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 list.)

  • 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 Student Forums.)

  • 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.

Members-Only pages.

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 members
are required, as well as a curriculum vita of the candidate. The Council of
the Society strongly encourages a personal meeting with the candidate and a former or current Council member in order to acquaint the candidate with
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.


© 2003 Colonial Society of Massachusetts. All Rights Reserved.