Dedham Historical Society
& Museum
Has a New Name

The 163-year-old Dedham Historical Society & Museum (DHSM) has a new name. The Board of directors recently voted to change the organization’s name to the Dedham Museum & Archive (DM&A) to reflect the importance of both the museum collection of objects and the archival collection of historic documents, books, maps and other records. 

The decision is the result of more than a year of discovery that involved group discussions with community members from across Dedham, questionnaires in local press, social media, and our website, and through a recent member survey. While there was interest in maintaining the current name, the overwhelming response was to make the change to best reflect the organization’s holdings.

Board President Joan Pagliuca would like members to know that for anyone concerned about dropping the original name, that while the working name will be Dedham Museum & Archive, the legal name will continue to be the Dedham Historical Society, just as it has been since 1859. The “& Museum” portion of Dedham Historical Society & Museum, was only added in 2013.

The new name will be rolled out over the coming months with signage, brochures, new email addresses, and an updated website and url.

The history of Dedham is integral to the history of this country, and we want everyone to know about the incredible museum collections and archival materials—among the most important in New England—that we have in this historic building, and the new name will be an important part of spreading the news. 

The Dedham Museum & Archive opened briefly but will be closed into May for repainting; details to follow. Additionally, we will be sharing more information about our Strategic Plan and what we’re planning for 2022 and beyond. 

About Dedham Museum & Archive: The Dedham Museum & Archive 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 organization’s focus is on the history of the area that is Dedham, before and after settlement, the Dedham Museum & Archive also celebrates the influence that the people of Dedham, events, and industry have had on the development and growth of the nation. The organization’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.

Mission

Adopted by the Dedham Museum & Archive Board February 16, 2021

Dedham Museum & Archive’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.

The above mission replaces the historic mission, which states that the Dedham Historical Society (legal name) 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.” 

History of the Dedham Museum & Archive

The Dedham Historical Society (original and still legal name) was founded in 1859 by a group of citizens concerned that the town’s history not be forgotten. In 2013, the Board of Directors voted to change the public name of the organization to the Dedham Historical Society & Museum (DHSM). At the time, the change was intended to reflect the importance of the museum. In 2020, the DHSM hired a strategic planner and created a committee to analyze the organization from the inside out and write a new Strategic Plan, the first in two decades. The committee consisted of community members, staff, and the Board. Residents outside of the committee were also involved through a series of surveys in the local newspapers, social media, and through this website; members were also asked for their opinions. In February of 2021, the Board adopted the Strategic Plan. An Implementation Committee was created to see the plan is put into action for the next three to five years. Among the actions taken was a vote by the Board at the February 2022 meeting to change the name to Dedham Museum & Archive (DM&A).

 

The Dedham Museum & Archive 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 DM&A’s focus is on the history of the area that is Dedham, before and after settlement, the DM&A also celebrates the influence that the people of Dedham, events, and industry have had on the development and growth of the nation.

While the Dedham Museum & Archive 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 DM&A incorporated in 1859, 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 Dedham Museum & Archive

The DM&A works within the community to establish a greater sense of appreciation for its history and to connect the past with the present. The Dedham Museum & Archive 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, and to Dedham Museum & Archive in 2022, for tax and registration purposes, the official name of the organization remains the Dedham Historical Society.

Please Help Support the Dedham Museum & Archive

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 DM&A. Thank you.

The Dedham Museum & Archive 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 Museum & Archive, please call 781-326-1385 or email: society@dedhamhistorical.org

 

Board of Directors (click on names to access bios)

Officers
Joan Pagliuca, President

Stephen Brayton, Vice President
Kevin Preston, Treasurer

Directors
Sharna Small Borsellino
Karen Durham
, Chair, Events 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
Paul Munchbach
John Tocci

Staff

Johanna McBrien, Executive Director
society@dedhamhistorical.org
Janet Haugh, Membership Officer
info@dedhamhistorical.org

Nicole McAllister, Archivist
library@dedhamhistorical.org

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.