Local History Collection

Guide to the Collectionbrief history of somerville book cover

    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 Census

    1790 - 1900 (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.

    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.