Massachusetts Archives and Libraries

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Beginning Research
Record Types
Massachusetts Background
Cultural Groups
Local Research Resources

These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Massachusetts.

● For additional information, see also Massachusetts Repositories

Wiki Articles on Major Repositories for Massachusetts[edit | edit source]

Allen County Public Library (Ft. Wayne IN) · American Antiquarian Society · Berkshire Athenaeum · Boston Massachusetts Family History Center · Boston Public Library · Dedham Historical Society Library · Harvard University Houghton Library  · Haverhill Public Library · Jones Library · Massachusetts Historical Society Library · Massachusetts State Archives · National Archives at Boston · New England Historic Genealogical Society · New York Public Library NY · Onondaga Historical Association Library (Syracuse NY) · Peabody Essex Museum · Pittsfield Federal Records Center · Plymouth Public Library · Registry of Vital Records and Statistics · Springfield History Library and Archives · State Library of Massachusetts · University of Massachusetts Amherst Library · Vermont Historical Society Leahy Library (Barre VT) · Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, OH)

Online Records of Massacusetts[edit | edit source]

Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.

American Antiquarian Society in Worcester

National Repositories[edit | edit source]

American Antiquarian Society[edit | edit source]

185 Salisbury Street
Worcester, Massachusetts 01609-1634
Telephone: 508-755-5221
Fax: 508-753-3311
Website: American Antiquarian Society

The AAS is best known for its U.S. newspaper collection of over 18,000 bound volumes 1704-1820, history, genealogy, Bibles, maps, biography, directories, Native Americans, women, canals, railroads, photos, manuscripts.[1]

National Archives at Boston[edit | edit source]

National Archives at Boston (in Waltham)
380 Trapelo Road
Waltham, MA 02452-6399
Phone: (781) 663-0130
Fax: (781) 663-0154
Website: National Archives at Boston
Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont documents, photos, and maps of 80 federal agencies, War of 1812, fortifications, coastal facilities, World War II research at Harvard and MIT, federal bankruptcy courts, First Circuit Court of Appeals, Navy, Coast Guard, westward expansion, ethnology, genealogy, Revolutionary War, Civil War, captured German records, territorial papers, censuses, passenger arrival records for Boston and New England, Canadian border crossings.[2]

Pittsfield Federal Records Center[edit | edit source]

10 Conte Drive
Pittsfield, MA 01201-8230
Telephone: 413-236-3603
Fax: 413-236-3609
Website: Pittsfield Federal Records Center

The Pittsfield Center has CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT federal government agency and court documents. Their large genealogy microfilm collection has been transferred to the Berkshire Athenaeum  listed below.[3]
NEHGS 101 Newbury St in Boston

New England Historic Genealogical Society[edit | edit source]

101 Newbury Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116-3007
Telephone:  617-536-5740; Library 617-226-1231
Fax:  617-536-7307

Best overall collection for New England vital records and probates, and excellent collection for Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and Europe. The manuscript collection for members only has diaries, letters, account books, business papers, church and town records, sermons, maps, wills, deeds, unpublished town and family genealogies, photos, and papers of the region's best genealogists since 1850.[4]

Statewide Repositories[edit | edit source]

Massachusetts Historical Society Library[edit | edit source]

Massachusetts Historical Soc Library in Boston

1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215-3695
Telephone: 617-536-1608
Fax: 617-859-0074
E-mail: Contact Us
Website: Massachusetts Historical Society

Excellent historical materials, original town records, newspapers and genealogies. This collection does not repeat the New England Historic Genealogical Society collection.[5]

Massachusetts State Archives[edit | edit source]

Massachusetts State Archives in Boston

220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
Phone: (617) 727–2816
Website: Massachusetts Archives Division

Government records, censuses, military records, land records, naturalizations, divorces, probate, name changes, and adoptions. Only 18 of the 328 volumes of the excellent Massachusetts Archives Collection, aka Felt Collection, of 1629-1799 history are indexed online. The Archives' online searchable collections include:

FamilySearch Catalog

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics[edit | edit source]

150 Mount Vernon Street, 1st Floor
Dorchester, MA 02125
Telephone: 617-740-2600 for general information, but not to obtain certified copies
E-mail: for general information, but not to obtain certified copies
Website: Registry of Vital Records

The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics maintains birth, marriage, and death records that occurred in Massachusetts from 1926 to the present. Vital record events have been registered in Massachusetts towns since 1635. Earlier records to at least 1840 are available at the city or town where the event occurred.[6] Statewide collection began in 1841. Records for events that occurred from 1841-1925 are available at the Massachusetts State Archives.The Registry also maintains an index of divorces from 1952 to the present. Copies of Massachusetts divorce records are available from the probate court where the divorce was obtained.[7]
At the Registry Research Room you can use their birth, marriage, death and divorce indexes, and examine their vital records, and make extracts. Also, researchers (I.D. is required) may order certified copies of vital records:
  • in person at the Registry
  • by mail using their mail order form (pdf)
  • for an additional fee by telephone, by fax, or online through the Internet via the private company VitalChek Massachusetts.

State Library of Massachusetts[edit | edit source]

State Library of Massachusetts in Boston

State House, Room 341
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 727–2590
Fax: (617) 727–5819
Website: State Library of Massachusetts

Published books, periodicals, state and town histories, government publications, city directories, maps, tax records, newspapers and indexes.[5]

Regional Repositories[edit | edit source]

Berkshire Athenaeum[edit | edit source]

Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield

1 Wendell Ave
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Telephone: 413-499-9480
Fax: 413-499-9489
Website: Berkshire Athenaeum Pittsfield Public Library

Best genealogical respository in western Massachusetts, including newspapers, books, and family histories. Now includes the former Pittsfield Federal Records Center's 71,000 microfilms of censuses, Revolutionary War pension and bounty land warrants, service records 1784-1901, Mexican War, Civil War, World War I, New England naturalizations, 1791-1966, passenger arrivals at Boston, New York, Philadelphia and east coast ports, Canadian border crossings, Indian enrollment cards, Russian Consular records, Barbour Collection for Connecticut, and Vermont vital records index.[3] [1] [8]

Boston Massachusetts Family History Center[edit | edit source]

150 Brown Street
Weston, Massachusetts 02493-2604
Telephone: 781-235-2164
Website: Boston Massachusetts Family History Center

The largest Family History Center in New England. They have published town and county histories of New England, social histories, vital records, family histories, and major indexes.[1]

Boston Public Library[edit | edit source]

Boston Public Library

700 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 536–5400
Fax: (617) 536–4306
Website: Boston Public Library

Their collection includes New England newspapers, city directores, town records, county and local histories, and genealogies.[5]

Dedham Historical Society Library[edit | edit source]

612 High Street
Dedham, MA 02027-0125
Telephone: 781-326-1385
Website: Dedham Historical Society

Great collection of manuscripts including deeds, vital and town records from the 15 towns created from old Dedham (south of Boston).[5]

Harvard Univ Houghton Library in Cambridge

Harvard University Houghton Library[edit | edit source]

15 Quincy St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telephone: 617-495-2440
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Houghton Library

Manuscripts and rare books from many nations, but especially New England, Britain and Europe, historical archives of publishing history, political and missionary archives, paintings and artifacts. Largest volume of primary historical documents.[5]

Haverhill Public Library

Haverhill Public Library[edit | edit source]

99 Main Street
Haverhill, MA 01830
Telephone: 978-373-1586
Website: Haverhill Public Library Special Collections

One of New England's largest collections of original manuscripts, books, genealogical periodicals, and surname folders, local history collection, genealogy databases, Massachusetts vital records to 1910, federal and state censuses, 9,000 New England town and family histories.[1] [9]

Jones Library[edit | edit source]

Jones Library in Amherst

43 Amity Street
Amherst, MA 01002
Telephone: 413-259-3090
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Jones Library

The Boltwood Collection includes 20,000 documents, genealogies, family folders, genealogy periodicals, newspapers, and local histories with an emphasis on Amherst and the Pioneer Valley.[1] [10]

Peabody Essex Museum[edit | edit source]

Peabody Essex Museum Phillips Library

Phillips Library
1 Second Street (temporarily)
Peabody, MA USA
Telephone: 978-745-9500, or 866-745-1876
For the Hearing Impaired: 978-740-3649
Website: Peabody Essex Museum

Essex County books, manuscripts, and government records such as probate records, customs records, and maritime records. Can often help find trans-Atlantic ship logs, and ship images.

Plymouth Public Library[edit | edit source]

132 South Street
Plymouth, MA 02360
Telephone: 508-830-4250
E-mail: Contact Us
Website: Plymouth Public Library

Almost all published histories and genealogies of early Massachusetts settlers are here.[1]

Springfield History Library and Archives[edit | edit source]

(formerly Connecticut Valley Historical Museum Library)
21 Edwards Street
Springfield, Massachusetts 01103
Telephone: 800-625-7738
Website: Springfield History Library and Archives

Can help identify Massachusetts emigrants headed west using vital records, land records, and probate records from many New England towns. They also have French Canadian records, the Loiselle Index, New York passenger arrivals, computer databases, over 20,000 genealogy books, 6,000 microforms, 50,000 photos and 2.5 million manuscripts including diaries, and account books.[1] [11]
UMass Amherst Library

University of Massachusetts Amherst Library[edit | edit source]

154 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003
Telephone: 413-545-0284
Website: UMass Amherst Libraries, and their Online Guide to Genealogy

Very large set of biographies, genealogies, and never-published histories, and church, business, fraternal, insurance, and manufacturing records. They also have the Massachusetts Archives Collection  microfilms, Franklin, Hampshire, and Suffolk counties' probate records, especially Connecticut River Valley towns.[1]

Outside of Massachusetts Repositories[edit | edit source]

Allen Co Public Library IN

Allen County Public Library[edit | edit source]

900 Library Plaza
Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Telephone: 260-421-1225
Website: Genealogy Center ACPL

This is the second-largest genealogy collection in the United States[12] and the largest genealogy collection in a public library. Its holdings include more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items on microfilm and microfiche.[13] It has a premier genealogical periodical collection, local histories, genealogies, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic sources, and Canadians. They have a great eastern seaboard and Massachusetts collection.[14]

New York Public Library[edit | edit source]

New York Public Library in Manhattan

U.S. History, Local History & Genealogy
Irma and Paul Milstein Division
First Floor, Room 121
Schwarzman Main Branch
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, New York 10018-2788
Telephone: 212-930-0828
Website: NYPL home page

The Genealogy Division has an outstanding collection of American history at national, state and local levels; international genealogy and heraldry in Roman alphabets; Dorot Jewish collection; manuscripts, photos; New York censuses, directories, vital records, Revolutionary War soldiers, Irish in America, and Massachusetts records.[15]

Onondaga Historical Association Library[edit | edit source]

321 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, New York 13202
Fax: 315-471-2133
E-mail: Contact Us
Website: Onondaga Historical Association Collections and Archives

10,000 family folders for northeastern families, including many from Massachusetts.[1]

Vermont Historical Society Leahy Library[edit | edit source]

VT Historical Soc Leahy Library in Barre VT

Vermont History Center
60 Washington Street
Barre, Vermont 05641-4209
Telephone: 802-479-8509
Fax: 802-479-8510
Website: Vermont Historical Society Leahy Library

Their collection includes a comprehensive name index of Massachusetts people, strong collection of family and town histories of New England, vital records, cemetery transcripts, genealogical periodicals, manuscripts, maps, and photos.[1][16]

Western Reserve Historical Society[edit | edit source]

Western Reserve Hist Soc in Cleveland OH

10825 East Boulevard
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-1788
Telephone: 216-721-5722 x1509
Fax: 216-721-0645
Website: Family History and Genealogical Research

The Western Reserve was a large part of Ohio at first intended for settlement by Connecticut Revolutionary War refugees. The Research Library at the Western Reserve Historical Society History Center  is the premier repository for Cleveland, Ohio and the Connecticut Western Reserve  history material. This important collection includes original land records, as well as many genealogies, biographies, histories, and Bibles from Pennsylvania, New York, and New England.[17] Includes over 20 million manuscripts for genealogical research and northeast Ohio history. They have the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of Shaker materials. Other important collections include the American Civil War, and the automotive industry.[18]
  • Kermit J. Pike, A Guide to the Manuscripts and Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society (Cleveland, Ohio: Western Reserve Historical Society, 1972). WorldCat 483574; FHL Book 977.1 A3p.
  • Western Reserve Historical Society. History Library. Card Catalog to the Manuscripts Collection in the Library of the Western Reserve Historical Society (Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1974). WorldCat 865891564; FHL Films 934566-69; 934617-18.

Family History Centers[edit | edit source]

Some of the above collections are partially duplicated at the Family History Library and its branch Family History Centers around the world. Most centers can help you by:

  • Giving you limited, personal, one-on-one research suggestions (but they do not do research for you)
  • Providing access to genealogical records through the premium online Internet FHC Portal for free.
  • Offering free how-to classes (varies by location)
  • Fostering contact between genealogical enthusiasts

There are several centers located in Massachusetts, for example:

Franklin Massachusetts Family History Center
91 Jordan Rd
Franklin MA 02038 USA
Telephone: 508-553-0977.
Each center is staffed by volunteers and has varying hours and services. Telephone in advance to verify their hours.

To locate one of these 4,500 centers in your own neighborhood, see Find a Family History Center.

For Further Reading[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Dollarhide and Bremer, 59.
  2. William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 124. WorldCat 39493985. FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Genealogy Resources in Berkshire Athenaeum (accessed 14 November 2013).
  4. Dollarhide and Bremer, 5, 57, and 59.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Dollarhide and Bremer, 57.
  6. Obtaining Certified Copies of Vital Records in (accessed 2 May 2017).
  7. Genealogical Research in (accessed 2 May 2017).
  8. Dollarhide and Bremer, 124-25.
  9. Genealogy Resources in Haverhill Public Library (accessed 14 November 2013).
  10. Collections and Finding Aids in Jones Library - Special Collections (accessed 14 November 2013).
  11. Springfield History Library and Archives in Springfield Museums (accessed 14 November 2013).
  12. Allen County Public Library in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 April 2010).
  13. Genealogy Center in Allen County Public Library (accessed 28 April 2010).
  14. Genealogy Center Collections in Genealogy Center (accessed 27 February 2015).
  15. Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
  16. Genealogy Research at the Vermont Historical Society in Vermont Historical Society (accessed 14 November 2013).
  17. Dollarhide and Bremer, 89.
  18. Significant Collections in Western Reserve Historical Society (accessed 27 February 2015).