Local History

Armenian Library and Museum of America
Located just a few blocks from the library on Main Street, the Armenian Museum preserves the Armenian heritage through books, artifacts, exhibitions, and programs.

Digital Sanborn Maps
This collection of insurance maps showing the location of homes and businesses, 1867-1970, can only be accessed from within the library.

First Parish of Watertown History 
The website of First Parish offers this history of the congregation and its various buildings.

Historic New England
The library of this Boston-based organization collects and preserves photographs, wallpaper, jewelry, home furnishings, architectural drawings, clothing, and more. Search the database of collections for Watertown-specific holdings (many pertaining to the Abraham Browne House, which is managed by Historic New England).

Historical Society of Watertown
Based at the Edmund Fowle House & Museum, this organization collects, preserves, and shares materials from Watertown’s past. Their projects include essay contests, exhibits, and a self-guided bicycle tour.

Massachusetts Archives
Responsible for holding the official records of the Massachusetts state government from 1629 to the present, this state agency also maintains the compliance files of historic sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places and preserves the original copy of the Treaty of Watertown.

The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System is a database of historic properties and areas maintained by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

Massachusetts Historical Society
The online resources portal provides access to digitized materials organized by topic or collection. One collection that has not been digitized, but may be of particular interest to Watertown researchers, pertains to First Parish.

Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives
Since 1975, this Watertown-based organization has collected and preserved photographs of historic Armenia, the genocide, and Armenian Americans.

Veterans History Project (Library of Congress)
The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress gathers personal accounts of American war veterans, including some who worked at the Watertown Arsenal.

Watertown Historical Commission
The town commission that runs the historic plaque program and the annual preservation awards while advocating for Watertown’s historical/archaeological resources.


Access Genealogy
A free directory of genealogy sites with a particular focus on Native American family and tribal history.

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
The organization’s New England Chapter offers regional resources and programs.

American Ancestors
A subscription resource (use your library card for access) from the New England Historic Genealogical Society that includes the full text of the “New England Historical and Genealogical Register, the digital archives of the American Jewish Heritage Society, and Massachusetts Vital Records through 1915.

Ancestry Library Edition
A digital resource available for use within the library only. This database offers thousands of family history sources, including vital records, directories, ship passenger lists, military records, and much more.

Boston Public Library Biography & Genealogy Databases
With a free eCard, access the Biography and Genealogy Master Index, ArchiveGrid and several other sources. See also the many History (including historical newspaper) databases from the BPL. 

Cyndi’s List
Hundreds of thousands of links to genealogical resources on the Internet, categorized and cross-referenced by a very devoted individual in Washington.

Formerly the Genealogical Society of Utah, this free site is supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch also powers The Freedmen’s Bureau, a project focusing on African American genealogy from the Civil War-era.

A virtual library of genealogical information (maintained by volunteers and supported by a charitable trust) relating to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

HeritageQuest Online 
A subscription resource (use your library card for access) that combines searchable images of U.S. Federal census records with more than 28,000 digitized books of family and local history from around the country. HeritageQuest also encompasses PERSI, an index of over 2.3 million genealogy and local history articles.

Massachusetts Archives
Online access to Massachusetts archives (1629-1799), passenger records (1848-1891), and vital records (1841-1910), plus detailed information on how to research state government, court proceedings, and institutions.

National Archives
Retired records from federal agencies, information about locating military records, access to the U.S. Census, and more.

USGenWeb Project
A volunteer-driven directory of genealogy websites organized by location. Massachusetts’ Middlesex County has its own page with links relevant to Watertown. See also WorldGenWeb.