The following important events in the history of Massachusetts affected political jurisdictions, family movements, and record keeping.
1620-1691: The Plymouth Colony was established. It eventually spread over today's Plymouth, Barnstable, and Bristol Counties.
1630: Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded. It expanded to today's area of Essex, Middlesex, Old Norfolk (now part of New Hampshire), and Suffolk Counties.
1691: A new charter was granted to Massachusetts Bay Colony, uniting it with Plymouth Colony. Parts of Maine and Nova Scotia were also added to Massachusetts.
1775: TheRevolutionary War began at Lexington and Concord.
1786: The Ohio Land Company was formed, resulting in the emigration of many Massachusetts residents toOhio.
1788: Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the Constitution.
1820:Maine was separated from Massachusetts.
1830s-1840s: As the factory system developed, thousands of foreign laborers began moving to Massachusetts.
1861-1865: During theCivil War 146,000 men from Massachusetts served in the Union Army.
A good general history of Massachusetts is:
Hart, Albert Bushnell, ed. Commonwealth History of Massachusetts: Colony, Province, and State. 5 vols. New York, NY: The States History, 1927-30. (FHL book 974.4 H2h.)
A helpful bibliography of Massachusetts local histories is:
Haskell, John Duncan. Massachusetts: A Bibliography of Its History. Hanover, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 1983. (FHL book 974.4 H23m.)
Massacusetts Historical Society: http://www.masshist.org/welcome/
A Tour of Masschusetts History: http://www.masshome.com/tour.html