Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001 .
The collection consists of Vital and town records acquired from local town clerk offices. It covers the years 1579 to 2001.
Citation for This Collection
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The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Record collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- Massachusetts County and Town Clerks. County and Town Records, 1653-1972. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Boston, Massachusetts.
The record content varies by record type. It may include any of the following pieces of information:
- Name of primary individual
- Event date
- Event place
- Names of parents
- Biographical information about parents such as date and place of birth
- Names of heirs, such as spouse, children, other relatives, or friends
- Names of the executor, administrator, or guardian
- Names of witnesses
- Dates the documents were written and recorded (used to approximate event dates since a will was usually written near the time of death)
- Description and value of property or land
How to Use the Record
To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:
- The place where the event occurred
- The approximate date the event occurred
- The name of the individual or individuals such as the names of the bride and groom
Search the Collection
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the county
⇒Select the town
⇒Select the "Record Type, Date and Volume" which takes you to the images
If the town has an index, start with the index. It generally contains information that will help you find your ancestor more quickly.
Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.
Using the Information
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
- Use the marriage date and place as the basis for compiling a new family group or for verifying existing information.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth of each partner to find a couple's birth records and parents' names.
- Use the birth date or age along with the place of birth to find the family in census records.
- Use the residence and names of the parents to locate church and land records.
- Use the parents' birth places to find former residences and to establish a migration pattern for the family.
Tips to Keep in Mind
- Occupations listed can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
- The name of the officiator may be a clue to their religion or area of residence in the county.
- The name of the undertaker, mortuary, or cemetery could lead you to funeral and cemetery records, which often include the names and residences of other family members.
- Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname. This is especially helpful in rural areas or if the surname is unusual.
- Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives who may have been born, married, or died in the same county or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family or even the second marriage of a parent. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
- The information in the records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
- Earlier records may not contain as much information as more recent records.
- There is also some variation in the information given from one record to another record.
Unable to Find Your Ancestor?
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for an index. There are often indexes created by local genealogical and historical societies.
- Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
|This citation example isn't from this collection. You can help by replacing this example with a citation for a record found in this collection.|
- United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
- Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023.
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