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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley


In New England town clerks registered marriages. Churches kept some of the earliest and most complete records and newspapers printed engagement and marriage announcements. Marriage information also appears in census schedules, pension applications, vital records, and city directories; and on tombstones. The Systematic Series of vital records to 1850 for 206 Massachusetts communities includes lists of births, marriages, and deaths.

Marriages of people of color, especially enslaved persons, may be more difficult to locate in the official records.

Selected Materials in the W.E.B. DuBois Library

Early files of courts [microform]/Suffolk County.
Call Number: Microfilm A 1192 5 reels
Reel 3 Index to births, marriages, deaths, 1637-1774
An alphabetical surname list which gives the individual's first name and whether the record is for a birth (b), marriage (m), or death (d). The number on the right indicates the document's location on Reels 4 and 5. References to towns, such as "Scituate marriages" and "Rehoboth (Town of)" also appear.
Reels 4 and 5 Births, marriages, deaths, 1634-August, 1774
Most items are numbered sequentially. Documents may have been filmed several times for clarity.

Early Massachusetts marriages prior to 1800 - Bailey, Frederic W. 
Call Number: F 63 B16
"The most complete collection of early Massachusetts marriages ever published." Divided into three parts - the official records of Worcester County; Plymouth County; and Middlesex, Hampshire, Berkshire, and Bristol counties. Each section contains a surname index.

Medway, Massachusetts births, marriages, and deaths, 1850-1900 - Donovan, Francis D. 
Call Number: F 74 M55 D65 1995

Records of the Church of Christ at Cambridge in New England, 1632-1830, comprising the ministerial records of baptisms, marriages, deaths, admission to covenant and communion, dismissals and church proceedings - First Church (Cambridge, Mass.) 
Call Number: F 74 C1 C466

The records of Trinity Church, Boston, 1728-1830 - Trinity Church (Boston, Mass.) 
Call Number: F 61 C71
Volume 56 List and index of marriages, 1737-1829

Report of the record commissioners of the City of Boston - Boston (Mass.). Registry Dept. 
Call Number: F 73.1 B74
Provides the names of the bride and groom, the marriage date, and often the name of the person who performed the marriage.
Volume 9 Boston births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths, 1630-1699
"Believed to contain every entry of birth, death, and marriage recorded as happening in the town of Boston in the first seventy years of its existence."
Volume 28 Boston marriages, 1700-1751
Also includes "intentions filed, marriages not recorded in Boston," "marriages from court records, 1716-1731," "out-of-town marriages from court records," "marriages not recorded in town records" (listed by church), and a name index.

Social register, Boston 
Call Number: F 73.22 S65 1898, 1906, 1939-1940
Records "the full names and addresses of members of prominent families grouped together, the clubs to which they belong, and the marriage and death of each person as it may occur." A list of marriages for that particular year and an alphabetical list of the maiden names of married women ("Married Maidens") appears at the end of each volume.

St. Jean-Baptiste, Lowell, MA, 1869-1910 - Labonte, Youville 
Call Number: F 74 L9 L33 1995

A volume of records relating to the early history of Boston: containing miscellaneous papers - Boston (Mass.). Registry Dept. 
Call Number: F 73.1 B74
Volume 30 Boston marriages from 1752 to 1809
Provides the names of the bride and groom, the marriage date, and, frequently, the name of the person who performed the marriage. Also includes some "marriages out of town prior to 1800," "marriage intentions," and a name index.

Find More

Search the Five College Catalog by Subject. Examples of subject searches:

  • Marriage licenses - Massachusetts - Kingston
  • Marriage records - Massachusetts - Boston
  • Marriage records - Massachusetts - Lowell
  • Registers of births, etc. - Massachusetts - Plymouth
  • Wilbraham (Mass.: Town) - Genealogy

Selected Materials- New England Marriages

The colonial clergy and the colonial churches of New England - Weis, Frederick Lewis 
Call Number: Special Collections BR 520 W4 1936, Stacks BR 520 W4
"A complete list of New England colonial churches and clergymen of all denominations" from 1620-1776. Offers an alphabetical list of the clergy with brief biographical sketches and a list of the churches with the corresponding clergy for each.

Early Connecticut marriages as found on ancient church records prior to 1800 - Bailey, Frederic W. 
Call Number: F 93 B16
The "most complete collection extant of printed Connecticut church marriage records" to 1800. A 7-volume work solely of church records. Each volume contains a surname index. "The first settlers of Connecticut came from Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Colonies and located at Windsor, Hartford, and Wethersfield."

Les mariages de Notre-Dame, Central Falls, R.I. (1873-1979) 
Call Number: F 89 C33 M37 1982

Marriages of Notre-Dame, Springvale, Me., 1887-1981, and of St. Michael, South Berwick, Me., 1886-1982, and of Our Lady, Queen of Peace, Berwick, Me., 1927-1982 - Labonte, Youville 
Call Number: F 29 S685 L33 1985

Marriages of St. John, Rumsford, Me., 1866-1939 and of St. Theresa, Mexico, Me., 1927-1939 - Labonte, Youville 
Call Number: F 29 R8 L29 1995

New England marriages prior to 1700 - Torrey, Clarence Almon 
Call Number: F 3 T67 1985
"A principal resource for seventeenth-century New England genealogy" and the first place to search for information "about any married New Englander who lived here prior to 1700." A record of 37,000 "known or presumed marriages that occurred prior to 1700." Covers 99% of all New England marriages. Also includes the New York counties of Nassau, Queens, Suffolk, and Westchester and Long Island and marriages "that occurred prior to a couple's settlement in New England, usually in Holland or England." Lists married "couples for whom no marriage record exists, but whose marriage can be proved or inferred indirectly," through other documents. Entries appear alphabetically by the groom's name. Each includes the names of the bride and groom, their years of birth and death (if known), the marriage date, the place of marriage, the place of principal residence, and "subsequent known places of residence."The printed volume does not list the thousands of references (essentially everything in print through 1960) Torrey examined. The CD-ROM version, which the W.E.B. Du Bois Library does not own, includes the list of sources Torrey consulted.

Second supplement to Torrey's New England marriages prior to 1700 - Sanborn, Melinde Lutz 
Call Number: F 3 T67 1985 Suppl. 2

Supplement to Torrey's New England marriages prior to 1700 - Sanborn, Melinde Lutz 
Call Number: F 3 T67 1985 Suppl.
Summarizes post-1960 data for approximately 700 couples. The information is drawn mainly from periodicals, but includes "some printed source records, unpublished primary data, and the private research of several genealogists." "Contains only references to additional, or supplementary, information, published in the form of corrections, new discoveries, significant new biographical detail or deletions to, Torrey's original work." "Predominantly an index to the major genealogical journals published since 1960."