Massachusetts Local Documents Collections in the State Library

Includes information about Massachusetts town and city reports, as well as other related items.

Overview

The State Library holds a large collection of annual reports of Massachusetts towns and cities as well as town and county histories. The State Library's Special Collections Department has city and town directories for many municipalities in the Commonwealth, 18th and 19th century tax valuation records, and a sizeable collection of atlases.

 

Massachusetts Town and City 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 Massachusetts General Laws 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.

 

Additional Resources for Massachusetts Town and City Reports

Massachusetts City 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. City Directories and Voting Lists are found in the State Library's Special Collections.

 

Additional Resources for Massachusetts City Directories and Voting Lists

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.

All of the valuations and corresponding microfilm can be consulted in the State Library's Special Collections Department.

Additional Resources for Tax Valuation Records

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. Many, but not all, of the volumes have been digitized. 

Additional Resources for Vital Records to 1850

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