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:

  • The call number for all Somerville materials in the Local History Room starts with an "S" for Somerville.
  • Any trailing zeros in the call number have been omitted.
    • For example, "S010" is shortened to "S01"; "S200" becomes "S2", and so on.

Historic Somerville Digital Collections

Major Resources

Somerville Annual Reports. In the library: paper copies from 1844 to the present. Reports are also available electronically via Internet Archive. Published every year by the city, these include statistical and status reports from departments within the city government.

Somerville City Directories

  • Charlestown City Directories, 1834-1874. Microfilm Cabinet. Until 1842 Somerville was officially part of Charlestown.
  • Somerville City Directories, (1851-1933, 1939-present) Organized by name from 1851-1933. Organized by ward, precinct and address from 1939 to the present.
  • Somerville City Directories available online - scroll down for links to digitized directories from 1869-1919.

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

  • Somerville High School Radiator (1898-2016 available online)
  • Paper and microfilm versions of the student magazines and yearbooks for the Somerville High School Radiator, the Somerville Trade High School Trade Winds and the magazines for the Southern, Western, and Northeastern Junior High Schools from 1882-1884 and 1895-Present.

United States Census

  • 1790-1910 censuses are available on microfilm in the local history room and 1790-1940 censuses are available online via HeritageQuest and Ancestry.

Somerville and Boston Area Phone Directories

  • 1911-Present, with some gaps. Paper and microfilm copies are available in the local history room.

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.
  • Sanborn Maps for 1900 and circa 1933-1940s available online (remote access for Somerville residents) through the database Digital Sanborn Maps of MA 1867-1971

Local Newspapers

The library has copies of the following papers on microfilm.

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

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