8 Outstanding Historical Societies in the Eastern U.S.

Keeping history alive isn't just about having detailed records. For citizens to truly understand the significance of their local area and how culture has evolved, they need a place where they can actually see and interact with artifacts from days gone by. These historical societies make the past come alive through tours and events that connect people to the earliest days of our nation, and show how we can apply the lessons learned by our ancestors to our lives today. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

8 Important Historical Societies On The East Coast

Organization Location Notable Features
Bristol Historical Society Bristol, CT Witch's Dungeon Classic Movie Museum, Bristol Sports Hall of Fame
Westport Historical Society Westport, CT Bradley-Wheeler House interactive museum, Spooktober events
Brooklyn Historical Society Brooklyn, NY Online exhibitions and podcasts
Cambridge Historical Society Cambridge, MA Discussion events on important issues, Hooper-Lee-Nichols House
Monmouth County Historical Association Freehold, NJ Five historical homes, including Allen House, which features a Tavern Museum and yearly Tavernfest
Georgia Historical Society Savannah, GA Yearly Georgia History Festival, which includes in-school programs, exhibits, events, and a gala
Historic Huguenot Street New Paltz, NY Ten-acre grounds with a reconstructed 1717 French church, Camp Huguenot for ages 9-12
New Hampshire Historical Society Concord, NH Mobile app for audio tours, classroom programs and lectures

Fun For Kids At Historic Huguenot Street

The 13 Original Colonies

Colony Year Founded
Virginia 1607
New Hampshire 1623
Massachusetts 1630 (Plymouth Colony founded in 1620)
Maryland 1634
Connecticut c. 1635
Rhode Island 1636
Delaware 1638
North Carolina 1653
South Carolina 1663
New Jersey 1664
New York 1664 (Previously Dutch colony of New Netherland)
Pennsylvania 1682
Georgia 1732

Brooklyn Historical Society's Impact On The Community

In Depth

Many significant events in American history took place on the east coast. The first European settlers landed there and the Revolutionary War was fought in places like New England, New York, and Georgia. If you want to get an idea of what life used to be like in this region, visiting a place devoted to studying and preserving the past is a great way to spend a day. In no particular order, here are eight noteworthy historical societies in the eastern United States.

First up, at #1, we have the Bristol Historical Society, which uses knowledge of the past to enhance the present community and provide context for future growth. It showcases a number of exhibits that honor the city's bygone days, including the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame and a collection of audio recordings of local marching bands and orchestras through the years.

The group does a lot for modern-day citizens as well. It regularly hosts events, ranging from parties to talks to an annual horror museum. High school students in Bristol who are looking to attend college and have an interest in history can apply for the BHS Scholarship Fund, which is awarded to qualified applicants each year. Support their efforts by donating to the scholarship fund directly, or participating in the BHS Annual Campaign Drive.

The group does a lot for modern-day citizens as well.

Coming in at #2 is Westport Historical Society. Encouraging visitors to discover the Connecticut town's heritage and its place in the larger American story, WHS maintains an interactive museum called the Bradley-Wheeler House. On this half-acre property, kids and adults alike can enjoy art, architecture, archives, and more. The organization also recognizes historic structures throughout the area with commemorative plaques that point out their significance to passers-by.

The society hosts a number of special events, and all proceeds from them go toward supporting their educational offerings and exhibitions. At their annual benefit, guests can eat gourmet food and sip specialty cocktails as they celebrate the achievements of the past year and get a sneak peak at what's to come. If you have some time on your hands and want to pitch in, consider applying to be a volunteer or docent. Students are welcome to volunteer as well, or they can apply for the museum's internship program.

In the #3 spot, we have Brooklyn Historical Society, which is dedicated to making the borough's vibrant history tangible, meaningful, and relevant. Although their content is focused on yesteryear, the organization uses modern technology to supplement the in-person experience and reach out to those who aren't able to physically visit. They have several online exhibitions full of digital copies of significant documents, illustrations, and photographs, as well as a podcast that features scholarly discussions and oral histories.

They have several online exhibitions full of digital copies of significant documents, illustrations, and photographs, as well as a podcast that features scholarly discussions and oral histories.

The venue hosts many public programs, where guest speakers discuss the history, culture, and current events of Brooklyn from a number of diverse perspectives. Researchers looking to dive deeper into first-hand resources can visit the Othmer Library. If you have any artifacts, papers, or works of art that you think might be of interest to the society, consider donating them to the collection. You can also help fund BHS's efforts by making a monetary gift online.

Next up, at #4, is Cambridge Historical Society. With a humanities-focused approach, CHS tackles contemporary issues through conversation and encourages visitors to look beyond their own point of view and consider new perspectives. When putting together events, the society partners not only with historians, but with artists and activists as well. This results in a wide range of programming that is both educational and interesting, covering topics that are important to Cambridge citizens.

Researchers who are interested in learning about how people lived during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and more can look through the many collections housed in the CHS archives. Comprehensive finding aids are available online, so you can save time and effort by knowing what materials are available, and where they're located, before you go. If you want to give back, consider making a tax-deductible donation.

Researchers who are interested in learning about how people lived during the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, and more can look through the many collections housed in the CHS archives.

For #5, we get Monmouth County Historical Association, a multi-faceted organization that includes a museum, a research library and archives, and five historic houses. At Allen House, visitors can explore the Tavern Museum, and learn about the bustling business that existed on the site for decades during the 18th century. Marlpit Hall presents a lesser-known side of the American Revolution, as it was owned by a Loyalist family during the war.

These various locations host a number of educational programs that bring the past to life for audiences of all ages. Teachers can arrange for classroom visits that delve into topics like the Battle of Monmouth and the culture of the Lenape, a Native American tribe that lived in the region. Of course, the organization has plenty of programming for adults as well, like the annual Tavernfest, which takes place at the Allen House and features a variety of spirits, live music, and a silent auction. You can support MCHA by becoming a member or making a donation.

Coming in at #6 is Georgia Historical Society, which was founded in 1839 with the mission to collect, examine, and teach state and national history through education and research. The city of Savannah is home to the group's headquarters as well as their research center, where visitors can peruse an enormous collection of manuscripts, photographs, maps, rare books, and more. GHS also installs and maintains historical markers throughout Georgia, which share stories of the past in an easily identifiable and understandable format.

GHS also installs and maintains historical markers throughout Georgia, which share stories of the past in an easily identifiable and understandable format.

Every year, the Georgia History Festival provides students with a variety of public programs, exhibits, and in-school events that encourage them to explore the richness and diversity of the state's past. The festival culminates in February, the founding month of the Georgia Colony, with a fair, parade, gala, and more. Those who appreciate these efforts can help out by buying something from the GHS shop.

At #7, we find Historic Huguenot Street in New Paltz, New York. At their ten-acre site, visitors can see seven historic stone-house museums, a reconstructed 1717 French Church, the Huguenot community's original burying ground, and a replica Esopus Munsee wigwam. The organization is dedicated to sharing the history not only of the French and Dutch settlers who came to the area, but also of the Native and enslaved African people who had very different experiences and perspectives.

Those who visit between May and December can enjoy regular guided tours of the grounds, where they can explore the interiors of houses and see period rooms and exhibits that tell the story of how the settlement evolved over time. Children can also sign up for Camp Huguenot, where they not only get to make crafts and play games, but also have the opportunity to work alongside real archaeologists and search for artifacts. You can keep these programs going by pitching in with either a one-time or recurring donation.

You can keep these programs going by pitching in with either a one-time or recurring donation.

Finally, at #8, we have New Hampshire Historical Society, an independent nonprofit that saves, preserves, and shares state history. Students in the area can take advantage of guided visits of the society's historic building, traveling programs that bring hands-on experiences into the classroom, and programs designed especially for homeschoolers. For adults, the organization hosts lectures by historians and authors and workshops about everything from genealogy to art.

If you have family in the area and want to learn more about them, the archives are a great place to do some research. The collection includes vital records, diaries, genealogical periodicals, and more. Those who want to explore the museum can do so easily by downloading a mobile app, which boasts a map, an audio tour, and activities for kids. If you want to get involved, consider becoming a member and gaining access to free admission, discounts on certain services, and the semi-annual publication "Historical New Hampshire."