History of the Dedham Historical Society & Museum

The Dedham Historical Society & Museum (DHSM) was founded in 1859 by a group of citizens concerned that the town’s history not be forgotten. The DHSM 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.” The DHSM preserves, collects, and protects materials relating to present-day Dedham. While the DHSM also holds materials from some of the sixteen towns that were part of the original 200-mile 1636 land grant, 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 Society by Hannah Shuttleworth, Jeremiah’s daughter and niece of Fisher and Nathaniel Ames. In 1888 the Shuttleworth house was moved. 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 an extensive historical and genealogical library. 

About the Society

The Society works within the community to establish a greater sense of appreciation for its history. 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 and receives no funds from local, state or federal government. It is completely supported through membership and private donations. In 2013 the Board of Directors voted to change the public name of the organization to the Dedham Historical Society & Museum. The new name reflects the importance of our museum and outstanding collection. The official name of the organization stays the same.

Please consider contributing to the Annual Appeal.

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

Joan Pagliuca, President
Stephen Brayton, Vice President
William Flanagan, Treasurer
Alexander Leith, Recording Secretary

Cecilia Emery Butler
Kate Cahill

Karen Durham
Heidi Fieldston
Andrea Gilmore
Dan Hart
Carl Jay
James Kaufman
Judy Neiswander
Terry Phinney
Kevin Preston
Rick Saul
Mark Whalen


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.