An Index to Late 19th and 20th Century Massachusetts Newspaper Articles

Three cards from the Zimmer Index

In 1892 the Massachusetts legislature passed "An Act to Authorize the Preparation for the State Library of an Index of Current Events" (St. 1892, c.140). Commonly called the "Zimmer Index", it was intended to be a card index to "current events" which would be of use to Massachusetts legislators and to the public.

The main index generally covers the years 1878-1937, although there are selected entries for earlier and later dates. Entries include obituaries, coverage of political events, speeches, dedications, visits of foreign dignitaries and general news events. The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Journal, and Boston Transcript were indexed most consistently, although there are entries for other newspapers as well. A later index, covering the years 1960 to 1983, includes articles from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald which are primarily political or governmental in nature.

In 2006, the nearly 200,000 cards in this index were digitized, with the subject line of each card transcribed so that the cards could be searched and retrieved electronically. This project is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

Search or Browse the Index

Guide to Interpreting Information on the Zimmer Index Cards


This information is provided by The State Library of Massachusetts.