View a finding aid for Board of Health records covering a wide range of topics, including tobacco control, emergency preparedness, disease control and prevention, waste disposal, and pest control.
About the Archives Division
The mission of the City of Somerville Archives is to preserve the historical records of City government, and to make those historical documents and records accessible to the public.
A division of the City Clerk's Office, the City of Somerville Archives provides assistance in determining which historical records have permanent value. Determining the permanent value of historical records and historical documents is guided by the information contained in the records, and the legal requirements for record retention.
Access to the City's historical records is provided through social media and digital exhibits. For more information about access to the City's historical documents and records, please contact the Archivist.
When records have no historical value, or retention is note required, the Archive also oversees the de-accessioning (removal) of City records according to state guidelines.
Policies & Guidelines
Guides / Finding Aids
Research Request Form
File Transfer Form
Policies & Guidelines
The City of Somerville Archive is a division of the City Clerk’s Department. The City Clerk’s Office is the keeper of all records, vital statistics, and general information pertaining to the City. The department maintains and certifies all municipal records, including resident vital statistics, business licenses and permits, and legislative acts, and provides technical assistance to individuals, businesses, and public officials. In addition, the Clerk’s Office provides support to the Board of Aldermen by way of meeting agenda preparation, interdepartmental communication, license and permit processing, and document management. The Archive assists the City Clerk’s office in fulfilling these duties by overseeing the maintenance of permanent records that are not in active use, assisting departments in disposing of non-permanent records, and determining which records must be kept for compliance with records laws and for historical value. The Archive reports to the City Clerk.
The primary purpose of the City of Somerville Archive is to maintain the permanent records created by city employees, elected officials and boards and committees in the course of their work. These records may be determined to be permanent based on public records law, or because the information they contain documents the history of Somerville’s city government. The City of Somerville Archives will gather government records in all formats including paper, digital images, microfilm, photographs, negatives, moving images, and sound recordings. The records collected will be stored in conditions that will preserve them for future use, and records will be made accessible to researchers.
The City of Somerville Archives does not collect records produced outside of city government by local organizations or businesses, or the personal papers of residents of the city, employees or officials. Objects that are not records, artefacts, art or objects are not collected by the City of Somerville. For information on where to donate historic objects or records that are not covered in this collection development policy, please contact the Somerville Library Local History Room or the Somerville Museum.
Guides / Finding Aids
View a finding aid for Somerville civil defense administration and personnel records, preparedness publications, and preparedness publications by the United States Office of Civilian Defense and the Massachusetts Committee on Public Safety.
Get tips on identifying everything from your home's architecture to you your great-great-grandmother.
Check Back for More Guides
The Archives Division is currently working to create more online guides. Check back soon for updates.
Just like today, the Board of Health oversaw a wide range of activities to protect public health. However, the conditions in Somerville, the state of medical care, and national issues were very different.
In honor of the Somerville Theater's one hundred year anniversary, we present the documents of Laurence Howard, a theater lover and regular attendee from the 1920s.
The photograph collection of the Recreation Department covers the 1920s through the 2000s with the bulk of the materials ranging from the 1950s-1990s.