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Massachusetts Vital Records Information

Massachusetts Vital Records

No state in the Union can boast the depth and breadth of vital records sources that is available in Massachusetts. Starting with the arrival of the Pilgrims, vital events have been diligently, although not completely, recorded, preserved, and published. Vital records have been registered in Massachusetts since 1635. Statewide data collection began in 1841. 206 (out of 364) towns had all their vital records to 1850 published under the Systematic Series, and are available at the Massachusetts State Archives and the FHL, as well as select other repositories. Other towns' vital records have been published or microfilmed since publication of the Systematic Series. There is no state-wide index which includes all the towns' records for vital events before 1841. This makes it necessary to know the appropriate town in which to locate a record before that date.

The Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in the Department of Public Health has the records of births, deaths and marriages for Massachusetts from 1906 to the present. Every five years the earliest five years of records maintained at the Registry are transferred to the custody of the State Archives. The next transfer will occur in 2001. After the transfer any restrictions that may be on the transferred records will be removed. Records from 1841-1905 are located at The State Archives. The city or town clerk in the city or town where the event occurred has all records prior to 1841. Also, copies of records since 1841 are available at the city or town where the event occurred.

For birth and death records after 1 January 1906, write:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Registry of Vital Records & Statistics
470 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02210
Tel: 617-753-8600

For records between 1841-1905, write:

Massachusetts State Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
Tel: 617-727-4319
Fax: 617-288-4505

Massachusetts Vital Records

Massachusetts Research Sources

Bowen, Richard LaBarron. Massachusetts Records: A Handbook for Genealogist, Historians, Lawyers, and Other Researchers. Rehoboth: privetly printed, 1957.

Schweitzer, George K. Massachusetts Genealogical Research. Knoxville: the author, 1990.

Marcia Wiswall Lindberg's Genealogist's Handbook for New England Research. Boston: The New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1985.

Crandall, Ralph J., editor. Genealogical Research in New England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1984.

Family History Resources at the Massachusetts State Archives

New England Historical and Genealogical Society (NEHGS)
101 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116-3007
Tel: 617-836-5740
  888-AT-NEHGS (Membership & Education)
  888-BY-NEHGS (Sales)
  888-90-NEHGS (Library Circulation)
Fax: 617-536-7307

Plymouth Ancestors
P.O. Box 1620
Plymouth, MA 02362

General Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Society Museum
4 Winslow Street
P.O. Box 3297
Plymouth, MA 02361
Tel: 508-746-2590

Massachusetts Society of Mayflower Descendants
100 Boylston Street, #750, Boston, MA 02116-4610.
Telephone: 1-617-338-1991

Colonial Society of Massachusetts
87 Vernon Street
Boston, MA 02108
Tel: 617-227-2782

Massachusetts Historical Commission
220 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
Tel: 617-727-8470
Fax: 617-727-5128
TDD: 800-392-6090

Massachusetts Historical Society
1154 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02215
Tel: 617-536-1608

Peabody Essex Museum
Phillips Library
East Indian Square
Salem, MA 01970
Tel: 800-745-4054
  800-745-1876 (library)
Fax: 508-744-0036

Salem Witch Museum
19 1/2 Washington Square, North
Salem, MA 01970
Tel: 508-744-1692

Boston Public Library
Copley Square
666 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02117
Tel: 617-536-5400 ext. 241

Massachusetts State Library
341 State House
Beacon Hill
Boston, MA 02133
Tel: 617-727-2590

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Massachusetts Vital Records 

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