Massachusetts Archives and Libraries
|Massachusetts Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Massachusetts.
- For additional information, see also Massachusetts Repositories
Wiki Articles on Major Repositories for Massachusetts
Allen County Public Library · American Antiquarian Society · Berkshire Athenaeum · Boston Massachusetts Family History Center · Boston Public Library · Dedham Historical Society Library · Harvard University Houghton Library · Haverhill Public Library · Jones Library · Massachusetts Historical Society · Massachusetts State Archives · National Archives at Boston · New England Historic Genealogical Society · New York Public Library · Onondaga Historical Association Library · Peabody Essex Museum · Pittsfield Federal Records Center · Plymouth Public Library · Springfield History Library and Archives · State Library of Massachusetts · University of Massachusetts Amherst Library · Vermont Historical Society
Online Records of Massacusetts
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.
- The AAS is best known for its U.S. newspaper collection of over 18,000 bound volumes 1704-1820, history, genealogy, Bibles, maps, biography, directories, Native Americans, women, canals, railroads, photos, manuscripts.
Waltham, MA 02452-6399
Phone: (781) 663-0130
Fax: (781) 663-0154
Website: National Archives at Boston
- The Pittsfield Center has CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT federal government agency and court documents. Their large genealogy microfilm collection has been transferred to the Berkshire Athenaeum listed below.
- Best overall collection for New England vital records and probates, and excellent collection for Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and Europe. The manuscript collection for members only has diaries, letters, account books, business papers, church and town records, sermons, maps, wills, deeds, unpublished town and family genealogies, photos, and papers of the region's best genealogists since 1850.
Boston, MA 02215-3695
E-mail: Contact Us
Website: Massachusetts Historical Society
- Excellent historical materials, original town records, newspapers and genealogies. This collection does not repeat the New England Historic Genealogical Society collection.
220 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
Phone: (617) 727–2816
Website: Massachusetts Archives Division
- Government records, censuses, military records, land records, naturalizations, divorces, probate, name changes, and adoptions. Only 18 of the 328 volumes of the excellent Massachusetts Archives Collection, aka Felt Collection, of 1629-1799 history are indexed online. The Archives' online searchable collections include:
- The Massachusetts Archives Collection Database (1629-1799) serves as a searchable, descriptive index and catalog for documents of eighteen volumes of the Massachusetts Archives Collection.
- Index to Passenger Manifests (1848-1891)
- Index to Vital Records (1841-1910)
- Digital Commonwealth, Explore digitized photographs, maps, postcards, manuscripts, books and artifacts from libraries, museums and archives across Massachusetts.
24 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: (617) 727–2590
Fax: (617) 727–5819
Website: State Library of Massachusetts
- Published books, periodicals, state and town histories, government publications, city directories, maps, tax records, newspapers and indexes.
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Website: Berkshire Athenaeum Pittsfield Public Library
- Best genealogical respository in western Massachusetts, including newspapers, books, and family histories. Now includes the former Pittsfield Federal Records Center's 71,000 microfilms of censuses, Revolutionary War pension and bounty land warrants, service records 1784-1901, Mexican War, Civil War, World War I, New England naturalizations, 1791-1966, passenger arrivals at Boston, New York, Philadelphia and east coast ports, Canadian border crossings, Indian enrollment cards, Russian Consular records, Barbour Collection for Connecticut, and Vermont vital records index.  
150 Brown Street
Weston, Massachusetts 02493-2604
Website: Boston Massachusetts Family History Center
- The largest Family History Center in New England. Can order microfilms from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They have published town and county histories of New England, social histories, vital records, family histories, and major indexes.
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 536–5400
Fax: (617) 536–4306
Website: Boston Public Library
- Their collection includes New England newspapers, city directores, town records, county and local histories, and genealogies.
- Great collection of manuscripts including deeds, vital and town records from the 15 towns created from old Dedham (south of Boston).
- Manuscripts and rare books from many nations, but especially New England, Britain and Europe, historical archives of publishing history, political and missionary archives, paintings and artifacts. Largest volume of primary historical documents.
- One of New England's largest collections of original manuscripts, books, genealogical periodicals, and surname folders, local history collection, genealogy databases, Massachusetts vital records to 1910, federal and state censuses, 9,000 New England town and family histories. 
Amherst, MA 01002
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Jones Library
- The Boltwood Collection includes 20,000 documents, genealogies, family folders, genealogy periodicals, newspapers, and local histories with an emphasis on Amherst and the Pioneer Valley. 
1 Second Street (temporarily)
Peabody, MA USA
Telephone: 978-745-9500, or 866-745-1876
For the Hearing Impaired: 978-740-3649
Website: Peabody Essex Museum
- Essex County books, manuscripts, and government records such as probate records, customs records, and maritime records. Can often help find trans-Atlantic ship logs, and ship images.
- Almost all published histories and genealogies of early Massachusetts settlers are here.
(formerly Connecticut Valley Historical Museum Library)
21 Edwards Street
Springfield, Massachusetts 01103
Website: Springfield History Library and Archives
- Can help identify Massachusetts emigrants headed west using vital records, land records, and probate records from many New England towns. They also have French Canadian records, the Loiselle Index, New York passenger arrivals, computer databases, over 20,000 genealogy books, 6,000 microforms, 50,000 photos and 2.5 million manuscripts including diaries, and account books. 
- Very large set of biographies, genealogies, and never-published histories, and church, business, fraternal, insurance, and manufacturing records. They also have the Massachusetts Archives Collection microfilms, Franklin, Hampshire, and Suffolk counties' probate records, especially Connecticut River Valley towns.
Outside of Massachusetts Repositories
- This is the second-largest genealogy collection in the United States and the largest genealogy collection in a public library. Its holdings include more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items on microfilm and microfiche. It has a premier genealogical periodical collection, local histories, genealogies, databases, military, censuses, directories, passenger lists, ethnic sources, and Canadians. They have a great eastern seaboard and Massachusetts collection.
Irma and Paul Milstein Division
First Floor, Room 121
Schwarzman Main Branch
Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street
New York, New York 10018-2788
Website: NYPL home page
- The Genealogy Division has an outstanding collection of American history at national, state and local levels; international genealogy and heraldry in Roman alphabets; Dorot Jewish collection; manuscripts, photos; New York censuses, directories, vital records, Revolutionary War soldiers, Irish in America, and Massachusetts records.
321 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, New York 13202
E-mail: Contact Us
Website: Onondaga Historical Association Collections and Archives
- 10,000 family folders for northeastern families, including many from Massachusetts.
60 Washington Street
Barre, Vermont 05641-4209
Website: Vermont Historical Society Leahy Library
- Their collection includes a comprehensive name index of Massachusetts people, strong collection of family and town histories of New England, vital records, cemetery transcripts, genealogical periodicals, manuscripts, maps, and photos.
Family History Centers
- Giving you limited, personal, one-on-one research suggestions (but they do not do research for you)
- Providing access to genealogical records either through the Internet FHC Portal, or a microfilm loan program
- Offering free how-to classes (varies by location).
- Fostering contact between genealogical enthusiasts
There are several centers located in Massachusetts, for example:
- Franklin Massachusetts Family History Center
91 Jordan Rd
Franklin MA 02038 USA
- Each center is staffed by volunteers and has varying hours and services. Telephone in advance to verify their hours.
- Franklin Massachusetts Family History Center
To locate one of these centers in your own neighborhood, see Find a Family History Center.
For Further Reading
- Historical Records Survey (Massachusetts). Preliminary Edition of Guide to Depositories of Manuscript Collections in Massachusetts (Boston, Massachusetts: Historical Records Survey, 1939). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 974.4 A2hg. This work lists major manuscript collections and their locations.
- Carroll D. Wright, Report on the Custody and Condition of the Public Records of Parishes, Towns, and Counties (Boston, Massachusetts: Wright and Potter, 1889). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Film 865449 item 2; Fiche 6046869; Book 974.4 A3cr. Gives a brief description of the town records that existed in 1889 and which may still be available.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 59.
- William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 124. WorldCat 39493985. FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
- Genealogy Resources in Berkshire Athenaeum (accessed 14 November 2013).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 5, 57, and 59.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 57.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 124-25.
- Genealogy Resources in Haverhill Public Library (accessed 14 November 2013).
- Collections and Finding Aids in Jones Library - Special Collections (accessed 14 November 2013).
- Springfield History Library and Archives in Springfield Museums (accessed 14 November 2013).
- Allen County Public Library in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 28 April 2010).
- Genealogy Center in Allen County Public Library (accessed 28 April 2010).
- Genealogy Center Collections in Genealogy Center (accessed 27 February 2015).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
- Genealogy Research at the Vermont Historical Society in Vermont Historical Society (accessed 14 November 2013).