Get access to historic adoption records

Find out which types of historic adoption records are available through the court archives and how to access them.

Judicial Archivist for the Supreme Judicial Court Archives

The Details of Get access to historic adoption records

What you need for Get access to historic adoption records

Many historic adoptions were never recorded legally. Children were frequently sent out of their families to live with other people, including relatives. Other children went to live with neighbors, but were never adopted as part of the family.

Some adoptions before 1852 were enacted through the General Court. The petition requesting the adoption and any accompanying legislative papers are available through the Massachusetts Archives.

Chapter 324, Acts of 1851, transferred responsibility for adoptions to the Probate & Family Court. Records after 1851 are either held by the Judicial Archives or are maintained in the courts. Several counties have transferred their 2nd series probate files off-site, including segregated adoption records, while records from the 1920s forward may still be in the court. The returns of name changes, and the List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts note when names were changed as a result of adoptions. 

How to get Get access to historic adoption records

Access to adoption records may be restricted, so you'll need to contact the Judicial Archives to get access. The best way to access adoption records is to call the Judicial Archivist, Elizabeth Bouvier, at (617) 557-1082. 

If you're looking for your own adoption records from 1926 through the present, please see Apply for a pre-adoption birth record for more information.

Access to adoption records may be restricted, so you'll need to contact the Judicial Archives to get access. The best way to access adoption records is to fill out and submit the Court Archives Information Request Form

If you're looking for your own adoption records from 1926 through the present, please see Apply for a pre-adoption birth record for more information.

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