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 from 1844-1924 are 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

  • 1882-1884, 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 some gaps. Paper and microfilm. 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.

Massachusetts Materials

These materials are subdivided by type, with each type arranged differently:

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850. Paper. Arranged alphabetically by town, these volumes list birth, death, and marriage information.

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.