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City of Roxbury records

 Record Group
Identifier: 1300.001

Scope and Contents note

This collection includes records of the City and Town of Roxbury prior to annexation to Boston. Records of Roxbury are also currently in the custody of the Boston Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. This collection is divided into 8 series: Series I - Town records; Series II - City Council records; Series III - City Clerk records; Series IV - Auditor records; Series V - Assessor records; Series VI - Collector records; Series VII - Treasurer records; and Series VIII - Publications. Volumes are numbered consecutively within each series. Boxes are numbered consecutively within the whole collection.

Series I includes records of the Town of Roxbury prior to incorporation as a city in 1846. Series II includes records of the Roxbury City Council. Series III includes records created by and filed with the City Clerk. As keeper of the records for the City of Roxbury, the City Clerk's records include a wide range of record types documenting various city functions and filings. Series IV includes records filed with the City Auditor. Series V includes records documenting tax assessments. Series VI includes records documenting the collection of taxes. Series VII includes records of the City Treasury which document the financial activities of the City of Roxbury. Series VIII includes annual reports, municipal registers, addresses and other reports published by the City of Roxbury.


  • 1768-1888 (bulk, 1821-1868)


Historical note

In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony founded six villages including Boston, Charlestown, Watertown, Medford, Dorchester and Roxbury. Roxbury was connected to Boston by a narrow neck of land which is now Washington Street. The first mention of the town occurs in the records of the third Court of Assistants, held Sept. 28, 1630, as one of the plantations on which a part of the general tax of 50 pounds was levied, and that day has therefore been fixed upon as the official date of its settlement. Roxbury was the sixth town incorporated in Massachusetts. The original boundaries of the town included Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury and present-day Roxbury. Roxbury became a part of Norfolk County on June 20, 1793.

Roxbury had many resources the colonists were looking for: open farmland, timber and stone for building, and the Stony Brook for waterpower. Additionally, its location on the only road to Boston gave the town an advantage in transportation and trade and a strategic military position. Roxbury was defined by its rocky hills, drumlins left by a prehistoric glacier. In the area of Roxbury Highlands are many outcroppings of native Roxbury puddingstone, a kind of composite rock used over the centuries in buildings throughout the Boston area.

Washington, Dudley, Centre, Roxbury, and Warren streets were all laid out in the first years of settlement. The town center was located at John Eliot Square, where the first meetinghouse was built in 1632, with its burying ground nearby at the corner of Eustis and Washington streets.

Growth created the need for more municipal services, so the citizens of Roxbury voted to incorporate as a city on March 12, 1846. West Roxbury was set off from Roxbury and incorporated as a town on 24 May 1851. Roxbury was annexed to Boston by an Act of the Legislature passed June 1, 1867. On September 9, 1867, the citizens of Roxbury and Boston accepted the annexation act. The annexation took effect on January 6, 1868.

Source: Roxbury Crossing Historical Society website ( and "The Town of Roxbury: its memorable persons and places…" by Francis S. Drake.


50.0 Cubic feet (22 boxes, 254 volumes)

Language of Materials


Guide to the City of Roxbury records 1300.001
Kristen Swett
30 April 2008
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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)