In Their Own Words: How the Adams Family Wrote American History

Massachusetts Historical Society

Wednesdays, April 11 - May 2 10:00 a.m. - noon 4 sessions
Prescott House, 55 Beacon Street

“Whatever you write preserve,” John Adams instructed his grandsons in 1815.  It could have been the motto for the family from Quincy, Massachusetts, that counted two presidents and a diplomat within its ranks. Join the editors of The Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS)  to learn about the public and private lives of four generations of the Adams family, as revealed through their letters, diaries, and other writings. Each of the classes in this course will be taught by a specialist in the subject area. Sessions include an introduction to the family, the remarkable manuscript collection at the MHS, and the process of editing their papers for publication; the private lives chronicled in  the family’s correspondence; John Adams’s public life; and John Quincy Adams’s public life.

Recommended Reading: John Adams, David McCullough; Abigail Adams, Woody Holton; John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit, James Traub.

Teaching Style: Lecture with discussion     Weekly Preparation: None


    Massachusetts Historical Society

    Sara Martin is the Editor in Chief of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society. She holds a doctorate in history from the University of Melbourne.

    Sara Georgini is Series Editor for the Papers of John Adams at the Adams papers. She earned a doctorate in early American history from Boston University and is the author of the forthcoming Household Gods: The Religious Lives of the Adams Family, Oxford University Press, 2018.

    Neal Millikan is the Digital Projects Editor with The Adams Papers and is working on a digital edition of the diary of John Quincy Adams. She earned her doctorate in early American history from the University of South Carolina.

    Hobson Woodward is Series Editor for the Adams Family Correspondence at The Adams Papers. He hold a master’s degree in history from Simmons College and is the author  of A Brave Vessel: The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown and Inspired Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Viking Penguin, 2009.