Research a Person

Workers at the Squirrel Brand Factory, 12 Boardman Street. Hollis G. Gerrish Collection, History Cambridge

Looking for records about a specific person who lived, worked, or studied in Cambridge? We’ve gathered some of our best suggestions and online resources for genealogical research here.

History Cambridge Resources

Search our website. You’ll find original research by History Cambridge staff, interns, volunteers, and community members, including articles, oral histories, and online exhibitions. Search results also include our finding aids, which describe archival materials you can make an appointment to view in person.

Search our digitized images on Flickr.

Search the digitized text of the Proceedings of the Cambridge Historical Society 1906–1979. History Cambridge was founded in 1905 as the Cambridge Historical Society. Members would write articles about Cambridge history and then present them at meetings held in private homes and on the Harvard University campus. Between 1906 and 1979, these lectures were published as The Proceedings of the Cambridge Historical Society.

Other Cambridge Resources

Search digitized images from the Cambridge Room at the Cambridge Public Library.

Search the Historic Cambridge Newspaper Collection. This database contains all historic Cambridge newspapers that are in the Cambridge Public Library’s collection and do not have copyright restrictions. Fully searchable and freely available newspapers include the Cambridge Chronicle (1846–1923), Cambridge Press (1887–1889), Cambridge Sentinel (1903–1912), and Cambridge Tribune (1887–1923).

Search the Burial Inventory of Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Search the Burial Inventory of Catholic Mount Auburn Cemetery. Note that this is a separate burial ground adjacent to Mount Auburn Cemetery. Most of the 23,840 people buried here are from Boston’s North End, East Boston, Charlestown, and Cambridge and were buried between 1854 and 1947. Burials at Catholic Mount Auburn Cemetery are often noted on death certificates simply as “Mount Auburn.”. Be sure to check both cemeteries’ records when researching burials. Watch a video about the cemetery here.

Search Cambridge City Directories. Search, browse, and download Cambridge’s City Directories published between 1848 and 1910. These contain street listings by last name and by street, business directories and advertisements, maps, ward maps, listings of city services and city officials, schools and colleges (private and public), associations, churches, and clubs. They also contain census data like state and city population totals.

Contact the Cambridge City Clerk. The City Clerk will search city records for Cambridge births, deaths, and marriages dating back to 1635. Write or phone for fee schedules. Researchers may do their own research free during office hours. 795 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139; 617-349-4260

Search and/or download these digitized historical record books and registers on the Internet Archive and Google Books.

Middlesex County, Greater Boston, and State-wide Resources

Search the Middlesex County Registry of Deeds. The registry of deeds maintains all land ownership records for Middlesex County. Note that researchers must do their own research; the registry does not answer phone or mail inquiries.

Search the Massachusetts Archives at Columbia Point. The State Archives contain vital statistics from 1841 through 1905, early census records, early tax records, Port of Boston passenger lists, and some early land, military, and court records. For vital statistics prior to 1841, contact individual city or town clerks.

Contact the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics (Massachusetts). The State Registry contains records of births, marriages, and deaths since 1906, with an index for divorces after 1950.

Contact the National Archives – New England Region. The National Archives contain United States census records from 1790 through 1920, naturalization records, passenger arrival lists (New England ports only), some Revolutionary War military and pension records, and access by microfilm to the holdings of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Note: The National Archives do not contain any vital records.

Contact the Middlesex County Probate Court. The court maintains records of all wills probated in Middlesex County. Note that researchers must do their own research; the court does not answer phone or mail inquiries.

Search the Boston Public Library. The Social Science Department contains published family histories. The Microtext Department contains, on microfilm or microfiche: federal census records for New England; ship passenger lists for New England ports; court and probate records for Middlesex, Suffolk, and Hampshire counties; many Massachusetts town records; city directories from over 200 cities and towns in the U.S. including Cambridge; and the largest collection of microfilmed newspapers in the state.

Search the American Ancestors/New England Historic Genealogical Society. NEHGS contains copies of Massachusetts vital records up to 1895 and a large collection of local and family histories of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland. Non-members are admitted to use the Society’s collection for a daily fee. The Society also provides a list of professional researchers.

Search the Boston Public Library Newspaper Database. You can search the BPL’s newspaper databases remotely by applying for a BPL e-card. Search the historic Boston Globe (1872–1979), Boston Herald (2004–2011), Worcester Telegram and Gazette (1989–present), and America’s Historical Newspapers (1690–1922).

Search the Boston TV News Digital Library. This online digital television news collection offers freely searchable content from six local television programs: Boston Public Library’s WHDH film collection (1960–mid-1970s), Cambridge Community Television (1988–99), Northeast Historic Film’s WCVB film collection (1970–79), and WGBH-produced The Reporters (1970–73), Evening Compass (1973–75), and the Ten O’Clock News.

National and International Resources

Search AfriGeneas. Afrigeneas is a site devoted to African American genealogy, to researching African ancestry in the Americas in particular, and to genealogical research and resources in general.

Search ProQuest African American Heritage. This digital resource brings together records critical to African American family research and connects researchers to a community of experts. Minuteman Library card holders can log on here.

Find a Family History Center. Family History Centers give access to the massive genealogical databases of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah. The extensive national and international records collected by the church are not limited to Mormons, and are of great value to all genealogists.

View more general genealogical resources from the Cambridge Public Library.

Not finding what you need?

Ask a question in our crowd-sourced History Hive. Cambridge neighbors and other history enthusiasts might have the answers you’re looking for.