This page will provide you with information that will help you in your genealogy and ancestry research for the state of Massachusetts. It includes a timeline for the state, when the state began recording vital records, what US and State census records are available, a map of the counties in the state and link to page showing when counties were formed, and links to a variety of genealogy and ancestry resources for the state of Massachusetts.
The Pilgrims landed on the outermost reaches of Cape Cod in 1620, considerably north of their original destination in Virginia. The the Massachusetts Bay Colony was established ten years later and set a course for new models regarding the concept of community, political life, and records. During the ‘Great Migration’ between 1620 and 1643, an estimated 20,000 people left England and settled in these two colonies that eventually merged, in 1691, to become the Province of Massachusetts.
There are more detailed timelines in the Links section below.
1497 – John Cabot sails up the coast of Massachusetts.
1620 – The Pilgrims arrive at Plymouth and establish the first permanent English settlement.
1621 – The Pilgrims hold the first “Thanksgiving Festival.”
1629 – The Massachusetts Bay Colony is founded.
1691 – The Province of Massachusetts is formed when the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Plymouth Colony combine.
1692 – Nineteen people are put to death for witchcraft during the Salem witchcraft trials.
1770 – Five Boston colonists are shot by British troops in the Boston Massacre.
1773 – Colonists in Boston dump crates of tea into the harbor in the Boston Tea Party.
1775 – The Revolutionary War begins with the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
1788 – Massachusetts becomes the sixth state of the United States.
1820 – Maine separates from Massachusetts to become the 23rd state.
1961 – John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th President of the United States.
1987 – The “Big Dig” construction project begins in Boston.
Spurred by legislative order, over 200 (out of 364) towns had all their vital records to 1850 published. The volume (or volumes) in this Systematic Series for each town is divided into births, marriages, and deaths, then alphabetized by surname and, finally, given name…..
A good write up about Massachusetts Vital Records can be found at Massachusetts Vital Records, written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG, for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Familysearch.org has a variety of collections. available for free online. I’ve included many of the links below.
Industry and Agriculture Schedules
Union Veterans Schedules
Massachusetts County Resources, published in Red Book American State, County, and Town Sources, 3rd Edition, 2004, includes beginning dates and locations of Massachusetts deeds, probates, and court records.
Ancestry.com has a variety of collections available (memebership fees may apply).
FamilySearch.org – a variety of collections available online for free
Massachusetts Online Genealogy Records
Find My Past – United States Marriages
Massachusetts GenWeb Project
The Ancestor Hunt – Massachusetts Birth, Marriage and Death Record Links
GenealogyBuff.com – Massachusetts
Genealogy Trails – Massachusetts
Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness
GenealogySpot – Massachusetts
Massachusetts Archives Division
Massachusetts Archives: Columbia Point Archives building files
New England Historic Genealogical Society
City of Boston – Archives and records management
LDS Genealogy – Massachusetts Genealogy
FamilySearch.org – Brief History Timeline
eReference Desk – Massachusetts History Timeline
Ducksters – Massachusetts State History
DatesandEvents.org – Massachusetts History Timeline
Timelines of History – Timeline Massachsetts
Society of Colonial Wars in Massachusetts – Massachusetts Timeline
MassHome – Notable Events in Massachusetts History
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