After reading this information, press the "Create New Account" button below.
First Time User Registration for Portal1791

All researchers wishing to use the Society's collections are required to create a Portal1791 account. This account allows you to:

  • Submit requests for material to consult in our reading room through ABIGAIL or collection guides, either in advance of a research visit or while in the library
  • Order reproductions of MHS collection material
  • Track the status of your requests and orders
  • Access detailed information about past requests

By creating an account you are acknowledging that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions outlined below. If you visit the MHS library you will be asked to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID and be photographed by MHS staff in order to complete your registration.

Username and Password

During registration, you will be asked to create a username and password. You will use this username and password when logging on to the Portal1791 system in the future.

You will choose your own username and password. We recommend that you follow good security practice and choose a password that is different from those you use to access other systems.

Portal1791 will encrypt your password, so it will remain secure. Only you will know your password.

Reading Room Policies

This section specifically applies to researchers that visit the MHS library in person. All researchers must set up a Portal1791 account. This can be done at either in advance of a visit or upon arrival at the MHS. Upon arrival at the MHS researchers will be asked to provide a valid, government-issued photo ID and will have their photograph taken by MHS staff in order to complete their registration.

The MHS is a non-circulating, closed-stacks library. No material may be removed from the building. Materials paged from the closed stacks may be consulted only in the reading room. When available, researchers must use published versions, digital facsimiles, or microfilm editions to protect the original documents. The Reader Services staff may deny access to items in poor physical condition and the use of unprocessed collections.

All researchers must work at independent work stations and must make individual requests for materials.

Limit handling of items to the minimum necessary for your research & exercise all possible care to prevent damage to materials. All researchers must follow specific handling instructions given by Reader Services staff.

Only laptop/tablet computers, digital cameras (non-flash), Mp3 players, and cell phones may be brought into the library. All other personal belongings (including bags, notepaper, and cases for electronics) must be stored in a locker provided in the reception area. All items brought into the library will be inspected as you exit the reading room.

The MHS library is a pencil only environment. Pencils are provided for researcher use.

No food or drink is allowed.

Cell phones should be placed on silent or vibrate mode. Cell phone conversations are not permitted in the library.

All researchers are provided with a blue lanyard and name tag upon arrival. This lanyard must be worn and visible at all times while in the building.

Reproduction Policies

For visiting researchers, the MHS allows non-flash photography, within the confines of current copyright law, in the library. Photography with a tripod-mounted camera, lighting enhancements, or use of scanning or video/sound recording equipment is not permitted in the library. There is no self-service photocopying of collection materials.

For researchers wishing to request reproductions, requests should be made directly through the Portal1791 system. You may contact the library staff if you are having difficulty placing a request. A library staff member will review your request and provide an estimate of cost for your approval before creating reproductions. Staff will not reproduce material in violation of copyright law, nor if creating copies will damage the original documents. For more information about our reproduction policies and fee structure please see our website.

Please note that all reference reproductions are for personal/study use only. They may not be donated or deposited in other libraries or archives, or made available to other researchers without the written permission of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Ownership of reproduced material does not imply permission to publish or quote from documents. It is the sole responsibility of the researcher to obtain formal written permission from the MHS or, when applicable, the appropriate copyright owner. For more information about the library use permission policies see our website.

Copyright Notice

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

Use Permission

While the Massachusetts Historical Society welcomes use of research materials held by the Society, we do require that you obtain permission in writing prior to dissemination. Permission is not required for use of research materials in a classroom setting or in academic papers that are not to be published. Please contact the reference librarian with questions or to initiate a use request. In cases where materials are protected by copyright and the copyright is not held by the MHS additional permission from the copyright holder may be required. It is the sole responsibility of the researcher to determine if materials are protected by copyright and to obtain permission from the copyright holder.

You will acknowledge the use of the MHS's collections in any publication which may result from your research through correct citation of sources. The MHS is happy to accept donations to the library of any publications that result from your research.

Data Collection

We may retain information we collect from you in connection with your use of Portal1791 account indefinitely. We may use this information, or provide the information to third parties to use in a variety of ways, including but not limited to, to satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or governmental request; to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, or technical issues; to protect the rights, property or safety of the library, its users or others; to conduct research; for administration and maintenance of collections or library operations; and otherwise in support of the MHS mission.

By clicking the "Create New Account" button you acknowledge that you have read and agree to abide by the policy outlined above and are signing this document.