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Town of Boston records

Identifier: 1000.001

Scope and Contents note

The Town of Boston records extend 4 cubic feet and cover a period shortly after the founding of the town until its incorporation as a city, 1634 – 1822. The Record group contains primarily volumes from the Assessors 1785 – 1820; the Treasurer, including account books related to Brooker Fund and Smith Fund for a “school for the instruction of the people of Colour”, and city accounts generally; and the By-laws and town orders from 1786, 1801, and 1818. Other volumes included are Permits to build timber buildings 1707-1729, lists of sales of cattle and horses, lists of immigrants, and Port Receipts. The papers making up .25 cubic feet consist primarily of papers of the selectmen including papers and correspondence signed by John Hancock, President Thomas Jefferson, Paul Revere, and Robert Treat Paine. The papers cover a period from 1768 – 1810 and cover a variety of topics including the embargo on Spain and Portugal, and newspapers from 1768 and 1795.


  • 1634-1821
  • Majority of material found within Bulk, 1693-1821


Historical note

The settlement of the Massachusetts Bay Company on the peninsula formed at the mouth of the Charles River, known as Shawmut by the Indians and Trimountain by the inhabitants of Charlestown was established as Boston by an order of the General Court passed on 7 Sep 1630 (old style). The General Court during the four or five years after the settlement included in the boundaries of Boston the islands in the harbor, Muddy River (now Brookline), Winnisimet (now Chelsea), Mount Wollaston and the lands east of the Neponset River later incorporated as the Town of Braintree and now constituting the towns of Braintree, Randolph and Quincy.

The name of “selectmen” first appears in the records in 1643. Boston operated as a town with a Board of Selectmen until 1822. On 23 Feb 1822, the Massachusetts Legislature passed an “Act Establishing the City of Boston.” The act was accepted by the inhabitants on 4 Mar 1822.


4.5 Cubic feet (1 document case, 1 flat box, 43 volumes and 2 microfilm reels)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Town of Boston records 1000.001
Finding aid prepared by Zachary Enright
2008 May 12
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
With funding from a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)