Harvard Historical Society

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Founded in 1897, the Harvard Historical Society has had its history recorded in the HISTORY OF HARVARD, 1894-1941 a work commissioned by the Society and compiled by Ida Harris, and in DIRECTIONS OF A TOWN, compiled by Robert Anderson in 1976. Under the leadership of a small nucleus of loyal and dedicated individuals, the Society has tried to bring together people interested in the history of their community. Its goal of preserving Harvard’s past for Harvard’s future has led it to collect materials which illustrate the history of the town, such as those pertaining to exploration, settlements, economics, social, religious and political development. This collection includes histories, genealogies, biographies, descriptive literature, dictionaries, newspapers, pamphlets, catalogues, circulars, handbills, local posters and programs. Unpublished materials, including letters, diaries, journals, reminiscences, military rosters, service records, business records, account books, charts, and surveys are also a part of the archival collection. Artifacts such as furniture, household goods, costumes, farm implements tools, simple machines, china and silver comprise some of the museum collection, as well as photographs, portraits, paintings, prints, maps, mineral specimens and firearms.

The Harvard Historical Society arouses interest in the past by operating a small museum and providing school services. It also publishes historical materials, holds public meetings, presents programs and marks historic sites within the town.

Discover the Collection

The 2008 renovation, that followed a near catastrophic fire, allowed us to transform the Still River Meetinghouse into a museum of Harvard’s past. All three rooms are now exhibit spaces where furniture, artifacts, and paintings are displayed. You can learn about the old weights and measures system and how the old fire alarm worked. You can see equipment from farms and industries of the past, admire the work of Shaker craftsmen, and meet important former Harvard residents through their portraits.

Discover the Programs

  • Periodic exhibits, such as “Harvard as Utopia,” “The History of the Town Center,”and “Covered Bridges of New England,” depict the town’s history and its people.
  • Concerts feature local musicians performing in the meetinghouse, known to be acoustically superb.
  • Art exhibits allow local painters and crafters to share their creativity with the community.
  • Discovery Open Houses showcase the extensive collection of the Society.

Discover the Archives

The archives are a treasure trove of information about Harvard. Maps, photos, books, documents, town reports, personal narratives are all windows to a past that influences Harvard today. Our genealogist, Susan Lee, can provide you with a history of your home for a fee.

Discover the Society

The Society office is open to the public Monday and Tuesday afternoons from 1 to 5 pm. By pre-arrangement, members can see the collection when there are no public events.

After more than a decade of effort, the Society was able to purchase the land it now owns surrounding the Still River Meetinghouse which includes a rental cottage and a small building housing the curator's workroom and archival storage. This additional space allows for research by various town organizations as well as by individuals doing genealogical studies. The Society's extensive collection of photographs, deeds and historical research have proved invaluable to organizations searching the origins and ownership of the many properties included in historical inventories and the town's Historic Districts. The largest portion of this research material was prepared by Elvira Scorgie in the decades she devoted to the Society in the study and research of town history. Upon her death she bequeathed the greater portion of her estate to the Society. In 1997, the year of its centennial, the Society published THE HARVARD ALBUM, and dedicated it to Miss Scorgie. The Harvard Historical Society is ever aware of the enormous contributions made to it by the generous people of this town and we endeavor to be worthy of their trust.

The Society continues to provide programs to the Harvard schools as well as to the general public. It also interfaces with local and national historical organizations in order to avail itself of resources necessary to better service the town of Harvard, Massachusetts. Our facility also serves to host some of these organizations in our mutual pursuit of historical knowledge.