Massachusetts Genealogy

This guide contains a sample of The Newberry's resources on this topic. To locate additional resources, please check our catalog or consult a reference librarian.

Also see the New England Genealogy pathfinder sheet for listings of important general works on the region.

General Reference

DenBoer, Gordon. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Massachusetts. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Call # Local History Ref G1201.F7 A8 1993 Conn. (2nd floor open shelf).

Haskell, John D., Jr. Massachusetts: A Bibliography of its History. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1976. Call # Local History Ref Z1295 .C65 1976 (2nd floor open shelf).

Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts. Boston, 1920. Call # F8440.55. Founding dates and boundary changes for Massachusetts jurisdictions.

Vital Records and Local Histories

Massachusetts vital records are maintained by the town or city, not by the county. Vital records going back to the 17th century are extant for many towns. Many of these records, especially from towns in the eastern part of the state, were published in the early 20th century. Many original town records were also filmed by the Holbrook Research Institute in recent years and are available on microfiche. Look in catalog under the name of the town as a subject heading

Probate is under county jurisdiction, and so Newberry researchers should search the catalog using the name of the county as a subject heading to see if the Library holds any abstracts, indexes or transcriptions of probate records. There may be other types of genealogically useful titles listed under a county subject heading as well.

Corbin Manuscript Collection in the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Boston: NEHGS, 1982. 60 reels. Call # Microfilm 525. Walter Corbin and his wife Lottie were professional genealogists specializing in western and central Massachusetts. They made a practice of transcribing (though not necessarily in their entirety) the records -- including vital records and cemetery records -- of the towns where they conducted their research. Their papers were microfilmed and this microfilm set is the result. To use this set at the Newberry, you must request specific reels. There is a contents guide on reel 1.

Longver, Phyllis O. and Pauline J. Oesterlin. A Surname Guide to Massachusetts Town Histories. Bowie, MD: Heritage, 1993. Call # Local History Ref F63 .L66 1993 (2nd floor open shelf).


Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines of the Revolutionary War. Boston, 1896-1908. 17 vols. Call # Local History Ref E263.M4 M4 (2nd floor open shelf). Researchers should also consult the Newberry's pathfinder sheet Genealogical Research on Revolutionary War Patriots.

Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War. Massachusetts Adjutant General, 1931-1935. 9 vols., including index. Call # Local History Ref E513 .M37 1931 (2nd floor open shelf); also Microfiche 3412.


Newberry holdings complete 1790-1860, minimal thereafter. Published indexes 1790-1850. Special schedules for Union veterans and widows in 1890.

Special Topic: Mayflower Descents

Mayflower Families through Five Generations. Plymouth: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1975-. Call # Local History Ref F63 .M48 1975(2nd floor open shelf). Multi-volume set, not completed. Also check catalog for title "Mayflower Families in Progress" or for the name of the Mayflower passenger as a subject heading. Other publications related to Mayflower research are found on the 2nd floor open shelf next to the five-generation books and the Mayflower Index (below).

Mayflower Index. Revised edition. Boston: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1960. 2 vols. Call # Local History Ref F68 .M393 1960 (2nd floor open shelf). Use with caution. Many lines of descent contained here are no longer accepted.

The Mayflower Descendant. 1899-. Call # E697 .01. Journal of the Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants.