A Division of William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Our Common Wealth

The Massachusetts Experiment in Democracy: 1620–Today

Treasures Gallery & Documents

The collections of the Massachusetts Archives document the history of Massachusetts, from its colonial beginnings to the present day. Included among these collections are some of our nation’s most important historical treasures, foundation documents of both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the new United States.

The permanent exhibition of such rare manuscripts requires advanced encasement technology that protects and preserves them, and the encasement units for the foundation documents of Massachusetts on view at the Commonwealth Museum provide a new standard for document display. Technical foundations and practical insight for these encasements was provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), creators and fabricators of the encasements used for the “Charters of Freedom” on display in the rotunda of the National Archives. The innovative new case design, as well as a state-of-the-art, multi-layered seal system was created by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. MIT also provided direction and oversight of the precision fabrication, assembly, testing and monitoring of the encasement units.

Watch a slide show of the encasement process.