Adopted by the DHSM Board February 16, 2021

DHSM’s mission is to preserve and share the Town’s history and the stories of its people and places, across Dedham and beyond, and connect the past with the present.

To achieve this mission we . . .

  • Collect art, objects, documents, photographs, oral histories, and other materials that document
    the history of Dedham over time.
  • Develop interpretive exhibitions, programs, and publications that share these stories at our
    museum, in the community, and beyond.
  • Offer varied opportunities to learn about Dedham’s history, for audiences of all ages.
  • Support researchers pursuing a wide range of questions and topics.
  • Advocate for preservation of important buildings and other features of the built environment.

History of the Dedham Historical Society & Museum

The Dedham Historical Society was founded in 1859 by a group of citizens concerned that the town’s history not be forgotten. The DHS was incorporated for the “purposes of collecting and preserving such . . . records . . . and traditions as may tend to . . . perpetuate the history of New England and especially the town of Dedham.” In 2013, the Board of Directors voted to change the public name of the organization to the Dedham Historical Society & Museum (DHSM). The new name reflects the importance of the museum and outstanding collection, which includes one of the most important archives in New England.

The DHSM preserves, collects, protects, and shares materials from the past through to the present day, creating educational outreach and programming to make history relevant and engaging for all audiences. While the DHSM’s focus is on the history of Dedham, before and after settlement, the DHSM also celebrates the influence that the people of Dedham, events, and industry have had on the development and growth of the nation. 

While the DHSM also holds materials from some of the sixteen towns that were part of the original 200-mile land grant of 1635 (incorporated in 1636), from Bellingham and Plainville in the south to Natick and Wellesley in the northwest, because of space constraints at the DHSM many of the records of these other communities have been given to the individual towns through the years. When the DHSM began, Norwood and Westwood had not become separate towns, so the collections include many items from the “South Precinct” and the “Clapboardtrees Parish.”

The brick building at 612 High Street, Dedham, was built on the site of Dedham’s first post office, home of Jeremiah Shuttleworth. The property and a bequest for the construction were left to the Dedham Historical Society (as it was known at the time) by Hannah Shuttleworth, Jeremiah’s daughter and niece of Fisher and Nathaniel Ames. In 1888 the Shuttleworth house was moved to Bryant Street; it was razed in the 1970s due to becoming derelict. Architect Edwin J. Lewis designed the present two-story structure containing a lecture-display hall, basement storage area, and Society office. In 1965 a second exhibition room was added with more document storage space beneath, and the earlier basement was modernized to contain what is one of the most important archives in New England, and a historic and genealogical library.

About the Society

The Society works within the community to establish a greater sense of appreciation for its history and to connect the past with the present. The Dedham Historical Society & Museum is a charitable, educational institution, organized under Chapter 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is not a town department but is a private organization supported through membership and private donations. Though the current name was changed to Dedham Historical Society & Museum in 2013, for tax and registration purposes, the official name of the organization remains the Dedham Historical Society.

Please Help Support the DHSM

With the museum and archives temporarily closed due to the pandemic, we are unable to hold our regular fundraising events. We do not receive funds from the town and so rely on donations, membership, and matching gifts.  Thank you for contributing, becoming a member, or increasing your past donations. Your contribution is a critical means of supporting our important mission to preserve local history and in keeping history present. Please consider contributing to the DHSM. Thank you.

The Dedham Historical Society & Museum is a member of the following organizations:

  • North American Reciprocal Museums (NARM)
  • New England Museum Association
  • American Association of Museums
  • American Association for State and Local History

For more information about the Dedham Historical Society & Museum please call 781-326-1385 or email: society@dedhamhistorical.org


Board of Directors (click on names to access bios)

Joan Pagliuca, President

Stephen Brayton, Vice President
Rick Saul, Treasurer; Chair, Investment Committee
Andrea Gilmore, Clerk; Chair, Nominting Committee

Kate Brannelly
Cecilia Emery Butler
, Chair, Programs 
Karen Durham, Chair, Worthington Committee
Heidi Fieldston
, Chair, Website Committee
Dan Hart
, Chair, Building & Strategic Planning Committees
Carl Jay
James Kaufman
, Chair, Development, Collections, & Preservation Committees
Alexander (Sandy) Leith

Terry Phinney
Kevin Preston


Johanna McBrien, Executive Director
Janet Haugh, Membership Officer

Kathryn Ostrofsky, Archivist

Kevin Corey, Docent
Kathy Foster, Landscaping
Paul Grant, Maintenance
Sue Linahan, Bookkeeper
Steve Manning, Accountant


Staff Profile:
Johanna McBrien, Executive Director
Hear an interview for the September 2020 “I am Dedham” series with Ms. McBrien, who was interviewed by Margaret Matthews. 

Board Profile:
Jim Kaufman
Hear an conversation with Mr. Kaufman, who was interviewed by Joe Borsellino, Head of the Dedham Human Rights Commission.