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Curator of Manuscripts

Massachusetts Historical Society


The MHS is an independent research library founded in 1791.

The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) located in Boston, Massachusetts seeks a Curator of Manuscripts. This is a full-time (35 hours per week) position: Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm. While some remote work may be possible, the individual in this position works primarily onsite.


The Massachusetts Historical Society

The MHS is an independent research library founded in 1791 for the threefold purpose of collecting, preserving, and disseminating sources for the study of American history.  The MHS holds more than 3,600 manuscript collections, as well as extensive collections of early American imprints, newspapers, maps, printed ephemera, photographs, engravings, and other research materials.  The Society’s collecting focuses primarily on personal papers of individuals and families from Massachusetts and records of organizations, primarily non-profits such as churches and clubs. The MHS has no chronological cut-off date and continues to collect manuscripts dating from the 17th century to the present, as well as born-digital and hybrid collections.


Duties:  The Curator of Manuscripts (CoM) will be responsible for collecting, donor relations, appraisal, selection, and accessioning of manuscripts in accordance with the Society’s collecting policy. The CoM is a member of the Collections Services department, reporting directly to the Senior Vice President for Collections and Content Development. Together with the Curator of Rare Books and Visual Materials and the Lead Archivist for Digital and Web Initiatives, the CoM is one of a three-person team that helps to set direction for the department. The CoM will assist with current Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion collecting initiatives to broaden the representation of individuals and organizations in the Society’s holdings. The CoM will be the primary point of contact for potential donors and must periodically make local site visits to assess and transport collections to the MHS.

The CoM will oversee the processing staff (3 FTE) and will help to develop policies, procedures, and workflows for implementing minimal and iterative processing standards. The CoM will supervise the Conservator and Preservation Librarian and set priorities for conservation treatment and repair. The CoM will help manage the processing backlog and maintain lists of acquisitions for reports.

Required qualifications:

  • ALA-accredited Master’s degree in library and information science, with a concentration or significant coursework in archives management
  • A minimum of five years of experience working with manuscript collections, including 18th and 19th century material
  • Demonstrated experience cultivating and maintaining relationships with current and potential donors
  • Experience with the appraisal of archival materials
  • Knowledge of relevant standards and best practices for archival description, including EAD
  • The ability to easily read cursive handwriting (finalists may be required to take a transcription test)
  • Flexibility, self-motivation, and the ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Demonstrated ability to write clearly and succinctly
  • Strong planning and organizational skills with the ability to prioritize and multi-task
  • Capacity to lift at least 40 lbs.
  • Access to a car and a willingness to drive to locations within the New England area


Preferred qualifications:

  • At least three years of experience supervising archival staff
  • Knowledge of Massachusetts history
  • Knowledge of preservation and conservation


Salary and benefits: The MHS offers a competitive benefits package and salary commensurate with experience.


Application procedure: Send a cover letter, resume, and the names of three references, by email (no calls, please), to:


Brenda Lawson, Senior Vice President for Collections and Content Development


Availability:  This position is available immediately. Applications must be received by September 1, 2022 for consideration.


The Massachusetts Historical Society is an equal opportunity employer.

We aim to be a diverse workforce that is representative, at all job levels, of the citizens we serve. Candidates of all backgrounds are welcomed and encouraged to apply. We are committed to creating a workplace free from harassment and discrimination on the basis of race, color, ancestry, religious creed, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status, or any other category protected by law (also known as membership in a “protected class”).



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