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Massachusetts Research Guide

Introduction to Massachusetts Research

This is a genealogical guide to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its state-level records. You will find help with state vital records, histories, church archives, newspaper collections, genealogical libraries, understanding the court system, military records, and immigration and naturalization records.

Get Started with These Resources

* Birth Records * Census Records
* Marriage * Probate
* Death * Military Records
* Church Records * Migration
* Land and Property * Local Resources

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Biographies and Family Histories


Newspapers were first published in Massachusetts in 1690. The Commonwealth has a rich history documented within these pages. Most all libraries have copies of their local newspapers and research / university libraries include more. There are two libraries whose collection rivals all others:

  • American Antiquarian Society, Worcester (see details below under Libraries), collects all things in print before 1876. They hold the largest single collection of original newspapers in the country.
  • Boston Public Library, Boston (see details below under Libraries), is the repository for Massachusetts part of the national effort to microfilm all known existing copies of newspapers called the Massachusetts Newspaper Program. For their holdings, see the online guide for newspapers.

Massachusetts History and Geography

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts entered the Union on February 6, 1788, as the sixth state. It is governed under its original constitution, which was adopted in 1780. Boston (also known as "The Hub" and "Beantown") became the capitol city of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1632. It has served as the state capitol since 1780. For more information about the history of Massachusetts, see the Massachusetts History article.

Massachusetts is currently comprised of the following counties:

Click on a county in the map below to go to that county's page. Hover over a county to see its name. To see a larger version of the map, click here.
Berkshire CountyHampden CountyHampshire CountyFranklin CountyWorcester CountyMiddlesex CountyEssex CountySuffolk CountyNorfolk CountyBristol CountyPlymouth CountyBarnstable CountyDukes CountyNantucket CountyMassachusetts-county-map.gif

The following jurisdictions are now obsolete:

Research Tools and Resources

Training and Help

Help Wanted on the Massachusetts Wiki pages


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  • Expand county articles
  • Check links on pages
  • ...and more

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