Who We Are
Founded in 1892, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts is a non-profit
educational foundation designed to promote the study of Massachusetts
history from earliest settlement through the first decades of
the nineteenth century.
What We Do
The chief business of the Colonial Society is to publish
documents related to the early history of Massachusetts. (See
Publications for a complete
From time to time, the Colonial Society convenes scholarly
conferences to encourage research on subjects of special interest.
We generally publish the proceedings of these conferences
in order to make the information imparted there more widely
available. (See Conferences for the
program of our most recent conference and news of forthcoming
conferences. See Publications
for a list of the published proceedings of past conferences.)
To encourage the study of colonial Massachusetts in the schools,
the Society holds periodic workshops for K-12 teachers in
the Boston area intended to bring teachers abreast of the
latest trends in historical research. (See Workshops
for past programs and registration information.)
To break down isolation among graduate students and promote
the sharing of research, the Colonial Society periodically
convenes a day-long Graduate Student Forum, where Ph.D. candidates
report on their work in progress and receive supportive advice
from the event's senior scholar facilitator and from CSM members
and other graduate students in attendance. (To learn more
details about how to participate see Graduate
Together with University of Massachusetts-Boston, the Colonial Society sponsors The
New England Quarterly, a scholarly journal devoted
to New England life and letters. (See New
England Quarterly for subscription information.)
To honor Walter Muir Whitehill, the editor of the Society
from 1946 to 1978, the Society offers the Whitehill Prize
in Early American History (including a $2,500 honorarium and
publication in the New England Quarterly)
for the best scholarly essay on a topic in early Massachusetts
history. (See Whitehill Prize
for contest criteria and a list of past winners.)
- Along with fourteen other cultural agencies in the area, this
Society is a member of the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium,
which offers grants designed to encourage projects that draw
on the resources and strengths of the collaborating organizations.
For further information, see the New
England Regional Fellowship Consortium.
- We help to maintain an important Boston landmark at 87 Mount
Vernon Street. Our headquarters is one of a handful of intact
private houses built by Boston architect Charles Bulfinch. (See
87 Mount Vernon Street for details.)
What We Do Not Do
We do not maintain a library or manuscript collection.
We regret we do not have the staff to assist with genealogical
queries or K-12 research papers.
For similar reasons, our headquarters at 87 Mount Vernon
Street is not open to the public.
- We publish documentary collections only and cannot assist
with subventions for scholarly monographs.
Membership originally was limited to descendants of Massachusetts
Bay or Plymouth colonists, but since 1950 membership has been
open to all persons interested in colonial Massachusetts. Colonial
Society resident members, limited to 200, must live within 60
miles of Boston. Non-resident and honorary members may live at
a greater distance. Members are elected to membership by the current
members at the Colonial Society's stated meetings.
To propose a candidate for membership, letters from two current
are required, as well as a curriculum vita of the candidate. The
the Society strongly encourages a personal meeting with the candidate
and a former or current Council member in order to acquaint the
the history, objectives, and business of the Society. Letters
of nomination should be directed to the chair of the Membership
Committee: Celeste Walker, 990 Centre St., Boston, MA 02130.