Most Massachusetts residents and organizations left a paper trail documenting
their existence. In most cities and towns, the local library, historical
groups, preservation societies, and museums serve as excellent starting
points for locating documentary materials about local communities. On the
state level, historical societies, archives, and museums are valuable depositories
for useful primary materials. Many of these agencies offer specific programs
for students, and many would welcome suggestions for joint projects.
for Local History:
** TOWN and CITY RECORDS**
Teaching Tips: Make sure that the historic records you select to use
are readable and age appropriate for your class. Be sure the record content
is long enough to provide the information you want your class to absorb,
but not so long that it overwhelms them. Select materials and activities
that are likely to motivate and inspire your students, that are related
to current events, anniversaries, their own interests and hobbies.
in the Raw" and the
excellent essay from the FDR Library, "Using Historic Records as Tools
in the Classroom")
the types of records stored in town, city and state archives:
inventories, account books
Records – local, state, national
Directories (merchants, business addresses, advertisements)
Biographical Sketches for local people
or City Annual Reports
& Tax Reports
Records (Births, Marriages, Deaths)
- Is this
document a primary or secondary source? How do you know?
- How reliable
is this document for historical accuracy??
- When was
it written? If no date is listed, what clues are there that could help
- Where was
it written and where is the document now found? (owner, repository)
- What tools
were used to write it and what is its appearance? (handwritten with
quill, pen, pencil? Typewritten? Printed? A filled-in form?
- What type
of paper was used?
- Whose names
are on this document? What are their roles?
- What were
the opinions, motivations, or interests of each person related to this
- Why was
this document created?
- How can
you find out more about the context of this document?
- What sorts
of information does the document supply?
- Under what
circumstances was the document created?
- What were
the results, benefits, disadvantages of this document being created??
- Can you
trust this document's content at face value?
- What evidence
is there that this is an "official" document?
- What does
this document tell us about life in this community?
- Does this
type of document still exist? How is it the same or different?
Communities": The Commonwealth of Massachusetts produced profiles
of the state’s Communities, including Demographic information, Unincorporated
and Unofficial Names of Massachusetts Communities, City and Town Addresses
and Main Phone Numbers.
Archives, Northeast Region (Waltham, MA) - Federal archival documents
located at Waltham, MA (Boston) are a wealth of primary source material
that can be useful for student research of many kinds. This is a wonderful
learning center for local, regional and national historical research,
serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island,
in Massachusetts History" Massachusetts State Archives Collections
Listing: The collections of the Massachusetts Archives are public records
and are open to all for research.
Information Service" Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of the
Secretary of State:
and Historical Data on Cities, Towns and Counties in the Commonwealth
- A Listing
of Cities and Towns, the Counties they are in with the Dates of Settlement,
Incorporation as a Town and, if applicable, as a City
- A Listing
of Counties and the Cities and Towns Within
- Dates Relating
to the Incorporation of and Abolishment of Counties in the Commonwealth
Section and Neighborhood names of Massachusetts Communities
Telephone Listings for Your City/Town Hall" Commonwealth of Massachusetts,
Office of the Secretary of State