Local History and Genealogy Resources
The History Room is available to the public at all times during our regular hours. The room is customarily locked; the Reference Staff will be happy to assist you if you wish to access it.
The Bartlett Room at the Main Library houses items relating to the history of Plymouth. The Collection is accessible to the public during normal library hours. Resources in the Plymouth Collection are supported through the Rev. Robert M. Bartlett Fund and the Arthur Lord Fund of the Plymouth Public Library Corporation. Although the books in the Plymouth Collection cannot be checked out, there are duplicate copies of many titles available in the circulating history collection. (These books are shelved on the first floor at the end of the regular non-fiction section).
The Plymouth Collection includes:
- Genealogies and Vital Records
- Town Histories and Town Reports
- Maps, Art Work, and Historical Photographs
- High School Yearbooks
- A "Vertical File" indexed by subject on topics of local interest with clippings and pamphlets
Plymouth Digital Collections
Many of the items in the collection are also now available as e-books. Annual Reports of the Town of Plymouth (through 2015), Plymouth High School Yearbooks (through 2016), Cordage News (the in-house newsletter of the Cordage Company between 1945 and 1954), plus several library publications chronicling local history have all been digitized; for more information click here. Visitors will also find many of the older volumes on the shelves wrapped in protective archival boxes with labels indicating when the title can be accessed at https://archive.org/ or https://books.google.com/
Plymouth Tercentenary Photograph Collection: To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the arrival of the Pilgrims, Plymouth erected new monuments and its citizenry enacted a public outdoor pageant dramatizing "the history of the life and struggles of the Pilgrim Fathers." The height of the celebration occurred on August 1, 1921, when numerous dignitaries, including President Warren G. Harding, and a crowd estimated at 100,000 gathered to view the "Pilgrim Spirit" Pageant and Parade. The Library owns a collection of 159 photographs which chronicle these events and we are pleased to be able now to share these items online.
Digitization of these texts and photographs was federally funded with grants from the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and administered by the Boston Public Library in partnership with the Digital Commonwealth. The books are hosted by Internet Archive, a non-profit organization offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
The Plymouth Historic Houses Collection contains the research compiled by the 1992-1995 Massachusetts Historical Commission survey. There are ten binders with information about historic homes, structures, neighborhoods, and sites. The binders are arranged by location (i.e., Plymouth Village Center, Plymouth Village Historic District, etc.). There is also an index containing an alphabetical list of street names which is available to use as a cross reference in locating information on specific homes. The house histories often include the historical name of the house, the builder, the house's architectural information and information on the house's residents. This information can now also be accessed on-line at the website of the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). (Search by town for Plymouth).
Plymouth Cemetery Records: There are over 30 cemeteries in Plymouth. To search the database of records maintained by the Town of Plymouth, click here.
Copies of the local newspaper, The Old Colony Memorial, are available in microfilm format. We have 3 microfilm readers with printing available for $.10 a page.
In addition to our print and digital resources, we also provide on-line access to American Ancestors (produced by the NE Historic Genealogical Society - in-library only); Ancestry.com ; Fold3, Heritage Quest, and Newspapers.com (American Ancestors must be accessed by visiting the library, either using our public computers or logging onto our public Wi-Fi network. Ancestry (due to the pandemic) is currently available remotely, even though ordinarily it must also be accessed at the library. The other databases are available remotely using your Plymouth library card number). We also provide access to Newsbank: America's News, Boston Metro Collection, and Old Colony Memorial, Plymouth (full text 2009 to present). You can search here for articles from The Old Colony Memorial dating back ten years.For more information about some of these databases, click here.
Links to Other Genealogical Resources
- Alden House Museum, Duxbury MA - http://www.alden.org - This organization specializes in the research of the Alden family genealogy.
- Cyndi's List - https://cyndislist.com/ - A comprehensive, categorized and cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.
- Find A Grave - https://www.findagrave.com/ - This website has an extensive worldwide searchable gravesite collection. Photos of graves are uploaded by volunteers.
- The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Plymouth, MA - https://www.themayflowersociety.org - This organization conducts research on the lindeal descent of the Mayflower Pilgrims and operates a genealogy research library. They publish the silver Books, a series of genealogy books that follow the descendants of the Mayflower passengers.
- The New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, MA - https://www.americanancestors.org/index.aspx - This organization provides expertise and research of family history, from 17th-century colonial New England through twentieth-century immigration research. They produce the genealogical database, AmericanAncestors.org, available as a subscription resource (in-house only) here at the Library.
- Pilgrim Ship Lists - https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm - This website contains ship passenger lists from the early seventeenth century.
- USGENWEB - http://www.usgenweb.com - A volunteer website with helpful information for each state and country.