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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Town and City Clerks of Massachusetts. Massachusetts Vital and Town Records. Provo, UT: Holbrook Research Institute (Jay and Delene Holbrook).

About Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988

This database contains a wide variety of town records from Massachusetts.

Records in This Database

Massachusetts boasts some of the oldest and most extensive records in the United States, and some documents in this database go back to the colony’s earliest days. They were made more readily accessible through the efforts of Jay and DeLene Holbrook. About 30 years ago, the Holbrooks began filming vital and town records in Massachusetts. To date, the Holbrooks have visited 315 of the state's 351 towns and cities and filmed their records collections.

This database contains a wide variety of those documents, including both vital and other records. This is a sample of the types of documents you may find:

  • birth and baptismal registers
  • intention of marriage and marriage records
  • courthouse records
  • death registers
  • account books
  • almshouse records
  • aid to soldiers and veterans
  • assessments and tax records (lists, collections, invoices, valuations)
  • cemetery records
  • censuses
  • church and parish records
  • school records
  • town meeting records
  • pew sales
  • deeds
  • dog licenses
  • minutes
  • militia lists and military records
  • indexes
  • fishing permits
  • land grants
  • voters lists and registers
  • mortgage records
  • selectmen’s records

Records can contain names, dates, and places. In addition, some may indicate family relationship or provide details that give context to a person’s life: whether they owned a dog, paid for a church pew, or took out a mortgage.

Not every type of record will be available for every town or year.

Vital Records

These documents include a substantial number of vital records. Vital records are a cornerstone of genealogical research because they can establish family relationships and document seminal life events. Information contained in these records will vary widely by record type, but you may find names, birth dates and places, parents’ names, marriage dates, spouse’s names, death dates, and other details that will help you locate an ancestor in both a time and place as well as in a family.

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