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Office of the City Clerk records

Identifier: 0300.001

Scope and Contents note

This collection includes administrative files and reference files from the Office of the City Clerk. The collection is divided into 7 series - Series I: Card index, Series II: Correspondence, Series III: Opinions, Series IV: Inaugural Records, Series V: Administrative files, Series VI: Reference files, and Series VII: Reports.

Series I is a consolidation of several card indexes used in the Clerk's Office from the early to mid 1900s. The card indexes include references to locations in the City Clerk's Office of records, publications, and historical books on Boston as well as frequently referenced historical and organizational information. The index references locations in the Clerk's Office such as shelves, file drawers, vault, etc. which are no longer applicable. However, the cards also index the opinions, administrative files and reference files which are a part of this collection. The cards do reference some records that were transferred by the City Clerk to the Boston Public Library circa 1970 for safekeeping which have not yet been returned to the City Archives. Many of the historical books on Boston included in the card index can be found in the Archives' Reference Library located in the Reference Room.

Series II is a file of correspondence to and from the City Clerk and the Assistant City Clerk dating from 1883-1983. It includes requests for information, opinions and general office functions.

Series III is a file of opinions kept by the City Clerk on various city-related matters. Most opinions are from the Corporation Counsel. Also included are forms of proceeding for City Clerk functions. The first part is numbered A1-A30 and the second part is numbered 1-254. These numbers refer to former file drawers in the Clerk's Office. The card index references these opinions.

Series IV is a collection of material from the inaugural and first meeting ceremonies of city government from 1899-1984 with the bulk of the material from 1922-1984. It includes invitations, programs, addresses, orders of exercises, etc.

Series V is a collection of administrative files and filings kept by the Clerk's Office. The subseries of general files include records of office functions such as budgeting, purchasing and records management. The other subseries are filings kept by the City Clerk for administrative purposes. These include Administrative Services Department directives sent to department heads, mayoral appointment letters, reports of the Finance Commission, City Council records of lands donated to the City of Boston and records on the Retirement System.

Series VI is a collection of files on various topics relating to Boston or to the Office of the City Clerk's functions that were kept by the City Clerk for reference purposes. Most of the material dates from the early 1900s-1950. Also includes two reference binders, one containing historical and procedural information and the other containing a list of city officials from 1908-1953.

Series VII is a collection of reports by the State on topics relating to Boston and municipal functions kept by the City Clerk for reference purposes. References to these reports are included in the card index.


  • 1829-2011 (bulk, 1900-1984)


Historical note

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 1693-1822, the custodian of the Town records was called the Town Clerk. The Acts of 1821, c. 110 sec. 10 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 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 Mayoral 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.


27.5 Cubic feet (27 record cartons and 2 document cases)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Office of the City Clerk records
Kristen Swett
November 27, 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

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