This guide was last updated in 2011

Statewide recording of vital records in Massachusetts began in 1841 at the town level, although many town clerks recorded vital events prior to that date.

From 1841, copies of the records were sent to the state. The Massachusetts State Archives ( is the official repository of vital records through 1915; records after that date can be obtained through the town clerk or the state Registry of Vital Records (

Massachusetts births, christenings, deaths, burials, marriages, and naturalisations are among the free databases online at, most with digital copies of the records. Digitised 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts state censuses are also available.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) also offers online access to many Massachusetts databases in its members-only area ( Most popular are the Massachusetts Vital Records collections with deaths to 1910, and birth and marriages to 1915.

Land and probate records in Massachusetts are recorded at county level and some counties offer online access, such as Essex County’s historic deeds ( Many Massachusetts records have been microfilmed by the Church of Latter-day Saints and can be ordered to view at a local Family History Centre (find your nearest at


New England – first steps
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