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Boston Public Schools Historical Research: Official Records

This guide provides resources and strategies for researching the history of the Boston Public School system, individual schools and guidance on finding high school yearbooks.

BPS History

Home - General histories of the Boston Public School system and individual schools

Busing Crisis - The most controversial era for the Boston Public Schools

Official Records - Available from the Boston Public Library or the Boston Public School Department

Schools - Researching specific school names, school buildings and images

Yearbooks - Finding yearbooks for specific schools

School Department Records

Student records are not available from the Boston Public Library.  Students should apply to the School Department for transcripts of their student records.  The official records that the library can supply include:

  • Annual Reports of the School Department of the City of Boston.  These reports are made by the School Department to the School Committee.  They discuss the previous school year in general and for each school in the system.  Tables of statistics for the system and for individual schools are included.  Some years include lists of graduates for each school.
  • Manuals of the Public Schools of the City of Boston.  The manuals are basically employee directories for the Boston Public School system.  Staff are listed by Administrative Office and then by school.  A good source on who taught where when and staffing levels.
  • Proceedings of the Boston Public School Committee.  These are the official minutes of the meetings of the committee.  They discuss policy, funding, personnel appointments, opening, closing and merging of schools, etc.


Boston Public Library Resources

The Boston Public Library has a large collection of records of the School Department.  The links below will take you to digitized collections of annual reports, manuals and proceedings.  You also can search the catalog for non-digitized items by searching:

Author: Boston Public Schools

Author: Boston (Mass.), School Committee

Or you can search by individual schools, departments within the Boston Public Schools (e.g. Department of School Buildings) or individual superintendents or headmasters.

City of Boston Archives

The City of Boston Archives has an extensive collection of School Department records.  These range from the Committee on Superintending the School for Mutual Instructions records from 1821-1823 to Charlestown High School records (including graduation programs and yearbooks) covering 1852-2005.

Finding aids to select collections are listed below.  Otherwise, you can search the Archives online catalog or browse the collections related to the Boston Public Schools.