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About the City of Boston Archives

Visit the Archives

Location

The City of Boston Archives is located at 201 Rivermoor Street in West Roxbury, the southwest neighborhood of Boston. The City Archives is a co-tenant with the Boston Public Library Offsite Storage Center, Boston Planning and Development Agency Archives, the City Archaeology Program and the future EMS Training Center. The City Archives is accessible by public transportation (#36 bus from Forest Hills Station) and parking is available onsite.

 

 

Hours

Reference room appointments are required. Appointments are available, Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Please email archives@boston.gov or call 617-635-1195 to submit reference requests or schedule appointments.

At the Archives

The main entrance to the building is by the flagpoles. Upon arrival to 201 Rivermoor Street, you will need to sign in with the Security Guard at the front desk for access to the building. In the Archives reference room, you will be asked to sign in again and follow certain rules for using the Archives.

  • No food or drink is allowed in the reference room.
  • All personal belongings must be stored in a locker. Laptops are allowed at the research table.
  • Only pencils are allowed for handwritten notes. Pens are not allowed because ink can damage archival materials.
  • Cameras (without flash) are allowed to photograph records with the permission of Archives staff. Scanners are not allowed.
Citation

The recommended citation when using City Archives records is: Name and date of document, box number, folder number, name of collection, collection number and repository.

For example:

Deer Island Hospital weekly report, 6 June 1847, Box 2, Folder 34, City Council Joint Committee on Alien Passenger records, Collection 0140.011, City of Boston Archives.

 

Access Policy

The records held by the City of Boston Archives are open to the public and available for research use during business hours. To ensure the efficient use of the records and staff time, researchers are required to make an appointment when requesting access to the Archives. The Archives maintains closed stacks and materials are brought out to researchers in the reference room.

 

Archives Staff

  • Kristen Lafferty, City Archivist
  • Kayla Skillin, Archivist for Collections Management
  • Meghan Capone, Archivist for Reference and Outreach
  • , Archivist for Records Management
  • , Assistant Archivist

History of the Archives

In August of 1985, the Public Facilities Department initiated a two year grant project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to examine the status of the city’s records and make recommendations for future planning. As a result of this project, the City established the Archives and Records Management Division of the City Clerk’s Office by Chapter 68 the Acts of 1988. In early 1989, the City Archives opened at an interim location, the old Hemenway School in the Readville neighborhood of Boston.  The City Archives remained in this interim location until early 2007 when it moved to its current location at 201 Rivermoor Street in the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston.

 

Holdings

City Archives’ collections document Boston’s foundation and development. They provide sources for the history of Boston’s administration, policy, services, economy, politics, civic engagement, and the City’s role in the larger world. Historical records serve as evidence of government actions. Providing equitable access to historic public records makes it possible for citizens to understand their community and to hold their government accountable for those actions.

The City of Boston Archives contains approximately 20,000 cubic feet of records in its facility at Rivermoor Street and 32 terabytes of records in its digital repository. The Archives includes records created and received by the government of Boston and annexed municipalities from 1630 to the present. Strengths of the holdings include those documenting the built environment, parks, public safety response, education, legislative actions and city officials. The City Archives holds textual records, electronic records, maps and plans, audiotapes, film, photographic images and realia. For more information on our holdings, please consult our online catalog and digital repository.

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