Collection Guides

AF — Administration and Finance (PDF)

Administration and Finance, a cabinet level office within the executive department, provides fiscal and managerial oversight of the executive branch, including fiscal operations, tax revenue collection, central services, personnel, and administrative law services. Included in the AF record group are records of the Comptroller, the Council on Arts and Humanities, and the State Library, as well as records relating to various state office buildings, including the Massachusetts State House.

AG — Attorney General (PDF)

The Attorney General, a constitutional officer, is the chief law enforcement officer for the Commonwealth. Among the records included in the AG record group are Attorney General opinions, initiative petition files, significant state litigation such as the Sacco and Vanzetti case, and charitable organization filings.

AR — Artifact Collection (PDF)

The Artifact collection consists of a variety of three dimensional objects relating to Massachusetts and its history. Some artifacts were transferred to the Archives from state agencies, while others were donated by private individuals.

AU — State Auditor (PDF)

The State Auditor, a constitutional officer, provides audits of accounts, programs, and functions of all state governmental offices, commissions and institutions.

CA — Consumer Affairs (PDF)

Consumer Affairs, an agency within the executive department, oversees and coordinates the activities of state regulatory agencies. Among the records included in the CA record group are those relating to state boards of registration for various professions, public utilities including the Board of Railroad Commissioners (1869-1919), savings bank life insurance, and the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

CD — Communities and Development (PDF)

Communities and Development, now known as Housing and Economic Development, is a cabinet level office within the executive department that promotes safe, decent affordable housing opportunities, economic vitality of communities, and sound municipal management. The CD record group includes material relating to the establishment of public housing authorities and records from the State Planning Board, including land study maps dating 1936-1943.

CF — Campaign Finance (PDF)

Campaign Finance, an independent state agency, administers state laws regulating political campaigns. Included in the CF record group are candidate filings and political action committee filings.

CO — Committees and Commissions (PDF)

The Committees and Commissions record group consists of records of joint standing legislative committees of the House and Senate, as well as special committees and commissions established by the General Court. Included among the numerous committees in the CO record group are the 18th century Committee on Accounts and the records of the Guardians of Indians.

CT — General Court (PDF)

The General Court is the legislative branch of the Massachusetts state government. The CT record group consists of the records of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate; also records of the Legislative Research Bureau, the Black/Latino Caucus and the Women's Caucus. It includes the Proceedings of the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay – the earliest volumes recording the activities of the colonial Massachusetts government. Please note that acts, resolves, and unpassed legislative files are located in SC (Secretary of the Commonwealth).

CY — County (PDF)

County records include records of the county commissioners for the following abolished counties: Berkshire, Essex, Hampden, Middlesex, and Worcester. Also included in the CY record group are partial holdings from the sheriff's offices of Bristol, Middlesex, and Suffolk Counties and the Suffolk County deeds, 1639-1799.

EA — Eastern Lands (PDF)

The Eastern Lands record group documents the settlement of public lands in the District of Maine, also known as the eastern lands, and the establishment of Maine as a separate state in 1820. The EA record group includes records of the General Court, the Committee on the Eastern Lands, and the Land Agent/Office, as well as special legislative commissions created to “quiet” land claims.

EC — Economic Development and Manpower Affairs (PDF)

Economic Development and Manpower Affairs, a cabinet level office within the executive department, promotes strengthening the state's economy and increasing job growth through workforce development. The EC record group includes the records of the Executive Office of Economic Affairs, 1969-1996.

ED — Educational Affairs (PDF)

Educational Affairs, a cabinet level office within the executive department, promotes actions and initiatives to improve educational achievement for all Massachusetts students. Among the records located in the ED record group are those of the State Board of Education, dating from 1837, and the Board of Regents of Higher Education.

EN — Environmental Affairs (PDF)

Environmental Affairs, a cabinet level office within the executive department, carries out the environmental policies of the state: preservation of open space, species habitat, and working landscapes; enforcement of pollution laws; environmental impact reviews; energy conservation and production; fish and wildlife management; and outdoor recreation and access. Notable series located in the EN record group include Waterways maps and plans (1774-1986) and paintings from “Birds of Massachusetts and other New England States.”

ER — Energy Resources (PDF)

Energy Resources, an agency within the executive department, promotes energy conservation and production.

ET — Ethics Commission (PDF)

The Ethics Commission, an independent state agency, provides interpretation and enforcement of the state's conflict of interest and financial disclosure laws for public employees.

GC — Governor's Council (PDF)

The Governor's Council is part of the executive branch of the Massachusetts state government. Originally the upper house of the General Court, 1629-1780, this elected body also serves as an advisor to the Governor, 1629-present. Records in the GC record group are divided between the Council's legislative and executive functions, and also include records pertaining to the Governor's authority to issue pardons.

GO — Governor (PDF)

The Governor is the executive authority of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Established by the 1629 charter of the Company of Massachusetts Bay in New England, this position was maintained in the governments of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay. The GO record group also includes records of the governor's cabinet and special commissions or programs initiated by the governor. Gubernatorial correspondence from the Civil War era and late 19th century is maintained in separate collections identified as “Executive Letters” and “Letters Official.”

HS — Health and Human Services (PDF)

Health and Human Services, a cabinet level office within the executive department, helps protect the health of all Massachusetts residents and provides human services by serving the most needy and vulnerable citizens in the state. The HS record group includes records from many agencies and public institutions, some dating from the mid 19th century. These include public welfare, public health, mental health, developmental services, youth services, corrections, and the office for children and families. Please note that although corrections records are included in HS, the Department of Corrections is currently located within the Executive Office of Public Safety.

IG — Inspector General (PDF)

The Inspector General, an independent state agency, prevents and detects fraud, waste and abuse in state government. Included in the IG record group are the records of the Special Commission Concerning State and County Buildings, 1978-1989. 

JU — Judiciary (PDF)

The Judiciary maintains its own archives, a department under the Supreme Judicial Court known as the Division of Archives and Records Preservation. Judicial records held by the Massachusetts Archives date primarily from the colonial and provincial period when the lines between executive, legislative, and judicial functions were not clearly delineated. Also included in the JU record group are Final Registration Decrees from the State Land Court, 1898-1972.

JU-SJC — Supreme Judicial Court (PDF)

The Judicial Archives is a separate, distinct repository within the Massachusetts Archives, housing original records from state, county, and local courts. Permanent court records from 1620-1860, 1st series probate records and pre-1906 naturalization records are managed at the Massachusetts Archives. Records falling outside these guidelines are held in Trial Court record storage facilities, or remain with their respective courthouses.

LA — Labor (PDF)

Labor, a cabinet level office within the executive department, supports workforce training and education, provides services and resources to the unemployed, adjudicates labor disputes within the Commonwealth, and ensures workforce safety across the state. Among the records included in the LA record groups are statistics of labor and manufacturers, and records from the Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, dating from 1886.

LG — Lieutenant Governor (PDF)

The Lieutenant Governor, a constitutional officer, serves as acting governor when necessary and performs other duties at the governor's discretion. In addition to subject files and administrative files, the LG record group also includes records relating to Blueprint 2000, established in the late 1980's to identify future Commonwealth problems and proposed solutions.

MN — Municipal (PDF)

Municipal records are created by the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts and are maintained in the communities. The only series included in the MN record group are annual registers of voters in Dorchester, 1840-1869, along with incidental returns for Charlestown, Chelsea, Dedham, Roxbury and several Boston wards.

PC — Provincial Congress (PDF)

The Provincial Congress was an extra-legal assembly convened in 1774 in opposition to the actions of royal Gov. Thomas Gage and the Council. Functioning as the main governing body for all of Massachusetts except Boston, two additional Congresses were later elected.  In July 1775, the 3rd Provincial Congress dissolved, and the General Court convened as the official government of the State of Massachusetts Bay. Records in the PC record group include the proceedings of the Provincial Congresses, minutes of the Committee of Safety, and ordnance store records of the Committee of Supplies.

PR — Private Records (PDF)

Private Records consist of non-governmental documents or graphics relating to Massachusetts people, places, or events that have been donated to the Massachusetts Archives.

PS — Public Safety (PDF)

Public Safety, a cabinet level office within the executive department, keeps the people of Massachusetts informed about critical public safety issues. Many of the records included in the PS record group involve the state's military organization in the 18th and 19th centuries and include the offices of the Adjutant General, Paymaster General, Quartermaster, Commissary, Provost Marshall, State Military Agent, and the Revolutionary era Board of War. PS also includes a voluminous collection of building inspection plans, 1889-1987.

The Secretary of the Commonwealth, a constitutional officer, serves the Commonwealth as the chief records keeping officer. The records under the care of the Secretary include those that form the legal foundation of the state, as well as other historic records filed in the office over the years. As government activities and services expanded, the record-keeping duties of the office increased and were accompanied by additional licensing and regulatory responsibilities. The SC record group is the largest in the Archives, with records dating from the 17th century to the present, and includes legislation, both passed and unpassed, and maps and plans. The major collection of colonial, provincial and revolutionary era material, the Massachusetts Archives collection, is also located in the SC record group.

TC — Transportation and Construction (PDF)

Transportation and Construction, now known as the Department of Transportation, is a cabinet level office within the executive department that oversees roads, public transit, aeronautics, and transportation licensing and registration. Among the DOT records included in the TC record group are those relating to the Highway Division, the MBTA, the Aeronautics Commission, the Mystic River Bridge Authority, and the Government Center Commission. Please note that records created by the Massachusetts Port Authority are also located in TC, although Massport is currently an independent agency.

TR — Treasurer and Receiver General (PDF)

The Treasurer and Receiver General, a constitutional officer, is custodian of all state funds, and is responsible for receiving state agency receipts and revenues, making payments, issuing and marketing state bonds, and arranging state investments. With material dating back to the 18th century, this voluminous record group covers all aspects of the state's financial records.  Other records in the TR record group include deeds for property owned by the Commonwealth, documents relating to bonuses for veterans, and records of the Arts Lottery Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.