The Society's own records from 1812 through 1959 are open for research use. In addition to documenting the workings of the Society itself, the AAS archives are useful to scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth- century American life, particularly those examining such topics as the rise of learned institutions, the growth of research collections and patterns of collecting, bibliography, philanthropy, ethnology, archaeology, specific Society members, and United States, Massachusetts, and Worcester history.
Since its founding, the Society has actively contributed to the understanding of this country's history by its commitment to accumulating, preserving, and disseminating information about the United States, and by aiding scholarly research in its collections. The Society's history mirrors that of the United States; AAS grew and became a more professional organization, reflecting the intellectual changes taking place in this country.
The records of the Society are organized in series according to function, and within series they are arranged in chronological order. Correspondence is arranged chronologically by decade, and, within each decade, is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. A card index in the manuscripts room provides some subject access to correspondence written between 1920 and 1970. In addition to correspondence, the AAS archives contain meeting minutes of the Council of the Society, financial records, accession records, library catalogs, publications, and visitors' registers. A detailed finding aid is available. The use of post-1959 materials is subject to restrictions. See the Policy on Access to the AAS Archives. Researchers interested in post-1959 records should consult with the curator of manuscripts.