City Council proceedings
Scope and Contents note
The City Council proceedings includes official records of the Board of Aldermen, 1822-1909; the Common Council, 1822-1909; and the Boston City Council, 1910-2015 with gaps. This collection has been divided into 5 series: Series I - Board of Aldermen; Series II - Common Council; Series III - City Council; Series IV - Published minutes; and Series V - Dockets filed separately.
The Board of Aldermen series includes minutes of the meetings of the Aldermen from 1822-1909; indexed minutes of the meetings of the Aldermen from 1824-1909 (the first volume covering 1822-1823 is missing); and the docket documents of the Aldermen from 1822-1909. Docket documents are the official papers acted upon by the Board of Aldermen.
The Common Council series includes minutes of the meetings of the Common Council from 1824-1910; indexed minutes of the meetings of the Common Council from 1822-1849 and 1861-1910; docket documents of the Common Council from 1822-1910; agenda of the Common Council from 1878-1879, 1885, 1894-1908; and 4 volumes of rulings of the Common Council from 1889-1910. Docket documents are the official papers acted upon by the Common Council.
The City Council series includes indexed minutes of the City Council from 1910-1975; docket documents of the City Council from 1910-2014 (the docket documents from 1959-1961 are missing); 3 bound volumes of City Council orders from 1918-1922; and agenda and votes from 1996, 1998-2014. Docket documents are the official papers acted upon by the City Council.
The Published Minutes series includes minutes of both the Board of Aldermen and Common Council from 1868 July-1909 and the City Council from 1910-2015 with gaps. Volumes for 2003 and 2011 have yet to be printed. It also includes one index volume covering the years 1868 July-1880 January. From 1875-2015, each volume contains its own index. The minutes for 2015 is the latest published volume at this time.
The Dockets Filed Separately series includes several types of docket documents that were filed separately from the official dockets in the City Clerk's office. These include 121A filings; amusement licenses; jitney licenses; minor's licenses; ordinances; petitions and remonstrances; reports; reports of military aid; drafts; and papers presented to the Mayor.
- Boston (Mass.). City Council (Organization)
- Boston (Mass.). Board of Aldermen (Organization)
- Boston (Mass.). Common Council (Organization)
Boston was incorporated as a city on February 23, 1822 by Chapter 110 of the Acts of 1821. This act was adopted by the voters on March 4, 1822. The City Charter established the form of government as a Mayor; a Board of Aldermen, consisting of eight elected at large; and a Common Council, of forty-eight elected by wards; to be called when conjoined, ‘the City Council.” The Mayor and Aldermen were vested with the administration of the police, and executive power of the corporation generally, with specific enumerated powers. All other powers belonging to the corporation were vested in the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council exercised by concurrent vote.
The Mayor served as ex officio Chairman of the Board of Aldermen until 1855. Section 29 of Chapter 448 of the Acts of 1854, an act to revise the charter of the City of Boston, provided for the choice of a permanent chairman by the Board of Aldermen who presided at all meetings of the board and at conventions of the two branches in the absence of the Mayor. The administration of the police, together with the executive powers of the corporation generally, all the powers formerly vested in the Selectmen of Boston, and all the powers subsequently vested in the Mayor and Board of Aldermen, as county commissioners or otherwise, were vested in the Board of Aldermen. The Mayor if present continued to preside but without a vote. All other powers belonging to the corporation continued to be vested in the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council, exercised by concurrent vote.
Chapter 448 of the Acts of 1854 established a Board of Aldermen consisting of twelve members elected at large and a Common Council of forty-eight members elected by wards, four from each ward. 12 wards.
Chapter 359 of the Acts of 1867, an act to unite the cities of Boston and Roxbury, established a Board of Aldermen consisting of twelve members and the Common Council consisting of sixty members, four members from each ward. 15 wards.
Chapter 349 of the Acts of 1869, an act to unite the City of Boston and Town of Dorchester, established a Board of Aldermen consisting of twelve members and a Common Council, consisting of sixty-four members, four from each ward. 16 wards.
With the annexations of Charlestown, Brighton and West Roxbury, the number of Common Councilors increased to seventy-four members, four each from wards 1-16, 2 each from wards 17, 19-22. There was no ward 18 since the annexation of Brookline was rejected.
Chapter 243 of the Acts of 1875 authorized the division of the City of Boston into twenty-four wards and fixed the number of Common Councilors at 72, three from each ward. 24 wards.
Chapter 242 of the Acts of 1876 divided ward 22 into two wards becoming wards 22 and 25. The Common Council consisted of 72 members, three from each ward except that wards 22 and 25 alternately shall elect 1 and 2, or 2 and 1.
Chapter 250 of the Acts of 1884 created 12 aldermanic districts, one alderman elected from each district.
Powers related to the administration of the Police were transferred to the Board of Police Commissioners by chapter 244 of the Acts of 1878. Chapter 266 of the Acts of 1885, an act to amend the charter of the City of Boston, transferred to the Mayor the power to appoint, subject to the approval of the Board of Aldermen, all officers and boards elected by the City Council or Board of Aldermen, and all offices that may be established in the future. The positions of City Messenger, Clerk of Committees and other clerks of the City Council were exempted from this provision. All executive powers vested in the Board of Aldermen were transferred to the Mayor to be exercised through the several officers and boards of the City in their respective departments, under the general supervision and control of the Mayor. The Mayor no longer would be a member, nor preside at any meeting, nor appoint any committee of the Board of Aldermen.
Chapter 175 of the Acts of 1888 increased the number of Common Councilors to seventy-three members, three from each ward except that wards 22 and 25 elect two. 25 wards.
Chapter 88 of the Acts of 1891 increased the number of Common Councilors to seventy-five members, three from each ward. 25 wards.
Chapter 473 of the Acts of 1893 provided for the election of twelve aldermen at large instead of by districts.
Chapter 554 of the Acts of 1898, provided for each party to nominate twelve. This act was repealed by R.L. of 1901, chapter 227.
Chapter 355 of the Acts of 1899 provided for the election of thirteen aldermen by eleven aldermanic districts. Nominations were by party caucus. Repeals all inconsistent acts.
Chapter 426 of the Acts of 1903 provided for thirteen nominated aldermen to be elected at large. Party nominations; eight candidates by each party (13 votes to each voter).
Chapter 404 of the Acts of 1904 provide for the election of thirteen aldermen at large; no voter to vote for more than seven; each party nominates 13 by 11 aldermanic districts; nominations also by papers 1% of gov. vote.
Chapter 486 of the Acts of 1909, an act relating to the administration of the City of Boston and to amend the charter of the said city, abolished the City Council and both branches thereof and the positions of City Messenger, Clerk of Committees, Clerk of the Common Council, Assistant Clerk of Committees and subordinates. The act established a City Council consisting of nine members elected at large. The City Council, subject to the approval of the Mayor, could establish such offices that it deemed necessary for the conduct if its affairs and at such salaries it may determine. The City Council retained the power to approve ordinances, loan orders presented by the Mayor and the budget. All heads of departments and municipal boards, excluding the school committee and those appointed by law by the governor, would be appointed by the mayor without confirmation by the City Council.
Chapter 479 of the Acts of 1924 provided for the election of 22 City Councilors, one from each ward. 22 wards. Began with the biennial election in 1925.
Chapter 356 of the Acts of 1951 provided for the election of 9 City Councilors at large.
Chapter 190 of the Acts of 1982 (Tregor Bill) made major changes to the financial operations of the city and the budgetary powers of the Mayor and City Council (major amendments to that act appear as Chapter 701 of the Acts of 1986).
Chapter 605 of the Acts of 1982 provided for a City Council of thirteen members, one each from nine districts and four at large. Effective with preliminary election in September of 1983.
Election of City Council
1822-1909 – One year terms
1910-1925 – Three year terms
1926-present – Two year terms
856.0 Cubic feet (327 record cartons, 914 document cases and 487 volumes)
Language of Materials
- Boston (Mass.) -- Politics and Government Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Minutes (Records) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Municipal government -- Massachusetts -- Boston Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Ordinances, Municipal Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Guide to the City Council proceedings
- Kristen Swett
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository
201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States