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Resources for researching your ancestors and your family history

Research Services at the Central Library in Copley Square

Reference Services librarians are available at two Information Desks:

Research Services Department in Bates Hall, McKim Building, 2nd floor
Reference Area, Boylston Street Building, 2nd floor

Reference Services offers research and study assistance on many subjects, including history and the social sciences. Librarians can help you with searching the library’s print and online collections and our online databases of articles and research sources. For any items the library does not own, librarians can assist patrons with requesting material from other libraries.

You can contact the department by phone (617-536-5400), by email (, the BPL's online form, or by mail at:

The Boston Public Library
Central Library at Copley Square
Research Services Department
700 Boylston Street
Boston MA 02116


  • Computers: Computers are available for genealogical research and in-library use databases in the Research Services Department.
  • Reference Questions: You can submit a genealogy reference question in person, by telephone, and by email. Note: We can only answer general reference questions; we cannot do genealogical or heraldic research, or check our holdings for specific sections of genealogies about a particular family.
  • Photocopying materials and printing from library computers: Some of the library’s published genealogies may be photocopied, depending on the condition of the item. Photocopies are $0.15 per page. Photocopiers are located throughout the central library building and at the Research Services and Business Reference desks on the second floor. You may purchase a pay4print account at the red kiosk at any BPL location. More details on how to print and photocopy library material is here.
  • Microform printing: Printouts of microforms are available in the Research Services Department. Microform printing may be $0.15 or more, depending on the size of the original page.