Massachusetts Archives

Overview: The Massachusetts Archives houses records of Massachusetts state administrative agencies, with a collecting focus specifically on public records from the legislative and executive branches of the state government. Documents date from the beginning of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (1629) to the present, and the institution is particularly well-known for its “Felt Collection” of colonial- and revolutionary-era documents. Other substantial collections at the Massachusetts Archives include the Executive Department Letters (1853-1893) and Letters Official (1861-1925) of gubernatorial correspondence, as well as the institution’s collection of maps and plans (1638-1986).

American Revolution Materials: The Massachusetts Archives is home to a number of official state documents related to the American Revolution. For example, the institution possesses official copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Other legislative and judicial materials from the era include journals and records of the Provincial Congresses, the General Court, the Executive Council, and military agencies such as the Massachusetts Board of War. There are also documents connected to the war effort and the history of the Continental Army, such as muster rolls and certificates of depreciation payments.

In addition to state and government documents, the Massachusetts Archives possesses papers of Governor Thomas Hutchinson, maps, broadsides, letters to and from government officials, petitions, bills, acts, and resolves. There is also an artifact collection which includes copper engraving plates of Paul Revere, currency, military dress, drums, firearms, and swords.

Key Words: artifacts, Bill of Rights, Boston, Continental Army, currency, Declaration of Independence, ephemera, government documents, Thomas Hutchinson, journals, letters, maps, Massachusetts Council, Massachusetts General Court, Massachusetts Provincial Congress, Paul Revere, soldiers/militia

Collection Policies: Additions to the Massachusetts Archives are regulated by the state Records Conservation Board. Records are catalogued according to record group and state government function. MARC records may be found through OCLC WorldCat, and an online list of the Archives’ holdings is to be added to the institution’s website. The Massachusetts Archives does not generally loan original materials: high-quality images may instead by provided for exhibits. The institution actively hosts exhibits in-house and through the Commonwealth Museum.