“A disagreeable book but as a specimen of color printing by M. Gautier d’Agoty is very fine—is only to the catalogue. The print of the Turtle is a fine print. L. N. Marrs. May 1913 belongs in coll of Color Prints in Boston.”

— Manuscript note in the hand of Laura Norcross Marrs (Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs)

Laura Norcross (Mrs. Kingsmill Marrs)

Laura Norcross was born in 1845, the daughter of a prominent Boston family whose roots in Massachusetts extended back to 1636. In December of 1896, Laura married William Dana Kingsmill Marrs—a first marriage for both.

From 1896 until 1905, the pair divided their time between “South Park,” their home in Saxonville, Mass. and “Maitland Cottage,” in Maitland, FL. After 1905, the couple went abroad to Europe and Egypt, where they devoted their time to travel and the collection of books and European prints and artwork.

In May 1919, Laura gave their library, gathered during their life together, to the MHS in memory of her husband who had died in 1912. The Marrs Library is one of several Special Libraries within at the MHS, which often consist of memorial collections of books given all at one time and kept together as a unit. The Marrs Library comprises almost 1,000 titles including Gautier DAgoty’s Observations sur L’Histoire Naturelle, sur la Physique et sur la Peinture, which includes the turtle illustration Laura singled out as “very fine.”

Robert Lee Keeling painted the circa 1916 miniature portrait of Laura depicted above. View the portrait up close here.

MHS News

National History Day (NHD) Competition Season is in Full Swing

NHD, now in its 50th year, is the culmination of a year-long competition where students conduct original research on a historical topic of interest and present their work as a documentary film, website, performance, paper, or exhibit. This year’s theme is “Turning Points in History.” Following three regional competitions, hundreds of students from across the Commonwealth have advanced to the state competition. We need judges to help select the state winners on April 6, in Winchester, Mass. No experience is needed. Learn more and register here

Upcoming Events


Thursday, 28 March | 5:00 PM


“The Permanent Prize for Nerve”: Examining Women’s Postwar Battles with the US Veteran’s Bureau

Micah Khater, University of California, Berkeley, with comment by Cheryl Hicks, University of Delaware.


Monday, 1 April | 6:00 PM

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner

Natalie Dykstra, in conversation with Catherine Allgor, MHS President.

In-person event is sold out, please join us online.

Register to attend online.


Tuesday, 2 April | 5:00 PM

A Renegades’ History of the Revolutionary Frontier: Contesting Race & Nation on the Borderlands of the New United States

John William Nelson, Texas Tech University, with comment by Robert G. Parkinson, Binghamton University.

Register to attend online.

Wednesday, 10 April, 6:00 PM: Italian Influence on Boston's Culture, Economy & Politics with Lawrence DiCara, civic leader, and James Pasto, historian. This is a program.

Thursday, 11 April, 5:00 PM: Reconstructing the Artisan Labor Economy in Post-Emancipation South Carolina with Anne E. Keith, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with comment by Hilary Green, Davidson College. This is a seminar.

Thursday, 2 May, 5:00 PM: Telling the Untold Stories for Children: Biographies for Kids & Why They Matter with three children’s authors: Heather Lang, Ray Anthony Shepard, and Mia Wenjen, moderated by Julie Dobrow, Tufts University. This is a seminar.

Monday, 6 May, 6:00 PM: Democracy Awakening: A Conversation with Heather Cox Richardson with Heather Cox Richardson, in conversation with Catherine Allgor, MHS President. MHS Members receive priority registration through 15 April. This is a program.

Monday, 7 May, 5:00 PM: Taverns, Entrepreneurial Networking, Self-Improvement & Urban Tendencies in the Early Republican Northeast with Kirsten E. Wood, Florida International University, with comment by Richard D. Brown, University of Connecticut. This is a seminar.

Friday, 10 May, 2:00 PM: The Adams Papers: Leaving a Legacy with Sara Martin, Editor in Chief, The Adams Papers. This is a special Visionary Circle Member event.

See full calendar.


MHS Members and Fellows are invited to join us for a week of programs, events, and perks. Explore the Member Week calendar here. Not yet a Member? Learn more and join today at www.masshist.org/support/mhsfund.

Tuesday, 30 April, 3:30 PM: History Source Virtual Tour.

Tuesday, 30 April, 5:30 PM: Signed, Sealed, Delivered with Daniel Bottino, PhD Candidate, Rutgers University.

Wednesday, 1 May, 1:00 PM: Among the Adams Papers with Hobson Woodward, Series Editor, Adams Family Correspondence, The Adams Papers.

Thursday, 2 May, 1:00 PM: Treasures Tour with Peter Drummey, Chief Historian & Stephen T. Riley Librarian.

Friday, 3 May, 1:00 PM: Behind the Scenes of Conservation with Samantha Couture, Nora Saltonstall Conservator & Preservation Librarian.

Saturday, 4 May, 10:00 AM: Introduction to the Library.

Saturday, 4 May, 2:00 PM: Ye Olde Tavern Tour Sponsored by the Young Patrons of the MHS with Brooke Barbier, Public Historian.

Additional Perks & Priority Registration for Heather Cox Richardson

Between 29 April and 6 May, Members are invited to stop by the MHS to pick up a free book and other gifts to enjoy at home! Members receive priority registration through 15 April for Democracy Awakening: A Conversation with Heather Cox Richardson on 6 May.

Looking for More?

Registration and Events


Visit www.masshist.org/events for more information and to register.

Interested in Past Programs?


If you missed a program or would like to revisit the material presented, please visit www.masshist.org/video.

Click below to view the video, Wheatley in the 21st Century: A Reading & Book Launch, with Daniell Legros Georges, Artress Bethany White, Florence Ladd, and Janice Lowe. Enjoy more videos by subscribing to the MHS YouTube channel after you view the video.

An advance appointment is strongly encouraged. Please log in to your Portal1791 account to select your preferred visit dates.


Set up an appointment via Zoom or live chat with a member of our reference staff. 


Learn more at www.masshist.org/library.

2024 Making History Gala

Join us for an unforgettable evening on 6 June 2024, with featured speaker Doris Kearns Goodwin at the iconic Fairmont Copley Plaza in Boston. Visit www.masshist.org/gala to purchase tickets.  

The MHS Fund and Membership

Our Members make it possible for us to offer an array of complimentary services including admission to our exhibition galleries and library, online access to our collections and digital editions, and onsite and remote reference services for all. Membership begins with a fully tax-deductible contribution of $250 or more to the MHS Fund. All Members enjoy a full year of social, cultural, and educational experiences, including invitations to our annual Holiday Party, FREE program registration, and Member Week perks. Learn more and join today!
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