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Vital Statistic Records
The Massachusetts Archives holds vital statistics, records of births, deaths and marriages in Massachusetts, for the years 1841 to 1920. The Archives has index books for the records. Each index volume includes five years, and names are sorted alphabetically within each five-year period.
The information found in vital records may include:
Place and date of birth, name, residence, names, birthplaces, and occupations of parents.
Place and date of marriage, names, ages, residences, occupations, birthplaces, parents of bride and groom.
Place and date of death, residence, spouse, age, occupation and birthplace of deceased, cause of death and place of burial, name and birthplace of parents.
Certified copies of births, marriages and deaths from 1841 to 1920 can be ordered in person or by mail. Please provide the name, date, and location for each event. A maximum of five certificates can be ordered at one time. Include a separate check, made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for $3 for each certificate requested. See duplication services for additional information about copies.
For vital records before 1841, original materials remain in the city or town clerk's office and can be found in the city or town hall. See the Massachusetts City and Town Directory for contact information.
For vital records after 1920, please contact:
Registry of Vital Records
Bureau of Health Statistics, Research and Evaluation
Department of Public Health
150 Mount Vernon St.
Dorchester, MA 02125
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Massachusetts recorded the names of immigrants arriving in the Port of Boston between 1848 and 1891.
Records are accessed through a name index. Information includes name, age, sex, country of birth, last residence, and occupation of the immigrant. The name of the ship and the date of arrival are also listed.
Children may be listed separately or with other family members.
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Colonial Period, 1643-1774
Records of militia units and military activities during King Philip's War and the French and Indian Wars. Records consist of military rolls, muster rolls, billeting accounts, etc.
Revolutionary Period, 1775-1787
Revolutionary rolls contain documents such as muster rolls, descriptive lists, receipts of supplies or money, lists of officers and lists of deserters. Continental Army Books consist of muster rolls of Massachusetts companies and receipts for supplies and money. The records of the Board of War, Commissary General, and Quartermaster General contain minutes, correspondence, blotters, cash books, journals, and ledgers, which detail the delivery of ordnance, provisions, and services to the military units. Pension records contain information on rank, unit, residence, and land or money bounty.
Shays' Rebellion, 1786-1787
Letters, orders, warrants, petitions, special reports, military payrolls, financial records, and oaths of allegiance.
War of 1812, 1812-1815
Research materials may be found in the records of the Governor and Executive Council, which contain letters, petitions, applications for commissions, and notices of elections of officers. Also militia payrolls, muster rolls, inspection rolls, and company rolls.
Civil War, 1861-1865
Muster, clothing, and descriptive rolls, lists of assignments of recruits totown quotas, correspondence from recruiters, substitution records. Useful collections include State Military Agent, Gardiner Tufts and Governor John Andrew's letterbooks (1861-1866).
Spanish-American War, 1889
Letters concerning petitions sent to the treasurer and receiver-general includes name of veteran, address, date and location of mustering in and out and other materials.
Additional materials for the Mexican, Civil, Spanish-American, and World Wars are located at:
Office of the Adjutant General, War Records Section
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02202
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Court and Judicial Archives at the Massachusetts State Archives
The Judicial Archives, a separate and distinct institution holding permanent court records housed within the Massachusetts Archives was formed as a result of an agreement signed in April 1984 between then Chief Justice Edward Hennessey of the Supreme Judicial Court and then Secretary of the Commonwealth Michael Connolly. The purpose of this agreement was to set aside 12,000 cubic feet in the new state archives building, then under construction at Columbia Point, as an archive for the records of the judicial branch. This is a precedent setting arrangement and represents the first time the courts and another branch of government in Massachusetts have shared resources.
At present, the Judicial Archives contains the pre-1860 records of the predecessor courts of the Superior Court (Court of General Sessions of the Peace and Inferior Court of Common Pleas) for 9 counties. Other records in the Judicial Archives include Supreme Judicial Court and Superior Court of Judicature; predominantly pre-1900 probate records of Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties; a limited number of County Court records; records of some Justices of the Peace, naturalization records and records of a small number of special courts. Probate, naturalization and divorce records are especially useful for those doing genealogical research.
As some collections of court records may still remain in original court houses, the public is encouraged to contact the Archives prior to beginning research utilizing court records. Service to researchers is provided by the Archives reference staff, while staff of the Supreme Judicial Court's Division of Archives and Records Preservation also provides reference assistance as well as consultation on special inquiries. Detailed inventories, finding aids and guides are available at the Archives. Please note that court records are not available on Saturdays except by appointment.
Requests for information involving court records held by the Massachusetts Archives should be sent by mail only to:
Head of Archives
Supreme Judicial Court Archives
16th Floor, Highrise Court House
3 Pemberton Square
Boston, MA 02108
No return faxes; please include your name, mailing address and telephone number for a response.
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Records in the Massachusetts Archives are organized by creating agency. Records exist for:
Administration and Finance
Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Communities and Development
Committees and commissions. Includes legislative committees and other bodies. For gubernatorial commissions see: GO
Eastern Lands. Includes records relating to the District of Maine, which became a separate state in 1820.
Economic Development and Manpower Affairs
Health and Human Services
Local records (see also CY and MN)
Provincial Congress. Records of the Revolutionary governing body, 1774-1775
Private records. Records relating to Massachusetts history not created by Massachusetts governmental agencies.
Secretary of the Commonwealth
Transportation and Construction
Treasurer and Receiver General