The Adams Papers Editorial Project is an ongoing project by historians and documentary editors at Massachusetts Historical Society to organize, transcribe, and publish a wide range of manuscripts, diaries, letterbooks and politically and culturally important letters authored by and received by the family of Founding Father John Adams, his wife Abigail Adams and their family, including John Quincy Adams.[1] Over 27,000 records have been catalogued to date. Administrators of the database also track the location and content of Adams related materials at other scholarly institutions.[2] By virtue of its collaborative nature, the project simultaneously sheds light on the lives of John Adams’ fellow Founding Fathers George Washington, John Jay, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton.


The project was originally begun in 1954 by historian Lyman H. Butterfield and hailed by President John F. Kennedy, "This formidable record of a formidable family deserves the kind of great editorial support it is now receiving".[3] Butterfield introduced a system of transcription, annotation and collation methods for the archive informed by his experience at The Papers of Thomas Jefferson.[4] Since that time, more than 50 volumes have been published by Harvard University Press. The collection has been organized as a series. Series I includes transcriptions of the diaries of John Adams, John Quincy Adams and others. Series II is a compilation of personal Adams Family correspondence exchanged between 1761 and 1798. Series III includes papers and legal instruments dated 1755 through 1785. Series IV is a record of visual documentation of John and Abigail Adams, and of John Quincy Adams and his wife Louisa, from paintings to engravings. Items range in date from 1639 to 1889.

The Adams Papers Digital Edition is available via the Massachusetts Historical Society's website. It has also been published online as part of UVA's searchable Rotunda project and America's Founding Era collection [5]


Primary funders of the Adams Papers currently include the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities,[6] and the Packard Humanities Institute.

See also


  1. ^ Sara Georgini. "John Quincy Adams Kept a Diary and Didn't Skimp on the Details". Smithsonian. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  2. ^ "Members-Sara Georgini". The Junto - A Group Blog on Early American History. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  3. ^ Dena Kleiman. "LYMAN H. BUTTERFIELD, EDITOR OF THE ADAMS PAPERS". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Sara Georgini. "Making the Adams Papers". The Junto - A Group Blog on Early American History. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  5. ^ "The University of Virginia Press - Rotunda". University of Virginia. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  6. ^ John Fea. "National Endowment for the Humanities Announces New Grants". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved January 13, 2018.