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Genealogy: Records & Resources

A guide to useful records and various resources available at the BPL and beyond.

Newspaper Databases at BPL

Historical newspapers provide a wealth of information for family history research. All are available full text to BPL cardholders, for use at home, work, or school. 

Below are a few newspaper databases that are useful in genealogy research. For a comprehensive guide to the library's newspaper holdings and more information about using newspapers for research, see our Research Guide Newspapers @ the BPL. For a complete listing of our available newspaper databases, see the Newspapers section of our online resources.

Boston Evening Transcript Genealogy Columns (1911-1941)

The Boston Evening Transcript ran a genealogy column about twice a week during this time period. Readers would submit and respond to genealogical queries, provide corrections to published genealogies, and give background and theories on longstanding genealogical puzzles. Correspondents were not just from Boston, but hailed from around the country. The American Ancestors database, available here at BPL, has a database of images from these columns. Names are not searchable. Here is an article from New England Historic Genealogical Society on how to use the database. 

Newspapers at the BPL

The Boston Public Library can boast of one of the biggest newspaper collections in the country, and serves as the center for the Massachusetts Newspaper Program. The Library provides limited access to original newspaper files. (Pre-1820 newspapers have been transferred to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department). The majority of files are stored off site and several days should be allowed for retrieval.

Except in rare cases, users will be required to use microfilm copies of the files, provided the Library owns microfilm of the newspaper. Access may also be restricted if the condition of the files is such that use would destroy the preservation copy.

For more information, call us at 617.859.4400, or email us at, or use this online form.

Other Sources for Historical Newspapers

FamilySearch logo Digital Historical Newspapers. This FamilySearch page has links to many historical newspapers, both U.S. and foreign.