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.
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 . . .
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.”
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.
The Board of Dedham Museum & Archive adopted a new strategic plan in February 2021. The plan was created with a consultant and input from residents, volunteers, staff, and the Board. An implementation committee ensures the plan remains in action.
Jim Kaufman, President
Stephen Brayton, Vice President
Kevin Preston, Treasurer
Joan Pagliuca, Clerk
Sharna Small Borsellino
Karen Durham (Chair, Events
Heidi Fieldston (Chair,
Dan Hart (Chair, Building &
James Kaufman (Chair,
Development, Collections, &
Alexander (Sandy) Leith