Massachusetts Archives, Societies & Publications

It is a good idea to familiarize personally with just about any repository in Massachusetts that you simply might travel to by communicating with to the best suited archive or library in advance.

Most, if not all, Massachusetts repositories have written and published content that present its collections as well as research policy.

Massachusetts archives and historical organizations usually have On-line sites that provide equivalent details. Several also contain down loadable data for some or parts of their collections.

List of Massachusetts Archives

  • National Archives – North East Region, Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center, 380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Massachusetts, 02452-6399; Phone: (781) 663-0130; Fax: (781) 663-0154; E-mail: . Serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
  • Commonwealth Museum and State Archives Building, 220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125; (617) 727-2816, fax 288-8429; As the Massachusetts State Archives, the repository holds all state copies of vital records (1841-95); passenger lists for the Port of Boston (1848-91); federal census records (state copies, 1850-70, with 1880 on microfilm) with all supplemental federal schedules and state censuses for 1855 and 1865; legislative records from the General Court with land grants, petitions, tax records (1643-1787); Eastern land records for the settlement of Maine; human service institution records,; all military records for the state through the Revolution; records of human services institutions; and Judicial Archives beginning with colony era courts to mid-nineteenth century courts.

List of Massachusetts Libraries & Museums

  • Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01202; The Cooke Collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century church and cemetery records here also includes abstracts of newspaper notices of marriages and deaths; the personal records of ministers; and vital records which supplement the Systematic Series. Serves Massachusetts, Vermont, and Hudson Valley, New York, as well, since the area was a major conduit for movement north and west. The Berkshire Family History Association, Box 1437, Pittsfield, MA 01201, is connected with the Athenaeum and provides a research service in the collections for its members.
  • Massachusetts Library Directory
  • Boston Public Library, Copley Square, Boston, MA 02117 ; Both the Social Science Reference Department and Microtext Department have important collections for genealogical research. The former holds family genealogies and vertical file material not found elsewhere. Microtext has an extensive collection of census records for New England; copies of National Archives’ Boston ship passenger arrival lists 1820-91; and indexes for 1848-90; 1899 and 1902-6; probate records for Middlesex, Suffolk, and Hampshire counties; Suffolk Court of Common Pleas; town records; newspapers, including the Boston Evening Transcript and indexes; and city directories from over 200 cities and towns in the United States.
  • State Library of Massachusetts, 341 State House, Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02133; Ph: 617.727.2590 ; Its genealogical collection includes extensive newspaper collections and indexes; town and county histories; town and county maps and atlases; and city directories back to 1787.
  • Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square, Worcester, MA 01603; (508) 799-1655
  • Commonwealth Museum
  • Donald G. Trayser Memorial Museum , 3353 Main Street, Barnstable Village, MA (617) 362-2092
  • Erving House Museum, located in the old fire station, Route 2, Erving, MA 01344; 978-544-6339 or 978-544-3705

List of Massachusetts Historical & Genealogical Societies

For almost every state there is a state genealogical society, a state genealogical council, or both.

In addition to their own work, Massachusetts groups many times help coordinate the efforts of local societies throughout the Massachusetts.

Their unique publications, newsletters and quarterlies, supplement those created through the area societies.

Regional and State Societies

  • American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609-1634; Phone: (508) 755-5221
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society, 101 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116-3087; Founded in the mid-nineteenth century, the society is an extremely active center for New England family research, with an extensive collection of local and family histories, educational programs, and superior publications, including the Register, a quarterly periodical, and Nexus, a bi-monthly newsletter, both distributed to the membership. Library facilities of open stacks (except for manuscripts and rare books) and microfilm collections of New England town and vital records are available on a per-day basis for a $10 fee (free for members). The book loan department makes materials available by mail to members for a small fee, a four-volume catalog provides access to the circulating books. A research service is available to the general public for a fee.
  • Chinese Historical Society of New England, 2 Boylston Street, (Suite 210), Boston, MA 02116; Phone: (617) 338-4339
  • The Pilgrim Society, 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA 02360; Connected with the Pilgrim Hall Museum which holds the Plymouth County Court Record Books from 1686-1859, the collection focuses on the Pilgrim experience in Plymouth.
  • General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Four Winslow Street, Plymouth, MA 02360; As the national headquarters for state organizations of descendants of Mayflower Pilgrims, it presently publishes the Mayflower Quarterly and the five-generation project. There is a research library available.
  • Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215; Main number: (617) 536-1608. , Although not a genealogical library, the collection includes rare books, personal papers, manuscripts, particularly the Thwing Collection of Early Bostonians, and rare books focusing particularly on Boston, Massachusetts and New England.
  • Massachusetts Genealogical Council, P.O. Box 5393, Cochituate 01778
  • American Antiquarian Society, 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA 01609; collection specializing in printed sources of American history prior to 1877.
  • Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc., PO Box 215, Ashland, MA 01721-0215; Email:
  • Essex Institute Library, 132-134 Essex Streetm, Salem, MA 01970;
    Largest collection of Essex County original source material and a good collection of published genealogies and town histories for Essex County. This private library, open to annual membership or for a daily fee, currently has the pre-1800 Essex County Court records. There is no fee charged for patrons using only the Essex County court records.
  • Connecticut Valley Historical Museum Library and Archives; Springfield Library Genealogy Department, 194 State Street, Springfield, MA 01103; Serving the western portion of the state extremely well, this collection (formerly at the Springfield Public Library) holds an excellent local archives for Springfield and vicinity starting in 1636. This is one of the better collections of ethnic materials available-French Canadian, Irish, and black. Volunteers answer mail inquiries. Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society, Inc., Box 80206, Forest Park Station, Springfield, MA 01108, is a membership organization functioning in connection with the museum
  • Western Massachusetts Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 418, West Springfield, MA 01090
  • Central Massachusetts Genealogical Society, P. O. Box 811, Westminster, Massachusetts 01473-0811

County, Township and City Societies

Religious and Ethnic Societies

Massachusetts Newspapers & Publications

Massachusetts Genealogical publications (magazines, newsletters, periodicals, books, etc.) contain all types of invaluable information about specific ancestors, whole lineages and families, places in time, and about all sorts of genealogical records and repositories.

Massachusetts has many wonderful repositories. Each one contains several manuscripts and resources. The following are all excellent resources to consult:

There are many western Massachusetts collections as well. Two of the best are the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum and the Berkshire Athenaeum.


Some marriages and death notices have been included in newspapers in the state of Massachusetts ever since 1704. Many of those newspapers have typescript or published indexes.

A Guide to Newspaper Indexes in New England, which was produced by the New England Library Association’s Bibliography Committee, is an excellent resource for researchers.

The Boston Pilot was an Irish immigrant advertisement service for about 90 years. It was used to help them locate family members and friends who were missing.

Those advertisements can be found in The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements placed in the Boston Pilot, 1831-1920, or in another collection, which is a set of 6 volumes covering 1831 to 1870.

The State Library of Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Boston Public Library at Copley Square hold the biggest collections of Massachusetts newspapers.

However, one of the most useful collections for genealogists is actually the Boston Evening Transcript. It was published from 1895 to 1941. It contained a genealogical column, which had notes, questions and answers.

The Boston Public Library has indexes to those columns available and so do several other repositories in New England. The Hartford Times also had a similar column, which has been indexed as well.


Genealogical journals provide you with plenty of sources of information and facts, they are generally overlooked by genealogy and family history researchers and genealogist in looking around for family history.

Many regional and county genealogical and/or historical societies produce periodicals which have records relating to the region or vicinity they operate.

Frequently these publications have articles involving records that are not obtainable somewhere else.

  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register – published since 1847 by the society, serves all of New England and sets a standard for professional research with genealogies, local history, vital, church, and cemetery records and important book reviews. Each volume has an every-name annual index. A cumulative index across volumes is available
  • The Mayflower Descendant: A Quarterly Magazine of Pilgrim Genealogy and History (1899-1936; 1985-present) andThe Mayflower Quarterly (1935-present)are excellent for family articles and abstracts, particularly of vital and probate records. The Mayflower Descendant is indexed in separate volumes, in addition to a consolidated index for 1899-1936. The Mayflower Quarterly has only annual indexes. They are both published by the Mayflower Society
  • The Essex Genealogist: (Essex, Mass., 1980-present)published by the Essex Society of Genealogists, c/o Lynnfield Public Library, 18 Summer Street, Lynnfield, Massachusetts 01940.
  • Berkshire Genealogist: (1978- present)a quarterly devoted to western Massachusetts, published by the Berkshire Family History Association, Box 1437, Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201.
  • The American Genealogist (TAG) (Dept. A, 128 Massasoit Drive, Warwick, RI 02888) an independent quarterly founded by Donald Lines Jacobus in 1922, its primary focus is New England.
  • Essex Institute Historical Collections (1859-present) and Essex Antiquarian; A Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the Biography, Genealogy, History and Antiquities of Essex County, Massachusetts (1897-1909) cover considerable primary and secondary source material for Essex County.

Other periodicals, now longer publishing, with historical material include: