Researching Massachusetts City and Town
Street and Residential Directories.


  • This is a guide to the proper use of city and town residential street directories in your Massachusetts genealogy family history research.

  • Why should I use old, outdated Massachusetts city directories? Aren't these just old telephone books?

  • Unrelated But Frequently Asked Massachusetts Genealogy Questions:


Massachusetts city and town directories offer an abundance of terrific clues and research tips about finding people from the past. Most of this information cannot be found elsewhere. The older city directories are much like today's telephone books except they offer a better panorama or "birds eye view" into the makeup of a community at a particular time period.

For example, do you need to know the names of all Boston Methodist church organizations in the year 1900?  Do you need to find the names of all cemeteries that were in existence in Lowell in 1870? Do you need a list of all civic and social organizations in 1880 Worcester?

It's all in the Massachusetts city directories!

What's available for research in Massachusetts?

Our list of city directories is not intended to be a complete collection of all extant directories for Massachusetts. It is a list of directories accessible to mass-doc researchers.

Additional directories for time periods and or towns not listed may be available elsewhere. In particular, local town libraries or town halls may have the only surviving set of directories for a particular year or span of years.

In general however, most small town directories simply have not survived the ravages of time. Common sense would lead one to believe that city directories for larger communities are just more prevalent simply because more of them were originally published.

We utilize city directories as part of an overall family history project. Unfortunately, we do not provide individual lookups or requests at this time.

You can view our list of all Massachusetts city and town directories and find these books or microfilm or microfiche at most local institutions in and around the greater Boston area.

Your best bet to locate directories on your own are at the (1) Massachusetts State Library, State Archives; (2) The Boston Public Library (3) the Massachusetts State Archives (limited selection) and (5) at NEHGS (society membership or a per day fee to use library required.)

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 City Directories

Researched as part of an overall family history project. We do not provide individual lookups.

Massachusetts Cemetery Research

Researched as part of an overall family history project. We do not provide individual lookups.

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