Library and Archives

The Historic New England Library and Archives is temporarily closed to in-person, online, and telephone inquiries to accommodate a move from Otis House to interim space in Boston. This relocation ensures the highest level of care for and access to our archival collections during the upcoming major multi-year construction projects surrounding Otis House and planned improvements at our facilities. During this period of closure, staff is engaged in packing, managing the move, and unpacking archives materials, and preparing for reopening our archives operation in nearby, accessible space this fall.

We understand that suspending access to our archival collections and staff research support is challenging for researchers, and we are grateful for your patience and understanding. During this time, we invite you to explore the large selection of our archival and object collections that is digitized and accessible through our Collections Access Portal.

More than 1.5 million records documenting the cultural and architectural history of New England

The vast collections of Historic New England’s Library and Archives provide important documentation for New England’s cultural and architectural history. Its holdings include photographs, architectural drawings, manuscripts, ephemera, prints and engravings, artwork, and books. Visit Collections Access to explore Historic New England’s online collection.

In abundance and variety, the more than 600,000 photographs and negatives are arranged by specific medium, including extensive collections of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, cartes-de-visite, stereographic views, albums, postcards, and standard prints. They record buildings, domestic interiors, commercial interiors, streetscapes, landscapes, people at work, relaxing and at play, and modes of transportation. Many of New England’s leading nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographers are represented. The Library and Archives also holds the institutional archives of Historic New England. Essential to the understanding of the mission and purpose of the organization and the passion and commitment of its founder, William Sumner Appleton, these records are also valuable for researching the history of the preservation movement in the United States.

Remarkable Collections

Royal Barry Wills Associates Archive

Known as the master of the Cape Cod house, Royal Barry Wills founded one of New England's most influential architecture firms. Learn More

  • Royal Barry Wills Associates Archive

    Known as the master of the Cape Cod house, Royal Barry Wills founded one of New England's most influential architecture firms. Learn More

  • Nathaniel L. Stebbins Collection

    2,500 original negatives and 6,000 original prints depict recreational sailing vessels and commercial vessels from the 1880s to c. 1922. Learn More

  • Boston Transit Archive

    Boston was the first city in North America to build a subway. The city left us a dazzling photographic record of the monumental undertaking.

  • Verner Reed Photographic Collection

    As a photographer for Life magazine, Verner Reed produced images that reflect the character of notable figures in the news. Learn More

  • Jewett Family Papers

    Author Sarah Orne Jewett was a prolific writer of letters to family members and friends in the Boston literary circle of the late nineteenth century.

  • Original Art Collection

    Approximately 1,000 drawings, paintings, sketches, and illustrations in mainly ink, pen, pencil, and watercolor, dating from the 1820s to the 1930s.

  • Edwin Whitefield Graphic Collection

    English painter and teacher Edwin Whitefield sketched hundreds of historic houses in New England to capture them before they were lost.

More to Explore

Browse thousands of archival records in Collections Access.

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Learn about Historic New England's book series.

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Visit the Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History to explore more New England archives.

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