Massachusetts Birth Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915 .
This article describes a collection of records at
Massachusetts, United States
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Flag of Massachusetts
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Location of Massachusetts
Record Description
Record Type Birth Records
Collection years 1841-1915
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites

What is in the Collection?

The collection "Massachusetts Births, 1841-1915" consists of an index and images of state birth records from 1841-1915. The registers of births are first arranged in volumes by year. Within the volumes the birth entries are arranged by town then numerically by the number it was entered into the registers. May include a few births for 1840.

Collection Content

Sample Image

Key genealogical facts found in the Massachusetts Birth Records may contain the following information:

  • Date and place of birth registration
  • Full name of child
  • Gender
  • Day, month, and year of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Name of parents
  • Father's occupation
  • Residence of parents

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search, it is helpful to know the name and some other identifying information such as the birth place or birth date.

Search by Name by visiting the Collection Page:
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 wiki article FamilySearch Search Tips and Tricks.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor’s birth record, carefully evaluate each piece of information about them. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Use the birth date 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.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • The father’s occupation can lead you to other types of records such as employment or military records.
  • The parents' birth places can tell you former residences and can help to establish a migration pattern for the family.
  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all children with the same parents. If the surname is unusual, you may want to compile birth entries for every person of the same surname and sort them into families based on the names of the parents. Continue to search the birth records to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who were born in the same county or nearby.
  • The information in birth records is usually reliable, but depends upon the reliability of the informant.
  • Earlier records may not contain as much information as the records created after the late 1800s.
  • There is also some variation in the information given from record to record.
  • If you are unable to find your ancestor look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.

For a summary of this information see the wiki article: United States, How to Use the Records Summary (FamilySearch Historical Records).

General Information About These Records

The state birth registers are in bound volumes arranged by year, then by town. Entries within towns are arranged numerically.

Most towns in Massachusetts began recording vital events (births, marriages, and deaths) many years before it became state law. These records up to 1850 for about 215 Massachusetts towns have been published. Beginning in 1841, the state of Massachusetts mandated that a copy of each event recorded in a town or city be sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which means that two sources exist for each event after 1841 – the town or city and the state. Most towns were in compliance with the law by the late 1840s. It is estimated that by the late 1800s, most births were reported.

Known Issues with This Collection

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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 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.

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 for "Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915":

"Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915." Database with Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2016. Citing Secretary of the Commonwealth. Massachusetts Archives, Boston.

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 Births, 1841-1915.

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 Births, 1841-1915.

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.