Resources - Historical Societies
Links to Town Historical Society Web Sites on Cape Cod and the Islands
The genealogical holdings of the historical societies of the Cape and Islands range from biographies, genealogies, diaries and letters to captains' logs, applications to the National Historical Register and vintage photographs. Contact the individual historical society to inquire about holdings for specific families.
- The Barnstable Historical Society is located next to the Sturgis Library in the Daniel Davis House and Museum, 3074 Main St. (Route 6A), Barnstable Village. The House is open from mid-June to mid-October, 1:00-4:00 p.m. or by appointment. Call 508-362-2982, or write to PO Box 829, Barnstable Village, MA 02630. Their website is currently being updated, but click the link to see their brochure.
The genealogical collection contains family histories; documents supporting applications for the National Register of Historic Buildings (which contain lots of genealogical information); cemetery records, and a collection of manuscripts covering all the towns of Barnstable.
Bourne Historical Society
- The Bourne Historical Commission along with the Bourne Archives is housed in the Jonathan Bourne Historical Center, 30 Keene St., Bourne. It is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 9:00 a.m to 2:30 p.m and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors are welcome during these hours. Telephone 508-759-8167 or e-mail email@example.com.
Materials in the Bourne Archives include retired town records, histories of five Bourne villages, family collections, photographs, maps, and oral histories.
- The Brewster Historical Society buildings are open 1pm-4pm,
Thursday, Friday & Saturday, July, August and September. The Museum, in a mid-19th century Homestead, located at 3171 Main St. (Route 6A - East Brewster), houses four permanent galleries, a special exhibits gallery and archives which are available to researchers, by appointment, during the winter months. The Brewster Historical Society can be contacted by phone at 508-896-9521 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their mailing address is PO Box 1146, Brewster, MA 02631.
- The collection of the Chatham Historical Society is housed in the Atwood House, 347 Stage Harbor Rd., Chatham. Telephone 508-945-2493.
Their records include real estate tax records from the early 1800s to present, Chatham newspapers from the mid 19th century through the early 20th century, old letters, photographs, ships logs, ledgers and similar archives, and documents relating to the history of Chatham. These materials are being catalogued and will be listed on the Internet. Though they recommend the Eldredge Public Library as the best source of genealogy of Chatham families, they do have complete genealogies of the Nickerson, Eldredge and Atwood Families, as well as some other Chatham families. The museum research room has computer access to all archival files. Research is by appointment only.
- The Josiah Dennis Manse Museum library at 77 Nobscusset Rd., Dennis, houses the collection of the Dennis Historical Society. Call them at 508-385-2232, or e-mail them at email@example.com. Their mailing address is PO Box 607, South Dennis, MA 02660.
Their collection centers on the Dennis villages and includes books, manuscripts, old original documents (deeds, wills, diaries, ledgers, and sermons), scrapbooks, and photographs. Their photograph collection contains 2,850 photographs of Dennis and its people, also available on CDs. The old documents have been preserved and have full transcriptions. There are papers from the Isaac Chapman estate, the Obed Baker 2nd Collection, diaries of the Reverend Nathan Stone and the Nathan Stone Esquire Papers. Research of these materials is available by appointment only.
- Located in the Eastham Public Library, 190 Samoset Rd. Eastham. The archives hours are Tuesdays from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. Collections include: oral history tapes and manuscripts, histories of Churches and campground meetings, Eastham Town Reports 1896-2006, Assessors' maps, data from the National Seashore Archives, handwritten genealogies with some documented, sea captains' logs, diaries of teachers, 50 indexed scrapbooks, vital records, audio-tapes of memories, and various cemetery records.
Family collections include: Atwood, Bangs, Chase, Daley, Doane, Fisk, Freeman, Gould, Harding, Hatch, Higgins, Holbrook, Hopkins, Horton, Jewell, Knowles, Lowe, Mayo, Merrick, Moore, Nickerson, Paine, Pratt, Quinn, Rogers, Smith, Sparrow, Schwind - among others.
More information is available by writing Marilyn Schofield at Box 163, Eastham, MA 02641 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. (See Ms. Schofield's presentation to the Cape Cod Genealogical Society for more about their holdings.)
Historical Society and Falmouth Museums on the Green
- The Falmouth Historical Society collections reside in the Conant House, 65 Palmer A venue, Falmouth. They are open 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday. The archivist is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The mailing address is PO Box 174, Falmouth, MA 02541. Telephone: 508-548-4857; FAX: 508-540-0968. For information on Falmouth history, e-mail email@example.com; for genealogy and family history, e-mail JSPendery@msm.com.
Their collection includes genealogy and family papers, local Falmouth history and town records, maps, oral histories, church and cemetery histories and vintage and contemporary photographs.
Historical Society and Brooks Academy Museum
- The Harwich Historical Society genealogical and historical materials are housed in the Brooks Academy Museum, 80 Parallel St., Harwich, MA 02645. The historical society can be reached by telephone at 508-432-8089, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their collection includes historic photographs, manuscripts and genealogical records. Specific genealogical collections include the Louise Kelley Collection (which contains information on many Harwich families), the Paine Collection and the Shaw Genealogy. The genealogical research library is open by appointment year round. There is a research charge of $10 for non-members.
Historical Society and Meetinghouse Museum
- The Orleans Historical Society is located at 3 River Road, Orleans, MA 02653. Their mailing address is PO Box 353, Orleans, MA 02653. Bonnie Snow, their historian, can be reached mornings at 508-240-1329 or via e-mail at email@example.com. The Orleans collections include oral histories, family histories, photographs, old town records and archival records. All are in the process of being catalogued.
- Provincetown is in the process of digitizing their town records. These records can be browsed online at http://www.provincetownhistoryproject.com either by collection, format or subject. They have a historic timeline of Provincetown; birth, marriage and death records; old slides of Provincetown and its people; and cemetery records.
Historical Society and Lighthouse Museum
- The Truro Highland House Museum, located at 27 Highland Road, North Truro, houses the town records of Truro, as well as genealogical information on the families of Truro. Access to these records is by appointment only. Deborah Minsky, director and curator, can be reached by phone at 508-487-3397 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mailing address: Highland House Museum, P. O. Box 486, Truro, MA 02666.
Historical Society and Museum
- The Wellfleet Historical Society has few genealogical materials, but they do have cemetery information on all Wellfleet cemeteries and genealogical information on the Atwood and Baker families. Betsey Patterson, genealogist for the Rich Family Association, can help to steer genealogists interested in Wellfleet families to resources on the Cape. She can be reached at the Wellfleet Historical Society, 508-349-9157. The mailing address is PO Box 58, Wellfleet, MA 02667.
Society of Old Yarmouth
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- The Library and Archives of the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth (HSOY), located in the Gorham Cobbler Shop behind the Yarmouth Port Post Office on Route 6A. is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The mailing address is PO Box 11, Yarmouth Port, MA 02675. Before visiting, the researcher should
contact them at 508-362-3021 or e-mail email@example.com to ensure that they have the needed materials and can have a volunteer on hand to assist. Be sure to check their Planning a Visit to the HSOY Library & Archives for some helpful planning advice.
Their library contains over 1,000 completed family group sheets of Yarmouth families, a vertical and pamphlet file, copies of information compiled for the National Register of Historic Houses, historic maps and a map book containing copies of maps for each village through time. They also house correspondence, family papers and other manuscripts, old copies of the Yarmouth Register and Barnstable Patriot from the 1830s through the 1880s and town records prior to 1860 on microfilm.
Vineyard Historical Society
- The Martha's Vineyard Historical Society operates the Gale Huntington Research Library at the Martha's Vineyard Museum campus at 59 School Street, Edgartown. This facility houses the largest collection of genealogical records and resources on the island. These include census records, Island newspapers, town records, manuscripts, whaling logbooks, Revolutionary War documents, Native American collections, maps, oral histories and a photo archive of 50,000 images.
Library hours are Wednesday - Friday, 10 AM - 4 PM. Other times by appointment. See About The Gale Huntington Research Library and Genealogy Services at the Martha's Vineyard Museum when planning a visit. For research call 508-627-4441 ext. 122. Catherine Mayhew, the Martha's Vineyard Museum genealogist, can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nantucket Historical Association
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- The Nantucket Historical Association Research Library is located at 7 Fair Street and is open year round. The Library can be reached at PO Box 1016, Nantucket, MA 02554, or by phone at 508-228-1894, ext. 4. Non-members are charged a daily usage fee of $5 as well as a fee for more than a half hour of research services.
The Nantucket Historical Association Research Library is a repository of primary resources focusing on Nantucket history. Their collection includes 50,000 photographs, ship's logs, family papers and scrapbooks. Researchers can conduct a search of Eliza Starbuck Barney's (1802-1889) Record which contains vital information on more than 40,000 Nantucketers of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
Much of their collection is available online at http://www.nha.org/library/index.html, which is the best place to start for learning more about their collections and how to access them.