Local History Collection

Guide to the Collection


Computerized Catalog and Indexes

The personal computer in the Local History Room contains:

  1. Local History CD-ROM collection.
  2. Subject Index to the Somerville Journal
  3. Obituaries listed in the Somerville Journal
  4. Index to the Historic Leaves


Somerville Materials

These books and pamphlets are arranged in the same Dewey Decimal order as the regular collection, with a couple of anomalies:

  1. The Call Number for all Somerville materials in this room start with an "S" for Somerville.
  2. Any trailing zeros in the Call Number have been omitted.

For example: 

S01 -> S010
S2 -> S200
S27 -> S270
S278 -> S278


Major Resources

Somerville Annual Reports

1844 - present (paper)

Published every year by the city, these include statistical and status reports from departments within the city government.

1855 - 1924 (electronic database)

Somerville city annual reports 1855 - 1924 are now digitized and available at: Somerville Public Library Archive

Somerville City Directories

1851 (microfiche only), 1869-1870 (microfiche only), 1871-present (paper and microfilm)

This resource lists Somerville residents by last name. They also include advertisements for local businesses and lists of churches and city departments. We also have the Charlestown City Directories (1834-1874) on microfilm.

Somerville Poll Tax Directories

1887-1938 (microfilm only)

Published by the city, this is a list of city residents, arranged by Ward and Precinct, then street address. Before 1920, only men were listed.

Somerville Student Magazines and Yearbooks

182-1884, 1895 - present (paper and microfilm)

This collection includes the student magazines and yearbooks for Somerville High School Radiator, the Somerville Trade High School Trade Winds and the magazines for the Southern, Western, and Northeastern Junior High Schools.

United States Sensus

1790 - 19300 (paper and microfilm)

For 1790, we have the census in printed form for the six New England states. For the other years (1800-1910) the census is on microfilm.

Somerville and Boston Area Phone Directories

1911 - present (with gaps, paper, and microfilm)

Atlases & Maps

Map of Ten Hills of Somerville, 1637, Somerville Map, 1852, Atlas of the City of Somerville, 1874, Atlas of the City of Somerville, 1884, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, 1900 (on microfilm) Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, circa 1933-1940s.


Massachusetts Materials

This information is subdivided by type, with each type arranged differently:

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (CDROM & Paper)

The books, arranged alphabetically by town, list birth, death, and marriage information.

  1. Mass.:  MassasMassachusettsal Histories, arranged by author or editor.
  2. Mass. C: Massachusetts County Histories, arranged alphabetically by county.
  3. Mass. M: Massachusetts Military Histories.
  4. Mass. O: Massachusetts Official Documents.
  5. Mass. S: Massachusetts Society Documents.
  6. Mass. T: Massachusetts Town Histories. The library has histories for many of the towns and cities in the Commonwealth. These are arranged alphabetically by town.


Genealogical Resources

The genealogical collection is made up of collected genealogies, family genealogies, and guides the genealogical research. Like the Massachusetts collection, it is subdivided by type:

  1. G:  General genealogical indexes and periodicals.
  2. G1:  Collected Genealogies.
  3. G2: Genealogies on one or several related families.
  4. G3: Genealogical information recovered from court records.
  5. G4: Genealogies on prominent families.
  6. G5: Burial records.
  7. G6: Heraldy.
  8. G7: Peerage.
  9. G8: Family Armory.


Local Newspapers

The library has copies of the following papers on microfilm.

  • Somerville Journal, 1876 to present
  • Somerville Citizen, 1888-1901
  • Somerville Reporter, 1904-1913
  • Somerville News, 1893, 1913-1916
  • Somerville Citizen-Democrat, 1932
  • West Somerville Reporter & Cambridge World, 1900-1901
  • Boston Globe, 1987 to current

The Staff maintains indexes to the Somerville Journal including a subject index for noteworthy topics and events and an obituary index. Researchers should check both the paper card files and the online index for all subjects prior to 1990.

Somerville Vertical File

This file, arranged by subject, is a collection of newspaper clippings, magazine articles and ephemera about important Somerville events, institutions, and people.


Somerville Local History CDROM Collection

The library Maintains a collection of cdroms for genealogical research, including:

  • New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847-1994
    • Start with Disc 9 - Condensed Index
  • Marriage Index: Massachusetts, 1633-1850
    • Insert disc and click on Family Archive Viewer
  • City Directories: Massachusetts, 1885-1897 (Selected cities & years)
    • Click on AncestryView to begin, includes Somerville
  • Early Vital Records of Massachusetts to the year 1850
    • Does not include Somerville, see Vital Records of Charlestown to 1850
    • (on shelf, call number S 974.4)
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s
    • Insert disc and click on Family Archive Viewer
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists: Boston, 1821-1850
    • Insert disc and click on Family Archive Viewer
  • The Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements in the Boston Pilot, 1831-1920
    • Insert disc and click on New England Historic Genealogical society Folder
  • Passenger and Immigration Lists: Irish to America, 1846-1865
    • Insert disc and click on Family Archive Viewer