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Newspapers at the BPL: Indexes

Newspaper resources at the Boston Public Library and beyond.



  1. A list of names or topics—usually found at the end of a publication—that directs you to the pages where those names or topics are discussed within the publication.   
  2. A printed or electronic publication that provides references to periodical articles or books by their subject, author, or other search terms.

           [ALA: Instruction for Diverse Populations Multilingual Glossary ]

Most of our electronic resources function as indexes. Printed indexes still have their virtues. They may cover papers or years that have not been digitized. A controlled vocabulary may be more suited to your search than one using a keyword search.

Newspaper Indexes

Selected Boston & Massachusetts Newspaper Indexes - In Library use only

Boston newspaper indexes

Boston Newspaper Index:  manually created card index on microfiche

Covers various Boston newspapers ranging from the late 1800s to the 1980s

The Boston Herald Clipping Morgue is available at the Pickering Educational Resources Library at Boston University, with some parts of the collection at the Peter Fuller building.  It is a collection of newspaper articles from various Boston newspapers ranging from the late 1800s to the 1980s arranged by name and topic. The public is welcome to use this archive. Contact the BU Library for more information.

Microfiche; covers Boston newspapers  ca. 1878-1937

The main index generally covers the years 1878-1937, although there are selected entries for earlier and later dates. The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Journal, and Boston Transcript were indexed most consistently, although there are entries for other newspapers as well.  

In 1892 the Massachusetts legislature passed "An Act to Authorize the Preparation for the State Library of an Index of Current Events" (St. 1892, c.140). Commonly called the "Zimmer Index", it was intended to be a card index to "current events" which would be of use to Massachusetts legislators and to the public.

Contents were designed as an index to current events of interest to legislators and citizens of the Commonwealth and includes various types of events such as:

  • Obituaries (these comprise a large percentage of the index)
  • Political conventions, platforms, and events
  • Speeches and letters of prominent persons, especially from Massachusetts
  • Dedications of memorials and buildings
  • Visits of foreign dignitaries
  • News of taxation, strikes, riots, wars, floods, etc.

Newspapers indexed:

Boston Advertiser, Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Boston Journal, Boston Post, Boston Transcript, Cambridge Chronicle, Dorchester Beacon, New York Post, New York Times, Somerville Journal, Springfield Republican, Worcester Telegram.

A later part to the index, covering the years 1960 to 1983, includes articles from the Boston Globe and Boston Herald which are primarily political or governmental in nature is only available at the State Library of Massachusetts.


Massachusetts Newspaper Indexes Available by Town

Lathrop Report on Newspaper Indexes

Selected National & International Newspaper Indexes -- In Library use only

Newspaper Indexes online

Hampshire Gazette Index


Obituary Indexes

Boston Public Library Obituary Index

If you cannot find who you are looking for in the Obituary Database, there could be several possibilities:

The person did not have a full length obituary. Most of the deceased have only death notices, which are not part of this database.

The date may not have been entered into the database (see dates above). To find an obituary for dates not covered in this database, consult a member of the Research Services Department staff.

If you have any problems, feel free to consult a member of the Research Services Department at the Boston Public Library.

For help in getting full text copies of these obituaries, contact or here or 617-536-5400

For more help getting started researching obituaries, see the Genealogy guide section on Obituaries.

Massachusetts Obituary Indexes

US Online Obituary Indexes

International Online Obituary Indexes