State Library's DSpace Digital Repository

The State Library's digital repository helps researchers find both historic and current digitized materials relating to Massachusetts.

New items added daily so there is always something new to discover

Table of Contents

What is the State Library's DSpace Digital Repository?

Our DSpace digital repository is an online collection of items that is completely free and open to all users. These items include thousands of Massachusetts state government reports, legislative materials, maps, photographs, and other historical or cultural materials that either have been digitized by the State Library or other institutions or were “born digital,” meaning that they were published electronically originally and not in print. 

Technically, DSpace is the name of the open source software we use for the State Library’s digital repository’s platform. This page will identify some of our most popular collections and help explain how they are organized in DSpace.  

History of DSpace at the State Library

The State Library's DSpace Digital Repository, often referred to simply as "DSpace," by State Library staff was developed to address long-term access and preservation of electronic documents. By the late 1990s, government documents were increasingly being published electronically rather than in print, and the librarians at the State Library began to plan how they could save, store, and provide access to this new digital format. Also at this time, the Library began to digitize its own materials, starting with historic manuscript collections and finding aids in the Special Collections Department.

By 2002, the State Library knew that its growing collection of digitized and born-digital material required an electronic repository and decided to use DSpace, an open-source digital asset management system developed by MIT and Hewlett-Packard. Funding from the Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD), today the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS), enabled the State Library to hire a consultant to help implement the software and purchase the necessary equipment.

Since DSpace was formally introduced in 2009, materials such as the Acts and Resolves, Bills and Legislative Documents, House and Senate Journals, city and town reports, annual reports from different state departments and agencies, and photograph collections have been downloaded millions of times by patrons around the world. 

Massachusetts Acts and Resolves

The largest and most significant collection in DSpace is the Massachusetts Acts and Resolves, the first collection that you see on the DSpace homepage. Also known as "Session Laws," this collection includes the laws that were passed every year by the Massachusetts General Court from 1692 to 2010 (the last bound official volume that has been published). 

For Acts and Resolves passed after 2010, you can visit the General Court's website to view the unofficial versions.

Additional Resources

Legislative Document Series and House and Senate Journals

In addition to the Acts and Resolves, the State Library has also digitized the bound volumes of the Massachusetts Legislative Documents series, which includes the bills filed in both the Senate and House of Representatives of the Massachusetts General Court. While bills make up the vast majority of the Legislative Documents, this collection also includes legislative reports and other documents filed with the Legislature.

This collection also includes the Massachusetts House and Senate Journals, which act as a procedural record of the Legislature during each session. These Journals were digitized by the State Library from the official print versions in our collections

Bills from the 186th Session of the General Court (2009-2010) and later can be found on the Massachusetts General Court's website.

Additional Resources

How Do I Search All of These Collections?

With all of these items available online, how do you find them? Don’t worry - it’s easy! Both the Acts and Resolves and the Legislative Documents collections are organized by year for ease of research. You can search the acts or bills by keyword, or you can narrow your search within a year for a specific chapter or bill number.

It is best to search chapter numbers and bill numbers using a four-digit format. For example, if you would like to see Chapter 456 of the Acts and Resolves of 1953, you would select the link for “Acts & Resolves,” then “1953,” and then search “0456.”

DSpace Search Image

What Else Can I Find in DSpace?

There is much more in DSpace than the bills and acts! The other documents collections are organized hierarchically by state agency in what are referred to in DSpace as "communities" and "sub-communities," meaning that a department that is organized under a larger department or top-level agency will be listed under that larger agency’s name.

For example, if you would like to see documents published by the Division of State Parks and Recreation, you could scroll down the list of collections on the DSpace home page and select Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Then you would select Department of Conservation and Recreation, and then select Division of State Parks and Recreation. From there, you can see different reports, newsletters, and other publications published by that agency.

You can also search “Division of State Parks and Recreation” [use quotation marks to search exact phrases] in the search box to find relevant collections and publications.

Parks and Recreation Search Image

Government agencies publish many types of documents, including reports, newsletters, advisories, press releases, meeting minutes, and more. Significant Massachusetts documents collections in DSpace include annual reports published by individual state government departments, the Governor’s Press Releases, the official reports of the State Auditor, the Massachusetts Register, and the Public Document Series.

Additional Resources

Other State Library Collections in DSpace

DSpace also includes digitized items from the State Library’s Special Collections Department, including finding aids for Massachusetts state legislator’s papers and manuscript collections, as well as maps, broadsides, photographs, and more. Notably, you can view the entire Bradford manuscript, also known as Of Plimoth Plantation, online or search for portraits of Massachusetts World War I soldiers who served in the 26th “Yankee” Division.

Plimoth Plantation Image

Additional Resources

More Searching Tips

If you don’t know which department is under which, don’t worry! Remember, DSpace is keyword searchable, so you can type the name of the state agency you want to see in the search bar and find relevant documents that way. In addition to easy keyword searching, you can also browse DSpace by issue date, author, title, or subject heading. For more specific searches, you can use quotation marks in the keyword search boxes to search for a specific title, agency, or phrase.

You can also search our online catalog for different reports and publications if you prefer, as these documents are all cataloged there as well. Once you have located the document or material you are interested in, simply click the "view online" link in the catalog record to go directly to the item in DSpace!

The State Library has been working diligently to make all of these documents available online. As new collections develop and as the collections in DSpace grow, more documents are being added to this digital repository on a daily basis. If you have items to add please let us know.

We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about accessing or using DSpace and its many collections and documents. Feel free to Chat with usfill out our Online Formemail your questions to the Reference Department, or call us as 617-727-2590.



Main Library (617) 727-2590

Open M-F 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

Special Collections Department (617) 727-2595

Open M-F 9 a.m.–5 p.m. *Advance appointments are strongly recommended


(617) 727-9730


Main Library
Massachusetts State House
Room 341
Boston, MA 02133
Special Collections Department
Massachusetts State House
Room 55
Boston, MA 02133

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