In the late 19th and early 20th centuries several towns and agencies compiled the vital records of over 200 Massachusetts towns and cities. Using the town records, church records, private records, gravestone inscriptions and newspaper articles, one of the finest collections of published vital records was produced. These came to be known collectively as the "Tan Book" series. These records generally comprise all of the known records from the earliest times to about 1850.

The Massachusetts Vital Records Project, in an ongoing effort, presents here the transcriptions of over 1,500,000 records from over 150 of those towns. Indexed by town and by surname, the transcriptions provide genealogists with an easy to use interface to search for their roots in Massachusetts. For proper documentation the project also provides the images of the books from which the transcriptions are done.

There are two ways to search the vital records transcription. Start by selecting from one of these two links or the links in the Navigation Bar at the top of the page.

  1. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors & Marines of the Civil War 10/14/11
  2. By Towns, or
  3. by Surnames.

Some modifications of the files is in progress. These modifications are necessary to get ready to convert to the new format and also to get ready for new indexing.

There are several printing companies specializing in genealogical/historical books that do reprints of the books now in the public domain. You can acquire your own reprint copies of the books in hardcover or softcover. See list of books for a complete list and prices from Higginson Books. This is not to be considered an endorsement. Higginson is simply the only printer that would provide me with a list of their available books.

The Genealogical Gleaner's Award page provides links to other sites with vital records. Jane Devlin has a very good site for genealogists. The New England Historic Genealogical Society, is a subscription site. It has several databases, including the Early Massachusetts VRs, that are free. If you have a lot of New England ancestry, it may be worth your while to subscribe.


MA VRs Project
Copyright 2005-'15
The Massachusetts Vital Records Project

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional
Valid CSS 2.1