Massachusetts Genealogy Guide

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Revision as of 18:40, 27 August 2013

United States Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts

This is a genealogical and historical guide to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its state-level records. You will find help with state vital records, histories, church archives, newspaper collections, genealogical libraries, understanding the court system, military records, and immigration and naturalization records.

Contents

Massachusetts History

Brief History

This region of New England was home to many Algonquian-speaking Indians. They had been visited by British and other European countries' fishermen for more than a century before the first permanent European settlement. Not long before this first settlement began, the native population was decimated by a European-borne disease, likely smallpox, that left many of their villages empty. The Separatist Pilgrims were the first to arrive in 1620 to establish Plymouth Colony at Plymouth. There were several early and later attempts for settlement up the coast into Maine (which would be part of Massachusetts until statehood in 1820). The second permanent settlement was by Puritans who arrived in 1629 to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony at Salem.

These two colonies coexisted for many years, but geography and politics were on the side of the Massachusetts Bay. The Royal Province of New Hampshire was created in 1680 that separated the District of Maine off from the center of population of the colony now firmly established at Boston. The British colonies developed more independent practices regarding trade, religion, and governance. King Charles II finally rescinded the charter for Massachusetts Bay in 1684. This action was implemented by King James II. The colony continued as it was until Sir Edmund Andros arrived to become the Royal Governor of the newly created Dominion of New England effectively in 1686. This united the colonies of Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth. Soon New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Haven, New York, and New Jersey would be added to the Dominion with the government seated at Boston. Andros quickly moved to take away most liberties colonists enjoyed and thus his rule was extremely unpopular. When King James II was overthrown in late 1688 by William and Mary, colonist at Boston overthrew Andros and his administration there in 1689. For lack of guidance by England, the colonies resumed their previous form of governments through 1691.

The next major geo-political event was the merger of the Massachusetts Bay and the Plymouth Colony into the newly rechartered Royal Province of Massachusetts Bay in 1691 that began its new government under Sir William Phips in 1692. The territory included what is Maine and the Elizabeth, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket Islands (the islands removed from the control of New York). Major border disputes were settled as follows: New Hampshire (1740), Rhode Island (1746 - succeeded towns of Barrington, Bristol, Little Compton, Tiverton, Warren, and the newly created Cumberland to R.I.), Connecticut (1749 - succeeded towns of Enfield, Somers, Suffield, and Woodstock to Conn.), New York (1773 - twenty miles west of the Hudson; 1853 - Boston Corners section of Mount Washington to N.Y.), and Maine (1820 - succeeded as new state in Missouri Compromise).

Historical Data

Border changes
Dates Events
10 Apr. 1606 The Plymouth Company granted between 38°N (near Md.-Va. border) and 45°N (near Me.-N.B. border) which overlapped with the Virginia Company of London below 41°N (near Conn.-N.Y. border). After a failed attempt to colonize at the Popham Colony near present-day Phippsburg, Me., in 1607 (the settlers all left one year later), the patent fell into disuse. The London Company was re-chartered in 1609 for exclusive use up to 41°N.
3 Mar. 1619/20 Petition for a Charter of New England by the Northern Company of Adventurers settling between 40°N and 45°.
3 Nov. 1620 The Plymouth Council for New England granted a royal patent for land between 34°N and 45°N. Plymouth Colony settled at Plymouth in that year, though not initiated by the Council.
1 June 1621 The Pilgrims acquired a new land patent for the settlement they created at Plymouth.
10 Aug. 1622 The Council granted a patent for the Province of Maine to Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason that covered between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers. The men agreed to split this patent and Mason received the portion south of the Piscataqua River on 17 Nov. 1629 in a grant. This grant was reconfirmed on 3 Feb. 1634/5. Gorges obtained a royal charter for his portion in 1639.
in 1624 The Council established a fishing village at present-day Gloucester financed and governed by the Dorchester Company. The Company withdrew their support at the end of 1625. A few settlers remained and eventually moved further south.
in 1628 The Council created the "New England Company for a Plantation in Massachusetts Bay" (commonly called the Massachusetts Bay Colony) was established at Salem first with the remaining settlers from the Dorchester Company and 100 new settlers. This grant was for the land between the Charles and Merrimack rivers with a buffer of three miles above and below these borders. In 1629, 300 more settlers were sent to Salem. Concerned about the conflict in land claims, this group sought a royal charter for the colony which it received on 18 Mar. 1628/9. The shareholders decided to move the board to the colony (a first in the North American colonies), and the majority of the shareholders bought out those who did not want to emigrate. They elected John Winthrop to be the Governor of the new colony.
13 Jan. 1629/30 The Charter of New Plymouth defined the colony as east of Narragansett Bay and south from the mouth of the Pawtucket River [now Blackstone River] to the mouth of the Cohasset River.
26 June 1630 The Council for New England patented the Province of Lygonia, being southwest of the Sagadahoc River [now Kennebec River] 40 miles long and 40 miles wide.
7 June 1635 The Plymouth Council for New England surrendered its charter to the King. Basically, all land outside of Massachusetts Bay was under the authority of the Crown.
3 Apr. 1639 King Charles I granted the Province of Maine to Ferinando Gorges as a proprietary colony that included the land between the Kennebec and Piscataqua Rivers inland 120 miles plus the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Thomas Gorges, a distant relative of Ferdinando Gorges, established a government there in 1640, creating counties, and conducting the colony until its annexation by Massachusetts Bay in 1652.
14 June 1641 New Hampshire voluntarily accepted the jurisdiction of Massachusetts Bay since the dissolution of the Council for New England and the death of John Mason.
in Oct. 1641 Thomas Mayhew, father and son, of Watertown purchased the title to Nantucket Island, Martha's Vineyard, and the Elizabeth Islands from Lord Stirling and Ferdinando Gorges. These islands were not part of the Massachusetts Bay.
in 1642 The southern boundary west for Massachusetts Bay was set per the charter of 1629/30 as 3 miles south of the Charles River thus defining the border between it and the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
27 Aug. 1645 For its participation in the Pequot War (1636-1637), Massachusetts Bay claimed the land between the Thames and Pawcautck Rivers plus Block Island. It tried to secure a patent for this area but was deemed invalid.
in Mar. 1646/7 Lygonia gained the overlapping territory with Maine and reduced Maine to a few settlements.
26 May 1652 Massachusetts Bay interpreted their 1628/9 charter's northern line as 43° 40' 12" North claiming from the Casco Bay in Maine west through central New Hampshire and Vermont to the New York border.
20 Nov. 1652 Using the interpretation above, Massachusetts Bay established Yorkshire County covering the land between the Piscataqua and Kennebec Rivers thus eliminating the Province of Lygonia. This county went into abeyance in Nov. 1664, reinstated as York County on 27 May 1668, eliminated by the creation of the District of Maine on 17 Mar. 1679/80, and reinstated again under the new Massachusetts Bay royal charter of 7 Oct. 1691.
18 Sept. 1658 The Commissioners of the United Colonies of New England settle the border dispute over the Pequot Country settling the border between Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay as the Mystic River, thus leaving Massachusetts Bay with a claim to land between the Mystic and Pawcatuck Rivers. Massachusetts Bay gave up its claim to this land and also Block Island on 19 Oct. 1664.
23 Apr. 1662 King Charles II grant a charter to Connecticut that gave its eastern border as the Narragansett Bay, eliminating the claim by Massachusetts Bay and overlapping with Rhode Island's patent.
7 May 1662 Massachusetts Bay created Hampshire County out of unregulated area being roughly the center of present-day Worcester County west to the New York border, being all territory within 30 miles of the settlements of Springfield, Northampton, and Hadley.
8 July 1663 King Charles II granted Rhode Island a new charter that moved present-day Cumberland, R.I., out of Massachusetts Bay and some eastern lands out of New Plymouth, but these lines seemed not enforced. New Plymouth protested the infringement of its patent. A royal commission set this boundary as the Blackstone River and the east side of Narragansett Bay pending a royal decision on 27 Feb. 1664/5. The same commission made the Narragansett Country a separate entity ending Connecticut's claim, but having Rhode Island govern the area on 8 Apr. 1665.
12 Mar. 1663/4 King Charles II granted the Duke of York all land between the Delaware and Connecticut Rivers; the islands of Long Island, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket; and the land between the Kennebec and St. Croix Rivers inland to the St. Lawrence River. In the fall of 1664, royal commissioners arbitrated the conflict with this grant and suggested the border between New York and Massachusetts Bay as 20 miles east of the Hudson River. Though never codified, this was the generally accepted border.
23 June 1665 Royal commissioners placed Ferdinando Gorges' land under royal authority.
5 Sept. 1665 New York created Cornwall County covering all the land between the Kennebec and St. Croix Rivers.
19 May 1669 The town of Westfield was laid out extending into "the jog" south of the colony line.
7 Oct. 1673 Massachusetts claimed an area east of the Kennebec River that included the Pemaquid settlement later named this Devonshire County on 27 May 1675, but this county ceased when the war with the Abnaki Indians in that area broke out in Sept. 1675.
3 June 1674 Massachusetts Bay created the town of Suffield that now lies wholly within Connecticut.
15 Mar. 1677/8 Massachusetts Bay purchased the grant made to Ferdinando Gorges from him.
18 Sept. 1679 New Hampshire made a royal colony separate from Massachusetts Bay. Old Norfolk County was dissolved and the towns of Amesbury, Haverhill, and Salisbury added to Essex County of Massachusetts Bay.
16 May 1683 Massachusetts Bay created the town of Enfield that now lies wholly within Connecticut.
1 Nov. 1683 New York created Dukes County that included Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands until a new royal charter gave these islands to Massachusetts Bay on 7 Oct. 1691. The latter created the new Dukes County for Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands and Nantucket County for Nantucket on 22 June 1695. On this day, New York also recreated Cornwall County in Maine.
18 June 1684 The High Court of Chancery of England cancelled the Charter of 1629 for Massachusetts Bay. This places Massachusetts Bay and Maine under royal authority, though in practice nothing changed until the governor arrived on 17 May 1686.
17 May 1686
18 Apr. 1689
The Dominion of New England was established as the first royal govern arrived bringing together Massachusetts Bay, Maine, and the Narragansett Country. New Plymouth and the Pemaquid Country was added on 20 Dec. 1686. New York (thus eliminating Cornwall County) and New Jersey were added on 1 Apr. 1687. King James II was overthrown on 18 Apr. 1689 by King William III and Queen Mary II in England and Bostonians imprisoned the royal government and others to end this consolidation in North America. Previously forms of government resumed.
15 Mar. 1689/90 Massachusetts Bay created the town of Woodstock that now lies wholly within Connecticut.
7 Oct. 1691 The new Charter of Massachusetts Bay issued that included land between 40°N and 48°N. - explicitly stating this being all of the former Colony of Massachusetts Bay, territory called New Plymouth, territory called the Province of Maine, and the territory between the Sagadahoc River and Nova Scotia, and specifically excluded the charter to John Mason now in the hands of Samuel Allen of London, merchant (i.e. New Hampshire) and the colonies of Rhode Island, Connecticut, and the Narragansett Country. Also included were the Isles of Cappawock (i.e. The Elizabeth Islands) and Nantucket (which seemingly included Martha's Vineyard).
1 Mar. 1691/2 A royal governor was sent to New Hampshire effectively separating it from Massachusetts Bay, but did not further define its borders beyond the 1679 charter.
22 June 1695 Massachusetts Bay established Dukes County for Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands and Nantucket County for Nantucket Island.
20 Sept. 1697 The Treaty of Ryswick ending the King William's War between England and France transferred Acadia to France and separating it from Massachusetts Bay. The formal transfer followed after the Treaty of Utrecht on 15 Apr. 1713 and ended the nominal jurisdiction over Acadia [Nova Scotia].
13 July 1713 Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay accepted a 1702 survey that confirmed the line between them (the current line minus the jogs) and gave Massachusetts Bay jurisdiction over the border towns of Enfield, Suffield, and Woodstock.
26 June 1716 The jurisdiction of York County extended east beyond the Kennebec River to the St. Croix River, though never defining the northern limit.
5 Aug. 1740 King George II settled the border dispute between Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire for the latter being up the Piscataqua and Salmon Falls Rivers due north 120 miles or to the end of the colony and 3 miles north of the Merricmack River to Pautucket Falls [now in Lowell, Mass.], then straight west and these are the borders in effect today.
28 May 1746 King George II decided (and implemented on 17 Feb. 1746/7) the border between Massachusetts Bay and Rhode Island so that Massachusetts Bay lost the Attleborough Gore [present-day Cumberland, R.I.] and a 3-mile strip of land on the east side of Narragansett Bay starting at the head of the bay.
In May 1749 Connecticut annexed the Massachusetts Bay towns of Enfield, Somers [created from Enfield], Suffield, and Woodstock. Note that the line was now straight except for the "Southwick jog" that exists to this day.
7 Oct. 1763 When the new royal province of Quebec was created with its southern border being the watershed between the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean, the northern border of Cumberland, Lincoln, and York counties was established.
18 May 1773 Massachusetts Bay and New York agreed that their boundary was a straight line roughly parallel to being 20 miles east of the Hudson River - in accordance with the informal agreement of 1664.
In 1774 Connecticut took over a small part of land of Southwick that extended below the 1713 provincial boundary.
3 Sept. 1783 The Treaty of Paris defined the northern boundary as the watershed between the St. Croix River and the Atlantic Ocean.
24 Nov. 1817 By the Treaty of Ghent, islands in the Passamadquoddy Bay being Moose, Dudley [now Treat], and Frederick [now Dudley] were assigned to the United States and made part of Washington Co., Me.
15 Mar. 1820 Maine was set off as an independent state as part of the Missouri Compromise.
3 Nov. 1826 There was a slight straightening of the border between northeastern Connecticut and Massachusetts.
11 Jan. 1855 Boston Corners, the southwestern corner of Berkshire County, annexed to New York.
1 Mar. 1862 Implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court settlement of the boundary between Bristol County and that of neighboring Rhode Island.
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Counties

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is divided into fourteen counties. It is there that most court and land records are found. The most of the other commonly used records will be at the town level. Use the guide below to link to the county you want:

Barnstable (1685) - Berkshire (1761) - Bristol (1685)
Dukes (1683/1695) - Essex (1643) - Franklin (1811)
Hampden (1812) - Hampshire (1662) - Middlesex (1643)
Nantucket (1695) - Norfolk (1793) - Plymouth (1685)
Suffolk (1643) - Worcester (1731)


Massachusetts was created from two colonies in 1691. So records before that time would be part of:

Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629) - Plymouth Colony (1620)


Other extinct jurisdictions:

  • Old Norfolk, 1643-1680, which was all that north of the Merrimack River and south of the Piscataqua River being then the settled part of what became the royal province of New Hampshire in 1680 (except for roughly two to three miles above the Merrimack River).
  • Dominion of New England, 1686-1689, a brief consolidation of several British Colonies into one that was very unpopular and it collapsed.
  • Maine, records for this region called the District of Maine with counties of its own will all be found under Maine. Only high court and legislative records will be found under their Massachusetts headings.

Non-town names:

This is a list of archaic community, district, neighborhood section, and village names in Massachusetts that will not have a page on this wiki but are important to know their location.

Histories and Genealogies

This is a lengthy and detailed list of books and articles relating to general topics for Massachusetts. The focus was on books published before 1995, so newer books are welcome additions to this list. The bibliography is divided into several topical groups plus a general section.

Quick Links to Massachusetts Bibliography
Records Guides General


Records
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Guides
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General
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Massachusetts Genealogy Records

Vital Records

The original vital record resides in the town or city where the event occurred (in colonial times, a family group of birth can include events from other towns). The recording of these records was ordered by the government as early as 1639, though not all places followed the law. Both Massachusetts Bay Colony and Plymouth Colony started to collect these records in a central location, but the practice died out by the mid-17th Century. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the first state to create a permanent, statewide recording system starting in 1841. It is notable that the city of Boston lagged behind in reporting to the state and its records do not show up in the state system until a tougher regulation was implemented in 1850 (though the city did record these records locally). The only vital records closed to the public are the original births of amended records and those can be opened by a judge.

The original record still is found with the clerk of the town or city. All these records back to the earliest settlement of a town can always be viewed at the town or city clerk’s office. Most all town and city vital records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library and microfiched by the Holbrook Research Institute of Oxford, Mass. [now Archive Publishing of Provo, Utah]. This tends to be the most complete record of the event. Since 1841, there should be a second copy with the state and sometimes has abbreviated information from the original. This second copy is the most widely available source for researchers. It has been preserved by the same two vendors listed above and can be found on online in a variety of places and forms as listed below.

Quick Links to Vital Records
Pre-1850 Pre-1850 (online)
1841-1920 1921-present
Divorce Records Adoption Records
Bibliography
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Pre-1850

Before 1900, a few towns started publishing their own vital records in book form. The records were usually re-arranged into alphabetical order but separated by births, marriages, and deaths. Church and private records were added to get a more complete record and were clearly noted. The Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants published a few of these volumes along with the Systematic History Fund (a state fund); Essex Institute in Salem; Topsfield Historical Society, and others. The greatest number were published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, in part from their Eddy Town-Record Fund. About two-thirds of the state (roughly 236 towns) has been published from the original town records and a few still are being released today. To learn more about this state publication project, see the article on The Publication of Vital Records of Massachusetts Towns written in 1919. Check the Mass. Town Pre-1850 Published Vital Records Guide for a listing of the towns published up to 2011. There are links to some online versions below. A search in Google will reveal many town / region specific sites that have reproduced the volumes online or pdf versions available for downloading.

Pre-1850 Online

AmericanAncestors.org ($)

Ancestry.com ($)

fold3.com ($)

Free online versions

  • The Early Vital Records of Massachusetts website transcribes each page and links it to an image of original of the original page. As of May 2013, Plymouth County was only partially done and Suffolk County had not been started. The rest of the towns across the state were there. Click on the Town tab to get a list of towns by county.
  • Frederic William Bailey, comp., Early Massachusetts Marriages Prior to 1800 (New Haven, Conn., 1897-1914, in 7v.; rep. Baltimore, 1968+).
    Digital version for Vol. 1 (Worcester Co.) only at Internet Archive or Google Books.
    Berkshire Genealogist Indexing Committee, Master Index to Early Massachusetts Marriages (Pittsfield, Mass., 1996), 131 leaves, is a single, full-name index to the series of seven volumes.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
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1841 - 1920

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the first state to create statewide vital records in the modern sense starting in 1841. It is notable that the city of Boston lagged behind reporting to the state and its records do not show up at the state until about 1850 (though the city maintained its own records before then). The original state records are held by:

Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston MA 02125
Phone 617-727-2816
Email archives@sec.state.ma.us
Hours and Directions

Visitors can make their own copies from the microfilmed copies or request certified copies per their rules. The archives only has the amended records up to v. 42 (1900). They have an online index to the records for 1841 to 1910 that is searchable for first name, last name, town, start year, end year, and type of record. Note that this is exact spelling searches only. Records can be ordered by email. No more than five requests per order and they are billed with your photocopies.

These records can be viewed online in two locations:

New England Historic Genealogical Society
99 - 101 Newbury Street
Boston MA 02116
Phone 888-296-3447

The NEHGS has two online databases at their American Ancestors website for 1841 to 1910 and 1911 to 1915. You must be a member of the Society to access these indexes and the actual records which are linked from this index. The records are searchable in the same manner as the Mass. Archives above, though the last name can be searched by Soundex. If you go to the library, there are book indexes in five-year blocks for births, 1900-1950, marriages, 1900-1955, 1966-1970, and deaths, 1900-1980. They also have the amended birth records indexes for to 1929 (1 v.) [going back to 1841], to 1944 (2 v.), to 1962 (3 v.), to 1965 (1 v.), and to 1968 (1 v.). These indexes beyond 1920 are not generally available elsewhere.

Family History Library
35 North West Temple Street
Salt Lake City UT 84150
Phone 866-406-1830

This library and its many branches (where you can borrow the microfilm for a small fee) will have all the same records as listed above. You can access online for free:

fold3.com ($)

This site has the statewide vital records index, 1841-1895 that is searchable, but also browsable in its original form: separate birth, marriage, and death with separate indexes for each five-year period.

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1921 - present

The original state records are held by:

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mount Vernon St., 1st Floor
Dorchester MA 02125
Phone 617-740-2600
Email vital.recordsrequest@state.ma.us
They have limited research hours

This office only makes certified copies of vital records. There are several ways to purchases copies both online and in person. This office also has the amended birth records after v. 42 (1900) and a statewide index to divorces from 1952 to the present (though the record itself will be with the probate court). There is a computerized index for the most recent records and five-year block indexes for births, marriages, and deaths onsite.

Every five years, another block of five years is transferred to the State Archives and at the same time is made available through the New England Historic Genealogical Society and to the Family History Library. This office restricts access only by the fact that they are the only ones with the records. These records are open to the public. The original town copies are always open to the public.

Ancestry.com has the following index only:

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Divorce Records

Divorce records have been handled by the probate court system since 1922 and commonly filed where the couple last lived together. These are public records (with minor exceptions). There is a statewide index that starts in 1952 at the Registry listed above. Before that, the county Superior Court had jurisdiction. From 1786 to 1887, all cases were administered through the Supreme Judicial Court. All these records are held at the Judicial Archives in the Mass. Archives facility. The earliest divorce records are scattered through a variety of courts who held joint jurisdiction.

The Supreme Judicial Court created a fact sheet for the public in 2004 and the summary of it is below:

Dates Description
1639-1692 Divorce petitions were filed in a variety of courts, including the county courts, the General Court, and the Court of Assistants. Records of the General Court and the Court of Assistants have been published. The Original records are available in the Suffolk Files Collection, the Massachusetts Archives Collection, and in the county courts.
1692-1775 Divorces were heard by the Governor and Council (from 1755 to 1757, six petitions were heard by the General Court). The original records are found in the Massachusetts Archives Collection, Suffolk Files Collection, and the county courts.
1775-1785 The Council had jurisdiction then. Search for them in the Massachusetts Archives Collection and the Council records.
1785-1796 The Massachusetts Acts and Resolves granted jurisdiction over divorce to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC). These original records are in the Suffolk Files Collection. Check the microfilm "county index" in the Archives reading room. They will refer to various SJC Record Books. See the chart below for these record books.
1796-1887 The divorce will be in the Supreme Judicial Court in the county in which the couple was residing. Most of the Record Books are indexed (see location chart below). These records will have a summary of the grounds for divorce, date and place of marriage, where the couple lived until the divorce, and sometimes the names and ages of the children. The file papers are generally in the year and term that the divorce was finalized (i.e. six months after it was granted) and arranged by docket (case) number. Post 1860 file papers are in off-site storage. See the Judicial Archivist for information to see these records.
1887 Jurisdiction over divorces was moved to the Superior Court. These records are indexed chronologically in separate divorce docket books. The Judicial Archives (in the same building with the Mass. Archives) has divorce indexes and/or docket books on microfilm in the Archives reading room for all counties except for Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket counties. Those are in their respective Superior Court.
1922 The Probate and Family Court began hearing divorce concurrently with the Superior, though most came to this court. Each probate court kept alphabetical indexes to these records. There is a statewide index since 1952 at the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (listed above).

For the location of the records, use the chart below that was created by the Supreme Judicial Court Archives in 2004:

Location of Massachusetts Divorce Records
County Supreme Judicial Court SJC Microfilm Superior Court SC Microfilm
Barnstable All records in courthouse n/a n/a n/a
Berkshire SJC Record Books in the Judicial Archives and microfilm available at the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield n/a SC records and index card file in Judicial Archives 1888-1927 in Archives Reading Room
Bristol SJC Record Books in the Judicial Archives 1862-1889 in Archives Reading Room SC Divorce dockets in the Judicial Archives. The file papers in the Superior Court, Taunton Divorce Dockets in Archives Reading Room
Dukes n/a n/a n/a n/a
Essex SJC Record Books in courthouse, Salem, and file papers in off-site storage. A consolidated index, 1785-1904, on microfilm in Archives Reading Room 1797-1820 in Archives Reading Room 1887-1927 SC Divorce indexes in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage.
Probate Court Divorce Index, 1922-1944, in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage
See consolidated index in Archives Reading Room
Franklin SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage 1872-1887 in Archives Reading Room SC Divorce Record Books in Judicial Archives. The index is at the courthouse in Greenfield. The file papers are in off-site storage In Archives Reading Room
Hampden SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage SJC Divorce Index in Archives Reading Room SC Divorce Dockets and file papers in off-site storage Divorce Index in Archives Reading Room
Hampshire SJC Record Books and file papers in Judicial Archives n/a SC Divorce Record Books in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage n/a
Middlesex SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives 1807-1887 in Archives Reading Room SC Divorce Dockets in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage 1887-1938 in Archives Reading Room
Nantucket All records in courthouse n/a n/a n/a
Norfolk SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives n/a SC Divorce Dockets in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage n/a
Plymouth SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives 1813-1889 in Archives Reading Room SC Dockets and index in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage Dockets and index in Archives Reading Room
Suffolk SJC Record Books and file papers in Judicial Archives 1760-1786 in Archives Reading Room and 1786-1804 in Suffolk Files Collection SC Divorce Record Books and index in Superior Court Civil Clerk's office and file papers in off-site storage 1887-1916 in Archives Reading Room
Worcester SJC Record Books in Judicial Archives 1797-1887 in Archives Reading Room SC Divorce Dockets (1887-1890 vol. missing) and index in Judicial Archives and file papers in off-site storage 1887-1936 Docket Books and index in Archives Reading Room
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Adoption Records

Like most all states, Massachusetts seals the records of adoption that include the original birth certificate with the biological parents. These records stay sealed unless opened by court order. Who can see this sealed information is limited by law. There is no way a person can know they are adopted without being told by someone. There are several registries online set up to assist adoptees and biological parents help find each other. To order your pre-adoption birth certificate, download the instructions and form.

To learn more about the history of adoption in Massachusetts, see Joseph Ben-Or, "The Law of Adoption in the United States: Its Massachusetts Origins and the Statute of 1851" in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 130 [1976]: 259-269, and online at American Ancestors ($).

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Bibliography
  • John Ballard Blake, "The Early History of Vital Statistics in Massachusetts" in Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 29 [1955]: 46-68.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Charles Cowley, "Judicial Falsifications of History" in the New England Magazine and Bay State Montly, May 1886.
    Digital version at New England Magazine.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • David Cressy, "The Seasonality of Marriage in Old and New England" in Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 16 [1985]: 1-21.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Historical Records Survey - Massachusetts, Guide to the Public Vital Records in Massachusetts (Boston, 1942), 342 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 A3hr (Los Angeles and Logan only).
  • Robert Rene Kuczynski, "The Registration Laws in the Colonies of Massachusetts Bay and New Plymouth" in American Statistical Association Publications, 7 [1900-1901]: 65-73.
    Digital version at Jstor (free).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Chester F. Sanger, "The Divorce Legislation of Massachusetts" in Bay State Monthly, 3 [1885]: 27-32.
    Digital version at Bookmate, page 68 of this file, or as a text file at Gutenberg, search text for title.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
Thanks to the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants for their contributions to this page
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Land Records

The earliest settlers in this region were issued patents or charters directly or through various types of companies established for settlement and/or trade. See the Historical Data table to identify these early documents. Once the two major colonies were settled (i.e. Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts Bay Colony), land was distributed by their colonial governments through grants. Massachusetts Bay Colony established a county system in 1643 and land was recorded in the county deeds from then on. Plymouth Colony used a centralized system and recorded these deeds colony-wide from 1620 to 1685 until it finally established a county system in 1685. The land records for the area now called Maine were always kept separately first entirely as was later was called York County. For each of these areas, land was granted for many years after the initial settlement as the colony expanded into uncharted territory given to it under the various patents and charters. All subsequent sales were recorded by the county. Though the vast majority of land transactions were recorded, it was not a requirement that this be done. It was in the best interest of the owner to do so, and legal advantages were given to such recordings. To search for land records, see the guide for the county of interest and use the resources found there

Court System

Understanding the Massachusetts Court System

This is the history of the court system. It is broken up into historical periods and then a discussion of special courts, records, legal definitions, and bibliography. Realize that except for the upper courts, all records and actions were on the county level. To find detailed information regarding a particular county's courts, see that county page from the links provided above.

Quick Links to court history
Plymouth Colony Massachusetts Bay Dominion of New England
Provincial Period Commonwealth Period Lower/Trial Courts
Special Courts
Admiralty Court Coroners Court Boston Municipal
Probate Court Land Court Juvenile Court
Housing Court
Records Legal Age Bibliography

Colonial Period (1620-1686) – Plymouth Colony

The Peirce Patent was a charter from the Virginia Company issued to the Merchant Adventurers in 1620 for the settlement of the Pilgrims in the northerly part of the Virginia territory. This patent was never in use because the Pilgrims settled outside this territory. Thus, the adult male passengers created the document they called a “combination” and now called the “Mayflower Compact” to give a governance structure to the Plymouth settlement. The Second Peirce Patent was issued in 1621 from the Council for New England for the area they settled. The Bradford Patent of 1629 (of “purchasers”) gave the settlers legal status as residents, but did not create a basis for laws as royal charters would did for other colonies.

Though having no legal authority to do so, but in the best interest of the settlers, the “combination” was an agreement of the adult males of the settlement to establish a “civil body politic” and make just laws, acts, etc. for the general good of the colony. From this single act, the group elected a governor and several assistants to govern them (though we do not have knowledge of how that was decided). On 17 December 1623 (but recorded in 1627), the first order of the Court was that all criminal acts, matters of trespass, and debts between men would be tried by a jury of twelve honest men. Historians have determined that they cobbled together Common Law and filled it in with Mosaic Law. The laws were first codified in 1636 and revised in 1658, 1672, and 1685.

By 1636, the Governor and seven Assistants were elected annually by the freemen of the colony for the term of one year according to the former custom and that constables and other inferior officers also were chosen. The Governor, Board of Assistants (being seven freemen of the colony), and the freemen of the colony met quarterly as the General Court (1623-1692). They functioned as the legislature and court. They heard capital cases of treason, rebellion, willful murder, conversing with the devil by way of witchcraft, burning of ships or houses, sodomy, rapes, and buggery. The Magistrate Court (1623?-1692) heard cases of fornication, swearing, lying, stealing, embezzling, drunkenness, gaming, lascivious carriage, burning fences, defacing boundary markers, using tobacco, setting fires in the woods, forgery, stealing public records, denying the Scriptures as the rule of life, being absent from church, and keeping the Sabbath. The Court of Assistants (1623-1692) was the meeting of the Governor and at least two Assistants and handled all cases under £40 penalty.

County Courts (1685-1692) were established when the counties were created following the model of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

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Colonial Period (1629-1686) – Massachusetts Bay

The Charter of 1629 issued by the King established the General Court (1629-1692) that met quarterly to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable orders, laws, statutes, and ordinances, directions, and instructions not contrary to the laws of England and to settle the forms and ceremonies of government and magistracy fit and necessary so that the people may be religiously, peaceably, and civilly governed. All the freemen met and acted as the General Court. The court chose annually the governor, deputy government, and eighteen assistants who acted as the Court of Assistants (1630-1692) when the General Court was not in session and with its full authority to correct, punish, pardon, govern, and rule. Members of the Assistants were given the powers of Justices of the Peace and called Magistrates. These magistrates could hear civil suits under than 20 shilling (increased to 40 shillings in 1647) and handle misdemeanors such of profanity or drunkenness in their own towns.

The Inferior Quarter Courts were established in 1639 as a circuit county court composed of the county magistrates where the court was sitting with a jury in Ipswich, Salem, Cambridge (Newtown), and Boston. This court took over all the cases of the Court of Assistants except those with damages over £10, divorce, and cases of life, member, and banishment. These courts were renamed County Court (1636-1692).

This three-tiered system was in place throughout the colonial period. It focused on the magistrates who controlled the legal affairs. When they sat alone in their town, they handled all the minor cases for the town. The more serious cases rose to the level where all the magistrates of the county sat together with a jury to decide the cases. The most serious issues were handled the eighteen magistrates assembled together (called the “Assistants”) with the Governor and Deputy Governor, or with the freemen of the colony, to pass judgment on the major cases of the day.

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Dominion of New England (1686-1689)

The charter of Massachusetts Bay was revoked in 1684 by King Charles II who tried to reign in this theocratically ruled colony while also streamlining the administration of several other nearby colonies. Initially, the Dominion comprised Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth Colony, Province of New Hampshire, Province of Maine, and the Narragansett Country of present-day Washington Co., R.I. Formal change did not occur until 1686 with the arrival of Joseph Dudley in Boston and the assent of King James II. Dudley added the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island before Edmund Andros arrived at the end of the year. Andros attempted to design Dominion laws to more closely mirror those in England. By 1688, Andros added the provinces of New York, East Jersey, and West Jersey to the Dominion though governance of these areas was weak because the distance from the seat at Boston was too great even with a satellite office in New York City. King James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This news traveled back to Boston where the local mob jailed Andros in April of 1689 which officially ended the Dominion.

During this period, the General Court was abolished and the Court of Assistants replaced by a Governor and Council (1686-1689) appointed by the Crown. A Superior Court of Judicature (1686-1689) was established as the highest authority. The County Court was split between the Court of Common Pleas for civil cases and the Court of General Sessions for criminal cases. Magistrates were replaced by Justices of the Peace with the same powers. All this ended in April of 1689 and the former colonies and provinces returned to their former structure until new royal charters were issued in 1692.

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Provincial Period (1692-1780)

In 1692, the General Court was restored as the legislative body with jurisdiction over all of Massachusetts Bay Colony (that comprised present-day Massachusetts and Maine). The province maintained the three-tiered court system. It immediately established the Governor and Council (1692-1780) that had authority over divorce and probate appeals. The Superior Court of Judicature (1692-1780) was the highest appellate (i.e. appeals court) and the trial court for capital criminal cases, civil cases over £10, and some equity matters. It was a circuit court moving between counties with a grand jury and at times two trial juries.

The county Court of General Sessions (1692-1827) heard all criminal cases before a bench of justices of the peace. They also had authority over county affairs (levying taxes, highways, licenses for liquor, jails, and administration of poor laws). Its partner, the Inferior Court of Common Pleas (1692-1859), heard the civil cases of the county. These courts met quarterly and handled no cases under £40 unless it was on appeal from the lower court. The lowest court was the Justice of the Peace (1687-present) and these justices were appointed by the governor. The justices heard criminal cases (drunkenness, rioting, and violations of Sabbath) and civil cases under £40. This court sat in the justice’s house where he kept the minutes and collected the fines. Defendants appeared by summons via the county sheriff or town constable.

Note that though there were interruptions on the courts sitting in Boston in 1775 and 1776, the court’s jurisdiction and process remained unchanged.

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Commonwealth Period (1780-present)
MA Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals Court.jpg
The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 created a separation of powers and allowed that the other branches may require an opinion from the Supreme Judicial Court on questions of law. This was one of the few instances where advisory jurisdiction was given in the country and is found nowhere at the federal level. The highest courts from other states needing to rule on a Massachusetts state law that had not been previous rendered could send the question to the court for their ruling. Judges for the Supreme Judicial Court were allowed to hold their office as long as they “behaved themselves” and all current appointments prior to the Constitution were continued thus keeping the legal authority of this court from its establishment as the Superior Court of Judicature in 1692, but renaming it as the Supreme Judicial Court (1780-present). Its jurisdiction was codified in 1782 as taking cases by appeal, writ of error, capital offenses, and “every Crime whatsoever that is against the public good” [St.1782, c.9].

Divorce was moved from under the Governor and Council to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1785 [St.1785, c.69]. The court continued as a circuit court, sitting in various counties by mandate of the legislature. To this point, all records were recorded and maintained by the clerk in Boston (Suffolk County). Starting in 1797, the records were recorded in the county the court sat by the clerk of that county’s Court of Common Pleas (being made a clerk of the Supreme Judicial Court for that county when the court was in session there). The exception to that rule was that Suffolk County recorded the sessions held in Nantucket County; Barnstable County recorded the sessions held in Dukes County; and Lincoln County recorded the sessions for Lincoln, Hancock, and Washington counties. [St.1796, c.95]

There were two sessions of the court. One heard capital offenses, appeals from probate, and all issues in law that were tried by three or more judges (the number of judges varied over the years between four and seven) and the other heard all other actions (i.e. cases not being appealed by a lower court) and was tried by a single judge that was subject to review by the whole court. This was also the year that the Reports of Supreme Judicial Court started publishing annually [St.1804, c.105]. This practice of taking actions not on appeal was called nisi prius (Latin for “unless first”), meaning it became the court of original jurisdiction. A second trial on the facts on appeal to this court was abolished in 1817. The legislature clarified the jurisdiction between the Supreme Judicial Court and the then statewide Court of Common Pleas in 1840 [St.1840, c.87] that remained in effect until the reorganization of the court system in 1859.

The changes in 1859 did not affect this court as the streamlining generally reshaped the lower courts. Over time, the Supreme Judicial Court’s focus was narrowed (see Menand’s book, pages 39 to 41, cited in the references). Divorce was removed to a lower court in 1887 [St.1887, c.332]. An Appeals Court (1972-present) was added with the Supreme Judicial Court to help with the backlog of cases and covers all the state, but normally sits in Boston [St.1972, c.740]. The Supreme Judicial Court is the superintendent over all inferior courts and maintains full authority over all court records.
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Lower Courts (i.e. Trial Courts)
MA Superior Court.jpg
The middle tier courts continued to function as before the Constitution. Specific jurisdictions shifted back and forth between the two middle-tier courts. Boston and Suffolk County developed a separate court system in this tier. In 1799, the Municipal Court of the Town of Boston (1799-1859) had been given authority over all criminal cases in Boston [St.1799, c.81] and renamed the Municipal Court of the City of Boston in 1822 [St.1822, c.13]. The Boston Court of Common Pleas (1813-1820) was created to handle all civil case that would have gone to the Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas in 1813 [St.1813, c.173]. After Maine separated from the Commonwealth in 1820, the Circuit Court of Common Pleas and the Boston Court of Common Pleas was replaced by a Court of Common Pleas for the Commonwealth (1820-1859) that heard both civil and criminal cases [St.1820, c.79]. The Court of General Sessions was phased out and by 1827 ceased to exist in all counties. A Superior Court for Suffolk County (1855-1859) was established in 1855 to handle all civil cases in that county [St.1855, c.449].

This entire system was reorganized in 1859 and born out of this was the new Superior Court (1859-present) that combined the powers of all the previous courts into one. The court sat four, instead of two, times to accommodate both the criminal and civil case load. There were tweaks to this system along the way. The major changes were bringing general equity jurisdiction to the court in 1883 [St.1883, c.223], having Middlesex and Suffolk counties keep a separate docket for this in 1892 [St.1892, c.439 – though changed with uniform civil procedures in 1974], and the court having exclusive original jurisdiction over capital crimes in 1891 [St.1891, c.379]. See Menand’s book, pages 53 to 57, for further details on jurisdiction changes and description of the Appellate Division (1943-present) and the court reorganization in 1978.

The lowest court as discussed above was the Justice of the Peace. The powers established in 1687 were continually eroded away and now they only have the authority to perform marriages, acknowledgements (i.e. notary), administer certain oaths, take depositions, and call meetings of various proprietor groups and corporations. These were technically court records though the justice sat in their own dwelling, the records often passed off as personal papers that are commonly found in historical societies and university libraries. The Boston Police Court (1821-1866) was established as the first police court in the Commonwealth with the authority of the Court of Commons Pleas for the Commonwealth in Suffolk County [St.1821, c.79 and St.1822, c.109]. More such police courts were created starting in 1831 with separate parameters for each of them. In every instance, the police court exclusively assumed most of the powers from the Justice of the Peace. Criminal cases were removed from the justices in 1856 [St.1856, c.138] and civil cases in 1877 [St.1877, c.211].

The court reorganization of 1859 standardized the work and function of the police courts. The District Court concept started in Berkshire County with the District Court of Central Berkshire that had jurisdiction over Pittsfield and seven adjacent towns with the powers of a police court centralized over a larger area [St. 1869, c. 416]. The rest of Berkshire County was divided into two more districts in the following year and this style of the lowest court spread across the Commonwealth. By 1921, the remaining thirteen police courts were renamed and the establishment of the District Court (1921-present) was solidified and uniform across the entire Commonwealth [G.L.1921, c.218]. These courts had jurisdiction over crimes punishable by jail sentences up to five years and some felony crimes up to ten years, and some juvenile matters where Juvenile Courts did not exist. They shared responsibility over probate matters involving children. The court sat for small claims and civil actions where the plaintiff did not wish to have a jury trial. An Appellate Division (1922-present) was added for civil actions.
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Special Courts

The Massachusetts court system has maintained a three-tiered system for most of history. As the case load of special area grew, the Commonwealth created special courts for these cases while preserving the basic structure.

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Admiralty Court

These maritime cases were first heard by the Court of Assistants in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Under the second charter in 1692, this court was pulled out as a separate civil law court with judges appointed by the King and not part of the provincial court system. During the Revolution and after, this court was established in Plymouth, Ipswich, and North Yarmouth. These courts ceased with the adoption of the federal constitution in 1786 and these matters transferred to the new U.S. District Court. The records of these courts are part of the Suffolk Files Collection.

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Coroners Court

Appointed coroners along with a jury made inquests on deaths and reported their findings to the County Court. After the second charter in 1692, the findings were reported to the Court of Assize and the Court of General Sessions.

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Boston Municipal Court (1866-present)

Though basically a district court, it is administered separately [St.1866, c.279]. It is the heir of the Boston Police Court (1821-1866) which met daily for criminal cases and bi-weekly for civil cases. The jurisdiction extends over all of Suffolk County for certain cases (see Menand’s book, pages 71 to 73, cited in the references). An Appellate Division was created in 1912 [St.1912, c.649]. With the court reorganization of 1978, it became the Boston Municipal Court Department of the Trial Court [St.1978, c.478].

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Probate Court (1783-present)
MA Probate and Family Court.jpg
This type of court case has always been present and the records reach back unbroken to the settlement of the two colonies, but it was first the County Court and then the Governor and Council who handled probate cases. The Constitution of 1780 mentioned probate judges, but the legislature codified the scope as the probate of wills, administration of estates, and appointment of guardians for minor and “distracted persons” [St.1783, c.46]. It is a court of equity, not common law, and provides remedies. Because of legislation, the probate courts have added jurisdiction over adoption (1851), divorce (1887/1922), change of name (1854), and domestic relations. Marriage was never based in common law in Massachusetts and was performed by magistrates. As such, it has always been a civil contract. The Royal Charter allowed for marriages to be performed by justices of the peace or by a settled minister in 1692 [P.L.1692-3, c.25], but it remained a contract. All issues relating to marriage are handled by the probate court, such as women’s petitions for separate estates, annulment, and affirmation of marriages. The names of this court have evolved from Probate Court (1783-1858) and that had an Insolvency Court (1856-1858). These two combined to be called the Probate and Insolvency (1858-1978). The court reorganization in 1978 renamed it to Probate and Family Court (1978-present).

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Land Court (1898-present)

The Court of Registration (1898-1900) was legislated to register title of land to deal with real and personal property (generally of deceased persons) while simplifying land transfers [St.1898, c.562]. The name was changed to the Court of Land Registration (1900-1904) and then the present Land Court in 1904. The court normal sits in Boston, but can sit in other locations and covers the entire Commonwealth. The court oversees foreclosures, redemption from tax titles, recovery of freehold estates, petitions to try, and determines the validity of encumbrances and discharges of mortgage. It has authority over interest in real estate and petitions to determine boundaries of flats, county, city, town, or districts, can enforce restrictions, and validate municipal zoning ordinances and bylaws. Appeals from zoning board decisions are handled here.

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Juvenile Court

Children were identified as a special class tracing back to 1641 in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The probate wing of a court first handled children and then these family matters fell under the Probate Court. The first specialized court was the Boston Juvenile Court (1906). Young offenders were to be treated as children in need of aid, not as a criminal. A delinquent child was defined as between seven and seventeen years who violated a town ordinate or committed an offense not punishable by death or life imprisonment. Courts have been since been opened in Springfield (1969), Worcester (1969), and New Bedford (1972). These courts were reorganized in 1978 as the Juvenile Court Department.

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Housing Court

Matters relating to State Sanitary Code, building regulation and inspection, fire precaution, rubbish disposal, landlord and tenant disputes, and any other law concerning health, safety, or welfare of any occupant of any place of human habitation are handled by District Courts. A Boston Housing Court (1971), Hampden County Court (1973), and Worcester Housing Court (1983) [to which Bellingham was added in 1985] were created for these areas. They are now all divisions of the Housing Court Department of the Trial Court.

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Records

The records from the above courts are reviewed on the Massachusetts, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Plymouth Colony, and appropriate county pages. All records are under the authority and control of the Supreme Judicial Court.

The court records have three general types of records: docket books, record books, and file papers. Docket books for civil actions outline the actions heard by the court in chronological order. Cases are routinely continued to another term of the court. In criminal cases, these books are called minute books. Record books are summaries made at the end of a case about the plaintiff, defendant, the action, damages sought, and the history of the case. The file papers are the original documents submitted to the court. There are rarely more than a few documents in the case before the nineteenth century. All documents provide an insight into the case, but genealogists tend to look for the summaries, depositions from witnesses (to learn more about the witness more than the parties to the case), and warnings out.

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Legal Definition of Age

This series of definitions of the age someone can legally do something comes from Giles Jacob, A New Law-Dictionary (Savoy, 1750):
Man:

12: take an oath of Allegiance to the King.
14: “age of discretion” so that he can consent to marriage and chose a guardian.
16: able to bear arms.[1]
21: may alien his lands, goods, and chattels.
24: can be ordained a priest.
30: can be a bishop.

Woman:

09: is dowable, i.e. able to have / receive a dower.
12: may consent to marriage.
14: “age of discretion” and may chose a guardian.
21: may alien her lands, goods, and chattels.

Person:

14: may dispose of goods and personal estate by will, though not of land until 21. They are generally not punishable for crimes, but must pay damages for trespass. They may be witnesses in any court action or function, and in some ages give evidence by age 9.
21: full age to contract and manage for themselves, and can be executor of a will before this time. They can be a member of Parliament.


A person becomes of age at the end of the day preceding the day of their birth. A minor person may purchase something, but arriving at 21 can disagree to it. Age Prier is an action being brought against a person under age for lands which he has by descent. He may petition the court to stay the action until he is of full age (21) to which a court general agrees, but this does not hold for if the minor is the purchaser of the land.

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Bibliography


Guides | Records | References

Guides:

  • Edmund Hatch Bennett, Russell Gray, and Henry W. Swift, Massachusetts Digest of the reported decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts ... September, 1804 - December, 1879 (Boston, 1906), 8v.
    No digital version online.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Daniel R. Coquillette, "Law in Colonial Massachusetts, 1630-1800" as Colonial Society of Massachusetts Publications, vol. 62 (Boston, 1984), lxviii, 608 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P3L.
  • John D. Cushing, comp., A Bibliography of the Laws and Resolves of the Massachusetts Bay, 1642-1780 (Wilmington, Del., 1984), xxiv, 372 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Catherine S. Menand, A Research Guide to the Massachusetts Courts and Their Records (Boston, 1987), 135 pp., 1 microfiche.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P2m.
  • Michael S. Hindus, et al., The Records of the Massachusetts Superior Court and Its Predecessors: An Inventory and Guide (Boston, 1977), 93 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William Jeffrey, Early New England Court Records: A Bibliography of Published Materials (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), 27 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 234519.
  • Mary Ann Neary, et al., Handbook of Legal Research in Massachusetts (Boston, rev. ed., 2002), 1v. (loose-leaf).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Diane Rapaport, New England Court Records: A Research Guide for Genealogists and Historians (Burlington, Mass., 2006), xv, 470 pp..
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974 P27r.
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Records and inventories:

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References:

  • David Grayson Allen, In English Ways: The Movement of societies and the transferal of English local law and custom to Massachusetts Bay in the Seventeenth Century (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1981), xxi, 312 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H6a.
  • Thomas E. Atkinson, "The Development of the Massachusetts Probate System" in Michigan Law Review, 42 [1943-1944]: 425-452.
    Digital versions at [www.jstor.org/stable/1283518 Jstor] ($) or HeinOnline ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Viola F. Barnes, The Dominion of New England, a study in British Colonial Policy (New Haven, Conn., 1923), viii, 303 pp..
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • Melville Madison Bigelow, "Primogeniture in Massachusetts" in Massachusetts Historical Society Publications, 45 [1911-1912]: 34-35.
    Digital version at Jstor (free).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 C4p v. 45.
  • Barbara Aronstein Black, "The Judicial Power and the General Court in Early Massachusetts (1634-1686)," Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale Univ., 1975, vii, 373 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Frank E. Bradbury, "Laws and Courts of the Massachusetts Bay Colony" in Bostonian Society Publications, 10 [1913]: 129-159.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.461 H25b v. 10.
  • Ellen Elizabeth Brennan, "The Massachusetts Council of the Magistrates" in New England Quarterly, 4 [1931]: 54-93.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Virginia G. Cartoof, "Massachusetts' Parental Consent Law: Origins, Implementation and Impact," Ph.D. Dissertation, Brandeis Univ., 1985, 228 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Zechariah Chafee Jr., “Colonial Courts and the Common Law” in David F. Flaherty, ed., Essays in the History of Early American Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), x, 534 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • Daniel R. Coquillette, ed., Law in Colonial Massachusetts 1630-1800 (Boston, 1984), being v. 62 of the Publications of The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, lxviii, 608 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P3L.
  • Cornelius Dalton, John Clark Wirkkala, and Anne Thomas, Leading the Way: A History of the Massachusetts General Court, 1629-1980 (Boston, 1985), 489 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William T. Davis, History of the Judiciary of Massachusetts, including the Plymouth and Massachusetts Colonies, the province of the Massachusetts Bay, and the Commonwealth (Boston, 1900), xxiv, 446 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P2d.
  • James Deetz and Patricia Scott Deetz, The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love, and Death in Plymouth Colony (New York, 2000), xvi, 366 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • Alan J. Dimond, The Superior Court of Massachusetts: Its Origin and Development (Boston, 1960), xii, 187 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • James Smith Garland, Massachusetts Town Law; a digest of statutes and decisions concerning towns and town officers ... (Boston, 1908), iv, 226 pp.
    Digital version of 1906 edition at Internet Archive.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Julius Goebel Jr., “King’s Law and Local Custom in Seventeenth Century New England” in David F. Flaherty, ed., Essays in the History of Early American Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), x, 534 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
    Julius Goebel, "King's Law and Local Custom in Seventeenth-Century New England" [for Plymouth Colony] in the Columbia Law Review, 31 [1931]: 416-448.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
    .WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George Lee Haskins, "The Beginning of the Recording System in Massachusetts" [i.e. deeds, morgages, etc.] in Boston University Law Review, 21 [1941]: 281-304.
    Digital version at HeinOnline ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George L. Haskins, Law and Authority in Early Massachusetts: A Study in Tradition and Design (New York, 1960), xvi, 298 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • George L. Haskins, “Reception of the Common Law in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts: A Case Study” in George Althan Billias, ed., Law and Authority in Colonial America (Barre, Mass., 1965), xxi, 208 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • George L. Haskins, “The Legal Heritage of Plymouth Colony” in David F. Flaherty, ed., Essays in the History of Early American Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), x, 534 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • George L. Haskins, “The Beginnings of Partible Inheritance in the American Colonies” in David F. Flaherty, ed., Essays in the History of Early American Law (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1969), x, 534 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • Hendrik Hartog, “The Public Law of a County Court; Judicial Government in Eighteenth Century Massachusetts” in American Journal of Legal History, 20 [1976]: 282-329.
    Digital version online at Jstor ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 B2ajL v. 20.
  • Charles Joseph Hilkey, Legal Development in Colonial Massachusetts, 1630-1686 (New York, 1910), 148 pp.
    Digital version at Internet Archive.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Mark de Wolfe Howe and Louis F. Eaton, "The Supreme Judicial Power in the Colony of Massachusetts" in New England Quarterly, 20 [1947]: 291-316.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George D. Langdon Jr., Pilgrim Colony: A History of New Plymouth, 1620-1691 (New Haven, Conn., 1966), xi, 257 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • Albert Mason, "A Short History of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts" in Massachusetts Law Quarterly, 2 [1916-1917]: 82-100.
    Digital version at Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William E. Nelson, Americanization of the Common Law: The Impact of Legal Change in Massachusetts Society, 1760-1830 (Cambridge, Mass., 1975), ix, 269 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • John Noble, “A Few Notes on Admiralty Jurisdiction in the Colony and in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay” in the Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 8 [1905]: 3-38 and Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts: Transactions, 1902-1904, 8 [1906]: 150-186.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 844521.
  • Russell K. Osgood, ed., The History of the Law in Massachusetts: The Supreme Judicial Court 1692-1992 (Boston, 1992), 790 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • D. C. Parnes, Plymouth and the Common Law, 1620-1775 (Kingston, 1971), 59 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • George E. Pearson, "The Great and General Court of Massachusetts, 1628-1691: A Study of its Early History with Special Reference to its Organization," Ph.D. Dissertation, Tufts Univ., 1910, viii, 116 pp.
    No digital version.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George E. Pearson, "Origin of the Massachusetts General Court" in New England Magazine, 54 [1915-1916]: 33-38.
    No digital version.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Plymouth Colony Archives Project at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Legal Structure” at www.histarch.uiuc.edu/plymouth/ccflaw.html.
  • Edwin Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts, 1620-1692: A Documentary History (Boston, 1966), xiii, 647 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); not at FHL.
  • James P. Ronda, "Red and White at the bench: Indians and the Law in Plymouth Colony" in Essex Institute Historical Collections, 110 [1974]: 200-215.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974 B2e v. 110.
  • Ronald Kingman Snell, "The County Magistracy in Eighteenth-Century Massachusetts: 1692-1750," Ph.D. Dissertation, Princeton Univ., 1971, ix, 384 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Joseph H. Smith, Colonial Justice in Western Massachusetts (1639-1702) (Cambridge, Mass., 1961), ix, 426 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 P2c.
  • Eugene Aubrey Stratton, Plymouth Colony: Its History & People 1620-1691 (Salt Lake City, 1986), xi, 481 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2s.
  • Emory Washburn, Sketches of the Judicial History of Massachusetts from 1630 to the Revolution in 1775 (Boston, 1840), 407 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William Henry Whitmore, A Bibliographical Sketch of the Laws of the Massachusetts Colony from 1630 to 1686 (Boston, 1890), xliii, 150 pp.
    Digital version at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.

Top of Page || Top of Courts || Top of Bibliography

Cemeteries

Cemeteries are operated privately or by the town or city government. Massachusetts is fortunate to have a statewide guide for all known cemeteries within the state:

Top of Page

Census

This section is focused on statewide, non-Federal census. Though many types of substitute records exist, only censuses will be addressed here.

The first census was taken in 1765. It enumerated statistically the number of houses, families, and people who were categorized under white males, white females (each with the number above and below age 16), Negro and Mulatto, Indians (each with the number of males and females), and French Neutrals (male and female, both above and below age 16). The town tallies were published at the end of Benton's book listed below.

The Provincial Congress needing to raise funds in 1775 determined it should be done by the population of the colonies. By an act on 16 Feb. 1776, the General Court of Massachusetts ordered a census to be taken to include the name of the heads of each family, number of white people, number of Negroes and Mulattoes, and the whole number within each family. These returned were to be submitted by each town.

The Congress again wanted an enumeration in 1781, but that resulted in creating estimates based on the current polls at the time. The Congress requested another census on 17 Feb. 1783 and Massachusetts responded in 1784 for an "accurate account of the quantity of land within this Commonwealth granted to, or surveyed for, any person, the number of buildings thereon, and of its inhabitants." Returns by town were to be made to the Secretary of the Commonwealth as of 1 Sept. 1784.

Massachusetts took two censuses in 1837 - one of inhabitants and the other of ratable polls. In 1840, the Commonwealth elected to take their own census along with the one the Federal government was doing. The state count was roughly 20,000 less than the Federal tally for 1840 and 1850. The Commonwealth started its own decennial census in 1855 and these continued through 1975. The only surviving schedules are for 1855 and 1865, and returns for 1915. The Legislature decided to change the basis of representation in the state from inhabitants to legal voters in 1857. At the same time, they repealed the duplicate state census they conducted along side the Federal census. The provision for legal voters was repealed in 1860 and that tally was done in conjunction with the decennial censuses of the state on the fifth year.

For 1855, the census recorded every person by name in the household, age, sex, color, occupation, place of birth, and whether a person was deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict. Enumerators is twenty-two (22) towns listed the exact place of birth. These towns are:
Abington, Andover, Brimfield, Brookline, Carlisle, Dennis, Enfield, Harwich, Holland, Ipswich, Marshfield, New Ashford, North Attleboro, Pembroke, Provinctown, Shutesbury, Wayland, Wellfleet, Westport, Wilmington, and Yarmouth.
These records are available online at FamilySearch as Massachusetts, State Census, 1855.

For 1865, the census recorded every person by name in the household, age, sex, color, place of birth, marital status, occupation, whether a person was deaf, dumb, blind, insane, idiotic, pauper, or convict, and whether a man was a ratable poll (i.e. over 16 with enough property to be taxed), and a legal voter or a naturalized voter. Enumerators is ninety-six (96) towns listed the exact place of birth. These towns are:
Ashburnham, Ashfield, Bedford, Berlin, Bolton, Boxborough, Brimfield, Brookline, Carlisle, Charlestown, Chatham, Cheshire, Chester, Cummington, Dartmouth, Dennis, Dorchester, Dunstable, Edgartown, Essex, Falmouth, Florida, Foxborough, Framingham, Freetown, Gill, Gosnold, Grafton, Greenwich, Groton, Hadley, Halifax, Hancock, Harwich, Hawley, Holland, Hopkinton, Ipswich, Lee, Leicester, Lenox, Lexington, Leyden, Littleton, Lunenburg, Lynn (Wds. 3-5), Lynnfield, Marlborough, Marshfield, Melrose, Middleton, Milton, Monroe, Monson, Monterey, Needham, New Ashford, New Bedford (Wd. 4), New Salem, North Bridgewater [now Brockton], North Reading, Northfield, Palmer, Pepperell, Quincy, Reading, Rehoboth, Rochester, Rockport, Russell, Scituate, Sharon, Sherborn, Shutesbury, Somerset, South Danvers [now Peabody], Stoughton, Sutton, Swampscott, Tisbury, Uxbridge, Ware, Wareham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellfleet, Wendell, Westborough, Westford, Westminister, Weymouth, Williamsburg, Wilmington, Winthrop, and Yarmouth.
These records are available online at FamilySearch as Massachusetts, State Census, 1865.

This is a short bibliography on the subject of censuses in Massachusetts:

  • Josiah Henry Benton, Early Census Making in Massachusetts, 1643-1765, with a reproduction of the lost census of 1765 (recently found) and documents relating thereto (Boston, 1905), 104 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive or Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William H. Dumont, "A Short Census of Massachusetts - 1779" in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, 49: 14-20, 96-100, 137-141; 50: 26-28, 207-214; 51: 44-48.
    This is included because of the title, but it should be noted that this is not a census.
  • Charles Ferris Gettemy, An Historical Survey of Census Taking in Massachusetts (Boston, 1919), 57 pp.
    Digital version at Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Samuel Abbott Green, "The First Census of Massachusetts" [i.e. 1765] in Publications of the American Statistical Association, New Ser., 2 [1890-1891]: 182-185.
    Digital version at Jstor (free).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Ann S. Lainhart, State Census Records (Baltimore, 1992), 116 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 X2Lai.
  • Ann Smith Lainhart, 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts State Censuses For ... (Boston, 1986-1992), in 64 volumes for the seventy-three (73) towns of Acton, Bedford, Billerica, Boxboro, Boxford, Bradford, Bridgewater, Brighton, Burlington, Charlestown (2v.), Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Essex, Georgetown, Groton, Groveland, Halifax, Hamilton, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hull, Ipswich, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Lynnfield, Manchester, Marlborough, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Medford, Melrose, Middleborough, Middleton, Nahant, Natick, Newbury, North Andover, North Bridgewater [now Brockton], Pembroke, Plympton, Rochester, Rockport, Saugus, South Reading [now Wakefield], Sherborn, Shirley, Stoneham, Stow, Sudbury, Swampscott, Tewksbury, Topsfield, Townsend, Tyngsborough, Wareham, Watertown, Wayland, Wenham, West Bridgewater, West Cambridge [now Arlington], West Newbury, Westford, Weston, Wilmington, and Winchester.
  • "Old Census of Massachusetts" [1764-65] published in the Columbian Centinel, issue 17 Aug. 1822, p. 1, cols. 2-3.
Top of Page

Churches

Information regarding specific churches is best found on the town pages. This guide will list demoninational archives followed by a bibliography of histories of the various churches in Massachusetts.

Demonination Archive Description
Baptist
Andover Newton Theological School
210 Herrick Rd.
Newton Centre MA 02459
617-964-1100
website
The Franklin Trask Library hold several dozen local area church records of now defunct churches.
Congregational
The Congregational Library
14 Beacon St.
Boston MA 02108
617-523-0470
website
This library has a wealth of books on Congregationalism and there are online guides to finding aids for manuscript collections.
Episcopal
Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
138 Tremont St.
Boston MA 02111
617-482-5800
website
The Archives does not maintain a list of records they hold, but consult the guide to their holdings in the bibliography below.
Episcopal
Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts
37 Chestnut St.
Springfield MA 01103
413-737-4786
website
This Archives has an online guide (pdf file) that shows the few church records they hold.
Jewish
American Jewish Historical Society
99-101 Newbury St.
Boston MA 02116
617-226-1245
website
This library is within the New England Historic Genealogical Society, but maintains their own reference desk and collections. Their manuscript holdings are online.
Lutheran
The Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia
7301 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia PA 19119
215-248-6383
website
The Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia holds the records of defunct churches and other records given to them, but there is no inventory of them online.
Methodist
Boston University
School of Theology Library
745 Commonwealth Ave., 2nd Flr.
Boston MA 02215
617-353-1323
website
The library holds a large number of church records and their online guides. Their holdings of Boston church records is a separate list. Also check their historical files for non-church record material.
Presbyterian
Presbyterian Historical Society
425 Lombard St.
Philadelphia PA 19147
215-627-1852
website
The library does not hold any Massachusetts church records, but they have Hall's Index Database that will list all the churches by town and give some historical data.
Roman Catholic
Archives of the Archdiocese of Boston
66 Brooks Dr.
Braintree MA 02184
617-746-5795
website
This diocese serves Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Suffolk Counties. There are online guides to parish establishments, church and cemetery records held by the archives, and other resources from their main page.
Roman Catholic
Diocese of Fall River
362 Highland Ave.
PO Box 2577
Fall River MA 02722
508-675-1311
website
This diocese serves Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes and Nantucket Counties. This Archives collects, organizes, and preserves records, documents and memorabilia of the Diocese for administrative and historical purposes, but is not open to the general public.
Roman Catholic
Diocese of Springfield
65 Elliott St.
PO Box 1730
Springfield MA 01102
413-732-3175
website
This diocese serves Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties, but does not maintain an Archive.
Roman Catholic
Diocese of Worcester
49 Elm St.
Worcester MA 01609
508-791-7171
website
This diocese serves Worcester County, but does not maintain an Archive.
Society of Friends
(Quakers)
Rhode Island Historical Society
121 Hope St.
Providence RI 02906
401-273-8107
website
The membership library holds the records of the New England Yearly Meetings.
Unitarian/Universalist
Harvard Divinity School
45 Francis Ave.
Cambridge MA 02138
617-495-5788
website
The Andover-Harvard Theological Library maintains a detailed list of their holdings online.

General:

Baptist:

  • Thomas E. Buckley, "Church and State in Massachusetts Bay: A Case Study of Baptist Dissenters, 1651" in Journal of Church and State, 23 [1981]: 309-322.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • John Woolman Brush, Baptists in Massachusetts (Valley Forge, Pa., 1970), 78 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 K2bj.
  • Consolidated History of the Fifteen Churches of the Framingham Baptist Association (South Framingham, Mass., 1902), 131 pp.
    No digital version found.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William Harrison Eaton, Historical Sketch of the Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society and Convention, 1802-1902 (Boston, 1903), x, 240 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
    Note: "Pastors of Baptist churches in Massachusetts, 1802-1902," p. 137-213.
  • History of the Baptist Churches Composing the Sturbridge Association, from their Origin to 1843 (New York, 1844), 54 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Hathi Trust.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • W. G. McLaughlin, New England Dissent, 1630-1833, The Baptists and Separation of Church and State (Cambridge, 1971), 2v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Carla Gardina Pestana, Quakers and Baptists in Colonial Massachusetts (New York, 1991), xii, 197 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 K2p.
  • David Porter, "The Baptist Struggle for Religious Freedom in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1650-1670" in Foundation, 14 [1971]: 24-32.
    Not in WorldCat; Not at FHL.

Congregational:

Episcopal:

Jewish:

  • Samuel Broches, Jews in New England: Pt. I, Historical study of the Jews in Massachusetts (1650-1750) (New York, 1942), 68 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Albert Ehrenfried, A Chronicle of Boston Jewry from the Colonial Settlement to 1900 (Boston, 1963), viii, 771 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Lee Max Friedman, "Early Jewish Residents in Massachusetts" in Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society, 23 [1915]: 79-90.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 B2jh no. 23.
  • Jonathan Sarna and Ellen Smith, The Jews of Boston (Boston, 1995; rep. New Haven, Conn., 2005), 370 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Solomon Schindler, Israelites in Boston: A Tale Describing the Development of Judaism in Boston (Boston, 1889), 1v. (unpaginated).
    No digital version found.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.

Methodist Episcopal:

Presbyterian:

  • "Complete List of the Congregational and Presbyterian Ministers in Massachusetts from the settlement of the colonies of Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay to the present time" [Note: Only covers Suffolk and Berkshire counties] in American Quarterly Register, 7 [1834-1835]: 28-38.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.

Quaker:

Roman Catholic:

Unitarian:

  • George Madison Bodge, Historical Sketch of the Norfolk Conference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches ... with brief sketches of the churches now belonging to the conference and lists of their ministers ... ([Randolph, Mass.?], 1900), 48 pp.
    Digital version at Internet Archive.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George Edward Ellis, A Half-Century of the Unitarian Controversy, with particular reference to its origin, its course, and its prominent subjects among the Congregationalists of Massachusetts (Boston, 1857), xxiv, 511 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Frederick Lewis Weir, "Early Records of the Seventeenth-century Churches in Massachusetts which became Unitarian" in The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society, 7, Pt. 2 [1941]: 11-22.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Conrad Wright, "Unitarian Beginnings in Western Massachusetts" in The Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society, 21: 2 [1989]: 27-40.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.

Universalist:

  • Historical Records Survey - Massachusetts, An Inventory of Universalist Archives in Massachusetts (Boston, 1942), iii, 489 pp.
    Digital version at Hathi Trust.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL film 1597561 Item 3.
  • David H. MacPherson, "The Massachusetts Universalist Convention" in Annual Journal of the Universalist Historical Society, 6 [1966]: 5-24.
    About the decline of Universalism, 1900-1950.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Russell E. Miller, The Larger Hope, The First Century of the Universalist Church in America, 1770-1870 (Boston, 1979), 2 v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
Top of Page

Military

With the first permanent settlement at Plymouth, militias were formed to protect the early settlers. The most famous is the Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts Bay established in 1637. This guide is an overview, war-by-war, of histories and published records for those who served. There were other skirmishes of a lesser degree not listed here. To learn about the myriad involvements, consult the wikipedia entry for United States Wars.

Quick Links to military history and records
General Bibliography
Colonial Wars
(pre-1754)
French and Indian Wars
(1754-1763)
Loyalist Resources
Revolutionary War
(1776-1783)
Shays' Rebellion
(1786-1787)
War of 1812
(1812-1815)
American Civil War
(1861-1865)
Spanish-American War
(1898)
World War I
(1914-1918)
World War II
(1941-1945)
Korean Conflict
(1950-1953)
Vietnam Conflict
(1961-1973)

General Bibliography
  • Ellery Bicknell Crane, "The Early Militia System of Massachusetts" in Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, 1888: 105-127.
    No digital version found.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Charles Winslow Hall, ed., Regiments and Armories of Massachusetts; an historical narration of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, with portraits and biographies of officers past and present (Boston, 1899-1901), 2v.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive (v. 1 and v. 2) and Ancestry ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, "The American Militia and the Origin of Conscription: A Reassessment" in Journal of Libertarian Studies, 15 [2001]: 29-77.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • James C. Neagles, U.S. Military Records, A Guide to Federal and State Sources, Colonial America to the Present (Salt Lake City, 1994), xiv, 441 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 973 M23nu.
  • Jack Sheldon Radabaugh, "The Military System of Colonial Massachusetts, 1690-1740," Ph.D. Dissertation, Univ. Southern California, 1965, ix, 598 leaves.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • George Alfred Raikes, The History of the Honourable Artillery Company (London, 1878), 2v. (For Mass., see 1: 324-365, 453-459; 2: 436-473).
    Digital versions at Hathi Trust and Google Books (v. 1 and v.2).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Oliver Ayer Roberts, History of the Military Company of Massachusetts, now called the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, 1637-1888 (Boston, 1895-1901), 4v.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive (v. 1, v. 2, v. 3, and v.4), Google Books (v. 1, v. 2, v. 3, and v. 4), and Ancestry ($) (v. 4 only).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL digital link.
  • Christine K. Schaefer, The Great War: a guide to the service Records of all the World’s Fighting Men and Volunteers (Baltimore, 1998), xiv, 189 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 940.41 Sch13g.
  • Zachariah Gardner Whitman, The History of the Massachusetts Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company from its formation in 1637 ... to the present time (Boston, 1820; 2nd ed., 1842), iv, 463 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
Top of Page | Top of Military

Colonial Wars (pre-1754)

Records: [Note: Published records drawn from the originals in the Massachusetts Archives Collection]

History:

  • Benjamin Church and Henry Martyn Dexter, The History of King Philip's War (Boston, 1865), 2v.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Hathi Trust.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Samuel G. Drake, A Particular History of the Five Years French and Indian War in New England and Parts Adjacent ... sometimes called Governor Shirley's War [1744-1749] (Albany, 1870), 312 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974 M2d (198? rep.).
  • Michael J. Puglisi, Puritans Besieged: The Legacies of King Philip's War in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (Lanham, Md., 1991), xii, 244 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William F. Ricketson, "To Be Young, Poor, and Alone: The Experiences of Widowhood in the Massachusetts Bay Colony" in New England Quarterly, 64 [1991]: 113-127.
    Based on a sampling of women, widowed in the King Philip's War, who petitioned the legislature.
    Digital version at Jstor ($).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Eric B. Schultz and Michael J. Tougias, King Philip's War: The History and Legacy of America's Forgotten Conflict (Woodstock, Vt., 1999), xv, 416 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
Top of Page | Top of Military

French and Indian Wars (1754-1763)
[Called Seven Years' War in Europe (war declared in 1756)]

Records: [Note: Published records drawn from the originals in the Massachusetts Archives Collection]

History:

  • Benjamin Doolittle, A Short Narrative of Mischief Done by the French and Indian Enemy, on the western frontiers of the province of Massachusetts-Bay (Boston, 1750; rep. New York, 1909), 27 pp.
    No digital version found.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • William M. Fowler, Empires at War: the French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763 (New York, 2005), xxv, 332 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
Top of Page | Top of Military

Loyalists Resources

Loyalists, in general, are those people living in the colonies who remained loyal to the Crown in the Revolutionary War period. Those who fled to Canada are referred to as United Empire Loyalists.

Mass. History:

General History / Guides:

Top of Page | Top of Military

Revolutionary War
Quick Links to Revolutionary War topics
State Records Published Records Federal Records Published Records (Gen.)
Regimental History History General Guides

This is the first war where there are a large number of governmental and private records created for us to better understand the war and the individuals who served in it.

State Records:

Published Records:

  • Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War. A compilation from the archives (Boston, 1896-1908), 17v.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 M23m v.# or film 238343 (1st of 17) or fiche 6046890.
    Note: Entries are under the exact spelling in the record; therefore, always look for variant spellings. The most common spelling with have an entry listing all the other variants found in the records.
    Digital database with all volumes found at Ancestry ($). Select the digital link for individual volumes from the table below.
Digital versions of Mass. Soldiers and Sailors
Vol. 01 Aac - Ber Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 02 Bes - Byx Internet Archive
Vol. 03 Caa - Cor Internet Archive
Vol. 04 Cos - Dry Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 05 Dua - Foy Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 06 Fra - Gyp Internet Archive
Vol. 07 Haa - Hix Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 08 Hme - Jyp Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 09 Kab - Lsu Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 10 Lua - Mop Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 11 Mor - Paz Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 12 Pea - Raz Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 13 Rea - Sey Internet Archive
Vol. 14 Sha - Sth Internet Archive Google Books
Vol. 15 Sti - Toz Internet Archive
Vol. 16 Tra - Whe Internet Archive
Vol. 17 Whi - Zyr Internet Archive
Top of Page | Top of Military | Top of Revolutionary War

Federal Records:

The Revolutionary War rolls, 1775-1783, are held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The records were microfilmed as NARA's M246 series and as FHL film 830280 (1st of 138) (Massachusetts 830304-830321). These records are arranged by jacket number (see list below).
This collection is ONLINE at FamilySearch.org is a browsable form (as of Aug. 2013) by jacket numbers. It is also available at fold3.com ($) where it is indexed.

Roll Regiment Years Jacket # Roll Regiment Years Jacket #
35 1st Regt. 1777-1781 1-2 41 Cowell's Co. of Militia 1776 55
35 2nd Regt. 1777-1781 3 41 Crandon's Co. 1779 56
36 3rd Regt. 1777-1782 4 41 Cushing's Regt. of Militia 1777 57
36 3rd Regt. 1783 5 41 Denny's Regt. of Militia no date 58
36 4th Regt. 1781-1783 6 41 Durfee's Co. 1778 59
36 5th Regt. 1778-1781 7 41 Fellow's Regt. 1775 60
36 5th Regt. 1777-1782 8 41 French's Regt. 1777 61
37 6th Regt. 1777-1780 9 41 Frye's Regt. 1775 62
37 7th Regt. 1777-1781 10 41 Gerrish's Regt. 1778 63
37 8th Regt. 1778-1780 11 41 Goodrich's Command 1780 64
37 9th Regt. 1778-1781 12 41 Holman's Regt. of Foot 1776 65
38 10th Regt. 1778-1780 13-14 41 Jacob's Regt. 1778-1779 66
38 12th Regt. 1777-1779 15-17 41 Hyde's Detachment of Militia 1777 67
38 13th Regt. 1777 18 41 Keyes' Regt. 1777 68
38 15th Regt. 1777-1780 19 41 Leach's Co. of Matrosses 1776-1777 69
39 15th Regt. 1777-1779 20 41 Leach's Co. no date 70
39 16th Regt. 1777-1780 21-26 41 Leonard's Regt. of Militia no date 71
40 n/a n/a 27-34 41 Molten's Co. of Guards 1779 72
40 1st Regt. of Militia 1776 35 41 Murray's Regt. of Militia 1780 73
40 1st Regt. of Militia, Lincoln Co. 1776 36 41 Perce's Battalion of Militia 1779 74
40 1st Regt. of Guards 1778 37 41 Perry's Co. of Minute Men 1775 75
40 3rd Regt. of Militia 1779 38 41 Poors Regt. of Militia 1778 76
40 4th Regt. of Militia 1777 39 41 Pope's Regt. 1777 77
40 4th Regt. of Militia 1778-1780 40 41 Porter's Regt. of Militia 1776 78
40 18th Regt. 1775 41 41 Rand's Regt. of Levies 1776 79
40 25th Regt. of Foot 1775 42 41 Richardson's Co. of Militia 1776-1777 80
40 32nd Regt. of Militia 1775 43 41 Robinson's Co. of Militia 1777 81
40 Bailey's Regt. of Militia no dates 44 41 Robinson's Regt. of Militia 1777 82
40 Brewer's Regt. 1776 45 41 Simmond's Regt. of Militia 1777 83
40 Brooks' Regt. of Militia 1778 46 41 Smith's Regt. of Foot 1776 84
40 Bullards' Regt. of Militia 1776 47 41 Saprhawk's Regt. of Militia 1778 85
40 Burt's Co. of Militia 1776-1777 48 41 Stearn's Regt. of Militia 1778 86
40 Cady's Detachment (or Regt.) 1776 49 41 Turner's Regt. 1781 87
40 Carpenter's Co. of Militia 1779 50 41 Williams' Regt. 1777 88
40 Carpenter's Regt. of Militia 1776-1778 51 41 Williams' Regt. of Milita 1777 89
40 Cary's Regt. of Militia 1780 52 41 Wood's Regt. of Militia 1778-1779 90
40 Cary's Regt. 1776 53 42 [Various organizations] no dates 91
40 Cogwell's Regt. of Militia 1778 54

Other selected Federal military records include:

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Published Records (General):

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Regimental History:

Frank A. Gardner wrote a series of articles on the history of the various regiments raised from Massachusetts that fought in the Revolution. They were published in The Massachusetts Magazine: a quarterly magazine devoted to Massachusetts history, genealogy, and biography, v. 1 - 11 (1908-1918).
WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 B2mm.
Below is a list of the individual articles with digital links for each.

  • Frank A. Gardner, “Col. John Glover’s Marblehead Regiment” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 1 [1908]: 14-20, 85-102.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Col. William Prescott’s Regiment. Colonel William Prescott’s Minute-Men’s Regiment 1775. Tenth Regiment Army of the United Colonies 1775. Seventh Regiment Continental Army 1776” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 1 [1908]: 149-167, 235-259.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Ephraim Doolittle’s Regiment. Colonel Ephraim Doolittle’s Minute-Men’s Regiment 1775. Twenty-Fourth Regiment, Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 2 [1909]: 11-29.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Timothy Daneilson’s Regiment. Colonel Timothy Danielson’s Minute-Men’s Regiment 1775. 18th Regiment Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 2 [1909]: 69-83.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel John Fellows’ Regiment. Colonel John Fellows’ Minute Men’s Regiment 1775. 8th Regiment Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 2 [1909]: 141-161.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Ebenezer Bridge’s Regiment" in The Massachusetts Magazine, 2 [1909]: 203-227.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Timothy Walker’s Regiment. Colonel Timothy Walker’s Minute Men’s Regiment 1775. Twenty-Second Regiment, Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 3 [1910]: 25-39.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Theophilus Cotton’s Regiment. Colonel Theophilus Cotton’s Minute Men’s Regiment 1775. 16th Regiment Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 3 [1910]: 99-116.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel James Frye’s Regiment. Colonel James Frye’s Minute Men’s Regiment 1775. First Regiment Army of the United Colonies 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 3 [1910]: 187-198, 246-256.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Ruggles Woodbridge’s Regiment. Colonel B. Woodbridge’s Minute Men’s Regiment 1775. Colonel B. Woodbridge’s Regiment, Army of the United Colonies” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 4 [1911]: 29-42, 82-95.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Thomas Gardner’s Regiment. Colonel Thomas Gardner’s Regiment, Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. Late Colonel Thomas Gardner’s 37th Regiment, Army of the U.C. 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 4 [1911]: 153-173.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Samuel Gerrish’s Regiment. Colonel Samuel Gerrish’s (2nd Essex County) Regiment, April 19, 1775. 25th Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775; 38th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-August 19, 1775. Lieut. Colonel Loammi Baldwin’s 38th Regiment, A. U.C. August 19-December 31, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 4 [1911]: 221-243.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel William Heath’s and Colonel John Greaton’s Regiments. Colonel William Heath’s Regiment April 19, 1775. Colonel John Greaton’s Regiment April 19, 1775. Colonel William Heath’s 21st Regiment, 21st Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel John Greaton’s 36th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 5 [1912]: 15-28, 55-72.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Ebenzer Learned’s Regiment. Colonel Ebnenezer Learned’s Minute Men’s Regiment April 19, 1775. Colonel Ebenezer Learned’s 14th Regiment, Provincial Army April-July, 1775. Colonel Ebenezer Learned’s 4th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 5 [1912]: 73-101.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent’s Regiment. Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent’s Lexington Alarm Regiment April 19, 1775. Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent’s 28th Regiment, Army United Colonies July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 6 [1913]: 82-94, 125-136.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel John Mansfield’s Regiment. Colonel John Mansfield’s 7th Regiment, Provincial Army, May to July, 1775. Colonel John Mansfield’s 19th Regiment, Army United Colonies, July to September 15, 1775. Lieutenant Colonel Israel Hutchinson’s 19th Regiment, Army United Colonies, September 15th to December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 6 [1913]: 147-158; 7 [1914]: 32-45.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Asa Whitcomb’s Regiment. Colonel Asa Whitcomb’s Regiment, April 19, 1775. Colonel Asa Whitecomb’s 5th Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel Asa Whitcomb’s 23rd Regiment, Army United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 7 [1914]: 99-123.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “General John Thomas’ and Colonel John Bailey’s Regiments. Colonel John Bailey’s or General John Thomas’s Regiment April 19, 1775. General John Thomas’ 2nd Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel John Bailey’s 35th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 7 [1914]: 158-182.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel John Paterson’s Regiment. Colonel John Paterson’s Minute Men’s and Militia Regiment, April 19, 175. Colonel John Paterson’s 12th Regiment, Provincial Army, May-June 1775. Colonel John Paterson’s 26th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 8 [1915]: 27-42, 75-83.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “General Artemas Ward’s and Colonel Jonathan Ward’s Regiments. General Artemas Ward’s Regiment, Lexington Alarm, April 19, 1775. General Artemas Ward’s 1st Regiment, Provincial Army, May-June, 1775. Colonel Jonathan Ward’s 32nd Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 8 [1915]: 123-152, 185-200.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Moses Little’s Regiment. Colonel Moses Little’s 24th Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel Moses Little’s 17th Regiment Army of the United Colonies, July-December, 1775" in The Massachusetts Magazine, 9 [1916]: 18-44.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Joseph Read’s Regiment. Colonel Joseph Read’s 6th Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel Joseph Read’s 20th Regiment, Army of the United Colonies, July-October 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 9 [1916]: 87-106.
  • Frank A. Gardner, “Colonel Jonathan Brewer’s Regiment. Colonel Jonathan Brewer’s 19th Regiment, Provincial Army, April-July, 1775. Colonel Jonathan Brewer’s 6th Regiment, Army United Colonies, July-December, 1775” in The Massachusetts Magazine, 9 [1916]: 137-153, 189-204.
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History:

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General Guides:

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Shays' Rebellion

The Shays' Rebellion, named after one of the leaders, Daniel Shays, was an armed uprising in western Massachusetts in 1786 and 1787. Court records and newspapers chronicle this event, but there were no military records.

History:

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War of 1812

During the War of 1812, Massachusetts supplied 43,321 infantry men, 446 cavalry men, 2,714 artillery men, and 200 men in miscellaneous troops for a total of 46,681 men.[2]

Records:

  • Muster Rolls and Payrolls of the Massachusetts Militia, 1812-1815, 9v. at the Massachusetts Archive.
    FHL film 2109974 (1st of 7).
  • Carded Records Showing Military Service of Soldiers Who Fought in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812, 1899-1927, NARA ARC Identifier 654501.
    "Receipts for Pay" rolls that are filed with the series "Muster Rolls of Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812, 1812-1815" (ARC Identifier 654644) were not carded, and it is sometimes necessary to consult that series to obtain the complete service of an individual. Arranged by alphabetically by state, thereunder numerically by regiment, thereunder by name of commanding officer (chronologically thereunder for various periods of service), and thereunder alphabetically by name of soldier. Records for U.S. Volunteer Organizations, Indian Regiments, Prisoners of War, Spies, and Quartermaster Department are arranged similarly at the end of the state file.
    -----
    Indexes to the Carded Records of Soldiers Who Served in Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812, NARA ARC Identifier 654644, M602 series, FHL film 882519 (1st of 234).
    ONLINE:
    FamilySearch.org (browsable alpha index); fold3.com (browsable by name to Miller); Ancestry ($) (indexed); Scanned on Internet Archive, but use Don Krieger's Guide for better access.
  • War of 1812 Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, NARA Archives Identifier 564415 (never microfilmed), and Indexed, NARA M313 series, FHL film 840431 (1st of 102); ALSO see book index below.
    ONLINE:
    Pension Files, fold3.com (free) [browse up to "Dexter" as of Aug. 2013].
    Pension index, Ancestry ($) (indexed); FamilySearch.org (browsable, but sections are scan batches).
  • Lists of Records of Military Organizations Used to Create Volunteer Compiled Military Service Records [i.e. Ainsworth Lists], NARA T817 series, Rolls 18-20 for War of 1812 Massachusetts Lists, 1-126, FHL films 1490260, 1715892-1715893 (for same).
  • Muster Rolls of Volunteer Organizations During the War of 1812 [i.e. Sea Fencibles and six companies of Rangers], NARA Archives Identifier 654644 (not microfilmed or digitized).
  • Numerical Index, arranged by state and then by number, NARA ARC Identifier 654505 (not microfilmed).
    ONLINE:
    fold3.com ($) (10% finished in Aug. 2013).
  • Military Bounty Land Warrants under the Act of 1812, 1815-1858, NARA M848 series, FHL film 983163 (1st of 15).
    ONLINE:
    Ancestry ($) [inc. Rev. War] and Digital scan of manuscript index, see Don Krieger's site.
  • War of 1812 Prize Case Files, 1812-1815, District of Massachusetts, NARA Archives Identifier 608051 (not microfilmed or digitized).

Published Records:

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History:

Guides:

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Civil War
Quick Links to Civil War
Records
Guides
History
Regimental Lists
1st-11th Infantry
12th-24th Infantry
25th-37th Infantry
38th-57th Infantry
58th Inf.+, Misc.,
Lt. Art., H. Art.
H. Art. (4th+), Cav.,
Mass. Men (states), USA
USA (M-Z), Colored
Troops, USN, Marine Corps

Much work has gone into this section to create a first-class guide to Civil War resources relating to Massachusetts. Areas to improve are to add the regimental histories in the tables below under history and to cull out all relevant material from the National Archives holdings as has been done with the previous wars.

Federal Records:

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

  • Civil War Soldiers Index, FamilySearch.org and Ancestry ($).
    This is an index to the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System maintained by the National Park Service.
  • Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865, Ancestry ($), compiled from published sources
  • Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865, NARA ARC 4213514, Ancestry ($).
  • Compiled Records showing service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations, being NARA M594 series, 225 reels, Mass. on reels 75-82, scanned on Internet Archive.
  • Civil War Prisoner of War Records, 1861-1865, database derived from NARA M598, M918, M1303, and M2072 series, Ancestry ($).
  • Civil War Service Records of Union Soldiers, 1864-1866, FamilySearch.org, being NARA M1017 series.
  • Civil War Service Records of Union Colored Troops, 1863-1865, FamilySearch.org, the NARA series was NOT identified.
  • General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, FamilySearch.org [59% completed in Aug. 2013] and Ancestry ($), being NARA T288 series.
  • Civil War and later Pension Index, 1861-1917, FamilySearch.org and fold3.com ($), being NARA T289 series.
  • Civil War Widows and Other Dependents Pension Files, United States FamilySearch.org [4% indexing completed in Aug. 2013] and fold3.com ($) [5% complete], the NARA series was NOT identified.
  • Remarried Widows Index to Pension Applications, 1887-1942, FamilySearch.org and Ancestry ($), being NARA M1784 and M1785 series.
  • Naval Enlistment Weekly Returns, 1855-1891, fold3.com, being NARA M1953 series.
  • Navy Pension Index, 1861-1910, derived from NARA M1274, M1279, M1408, and M1469 (see next four entries), Ancestry ($).
  • Navy Survivors' Certificates, fold3.com ($), being NARA M1469 series.
  • Navy Survivors' Originals (Disapproved), fold3.com($), being NARA M1408 series.
  • Navy Widows' Certificates, 1861-1910, FamilySearch.org or fold3.com ($), being NARA M1279 series.
  • Navy Widows' Originals (Disapproved), 1861-1910, fold3.com ($), being NARA M1274 series.
  • Registers of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, FamilySearch.org, being NARA M233 series [12% completed in Aug. 2013].
  • Records of Headstones of Deceased Union Veterans, 1879-1903, [FamilySearch.org and Ancestry ($), being NARA M1845 series.
  • Civil War Service Index - Union - Massachusetts (index cards), fold3.com ($), being NARA M544 series.
  • Mass. 54th Infantry Regt. Records, fold3.com ($), being part of NARA M1659 series.

State Records:

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Guides:

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History:

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Regimental Lists:

Abbreviations fo Mass. Civil War Unit Table
Art. Artillery Ass. Assigned to Batt. Battalion Cav. Cavalry
Co. Company Col. Colored Disc. Discharged H. Art. Heavy Artillery
Ind. Independent Inf. Infantry L. Art. Light Artillery Mil. Militia
Mass. Massachusetts Must-I Mustered In Must-O Mustered Out Org. Organized
Regt. Regiment Rif. Riflemen Ss. Sharpshooter Un. Unassigned
Vol. Volunteer


Massachusetts Civil War Units
1st through 11th Infantry
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
1st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1861 - May 1864
Details
---
2nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
3rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 3 months)
Co. A-L Apr. 1861 - July 1861
Details
---
3rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - June 1863
Details
---
4th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 3 months)
Co. A-I Apr. 1861 - July 1861
Details
---
4th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - June 1863
Details
---
5th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 3 months)
Co. A-K Apr. 1861 - Aug. 1861
Details
---
5th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - July 1862<dr>Details ---
5th Regt. Mass. Vol. Militia
(Inf. - 100 days)
Co. A-K July 1864 - Nov. 1864
Details
---
6th Regt. Mass. Vol. Militia
(Inf. - 3 months)
Co. A-L Apr. 1861 - Aug. 1861
Details
---
6th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(Mil. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - June 1863
Details
---
6th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 100 days)
Co. A-K July 1864 - Oct. 1864
Details
---
7th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K June 1861 - June 1864
Details
---
8th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 3 months)
Co. A-K Apr. 1861 - Aug. 1861
Details
---
8th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - Aug. 1863
Details
---
8th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 100 days)
Co. A-K July 1864 - Nov. 1864
Details
---
9th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. June 1861 - June 1864
Details
---
10th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. June 1861 - July 1864
Details
---
11th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. June 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
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Massachusetts Civil War Units
12th through 24th Infantry
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
12th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Apr. 1861 - July 1864
Details
---
13th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1861 - Aug. 1864
Details
---
14th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. n/a n/a Became 1st Regt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
15th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. June 1861 - July 1864
Details
---
1st Co. Mass. Vol. Ss.
(3 years)
Single unit Aug. 1861 - June 1865
Details
Attached to 15th, 19th, & 20th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. as "Andrew Sharpshooters."
16th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Apr. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
17th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
18th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1861 - Sept. 1864
Details
---
19th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1861 - July 1864
Details
---
20th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1861 - July 1864
Details
---
21st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. July 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
22nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1861 - Oct. 1864
Details
---
2nd Co. Mass. Vol. Ss.
(3 years)
Single unit Sept. 1861 - Oct. 1864
Details
Attached to 22nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
23rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Apr. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
24th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - Jan. 1866
Details
---
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Massachusetts Civil War Units
25th through 37th Infantry
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
25th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
26th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - Sept. 1865
Details
---
27th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
28th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
29th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1861 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
30th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1861 - July 1866
Details
---
31st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Nov. 1861 - Sept. 1865
Details
---
32nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Co. A-K, Un. Nov. 1861 - July 1865
Details
---
33rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. June 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
34th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. July 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
35th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. July 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
36th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
37th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
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Massachusetts Civil War Units
38th through 57th Infantry
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
38th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. July 1862 - July 1865Details ---
39th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Sept. 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
40th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Aug. 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
41st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. n/a n/a Became 3rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
42nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - July 1864
Details
---
43rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - July 1863
Details
---
44th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - June 1863
Details
---
45th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - July 1863
Details
---
46th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - July 1863
Details
---
47th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - Sept. 1863
Details
---
48th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - Sept. 1863
Details
---
49th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - Sept. 1863
Details
---
50th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - Aug. 1863
Details
---
51st Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Sept. 1862 - July 1863
Details
---
52nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - Aug. 1863
Details
---
53rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 9 months)
Co. A-K Aug. 1862 - Aug. 1863
Details
---
54th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. (Col.)
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Feb. 1863 - Feb 1865
Details
---
55th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. (Col.)
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. May 1863 - Sept. 1865
Details
---
56th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Dec. 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
57th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Dec. 1863 - July 1865
Details
---
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Massachusetts Civil War Units
58th Infantry, Light Artillery, and through 3rd Heavy Artillery
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
58th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Jan. 1864 - July 1865
Details
---
59th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(3 years)
Co. A-K, Un. Dec. 1863 - July 1865
Details
---
60th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 100 days)
Co. A-K Aug. 1864 - Nov. 1864
Details
---
61st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(1 year)
Co. A-K Aug. 1864 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
62nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf.
(1 year)
Co. A-D, Un. Mar. 1865 - May 1865
Details
Regt. never fully organized; officers never mustered in
1st-13th Unattached Co. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 90 days)
Single Cos. Apr. 1864 - Aug. 1864
Details for: 1st; 2nd; [3rd; 4th; 5th; 6th; 7th; 8th; 9th; 10th; 11th; 12th; 13th
---
2nd, 15th-23rd Unattached Co. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 100 days)
Single Cos. July 1864 - Nov. 1864
Details for: 2nd; 15th; 16th; 17th; 18th; 19th; 20th; 21th; 22nd; 23rd
---
2nd,
17th-21st,
24th-27th Unattached Co.
Mass. Vol. Mil.
(Inf. - 100 days re-enlisted)
(Inf. - 1 year)
Single Cos. Nov. 1864 - July 1865
Details for: 2nd; 17th; 18th; 19th; 20th; 21th; 24th; 25th; 26th; 27th
---
3rd Batt. of Rifles Mass. Vol. Mil.
(3 months)
Co. A-D Apr. 1861 - July 1861
Details
---
4th Batt. of Inf. Mass. Vol. Mil. Single Cadet Units, Co. A-B May 1862 - Oct. 1862
Details
Includes Boston and Salem Cadets Militia
Co. B, 7th Regt. Mass. Vol. Militia
(Inf. - 6 months)
Single Co. June 1862 - Dec. 1862 ---
1st Battery L. Art. Mass. Vol. Mil.
(3 months)
Single Co. Apr. 1861 - Aug. 1861
Details
Called Cook's Battery
1st [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Aug. 1861 - Oct. 1864
Details
---
2nd [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Single Co. Apr. 1861 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
3rd [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Sept. 1861 - Sept. 1864
Details
---
4th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Single Co. Sept. 1861 - Nov. 1864
Details
---
5th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Single Co. Sept. 1961 - June 1865
Details
---
6th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Single Co. Fall 1861 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
7th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years - Re-enlisted)
Single Co. Apr. 1861 - Nov. 1865
Details
---
8th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(6 months)
Single Co. May 1862 - Nov. 1862
Details
Called Cook's Battery
9th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. July 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
10th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Aug. 1862 - June 1865
Details
---
11th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(9 months)
Single Co. Aug. 1862 - July 1863
Details
Called Jones' Battery
11th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Dec. 1863 - June 1865
Details
Enlarged from 11th Ind. Battery (9 months)
12th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Sept. 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
13th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Oct. 1862 - July 1865
Details
---
14th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Jan. 1864 - June 1865
Details
---
15th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Winter 1862 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
16th [Ind.] Battery Mass. Vol. L. Art.
(3 years)
Single Co. Mar. 1864 - July 1865
Details
---
1st Regt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. June 1861 - Aug. 1865
Details
---
2nd Regt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. May 1863 - Sept. 1865
Details
---
3rd Regt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. May 1863 - June 1865
Details
---
Top of Page | Top of Military | Top of Civil War


Massachusetts Civil War Units
4th+ Heavy Artillery, Calvary, Mass. Men in other States, and U.S. Army
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
4th Regt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(3 years)
Co. A-M Aug. 1864 - June 1865
Details
---
29th & 30th Unattached Cos. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(1 year)
Two Cos. Sept. 1864 - June 1865
Details: 29th and 30th
---
1st Batt. Mass. Vol. H. Art.
(3 years)
Co. A-F, Un. Feb. 1862 - Oct. 1865
Details
---
1st Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. Sept. 1861 - June 1865
Details
---
2nd Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. Dec. 1862 - Aug. 1865
Details
Cos. A, E, F, L, and M raised in California
3rd Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Read's Co., Un. Sept. 1861 - Oct. 1865
Details
---
4th Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. Feb. 1864 - Nov. 1865
Details
---
5th Regt. Mass. Vol. Cav. (Col.)
(3 years)
Co. A-M, Un. Fall 1863 - Nov. 1865
Details
---
1st Batt. Mass. Vol. Cav.
(1 year)
Co. A-E, Un. Winter 1864 - June 1865 Attached to 26th Regt., N.Y. Cav., Frontier Cav.
n/a n/a by State served n/a List of Mass. Men who served in 29 other states
n/a Mass. Officers alphabetical n/a In the U.S. Army and U.S. Vol.
n/a Mass. Soldiers alphabetical, A-L n/a In the U.S. Army and U.S. Vol.
Top of Page | Top of Military | Top of Civil War

Massachusetts Civil War Units
Mass. Men in U.S. Army, Veteran Reserve Corps, Colored Troops, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Marine Corps
The information in the lists of Massachusetts Military Units comes from the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors web site. This web site can also be searched by the name of a soldier.
Unit Name Type Roster Service History
n/a Mass. Soldiers alphabetical, M-Z n/a In the U.S. Army and U.S. Vol.
n/a Mass. Soldiers alphabetical by Unit n/a Misc. Units in U.S. Army and U.S. Vol.
n/a Mass. Enlistments alphabetical n/a In Veteran Reserve Corps, originally the Invalid Corps
n/a Mass. Officers alphabetical n/a In U.S. Colored Troops
n/a Mass. Soldiers alphabetical n/a In U.S. Colored Troops
n/a Mass. Officers alphabetical n/a In U.S. Navy
n/a Enlisted Men alphabetical, A-E n/a In U.S. Navy
n/a Enlisted Men alphabetical, F-Z n/a In U.S. Navy
n/a Mass. Officers alphabetical n/a In U.S. Marine Corps
n/a Mass. Enlisted Men alphabetical n/a In U.S. Marine Corps
Top of Page | Top of Military | Top of Civil War

Spanish-American War

Federal Records:

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

  • General Index to Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Soldiers who Served During the War with Spain, FamilySearch.org, the NARA series was NOT identified, browsable only in alphabetical order; Ancestry ($) (searchable), NARA M871 series.
  • General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934, FamilySearch.org [59% completed in Aug. 2013] and Ancestry ($), being NARA T288 series.
  • Civil War and later Pension Index, 1861-1917, FamilySearch.org and fold3.com ($), being NARA T289 series.

State Records:

History:

Top of Page | Top of Military

World War I

Federal Records:

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

State Records:

History:

Top of Page | Top of Military

World War II

Federal Records:

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

  • World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946, at FamilySearch.org, Ancestry ($), and fold3.com (free).
  • World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, at Ancestry ($) and fold3.com ($) [50% complete in Aug. 2013].
  • Selective Service System registration cards [World War II] : fourth registration, 1942, FHL film 2371930 (1st of 166).
    Note: This "Old Man's" draft was for those born between 28 Apr. 1877 and 16 Feb. 1897, being NARA M2090 series.
    ONLINE at FamilySearch.org and Ancestry ($).
  • World War II Cadet Nursing Corps Card Files, 1942-1948, at Ancestry ($).
  • World War II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946, at Ancestry ($).
  • Rosters of World War II Dead, 1939-1945, at Ancestry ($).
  • World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945, at Ancestry ($).
  • World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas, at Ancestry ($).
  • Veterans Affairs Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) Death File, at Ancestry ($) and fold3.com (free).

State Records:

Original state records held by the Military War Records Office in Milford. General access to these records is restricted.

Top of Page | Top of Military

Korean Conflict

Federal Records:

Many of the personnel files for this conflict were lost in a fire at the National Personnel Records Center fire in St. Louis. For more general information about researching this war, see this wiki's Korean War page.

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

State Records:

History:

Top of Page | Top of Military

Vietnam Conflict

For general information on research this war, see this wiki's Vietnam War page.

Federal Records:

The following are national records where information regarding Massachusetts soldiers and sailors may be found. This list was not compared to or include records found at the National Archives. It is only the list of ONLINE records from FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com, and fold3.com.

  • Military Fatal Casualties of the Vietnam War for Massachusetts, download pdf file here.
  • Military Personnel who Died During the Vietnam War, 1956-2003, at FamilySearch.org.
  • Records on Military Personnel Who Died, Were Missing in Action or Prisoners of War as a Result of the Vietnam War, documenting the period 8 June 1956 - 21 Jan. 1998, search online database and Ancestry ($).
  • Vietnam War, Casualties Returned Alive, 1962-1979, at Ancestry ($).
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C., images at fold3.com (free).

State Records:

Original state records held by the National Guard Museum & Archives in Concord (see their holdings online)

Top of Page | Top of Military

Immigration

Quick Links to Immigration Records
Passenger Lists Naturalization Records
Other Records Bibliography

There are many types of records to help researchers with a better understanding of their immigrant's arrival to the United States. Presented here are the two main groups: passenger lists and naturalization records. Other records would include passports, border crossings, and special collections. Each section has a specific bibliography and a general list is found from the links above.

Passenger Lists

Quick Links to Passenger Lists
Introduction
Records:
Boston Chicopee Fall River
Gloucester New Bedford Provincetown
Salem/Beverly Woods Hole Misc. Ports
Online Records
Introduction

Immigration records, i.e. passenger lists, started in the modern sense by the Commonwealth in 1848, though customs manifest records survive back to 1820 for Boston. Federal law required manifests in 1883 and took over the creation of these records in 1891. The earlier original records are at the Massachusetts Archives and the post-1890 record with the National Archives and Records Administration. The contact information for both archives is found below.

These passenger lists get more detailed as time goes on. The earliest records include the name of the vessel, the Master of the vessel, embarkation port, arrival port, arrival date, names of passengers (their age, sex, occupation, country of origin). More details such as a contact/nearest relative at home, who they are coming to see in the U.S., and other such information.

It was often cheaper to go to Canada first and then continue on to the United States. Between 1 Aug. 1891 and 30 Apr. 1904, records of immigrants traveling from or via Halifax, St. John, and Yarmouth to Boston were filed at Boston. Between 1 May 1904 and 30 June 1929, these records were examined in Canada and not examined in Boston, so their records were filed with the Canadian Border Arrival Records (St. Albans records, NARA publications M1461, M1463, M1464).

NOTE: NARA is used below to mean the National Archives and Records Administration.

Top of Page || Top of Immigration || Top of Passenger Lists
Records
[Note: NARA link will give location of records]

Boston

  • Records Relating to Passengers [Boston District], 1820-1891, NARA RG 36 NC-154 Inv. 511A (copies or abstracts only).
    Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, 1820–1891: with index 1848–1891, FHL film 205656 (first of 397 films).
    Note: There are gaps in the records from 1855-1856, and between 31 Mar. 1874 to April 1883. The Massachusetts Archives records below do not have the second gap of nine years.
  • Registers of passengers arriving in Massachusetts ports, 1848-1891, at the Massachusetts Archives, FHL film 2412195 (first of 42).
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, 1891-1943, NARA T843.
  • Book Indexes to Boston Passenger Lists, 1899-1940, NARA T790 (chronological).
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, Jan. 1944-Nov. 1954, NARA HMS P116.
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Departing from Boston, 06/1948-11/1954, NARA HMS P172.
  • Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, 1 Jan. 1902-31 Dec. 1920, NARA HMS A1-48.
    Records, 1902-1906, microfilmed on T617 series and indexed on T521 series.
    Records, 1906-1920, unpublished microfilm and index.
  • Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Boston, 1921-1949, NARA A3453.
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Boston, Feb. 1945-Nov. 1954, NARA HMS P119.
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Departing from Boston and Arriving at Yarmouth, N.S., June 1948-Sept. 1953, NARA HMS P173.
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Departing from Boston, Jan. 1948-Nov. 1954, NARA HMS P169.
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Departing from Yarmouth, N.S., and Arriving at Boston, June 1949-Sept. 1954, NARA MHS P114.
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Vessels and Airplanes Arriving at Boston, Dec. 1954-June 1983, NARA HMS P117 (records over 50 years accessible).
  • Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels and Airplanes Departing from Boston, Dec. 1954-Nov. 1974, NARA HMS P171 (records over 50 years accessible).
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Boston, Dec. 1957-Nov. 1969, NARA HMS P120.
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Departing from Boston, Dec. 1957-Nov. 1969, NARA HMS P170.

Chicopee

  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Arriving at Westover Air Force Base, Chicopee, 28 Jan. 1946-28 June 1955, NARA HMS P454.
  • Passenger and Crew Manifests of Airplanes Departing from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, 1 May 1948-31 May 1955, NARA HMS P455.

Fall River

  • [Fall River District] Passenger Lists, June 1834-Nov. 1855, NARA no number.
    Note: There are no records for the period October 1836 to June 1838, October 1838 to July 1840, and November 1847 to September 1855.
  • [Fall River District] List of Passengers Arriving from Foreign Countries and Returns of the Agent of the Marine Hospital, Apr. 1862-Dec. 1865, NARA no number.
  • Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Providence, Davisville, Melville, Newport, Quonset Point, and Tiverton, R.I.; Fall River, Mass.; and New London, Conn., Aug. 1918-Nov. 1954, NARA A3468.
  • Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Fall River, Mar. 1955-Mar. 1957, NARA HMS P456.
Top of Page || Top of Immigration || Top of Passenger Lists

Gloucester

New Bedford

  • [New Bedford District] Records Relating to Passengers, 1820-1940, NARA RG 36 NC-154 Inv. 588-591.
    Includes Inward Passenger Lists, 1821-1899 (588); Outward Passenger Lists, 1867-1870, 1872-1899 (589); Abstracts of Passenger Lists, 1820-1852, 1861-1865, 1877-1894 (590); Abstracts of Passenger Departures, 1877-1893 (590A); Index to Inward Passenger Lists, 1875-1894 (591).
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Bedford, 1 July 1902-July 1942, NARA T944.
  • Index to Passengers Arriving at New Bedford, 1 July 1902-18 Nov. 1954, NARA T522.
  • Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Bedford, May 1917-Dec. 1943, NARA T942.
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Bedford, 14 Dec. 1945-18 Nov. 1954, NARA HMS P463.
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels Departing from New Bedford, 27 Feb. 1959-11 Aug. 1966, NARA HMS P620 (records over 50 years accessible).
  • Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Bedford, 5 Apr. 1945-7 July 1978, NARA HMS P464 (records over 50 years accessible).

Provincetown

Salem and Beverly District

  • Reports of Alien Passengers Used in the Settlement of French Spoliation Claims, 1798-1800, NARA NC-154 442.
  • Passenger Lists, 1815-1883, NARA no number.

Woods Hole

  • Passenger and Crew Lists of Vessels Arriving at Woods Hole, 9 Mar. 1955-19 Sept. 1968, NARA HMS P529 (records over 50 years accessible).

Miscellaneous Ports

  • Copies of Lists of Passengers Arriving at Miscellaneous Ports on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and at Ports on the Great Lakes, 1820-1873, NARA M575.
    A Supplemental Index to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast Ports (excluding New York) 1820–1874, NARA M334, FHL films 418161–4181348.
    These records include the ports of Barnstable (1820-1826), Dighton (1820-1836), Edgartown (1820-1870), Fall River (1837-1865), Gloucester (1820-1870), Marblehead (1820-1849), Nantucket (1830-1862), New Bedford (1826-1852), Newburyport (1821-1839), and Plymouth (1821-1844).
Top of Page || Top of Immigration || Top of Passenger Lists

Online records
  • Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1891 at FamilySearch.org.
    This is the National Archives M277 series. There are gaps in the records from 1855-1856, and between 31 Mar. 1874 to April 1883. The latter gap can be found in the records at the Massachusetts Archives.
  • Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943, at FamilySearch.org.
    This is the National Archives T843 series. It is currently [July 2013] only browsable by volumes (records are in chronological order).
Top of Page || Top of Immigration || Top of Passenger Lists

Naturalization Records

Quick Links to Naturalization Records
Introduction Bibliography
Federal: Barnstable Berkshire Bristol
Dukes Essex Franklin Hampden
Hampshire Middlesex Nantucket Norfolk
Plymouth Suffolk Worcester
State: Barnstable Berkshire Bristol
Dukes Essex Franklin Hampden
Hampshire Middlesex Nantucket Norfolk
Plymouth Suffolk Worcester Sec. of State
State county links being moved to county pages
as they are created

Introduction

The first uniform laws to govern the naturalization process were enacted in 1790. The purpose was to give rights to the foreign-born man (and woman after 1922) as if he was a native-born man. Depending on the period, this would include owning land and voting. Any court in the land could naturalize a man, but all that was consolidated under a federal system in 1906. The declaration of intent, with some exceptions, was the first step in the process (sometimes called first papers). This often was files within the first couple years of residency. The second and third steps were to petition for citizenship and to receive a certificate of citizenship from the court petitioned. This could be filed as soon as one to three years after the declaration, though it may not be in the same court or state as the declaration. These were sometimes called the final or second papers). This guide is to the records covering the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is broken down into those records held by the federal government and those held by the state. Index cards usually include the name of the immigrant, age, birth date, place and date of certificate of admission, petition number, and occasionally the spouse's name. Read the Naturalization and Citizenship section for the United States to learn more about the whole process.

Federal Naturalization Records for Massachusetts
Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online
U.S. District Court
of Massachusetts
1789-1991 National Archives - Waltham, RG 21 Petitions and Records of Naturalization of the U.S. District Court and Circuit Courts of the District of Massachusetts, 1906-1929, M1368.
Petitions and Records, FHL film 1578248 (1st of 55)
ONLINE at fold3 ($).
-----
Index to Naturalization Petitions and Records of the U.S. District Court, 1906-1966, and the U.S. Circuit Court, 1906-1911, for the District of Massachusetts, M1545, FHL film 1429671 (first of 117).
ONLINE at Massachusetts Naturalization Index, 1906-1966, Ancestry ($), and fold3 ($).
-----
NARA, RG 21, Primary declarations, 1798-1946, Naturalization records, 1790-1906, Petitions, #1195587-2353923, Certified declarations, v. 131-257, Index to declarations, 1912-1940, FHL film 2416289 (1st of 498)
-----
NARA, RG 21, Naturalization records, 1845-1906 (#1-449-103), Declarations, 1845-1911, Depositions of witnesses (#1-290739), and Index to declarations, 1906-1911, FHL film 2414774 (1st of 191)
-----
Petitions, v. 1 (ca. 1787-1906) [film only], v. 2-252 (1847-1902) [digital only], FHL Digital Capture 7048053 (1st of 254) (part of index below)
-----
Repatriation of soldiers, 1918-1941, FHL film 2416188 Item 1
-----
Repatriation of women who married non-American citizens, 1936-1945, FHL film 2416188, 2416217
-----
Overseas military naturalization petitions, 1943-1945, FHL film 2416218
-----
Index to declarations, 1943-1955, FHL films 2371827-2371828
U.S. Circuit Court
of Massachusetts
1790-1911 See above. See above. See above.
Consolidated court index 1790-1906
1907-1926
U.S. District Court, Boston An index FHL film 1420205 (1st of 17)
Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service 1787-1955 National Archives - Waltham, RG 85 Soundex index card file at NARA - Waltham Petitions for Naturalization, 1787-1931 (browsable by county, then court, as of July 2013 - no Dukes, Essex, Franklin, Hampden, or Hampshire county records).
Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, M1299.
ONLINE at New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906.

Barnstable Co.
Supreme Judicial Ct. 1827-1886 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469485 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Berkshire Co.
Southern Dist. Ct. (Gt. Barrington) - Naturalization records 1886-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469512-7469514 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Fourth Dist. Ct. (Adams) - Petitions and Naturalizations 1895-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469515-7469519 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Lee Police Ct. - Naturalization records 1900-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469519 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
North Adams Dist. Ct. - Naturalization records 1891-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469497-7469511 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Pittsfield Court of Common Pleas - Naturalization records 1787-1860 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7469486-7469496 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Pittsfield Dist. Ct. - Naturalization records 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7485672-7485676 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Supreme Judicial Court (Pittsfield) - Naturalization records 1787-1876 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7485685-7485695 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Bristol Co.

1st Dist.

Taunton
Supreme Judicial Ct. 1814-1885 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7510302 (1st of 4) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Ct. of Common Pleas 1805-1867 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7510270 (1st of 6) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Superior Court 1856-1885 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7510290 (1st of 6) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
District Court 1885-1895 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7510282 (1st of 3) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Bristol Co.

2nd Dist.

Fall River
District Court 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7485697 (1st of 31) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Bristol Co.

3rd Dist.

New Bedford
District Court 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7497800 (1st of 13) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Bristol Co.

4th Dist.

Attleboro
District Court 1904-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7485696 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Dukes Co.
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA

Essex Co.
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA

Franklin Co.
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA

Hampden Co.
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA

Hampshire Co.
No federal records as yet digitized at NARA

Middlesex Co.
Ct. of Common Pleas
Supreme Judicial Ct.
1809-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7117754 (1st of 15) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Dist. Ct.
No. Middlesex (Ayer) - Records
1887-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7117737, 7117739 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Dist. Ct.
So. Middlesex (Framingham) - Records
1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7137302 (1st of 3) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Dist. Ct.
E. Middlesex (Malden) - Records
1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7156001 (1st of 13) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Dist. Ct.
E. Middlesex (Waltham) - Records
1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7173060-7173066 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Fourth Dist. Ct.
E. Middlesex (Woburn) - Records
1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7173043-7173047 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Lowell Dist Ct. - Records 1836-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7137236 (1st of 55) (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Marlborough Dist. Ct. - Records 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7173056-7173059 (part of above); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Nantucket Co.
Court of Common Pleas
Supreme Judicial Ct.
1804-1903 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7173072-7173083; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Norfolk Co.
Superior Court
Court of Common Pleas
Supreme Judicial Court
Dist. Ct. (Dedham)
1804-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187235 (1st of 8); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Dist. Ct. (Quincy) 1886-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187245-7187252; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Dist. Ct. (Stoughton) 1891-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187241-7187242; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Dist. Ct. (Walpole) 1900-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187243-7187244; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Plymouth Co.
Court of Common Pleas 1812-1858 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187259-7187263; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Supreme Judicial Court 1818-1877 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187319; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Superior Court 1860-1885 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187293 (1st of 9); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
[First?] District Court (Brockton) 1886-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187264 (1st of 16); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Second District Court (Abington/Hingham) 1887-1903 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187254-7187256; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Third District Court (Plymouth) 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187321 (1st of 3); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Fourth District Court (Middleborough/Wareham) 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) FHL Digital Capture 7187257-7187258; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Suffolk Co.
NOTE: The only court hearing naturalizations in Suffolk County from Sept. 1906 to 1991 was the U.S. Federal District Court
Supreme Judicial Court 1790-1845 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7208356 (1st of 15); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
U.S. Circuit Court 1845-1878 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239020 (1st of 471; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Superior Court (Civil) 1856-1884 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7208272 (1st of 29); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Superior Court (Criminal) 1860-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7208301 (1st of 33); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Boston Municipal Court 1806-1859
1885-1905
National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, 1806-1859, FHL Digital Capture 7221557 (1st of 36); Petitions, 1885-1905, FHL Digital Capture 7221555
All part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Charlestown District Municipal Court 1902-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7221654 (1st of 3); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Chelsea Police Court 1886-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7221660 (1st of 8); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Dorchester District Municipal Court 1902-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239072; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Roxbury District Municipal Court 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239038 (1st of 4); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
West Roxbury District Municipal Court 1892-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239057; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Worcester Co.
Superior Court 1837-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, v. 1-37, FHL Digital Capture 7254629 (1st of 50); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Court of Common Pleas 1798-1859 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7254571 (1st of 5); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Western Worcester District Court (Brookfield) 1902-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239085; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Eastern Worcester District Court (Westborough) 1892-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7254581; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Second Eastern Worcester District Court (Clinton) 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7239092 (1st of 9); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Northern Worcester District Court (Gardner) 1883-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions (#2-1244), FHL Digital Capture 7254585 (1st of 6); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
First Southern Worcester District Court (Southbridge) 1898-1905 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions (#1-576)FHL Digital Capture 7254595; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Third Southern Worcester District Court (Milford) 1900-1903 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions (#1-445), FHL Digital Capture 7254634-7254635; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Central Worcester District Court 1885-1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, v. 1-29, FHL Digital Capture 7270457 (1st of 29); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Fitchburg Police Court 1885-1904 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions (#1-2272)FHL Digital Capture 7239079 (1st of 7); Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Winchendon District Court 1906 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions (#9-46), FHL Digital Capture 7254559; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Worcester Police Court 1851-1854 National Archives - Waltham Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Petitions, FHL Digital Capture 7283185-7283187; Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
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The information regarding the state naturalization records comes from a flyer created in 2008 and an inventory conducted by the author in 2012 for microfilms. The "Judicial Archives" in the state table is the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Archives located in Boston. Note that some material may be stored off-site, so call in advance to schedule an appointment. The location of "Mass. Arch. RR" is the Massachusetts Archives Reading Room located in the same building.

Massachusetts Naturalization Records
Record Dates Location Index Microfilm/Online

Secretary of State
Superior Court 1920-1923, 1924-1925 Mass. Archives Consolidated index of all courts FHL film 1940387 (1st of 7)
District Court 1885-1931 Mass. Archives Records chronological, each volume indexed FHL film 1901984 (1st of 9)

Barnstable Co.
Superior Court Declarations, 1907-1935 Barnstable courthouse, Hyannis Index in each volume FHL film 1846562-1846563.
Superior Court Naturalizations, 1907-1933 Barnstable courthouse, Hyannis Index in each volume FHL film 1846237-1846238, 1846338.

Berkshire Co.
Superior Court 1823-1991 Judicial Archives Card index at Judicial Archives that includes declaration of intention 1932-1945 at Mass. Arch. RR
Index cards, 1815-1985, FHL films 1435842-1435843, 1450553-1450559; Index cards, 1815-1906, FHL films 1435828-1435830.
Superior Court
Court of Common Pleas
1848-1885 Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986 Index in each of 6 volumes Naturalization declarations and petitions, FHL films 1435835-1435838.
Superior Court Records, 1906-1945
Index, 1829-1936
Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986, and part (index?) at Judicial Archives Index in each of 32 volumes FHL films 1435830-1435835, 2195995-2195996, index on 1435835 item 2.
Superior Court Petitions and records, 1891-1934, 1937-1945 Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986 Index in each volume and index volume, 1826-1938 FHL films 1435838 (first of 33, index on 2196102 item 2.
Superior Court Records, ca. 1866-1941 Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986 NO index FHL films 1450664-1450672.
All courts Docket book, 1856-1887 Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986 n/a FHL films 1450586-1450587.
Pittsfield Dist. Ct. 1885-1906 Judicial Archives WPA card index at Judicial Archives Berkshire Athenaeum; FHL films 1769722-1769727, index on 1769722.
Pittsfield Ct. of Common Pleas 1843-1856 Berkshire Co. courthouse, Pittsfield, in 1986 NO index FHL films 1450634-1450636, 1450663-1450664.

Bristol Co.
Supreme Judicial Ct. 1805-1856 Judicial Archives Indexed FHL film 1863593 (1st of 15; Index, FHL film 1869523 Item 1
Supreme Judicial Ct. ca. 1852-1885 Judicial Archives Indexed Records, FHL film 1872216 (1st of 6); Index, FHL film 1869523 Item 2
Superior Court 1856-1945 Judicial Archives NO index FHL film 1854469 (1st of 128)
Superior Court 1905-1991 Judicial Archives Card index at Judicial Archives and on microfilm 1905-1945 at Mass. Arch. RR; 1906-1930, FHL film 1862899 (1st of 18)
Index, 1907-1992, at Mass. Arch. RR, FHL film 1869524 (1st of 25)
Superior Court 1927 Judicial Archives NO index FHL film 1872367 Item 2
Court of Common Pleas 1805-1885 n/a Card index on microfilm Index, 1833-1885, at Mass. Arch. RR; Index, 1805-1906, FHL film 1523081 Item 2
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
1884-1895 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1988 Docket book FHL film 1530406 Items 2-4
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Primary declarations, 1885-1906 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1988 NO index FHL film 1523082 Item 2
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Petition packets, 1885-1906 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1988 Indexed FHL film 1523081 (1st of 9)
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Card file, 1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index at Judicial Archives FHL films 1523101, 1523081
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Declarations, 1896-1906 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1988 NO index FHL film 1530406 Item 1
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Final apps., 1896-1906 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1988 NO index FHL film 1523039
1st Dist. Ct.
Taunton
Declarations, 1901-1906 County courthouse, Taunton, in 1992 Card index, 1885-1906 Records and index, FHL film 1853521 (1st of 5)
2nd Dist. Ct.
Fall River
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index at Judicial Archives and on microfilm Mass. Arch. RR; Not at FHL
3rd Dist. Ct.
New Bedford
1885-1906 Judicial Archives NO index NO microfilm
4th Dist. Ct.
Attleboro
1904-1906 District Court, Attleboro, in 1988 Docket books FHL film 1523041
4th Dist. Ct.
Attleboro
1904-1906 District Court, Attleboro, in 1992 Card index FHL film 1853965
All Dist. Cts. 1906-1909 Judicial Archives NO index FHL films 1872366-1872367

Dukes Co.
No records in the archives or on film

Franklin Co.
Superior Court 1812-1976 Judicial Archives Index at courthouse Records, 1907-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Petitions, 1907-1945, FHL film 2195582 (1st of 11)
Declarations, 1906-1945, FHL films 2195580-2195581
Index, 1811-1991, FHL film 1769521-1769526, 1769527
Greenfield
District Court
n/a District courthouse Indexed Records, 1891-1906, and Index, 1891-1906, FHL films 1765478-1765479
Orange
District Court
n/a District courthouse n/a Final declarations, 1899-1906, FHL film 1769564

Hampden Co.
Supreme Judicial Ct.
Ct. of Common Pleas
1812-1859 Judicial Archives Indexed Records, 1816-1859, at Mass. Arch. RR
Final adm. and primary declaration, 1840-1852, FHL films 1480083-1480087
Primary declaration, 1853-1877, FHL films 1479810-1479812
Primary and final papers, 1853-1874, FHL films 1479802-1479809
Index, 1812-1861, at Mass. Arch. RR
Index, 1812-1853, FHL film 1479801 Item 2
Superior Court 1860-1991 Judicial Archives Indexed Records, 1860-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Pending papers, 1851-1890, and dismissed papers, 1886-1887, FHL film 1479809 Items 2-3
Primary and final papers, 1853-1906, FHL films 1450861-1450864
Naturalization and final adm., 1875-1880, FHL film 1451438 (1st of 5)
Cert. of intention, 1875-1893, FHL films 1479809-1479810
Records, 1879-1906, FHL film 1480087 (1st of 9); Declarations, 1906-1931, FHL film 1450792 (1st of 28); Petitions of military personnel, 1918, FHL film 1450864 Item 2; Records, 1927-1945, FHL film 1450864 (1st of 98); Index, 1906-1989, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2132736 (1st of 23); Index, 1812-1906, FHL film 1464362-1464363; Index, 1906-1986, FHL film 1464331-1464361
Palmer
District Court
1896-1906 District courthouse, Palmer, in 1990 Indexed Docket, records, and index, 1896-1906, FHL film 1673943
Springfield
District Court
1886-1906 District courthouse, Springfield, in 1990 Indexed Declaration and naturalization, 1852-1855, FHL film 1686074 Items 1-2; Naturalization papers and index, 1885-1906, FHL film 1686074 (1st of 18); Index, 1886-1906, FHL film 1686074 Item 7

Hampshire Co.
Superior Court 1849-1988 Judicial Archives Card index at Archives Records, 1849-1934, and Index, 1836-1986, FHL film 1508669 (1st of 17); Index, 1859-[1996], FHL film 2057085 (1st of 5
Northampton
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index at Archives Dockets and index, 1885-1906, FHL film 1578002 Items 2-5
Ware
District Court
1903-1906 Judicial Archives Card index at Archives Final docket, 1903-1906, FHL film 1673945

Middlesex Co.
Superior Court 1842-1991 Judicial Archives Card index Records, 1906-1944, at Mass. Arch. RR; Records, 1841-1884, FHL film 963672-963676; Declarations, 1906-1945, FHL film 2156992 (1st of 10); Petitions, 1911-1945, FHL film 2188907 (1st of 30); Card index, 1800-1885, FHL film 1420474 Item 2; Index, 1906-1984, at Mass. Arch. RR and FHL film 2155887 (1st of 14)
Lowell
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Docketed NO microfilm
Malden
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Docketed NO microfilm
Newton
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Somerville
District Court
1886-1906 Judicial Archives Docketed, 1894-1906 NO microfilm
Woburn
District Court
1894-1906 Judicial Archives Docketed, 1892-1906 NO microfilm

Nantucket Co.
Superior Court 1803-1974 Judicial Archives Card index Records, 1908-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR; Declarations, 1908-1945, Petitions, 1910-1945, and Citizenship granted, 1930-1945, FHL films 2132425-2132426

Norfolk Co.
Superior Court 1806-1958 Superior Court, Dedham and Quincy Card indexes DEDHAM: Declarations, 1906-1931; Petitions, 1906-1931; Index to records, 1806-1906 [note: rec. not at FHL]; Index to declarations, 1907-1958; Index to petitions, 1907-1958; Index to declarations and petitions, 1920-1958; QUINCY: Declarations, 1920-1937; Petitions, 1920-1931; Citizenship granted, 1929-1939, FHL film 1522670 (1st of 68)
Dedham
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Quincy
District Court
1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Stoughton
District Court
1891-1906 Judicial Archives Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Wrentham
District Court
1900-1904 Judicial Archives Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906

Worcester Co.
Superior Court 1809-1991 Judicial Archives Card index Records, 1906-1945, at Mass. Arch. RR
Petitions, 1906-1945, v. 1-165 (#1-43193), and Petition index, 1885-1939, 1939-1949, FHL film 2111407 (1st of 123)
Declarations, 1909-1945, v. 1-101 (#1-57057), FHL film 2132429 (1st of 32)
Returns of naturalization, 1916-1929, FHL film 1902579
Naturalization records index, 1943-1978, and Declarations index, 1943-1978, FHL film 2110956 (1st of 10)
Clinton District Court 1891-1896 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Dudley/Webster District Court 1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Fitchburg District Court 1885-1906 Judicial Archives Card index NO microfilm
Grafton/Westborough District Court 1885-1906 Judicial Archives Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
Worcester District Court 1850-1855
1885-1906
Judicial Archives Part of Card Index to New England Naturalization Petitions, 1791-1906, NARA M1299, FHL film 1429671 (1st of 117) Part of the New England Naturalization Index, 1791-1906
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Bibliography
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Other Records

  • Canadian Border Crossings, 1908-1935 [from the U.S.], Ancestry ($).
  • St. Albans Border Crossings, 1895-1954 [from Canada], Ancestry ($).
    If the ship's name and date of sail are known, use Don Krieger's Passenger List Guide for these records which link to the scanned NARA microfilm on Internet Archive.
  • Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society card file I-96, 1882-1929, from the American Jewish Historical Society, FHL film 2318189-2318392, 2318509-2318512.
  • U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925, Ancestry ($) or fold3 ($).
  • U.S. Consular Posts, Emergency Passport Applications, 1915-1925, Ancestry ($).
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Bibliography

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Newspapers

Newspapers were first published in Massachusetts in 1690. The Commonwealth has a rich history documented within these pages. Most all libraries have copies of their local newspapers and research / university libraries include more. There are two libraries whose collection rivals all others:

  • American Antiquarian Society, Worcester (see details below under Libraries), collects all things in print before 1876. They hold the largest single collection of original newspapers in the country.
  • Boston Public Library, Boston (see details below under Libraries), is the repository for Massachusetts part of the national effort to microfilm all known existing copies of newspapers called the Massachusetts Newspaper Program. For their holdings, see the online guide for newspapers.
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Massachusetts Repositories

Archives

Location Archive Description
Boston
Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston MA 02125
617-727-2816
website
The Archives holds the official records created by all parts of state government from 1629 to the present. The earliest material is found in the Massachusetts Archives Collection. Common resources for genealogists and historians detailed in their online guide are state vital records (starting in 1841), passenger lists, census, military records, the Suffolk Files, naturalizations, divorces, probate, name changes, adoptions, Suffolk Deeds, and many other records.
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The Massachusetts Archives Collection contains 328 volumes about early Massachusetts history (1629-1799). It is also called the Felt Collection. Rev. Joseph Felt organized most of the collection in the 1830s; the last third was added in the late nineteenth century. Most of the collection is available on microfilm.

Several finding aids are available to help locate records of interest.

Boston
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Archives
3 Pemberton Sq.
Boston MA 02108
617-557-1082
website
The Judicial Archives offices are in downtown Boston, but their holdings are in shared space at the State Archives at 220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, and several off-site storage facilities. The Archives contains the pre-1860 records of the predecessor courts of the Superior Court (Court of General Sessions of the Peace and Inferior Court of Common Pleas) for 9 counties. Other records in the Judicial Archives include Supreme Judicial Court and Superior Court of Judicature; predominantly pre-1900 probate records of Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties; a limited number of County Court records; records of some Justices of the Peace, naturalization records and records of a small number of special courts. Probate, naturalization and divorce records are especially useful for those doing genealogical research.
Waltham
National Archives and Records Administration
380 Trapelo Rd.
Waltham MA 02452
866-406-2379
website
This branch of the National Archives serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The paper records of this branch are extensive and listed in detail on their online guide to holdings. The major group researchers use is the records of the district and circuit courts. These courts had jurisdiction over naturalization, bankruptcy, civil (law, equity, and admiralty), and criminal cases. The records of the immigration and naturalization service (INS) hold the "dexigraph" copies of naturalization declarations, petitions, and other documents dated 1787-1906, from Federal, State, and local courts in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. An accompanying card index covers all six New England States, 1787-1906 (Connecticut courts, 1787-1940). Related material on passenger lists and Canadian border crossings are held here.
Worcester
Massachusetts National Guard Museum and Archives
44 Salisbury St.
Worcester MA 06109
508-797-0334
website
This archive was established in 1995 and documents the Massachusetts National Guard organized in 1636 and the archives of the Office of the Adjutant General that includes Massachusetts military records from 1775 to 1940. Researchers should call at least one day in advance for a free appointment.
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Libraries and Societies

Location Library Description
Amherst
W. E. B. Dubois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst MA 01003
413-545-0150
website
An academic library with wide reference collection. Their strength is in the microfilm holdings that include the Mass. Archives Collection, some probate and town records from Franklin, Hampshire, and Suffolk counties, and special focus on the Conn. River Valley towns. Their online catalog includes the five area colleges. Check their online guide to genealogy first.
Barnstable
Sturgis Library
3090 Main St., PO Box 606
Barnstable MA 02630
508-362-6636
website
This is the largest research library on Cape Cod. It has an extensive Mass. reference collection with many manuscripts and original material for Barnstable County including a collection of pre-fire (i.e. 1827) deeds. Their online catalog is part of a network on the Cape. Finding aids are available for most archival collections.
Boston
Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston St.
Boston MA 02215
617-536-1608
website
This library specifically does not try to duplicate the collections of the NEHGS (below), but has many things useful when dealing with probelmatic research. This is the oldest historical society in the nation and thus has extensive and broad manuscript holdings. Their holdings are in their online catalog Abigail.
Boston
Boston Public Library
Copley Square
Boston MA 02117
617-536-5400
website
The library has a huge collection though it is in closed stacks. They have extensive microforms holdings feature the newspapers of New England and elsewhere, city directories (a pdf list), town records and other useful original material in the Rare Books Department, and the complete set of Holbrook fiche of town records. There are many databases available from their electronic resources page - some may require a free library card number. Their online catalog does not include everything from their "old catalog" file.
Boston
New England Historic
Genealogical Society
99-101 Newbury St.
Boston MA 02116
617-536-5740
website
user fee
This is the oldest genealogical library in the country. Its print and manuscript collections are legendary. Patrons have access to many online subscription and society-produced databases (available to members only). The focus is New England (vital records to at least 1900 and probates for most of the six states), New York, Quebec, and the Maritimes. They feature a large city directory collection, the most extensive Quebec collection in one location, and a manuscripts collection that occupies one entire floor. The online catalog has all the print collection and a large majority of the manuscript collection. This is a loan center for FHL microfilm.
Boston
State Library of Massachusetts
24 Beacon St.
State House, Room 341
Boston MA 02133
617-727-2590
website
The library is the source for any government publication, but has many state and local history resources that include city directories, town histories, tax valuations, maps, newspapers, and many more. It hosts the Zimmer Newspaper Indexes of current events from 1878 to 1937 from prominent Boston papers.
Haverhill
Haverhill Public Library
99 Main St.
Haverhill MA 01830
978-373-1586
website
Good collection of published books for New England and an extensive holding of genealogical periodicals. They have the Mass. Vital Records to 1900. They have access to all the major genealogical databases online. The Mass. DAR Collection is no longer (2009) here.
Lynnfield
Lynnfield Public Library
18 Summer St.
Lynnfield MA 01940
781-334-5411
website
Good collection of Essex County research material maintained by the Essex Society of Genealogist.
New Bedford
New Bedford Public Library
613 Pleasant St.
New Bedford MA 02740
508-991-6276
website
This library focuses on southeastern Mass., bordering Rhode Island towns, and French-Canadian material. They hold the local newspapers, Mass. Vital Records to 1900, and immigration records that documents the large Portguese-Azores-Cape Verdean population. Their online catalog is part of a consortium.
Pittsfield
Berkshire Athenaeum
One Wendell Ave.
Pittsfield MA 01201
413-499-9480
website
The collection focuses on the Berkshires, but it houses important collections beyond this region such as the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records and the Vermont Vital Records card index to 1908. In Sept. 2012, it received the 71,000 microfilm collection of the National Archives and Records Administration branch in Pittsfield and its computers.
Salem
James Duncan Phillips Library
Peabody Essex Museum
132 Essex St.
Salem MA 01970
978-745-9500 x3053
website
This is the premier repository for Essex County research. The have large print and manuscript collections focused on pre-1860 material. This is the facility for government records on Essex County including the original court records, customhouse records, maritime records, and (on microfilm) probate records. The paper catalog is in process of conversion to their online catalog.
Springfield
Springfield History Library and Archives
21 Edwards St.
Springfield MA 01103
800-625-7738
website
The holdings of the Conn. River Valley focus on Springfield, but include a large French-Canadian collection, Mass. Vital Records to 1905, large microfilm collection, and an extensive manuscript collection.
Taunton
Old Colony Historical Society
66 Church Green
Taunton MA 02780
508-822-1622
website
user fee
The "Old Colony" refers to Plymouth Colony, the focus of their collection that is now further refined to the Taunton area. It has a good local print collection and manuscripts that include some local churches. A general guide to their holdings is online.
Worcester
American Antiquarian Society
185 Salisbury St.
Worcester MA 01609
508-755-5221
website
This is the largest collection of U.S. printed material to 1876 in the United States. It has extensive newspaper and manuscripts holdings and a strong genealogical collection. A detailed guide to the collection by subject is available online. Their catalog is online, but see the caveat.
Thanks to the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants for their contributions to this page.

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Massachusetts References

  1. This is not from the dictionary, but from The Compact with the Charter and Laws of the Colony of New Plymouth (Boston, 1836), 285-286.
  2. Wesley Potter Kremer, 100 Great Battles of the Rebellion; ... Also, All the Battles of the Revolution, War of 1812-5, Mexican War, Indian Battles, American-Spanish War, and Naval Battles (Hoboken, N.J., 1906), p. 326 (see Internet Archive).
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