We need to make more of our collections available online. Although our most important collections are available for free at our website, and we constantly add to them, it amounts to only a fraction of our holdings. Accessibility is a core part of our mission. We must continue to pursue funding to fulfill it. 4) We need to address our space limitations. The MHS is a vibrant organization that faces serious space constraints at its Boston headquarters. A long-term facilities plan making the best use of our building is imperative. 5) We need to help our Board of Trustees evolve to address the needs above. The Society's Board is in a time of transition and must adapt to focus on fundraising and leadership-building in addition to fiduciary responsibilities.

Accreditations

American Association for State and Local History

Charity Navigator

National Register of Historic Places - Listed Property

Affiliations + Memberships

American Association for State and Local History

American Library Association

Association of Fundraising Professionals - Member

Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau

photos


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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Leadership

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Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone and website
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Mr. Dennis A. Fiori

BIO

Dennis Fiori has over 35 years' experience in libraries, museums, and cultural organizations. As president of the Massachusetts Historical Society since 2006, he has successfully navigated the Society through an economic crisis, while building on its exemplary reputation. Prior to joining the MHS, he served for 11 years as Director and CEO of the Maryland Historical Society, where he was responsible for carrying out a $32M capital campaign, expanding the main campus, opening two branch museums, and adding $10M to the endowment. He also spent 12 years as Director of the Concord Museum in Concord, Mass., served as Deputy Director for Programs at the Institute of Museum and Library Services in Washington D.C., and was Deputy Director of the Maine Arts Commission. Dennis lectured on Museum Studies at the University of Delaware and George Washington University. His extensive volunteer service has included roles with the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Commission; Massachusetts Arts Commission; Peabody Essex Museum; American Association for State and Local History; CV Stan Center for the Study of the American Experience, Washington College, Chestertown, MD; WYPR, Baltimore affiliate of National Public Radio; and Heritage Preservation, the National Institute for Conservation, among many others. For his work, he has received numerous awards, including the Loyola College Andrew White Medal for his dedication to preserving the history of the Chesapeake and the Distinguished Service Award of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Dennis received his B.A. in American Studies from Saint Michael's College and M.A. in American Cultural History from the Collaborative Program of the University of Vermont and the Shelburne Museum, where he was awarded the Electra Havemeyer Webb Fellowship. Dennis also completed the Principles of Management for Cultural Institutions Program through Museums Collaborative, Inc., and the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The MHS is an independent research library that was established to collect and publish American history. Over 200 years later, its collections are of such significance that the Harvard Guide to American History has called them ""the most important collection of American manuscripts outside the Library of Congress."" Generations of historians, including Pulitzer Prize-winners Annette Gordon-Reed and David McCullough, have published significant works based on MHS collections. In fact, David wrote that the ""treasures at the Massachusetts Historical Society, all under one roof, are like none to be found anywhere else."" For much of its history, the MHS was content to remain a hidden gem. This attitude changed with the adoption of the MHS Strategic Plan 2008-2013 with the goals of advancing the stewardship and availability of the Society's unique collections; increasing the understanding of the relevance of history among our key audiences; increasing awareness of the Society's unique role and value; and building a broad institutional commitment to secure the resources essential to achieve the Society's goals. The new, outward-looking MHS is dedicated to serving its 3 key audiences by creating widely appealing, intellectually strong public programming; encouraging and promoting new scholarship; and using the unique resources and expertise of the MHS to contribute to the improvement of the teaching of American history. To fulfill these objectives, we focus on our duty to make our collections accessible in order to promote the study of history. In 2010, 26% of Americans polled by Marist did not know the answer to the question ""From which country did the United States win its independence?"" The Society's founders believed that an informed citizenry was essential to our democracy's success and dedicated the MHS to""combating the effects of ignorance."" Today, the MHS opens its doors to the community, making the collections available to our neighbors through exhibitions and public programs. The number of visitors to our website also continues to grow as we make our holdings accessible to a worldwide audience for free online and use social media to bring them to our constituents. We also work to ensure that future generations are knowledgeable about American history by officially sponsoring the state's National History Day, creating free online curricula and resources for teachers and students, and teaching educators how to use primary sources in their classrooms. These programs are ever more important as the MHS adapts to the changing role of research libraries."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Charles C. Ames

Retired Managing Partner, Hill & Barlow

Term: July 2012 - June 2013

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?