Massachusetts State Documents Collection
The State Library of Massachusetts holds the most complete collection of Massachusetts state publications in existence, dating to the inception of the Library in 1826, with some earlier materials also available. The Library’s collection includes legislative, executive, and judicial documents, as well as publications from commissions, authorities, and other agencies of Massachusetts government. Library holdings can be found in our online catalog and digital repository.
Massachusetts City and Town Annual Reports
The State Library holds a large collection of annual reports of Massachusetts towns and cities dating back to the nineteenth century. The collection of town reports is mandated by the General Laws of Massachusetts chapter 40, sections 49 and 50. Although city reports are not covered under this statute, the Library maintains a historic collection of reports from many cities in the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts City and Town Directories and Voting Lists
This large collection dates from the first Boston directory of 1789 and covers most Massachusetts communities. The last Boston directory was published in 1981. Around this time directories for other Massachusetts cities and towns ceased to be published, supplanted by the telephone book as a listing for a town's residents, businesses, organizations, and services. Directories contain a list of persons, organized by last name, residing in a town or city. However, some directories (including "Blue Books") do have house guides, which contain listings by address and not individual.
Tax Valuation Records
A guide to tax valuations was compiled to aid researchers in the use of tax valuation materials in the State Library's collection. The Library has valuations that list individuals' names and property holdings as well as those with only aggregate measures. Many valuations include information on towns that are now part of Maine.
The guide contains a brief overview of the valuations' contents followed by a chronological listing of towns for which the Library holds information. For valuations available on microfilm, the microfilm box number is also included. Valuations are available on microfilm only up until 1811.
Vital Records to 1850
The Vital Records to 1850 series was compiled and published in the early 20th century for many municipalities in Massachusetts. These volumes include birth, marriage, and death information and are transcribed from town and church records, cemeteries, and private sources. The volumes are typically arranged by birth, marriage, and death, and alphabetically by family surname within each section.
Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
The Library’s real estate atlases and Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, both in hard copy and on microfilm, are among the most highly used items in the State Library's collections. Originally created for the fire insurance industry for risk assessment purposes, Sanborn maps contain highly detailed information on such building features as size and shape, construction details, roof type, occupancy, street addresses, and often date of construction. The maps in the collection date from the 1860s to roughly 1990.
Historical Newspaper Collections
The State Library has a large selection of historic newspapers covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. This collection primarily focuses on newspapers from Massachusetts.