The mission of the Maine Historical Society (MHS) is to promote the understanding and enjoyment of Maine history. The Society collects, preserves, and exhibits important historical resources and treasures; facilitates research into family, local, regional and national history; and provides educational opportunities that engage the public and make history accessible and meaningful.
The Maine Historical Society was incorporated by the State of Maine in 1822 and is the third-oldest historical society in the United States. MHS is a charitable, educational, non-profit corporation. A board of trustees and standing committees work closely to advise and support Society staff in the pursuit of the organization's mission. The Society's museum and exhibition program permits regular public access to the institution's exceptional collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, costumes, and textiles as well as its extraordinary rare books, manuscripts, architectural and engineering drawings, maps, photographs, and ephemera. These collections, educational programs, and the Society's publications support the study and teaching of our state and community history.
The Society manages major facilities at its one-acre campus in downtown Portland. The Research Library includes over 125,000 books and two million manuscripts related to Maine history that are used by scholars, researchers, genealogists, educators, students, and the general public. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House was the boyhood home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of America's most distinguished literary figures, and is one of the oldest house museums in the country. The House has been open to the public since 1901 and is a National Historic Landmark. The museum at Maine Historical Society houses changing interpretive exhibitions.
The Society has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and is reaching out to and working with educational and cultural institutions across the state in exciting new ways. In 2001, MHS launched this website, through which it provides tools and resources that help communities and schools around the state learn about, celebrate, and share their local history.