Digital Commonwealth

Massachusetts Archives

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Massachusetts Archives
The Massachusetts Archives, acting on behalf of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, is responsible for securing, preserving, and managing for the public good state government records that possess archival value. These records document the purpose and function of state government and show the interactions between the government and its citizens. Under the 1780 Massachusetts Constitution, the Secretary was given the responsibility for the management and care of state records -- current records as well as those of the previous colonial and provincial governments. Nineteenth century legislation repeatedly referenced the archives as part of the Secretary's office. The General Court codified this arrangement in 1897, when the Secretary's Third Clerk was designated as the Chief of the Archives Division.

The Archives collection dates from the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628 to the present day. The Archives holds records created by the legislative and executive branches of the Massachusetts government, including state agencies and institutions, as well as some pre-1786 judicial records.
The early settlement of Massachusetts and continuing migration of people through the state means that the Archives holds records relating to large numbers of families and individuals. Our collections are valuable to many different types of researchers including genealogists, historians, lawyers, architects, students, and government officials.