About Us

The Dorchester Historical Society celebrates four centuries of Dorchester life through its collections and programs. Dorchester was first settled by immigrants from the West Country of England in 1630. Their ship, the Mary and John, left Plymouth on March 20th and arrived off Nantasket in late May or early June. These hardy families made their way north along the shore in search of a suitable place to live and made their homes in Dorchester-the first settlement in the area, preceding even Boston. Ever since, new immigrants have found their way to Dorchester to become part of its history whether they have come from other parts of Boston or from foreign countries. The Dorchester Historical Society honors everyone's story.

The Society has a substantial volunteer infrastructure that maintains its activities and has done so for over a hundred years. It presents regular monthly programs and publishes monographs relating to Dorchester history. The Society owns and cares for three historic houses dating from 1661, 1765 and 1806. The Society has collections of written and printed materials relating to Dorchester history as well as collections of artwork and other objects that relate to Dorchester.

The purpose of the Dorchester Historical Society, founded in 1843 and incorporated in 1891, is to collect, preserve, and disseminate knowledge of the history of that section of the City of Boston which was formerly the Town of Dorchester; to hold, and aid in the preservation of, historic buildings and sites in the area; to care for, and from time to time, exhibit such articles of historic or antiquarian interest as may come into its possession.

For many years the Society has been actively interested in preserving the traditions and records of Dorchester and its people, from the earliest settlement in 1630 to the present time. The Society maintains three properties: the seventeenth-century Blake House, the eighteenth-century Captain Lemuel Clap House, and the early-nineteenth-century William Clapp House, which is also its headquarters.

Each year regular meetings of the members are held with programs of historical interest, including the Annual Meeting in May. New members and guests are always welcome. To support this voluntary work you are cordially invited to become a member of the Dorchester Historical Society. For more information, send email to our president, Earl Taylor.

In addition, the Society has generally been looked upon as the natural custodian and repository of material pertaining to Dorchester's past. Documents, records, pictures or other memorabilia relating to Dorchester which you may wish to entrust to its care are always appreciated. They will significantly benefit succeeding generations through a more accurate knowledge and better understanding of the lives and times of their predecessors - which is what any history is really all about.

For additional information about Dorchester's history - its people, its architecture, its businesses, its institutions - visit The Dorchester Atheneum.

If one of your ancestors ever lived in Dorchester from 1630 to yesterday, join the Dorchester Descendants project. 

Additional information