Research Guide - Boston Public Library

Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St., Copley Square
Boston, Massachusetts 02116


Monday-Thursday 9-9
Friday and Saturday 9-5
Sunday 1-5 (October - May)

Holdings (overview):

The Boston Public Library contains extensive collections of materials that are of interest to the genealogist and family historian. For an overview of what's available, see their Genealogy and Family History page.

Perhaps of more direct interest to genealogists is the Microtext Department, which holds the major part of the Boston Public Library's holdings of microfilm, microfiche, and microprint. The Department's holdings include roughly 163,000 rolls of microfilm, 2.5 million microfiche, and 6,345 boxes of microprint.

You will need your BPL library card to request items in the Microtext Room. You can get a card (free) when you arrive, so be sure to bring some identification.

Among the Department's holdings are:

  • U.S. Newspapers: Boston; Mass; US Domestic; Foreign
  • Federal Census for all New England States 1790-1930
  • Genealogy and Local History
  • Regimental Histories of the American Civil War
  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Atlases
  • Index to Passenger Lists (Boston 1848-1891; 1899-1920)
  • United States City Directories (including Boston)

Use their Web site to plan your work:

Home Page -
Genealogy and Family History Resources -
Research Library Services -
Microtext Department -
Listing of City Directories -
Newspaper Room -
Listings of Newspapers on Microfilm -