National Archives at Boston

Historical Documents

New England Records

NARA's Northeast Region (Boston) has approximately 30,000 cubic feet of unique original records, dating from 1789 to the 1970s, which were created or received by the Federal courts and over 90 Federal agencies in New England (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont). Our holdings consist primarily of original documents in paper form, but also include some photographs, maps, and architectural drawings.

Among subjects of local and regional interest in paper form are:

  • Commerce and activities of various New England ports

  • Boston schools desegregation court case (Morgan v. Hennigan), bankruptcy, patent infringement, War of 1812 Prize cases for Massachusetts, the Amistad case, and other civil and criminal court cases

  • Boston Navy Yard, Portsmouth Navy Yard, and various naval air stations

  • Fortifications, lighthouses, life saving stations, and other coastal facilities

  • Chinese Exclusion Act enforcement during the early 20th century

  • World War II era research projects at Harvard University (Harvard Radio Labs) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Rad Lab)

  • Arms manufacturing and research at the Watertown Arsenal and the Springfield Armory

  • Disposal of government-owned real property in New England

In order to find records, researchers need to know which government entity created records pertaining to their subjects. Records from each agency, bureau, or court are assigned a record group number (abbreviated as "RG"), and are arranged within that record group. Learn how to Get Started doing research at NARA facilities.

Researchers are encouraged to contact us toll free at (866) 406-2379 or by e-mail at before visiting in order to facilitate their research.

National Records on Microfilm

NARA's microfilm publications reproduce basic documentation of nation-wide records for the study of history, economics, public administration, political science, law, ethnology, genealogy, and other subjects.

Subjects include:

  • The American State Papers, 1789 - 1838

  • The Continental Congress

  • The Supreme Court of the United States

  • Records relating to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars

  • German records captured at the end of World War II

  • Territorial papers

Rules for Using Records

  • Bring photo identification (e.g. driver's license) to be issued a researcher's card
    • Valid for 1 year and renewable
    • Cannot be issued in advance of your visit
  • Prepare to leave personal belongings in convenient lockers

  • Laptop computers are allowed

  • For a fee, the staff will make or arrange for copies of records, including certified copies for legal use

  • Cell phones must be turned off in the research room

  • Eating, drinking, and smoking are not allowed in the research room

  • Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult

  • Researcher ID cards are not needed to use microfilm collections