The first mention of a Town Recorder is the following action of the Selectmen, July 5, 1641: “Our brother John Oliver (a selectman) is chosen Treasurer for the Towne, and to keep the Towne’s booke.” From 1693 to 1822, the custodian of the Town records was called the Town Clerk. Section 10 of Chapter 110 of the Acts of 1821 stated that the City Clerk shall have all the powers, and perform all the duties belonging to the Town Clerk of the Town of Boston.
As provided by the City Charter, the City Clerk of Boston is elected by the City Council for a term of three years. The Office of the Clerk, under the direction of the City Clerk, accepts, files, records, and maintains all municipal records. The City Clerk publishes the agenda for all City Council meetings, records all Council and related Mayor actions, and edits and compiles the minutes of Council meetings. The Department also maintains the City Council document system database and publishes, on a yearly basis, all ordinances and amended codes. The City Clerk is also responsible for overseeing the work of the Archives Commission.
Services to the public include the sale of various licenses and permits, notarizing and attesting to documents and filing, recording and copying papers in the custody of the Clerk. Services to City government consist of providing informational resources and technical assistance, administration of the state's open meeting law, administration of oaths of office, attestation of various legal papers and custody of records. The Archives Commission oversees the protection of City records, files and other items of historic interest.
Sec. 41 of Chapter 203 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires the filing of a valid copy of an assignment a debtor has made for the benefit of creditors with the City Clerk's Office. Includes one index volume of assignments filed 1897-1942 and a card index of filings for circa 1947-1995.
Sec. 12 of Chapter 154 of the Massachusetts General Laws requires the authorization to collect the future wages or salary of a person to be filed with the City Clerk. Includes indexes from 1857-1861; 1865-1883; 1885-1889; 1899-1906; 1912-1942; and 1943-1993. Also includes records of filings from 1865-1869; 1877; 1880-1881; and 1992-2005.