Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Massachusetts, United States
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Flag of Massachusetts
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Location of Massachusetts
Record Description
Record Type Vital and Town Records
Collection years 1626-2001
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

The collection consists of vital and town records acquired from local town clerk offices for the years 1626 to 2001. Some of these records have been indexed and are searchable. Additional images and indexed records will be published as they become available.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001.

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of Massachusetts marriages, click here.

Collection Contents

The information found varies by record type and time period. You may find any of the following:

Birth records may include the following information:

  • Date of registration
  • Name and gender of child
  • Date and place of birth
  • Parents' names and place of residence
  • Father's occupation
  • Parents' birthplace

Marriage records generally include the following information:

  • Date and place of marriage
  • Names of the bride and groom
  • Ages of the bride and groom
  • Marital status of each
  • Occupation of groom
  • Birthplace(s) of bride and groom
  • Residence at the time of marriage
  • Parents' names and their residence
  • Name, residence and office of officiator
  • Name of informant

Death records usually include the following information:

  • Name and gender of deceased
  • Marital status of deceased
  • Age of deceased in years, months, days
  • Cause of death
  • Place of internment
  • Birthplace of deceased
  • Parents' names of name of spouse if married
  • Name of informant

Middlesex > Lowell > Births, marriages, deaths 1826-1844 vol A

Image #3 gives the following layout data:

  • Samuel Coburn, First Lowell City Clerk, Family records and marriages, p.1-314
  • Thomas Ordway, City Registrar, Marriages, p.314-412.
  • Almshouse births, May 1835 - Oct 1837, p.360
  • "Births given by parents", p.412-423
  • "Genealogical record of families of early settlers in Lowell", p.423-435
  • Dr. John O. Green manuscript death records, 1829-1830, 1833, p.500-502, 505-506

Such details will help researchers navigate the records more effectively. Please add such details for any book you are especially interested in.

How Do I Search the Collection?

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

If the town has an index, start with the index. It generally contains information that will help you find your ancestor more quickly.

To search the collection by name:
Fill in the requested information on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

To browse by image:
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

What Do I Do Next?

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.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For, Now What?

  • 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).

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to support@familysearch.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Digital Books

Instructions for Town Clerks Registration of Births Marriages Deaths

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.


Collection Citation:

"Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1626-2001." Database with Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Town clerk offices, Massachusetts.


Record Citation (or citation for the index entry):

The citation for a record is available with each record in this collection, at the bottom of the record screen. You can search records in this collection by visiting the search page for Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001.

Image Citation:
The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1626-2001.