Monday, July 12, 2010

52 Weeks of Online American Digital Archives and Databases: Massachusetts

This is the 22nd post in a weekly series of Online American Digital Archives and Databases found for free at state, county, municipal, college and university history, library, and archive websites, as well as public and private library and museum sites, and historical and genealogical society sites.

Digital Commonwealth - Massachusetts Collections Online - - "a Web portal and fee-based repository service for online cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives". Includes dissertations, slides, images, postcards, photographs, theses, case studies, oral histories, reports, histories, and more.

Digital Treasures - - "a cooperative digital library project conceived and designed by the Central/Western Massachusetts Resource Sharing library network and the Central and Western Massachusetts Regional Library Systems"

Massachusetts Archives - - Collection Database (1629-1799); Index to Passenger Manifests (1848-1891); and Index to Vital Records (1841-1910)

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Digital Collections - - links to 22 institutions' digital collections (libraries, universities, and historical societies); the site also contains a super search engine of these institutions' manuscripts, archives, and special collections

Massachusetts Historical Society: Collections Online - - correspondence and diaries of John and Abigail Adams, and John Quincy Adams; Thomas Jefferson documents; Coming of the American Revolution; Antislavery Images, African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts; Maps of Massachusetts and the French and Indian War; Battle of Bunker Hill; Abraham Lincoln selections; Native American photographs; Atkins Family in Cuba (sugar plantation photos); and more

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Archives and Special Collections - - online histories and exhibits

Memorial Hall Museum Online - American Centuries - - a great way to "explore American History with hands-on activities, exhibits, lessons, historic documents and artifacts." Do you have children in your life that you would like to get interested in history and genealogy from New England? This site is the place to start! For researchers, check out the "How to Read Old Manuscripts" tutorial, the oral history collection, or the Civil War Newspaper Index.


Amherst College Digital Collections - - The Jerry Cohen '63 Papers ("legal records kept by Cohen during his 14 years as General Counsel of the United Farm Workers of America and personal attorney of César Chávez"); Coeducation Collection ("chronologies, articles, newspaper clippings, and committee reports relating to coeducation at Amherst College and its subsequent anniversaries"); A Glance at Amherst Athletics, 1935; Annual Catalogues, 1822-1900; College Songs, 1926

Babson College Archives and Special Collections - Historical Documents - - various documents, handbooks, yearbooks, and other ephemera documenting the history of the college

Boston College University Libraries Digital Collections - - highlights include the Becker Collection (drawings "depicting numerous aspects of nineteenth-century American culture including the Civil War, the construction of the railroads, the Chinese in the West, and the Chicago fire"); Brooker Collection ("2,500 legal documents and manuscripts focused primarily on Boston and the New England area and spanning two centuries"); Histories of Boston College; Sacred Heart Review (1888-1918); and the Thomas "Tip" P. O'Neill, Jr. Photographs

Brandeis University - Farber University Archives and Special Collections Department - Digital Collections - - lithographs, rare books, Van Vechten Portrait Collection, Spanish Civil War Posters, and WWI and WWII Propaganda Posters

College of the Holy Cross Archives and Special Collections - - from this link one can access the collections of postcards, photos, college catalogs, the Hiatt Holocaust Collection, and archives of the New England Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)

Five Colleges Archives and Manuscript Collections - - links to archives and special collections of Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Harvard Business School Baker Library Historical Collections - - photos, business archives, trade cards, documents recording the history of money and business, as well as Harvard Business School

Harvard Divinity School - Andover-Harvard Theological Library Digital Collections - - diverse and interesting collections include Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics; Holocaust Rescue and Relief: Digitized Records of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee; Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930 (digitized books on immigration, including Italian and Swedish migrant groups); New Testament and Archaeological Slides; Postcards of Unitarian and Universalist Church Buildings; and Thanksgiving Day Sermons

Harvard University Archives Online Resources - - Harvard/Radcliffe Annual Reports; Historical Reference Shelf; Harvard Presidents, History, and Traditions

Harvard University Library Digital Projects - - photo, art and scientific collections with emphasis on China, Tibet, and other Asian countries; 19th Century American Trade Cards; historical slides with emphasis on teaching and architecture; Harvard Medical School historical images (photos, negatives, drawings, and engravings); Legal Portrait Collection (images of 4000 lawyers, jurists and legal thinkers from Middle Ages to late 20th century); and much, much more

Harvard University Library Open Collections Program - - some overlap with the Andover-Harvard Theological Library Digital Collections (above) - includes the Islamic Heritage Project; Expeditions and Discoveries: Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age; Contagion: Historical Views of Diseases and Epidemics; Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930; and Women Working, 1800-1930

Mount Holyoke College Digital Collections - - coeducation subject files; catalogs, registers, and directories; various private papers

Northeastern University Libraries Digital Collections - - Freedom House Photographs (documenting Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1950-1975); University Course Catalogs; University Histories (1898-1996); University Photographs (1902-present); Yearbooks (1917-2007)

Smith College Libraries - College Archives - - links to image galleries for each of the collection groups are provided: Administrative Records, Biographical Records, Academic Life, Student Life, and Buildings and Grounds.

Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives - - African-American Remembrance Project, Edward Murrow papers, P.T. Barnum collection, Lost Theaters of Somerville, and much more. Use the Browse tab in the left-hand menu to see full list.

UMarmot (University of Massachusetts Amherst) Digital Collections - - Agriculture in New England; Antislavery Collection; W. E. B. Du Bois Papers; Green Mountain Post and New Babylon Times; Massachusetts State College Glee Club; Natural Farmer; Northampton State Hospital; and much more

Univesity of Massachusetts Boston - Joseph P. Healy Library Digital Collections - - commencement programs, yearbooks, Eagle Forward (newspaper of he 24th Infantry Regiment, Korea), Thompson's Island Photograph Collection, and Vietnam: a Television History Collection: WGBH Open Vault.

University of Massachusetts Center for Lowell History  - - Digital Photographs include photos and postcards, history (with a focus on waterpower and mills), maps, essays, oral history; Special Collections include photos, sheriff's records, Boston and Maine Railroad Historical Society materials, photos, negatives, political cartoons, cemetery projects, church records, DAR membership records, orphanage and school records, vital records indexes from newspapers, almshouse records, to name just a few; the Genealogy Collection includes the Boston Public Library Obituary Database (see below), city atlases and maps, city directories, Civil War soldiers and sailors, census street guides and records.

Wellesley College Archives Image Gallery -


Andover Historical Society - - includes a historic photo slide show; a subject matter index; newsletter index of articles, subjects, and authors; and online finding aids for the manuscript collections

Billerica Public Library Local History - - history, vital records indexes (1896-1940), local cemetery transcriptions, war memorials, photos, maps, and local points of interest

Boston Athenaeum Online Collections - - prominent collections feature the Boston African Americana Collection and Boston African Americans, 1820-1863. Also included are sheet music images, Taste of the Month, the Alexander Parris Digital Project (architecture), and the Boston Athenaeum Theater Collection

Boston Public Library Obituary Database - - an index of obits that appeared in the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald; dates include 1971-4 and 1983-2002

The Bostonian Society - - while this site does not have archives or databases, it does have interesting facts about Boston history, as well as virtual exhibits. Historical Markers (which are actually images of historic buildings) can be found under Education.

Brookline Public Library Collections - - historic photographs, newspaper indexes (obits, proceedings, newspapers and magazines)

Chelmsford Historical Society Archives Exhibits - - by clicking on any of the collection titles (Documents, Glass Plate Negatives, Library, Objects, Photo Prints, or Postcards) you can then view a slide show of images of these collections. Also included in the exhibits are more photo prints, oral history interviews (which can be heard on MP3 files), local history, and some genealogy links.

Children's Hospital Boston Polio Photo Gallery - - the Children's Hospital Boston has nice archival and manuscript collections (view list here), but they are all offline, with the exception of the polio photo gallery. If you had an ancestor or relative be treated at this hospital, or you are doing research on medical treatment in the early 20th century, you'll want to check out this gallery.

City of Boston Archives - - there are no online archives or databases at this site; however, if Boston is an ancestral location, you'll want to bookmark the link to have access to the finding aids and guide to the archival records, as well as a list of what genealogical information is available on Boston residents.

City of Boston Historic Headstones Database - - "...based on surveys conducted in the mid-1980s by staff and volunteers of the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative. The surveys recorded all legible grave markers at that time." Includes 18 cemeteries.

City of Gloucester Archives - - from this page you can access cemetery records index for Magnolia Point and Sumner Street Cemeteries and a vital records index (births, 1850-1873; marriages, 1849-1869; deaths, 1838-1883). Use the link list in the left-hand menu.

Concord Free Public Library Special Collections - - access online exhibits, the Thoreau Surveys, Historic Buildings website, genealogy, gravemarker data, history, oral history, and much more

Congregational Christian Historical Society Library Digital Resources - - necrology database of clergy and missionary obituaries, periodical publications (yearbooks, annual meeting minutes, article index), books and historical collections, and "Instant History" podcasts, YouTube channel and more

Digital Amherst - - images, multimedia, and documents reflecting the history, culture, and creativity of Amherst, Massachusetts

Essex Historical Society - - history, photo archives

Historic New England Online Exhibitions and Collections Highlights - - history, images, and databases include Wallpaper; New England in the Photographs of Verner Reed, 1950-1972; Jewelry; From Dairy to Doorstep; Lost Gardens; Newbury Furniture; and the Preservation Movement Then and Now

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Archives - - audio and video files, oral history project (transcriptions of oral interviews), images

Lucius Beebe Memorial Library - - public library in Wakefield, Massachusetts; check out the last tab in the top menu, "About Wakefield," to access historic images of photos and postcards, history, "Wakipedia," and a death index (1873-5; 1913-2009)

Lynn Museum and Historical Society - Vintage Postcards of Lynn Collection -

Marblehead Museum - - archived documents, video of Civil War history, images; however, site is annoying in that every link opens in a new tab

Memorial Hall Library - - public library in Andover, Massachusetts: Directories; Records of Death and Interment of Andover Soliders and Sailors; Abbott Genealogies; Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War; Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War; Immigration/Passenger Lists; Maps; Andover High School yearbooks 1916-present

Middleborough Public Library Digital Library - - Middleborough Gazette Index (1852-1935), photos, vital records index (1649-1945)

Nantucket Historical Association Research Library and Archives - - genealogy, manuscripts, photos, oral history, Sanborn maps, digital exhibitions; check Online Databases for the cemetery inscription project

National Heritage Museum - - "an American history museum founded and supported by 32° Scottish Rite Freemasons in the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction." The virtual museum includes an online collection, Masonic history resources portal, virtual exhibits, and blogs.

New Bedford Whaling Museum Online Collections - - search object collections, photo albums, or logbooks. Use the header menu to check out exhibitions, oral histories, and other areas of interest.

NOBLE (North of Boston Library Exchange) Digital Heritage - - digital collections of 10 public and academic libraries 

PeabodyMassArchives - - a collaborative effort between the City of Peabody, the Peabody Institute Library, the George Peabody House, and the Peabody Historical Society, this site features images of photos and newspapers, as well as 1855-1880 indexes of births, marriages, and deaths; other exhibits include South Danvers Ladies Soldiers’ Aid Society correspondence and newsclippings from the Peabody Paragraphs.

Plymouth Colony Archive Project - - if you have early Plymouth ancestors (and not necessarily just Mayflower ones), you'll want to check this site of educational and informational materials pertaining to early Plymouth history. Included are probates, wills, biographies, architectural forms, court records, laws and 17th century texts, a glossary, articles, research papers, maps and plans and more.

Southborough Historical Society - - vital records index (1727-1849), genealogies, sermons, historical briefs, cemetery tombstone listings, local businesses' histories

Sturgis Library Collections - - access to the Preserving Memory digital archival database (documents, photos, postcards) and the Barnstable Patriot newspaper archive; there are also links to other Cape Cod area newspaper archives

Suffolk Registry of Deeds - - this is definitely a stop if your ancestors lived in Boston or Suffolk County. Included are old recorded land plans index books (1935-1999), old recorded land plans (1800s), Suffolk County atlases (varies; 1874-1981), grantee indexes (1961-1978) and grantor indexes (1961-1965)

Topsfield Historical Society - - history, newsletters

Town of Amherst Cemetery Record Search -

Town of Andover Spring Grove Cemetery Lot Search -

Town of Littleton Cemeteries - - lists burials at Westlawn Cemetery and Old Burying Ground, as well as veterans and the pet cemetery

Old Ironsides: USS Constitution Museum Artifact and Manuscript Collections - - Art and Artifacts ("From paintings and portraits to uniforms and weapons, discover the stories behind some of the Museum's most fascinating War of 1812-era objects and artwork!") and Library and Manuscript Collections ("Explore a selection of the 7,500 items in the Museum's manuscript collection, and visit the Archives Inventory page to view and download PDF inventories.")

Walden Woods Project - The Writings of Henry David Thoreau: The Digital Collection - - correspondence, essays, journal, notebooks, poems, selections, and more

Waltham Public Library Death Index - - .pdf file of deaths extracted from city directories, 1912-1960

Woods Hole Historical Photo Collection -

Worcester Polytechnic Institute Online Collections - - WPI history, online books and publications, faculty publications, faculty and student projects, and online databases


Check out my Massachusetts Online Historical Directories page.


Barbara Poole said...

This list is just amazing. There are many sources that I never heard of, and some local to me, such as home town that I was surprised you found. Great, great job. May I link this and share it?
After all this, you need to take a bike ride for fun!

Miriam Robbins said...

Hi, Barbara. Of course you may link to this and share it. I may have to postpone that bike ride,'s even windier today! :-)

Thanks for dropping by.

Susan Clark said...

I'm a slow study. Can't believe I hadn't seen this series you're doing. Marvelous work. Thank you!

Miriam Robbins said...

Hello, NR,

Thank you for your kind words. It's my fault, likely, you haven't seen this before...I have gotten far behind...should be up to Nebraska by now, but I got delayed.

Onward and upward! :-)

Bill West said...

Fantastic! I've bookmarked many of these for further research. Thanks!

Miriam Robbins said...

Hope you find some treasures, Bill. Happy Hunting!

Marian said...

Wonderful list! Thanks for pulling this together.

from yet another MA researcher.


Miriam Robbins said...

Thank you, Marian!