For a small state in a small region, Massachusetts punches above its weight in offering valuable historical collections within a few hours’ drive of Boston. Early efforts to collect documents and artifacts related to the nation’s founding led to the establishment of the Massachusetts Historical Society (the nation’s first) in 1791.
The industrial wealth of the 19th century gave a boost to efforts to preserve local history. Massachusetts has 351 incorporated cities and towns. Many contain museums that were founded as regional historical societies and— due to their early dates of incorporation and the affluence of their founders—contain rich collections of national significance. This also rings true for the colleges and universities that likewise blanket the region.
Kate Viens has graciously provided the following sampling of repositories. Many are accessible by public transportation including Amtrak and the MBTA commuter rail. Visit their websites to learn of fellowship opportunities that can support your research, including the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium. The links below are all clickable.
North of Boston
South of Boston
West of Boston