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Official records | Obituaries | Irish/Jewish | Specific families

From the very start, Boston has been a beckoning port for immigrants. There are numerous resources in the area for tracing your roots:

Official records

Family History Resources at the Massachusetts State Archives explains the holdings of the state archives, which include lists of immigrants who came through Boston in the 19th century and birth and death records for all Massachusetts cities and towns between 1841 and 1905.

Elizabeth Orsay has compiled a guide to Massachusetts vital records that tells how and where to obtain birth and death certificates and the like in Massachusetts counties, including Suffolk.

The Social Security Death Index, which lets you find the birthplace and last known residence of any social-security recipient who has ever died.

Hints for Boston-area searching.

The New England Historical Genealogical Society has an extensive research library.

Genealogy Helplist Massachusetts lists the e-mail addresses of people who can help with specific genealogical questions in Massachusetts.

The Boston Public Library has some extensive resources on Boston-area genealogy. Most of these are on paper or microfilm; their Web page explains where the collections are located.


Obituaries can be very valuable for finding survivors and piecing together family trees. The Boston Public Library's obituary database lists everybody who's had an obituary in the Boston Globe or Boston Herald since at least the early 1970s, along with the date the obit appeared. The service is based on a telnet connection, so make sure you have your browser configured for telnet before you connect.

If the person had an obit in the Globe, you can then get a copy of the obituary online. However, you'll first have to establish an account. Once you do that, you'll be charged either $2.95 or $1.95 for the obituary, depending on the time of day you connect to their database (the more expensive fee is for daytime use. Globe archive signup page


Irish Stew has listings of turn-of-the-century Irish families in Boston and where in Ireland they came from.

The Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston has links to resources for tracing Jewish roots in the area.

Specific families

Ephraim Fenno, leather-dresser and ale house keeper of Boston, descendant of John Fenno b. 1629, who came from Lancashire, England, to Milton, Massachusetts, in 1660.

Colonial Massachusetts and Maine Genealogies
Anderson, Basford/Bamford, Blake, Brackett, Bradbury, Carver, Conant, Chute, Farrington, Hamblen/Hamblin/Hamlin, Haskell, Mansfield, Mather, Noyes, Plumer/Plummer, Sawyer, Sewall, Shackford, Thurston, Waite, Watts, Woodward.

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