Salem was planted in 1626 by Roger Conant and his associates who came from a fishing settlement at Cape Ann. The first colony of settlers arrived in 1628 under the leadership of Capt. John Endecott. The Indian name for the locality was Naumkeag.

Bounds between Salem and Saugus (now Lynn), and Salem and Marble Harbor (Marblehead), were established Mar. 4, 1635.

Sept. 7, 1643 part of Salem called Enos was established as Wenham.

May 14, 1645, part of Salem called "Jeffryes Creeke" was set off as the town of Manchester.

May 2, 1649, part of Salem was set off as the town of Marblehead.

Oct. 19, 1658, bounds were established between Salem and Topsfield.

Oct. 14, 1668 part of Salem called "Bass river" was set off as the town of Beverly.

June 20, 1728 part of Salem was included in the new town of Middleton.

Jan. 28, 1752 part of Salem was set off as the district of Danvers, which afterwards became a town. Much of this territory had long been known as, "Salem Village."

Sept. 11, 1753 part of Salem was annexed to Beverly.

Mar. 23, 1836 Salem was incorporated as a city.

The population of Salem at different periods was as follows:

1765, 4,427 1810, 12,613 1850, 20,264
1776, 5,337 1820, 12,613 1875, 15,958
1790, 7,921 1830, 13,893 1900, 35,956
1800, 9,437 1840, 15,082 1915, 36,826

The following records of births, marriages and deaths include all entries to be found in the books of records kept by the town clerks; in the church records; in the returns made to the Salem Quarterly Court; in the cemetery insciptions; and in private records found in family Bibles, etc. These records are printed in a condensed form in which every essential particular has been preserved. All duplications of the town clerks' record has been eliminated, but differences in entry and other explanatory matter appear in brackets. Parentheses are used when they occur in the original record; also to indicate the maiden name of a married woman.

When places other than Salem and Massachusetts are named in the original records, they are given in the printed copy. Marriages and intentions of marriage are printed under the names of both parties. Double dating is used in the months of Janurary, February and March, prior to 1752, whenever it appears in the original, and also, whenever from the sequence of entry in the original the date may be easily determined. In all records the original spelling of names is followed, and in the alphabetical arrangement the various forms should be examined, as items about the same family may be found under different spellings.

The records of the Tabernacle Church between the years 1735 and 1743 disappeared long ago. It is supposed they were destroyed or suppressed by Rev. Samuel Fiske. The records of the Universalist Church have not been found. They had disappeared before 1880.

A general guide to how to use these pages.

If you are new to this site, or haven't used the site a lot, please be sure to read the rest of this page. Even if you have used this site a lot, a refresher may be helpful due to the changes that have been introduced.

You can research the records alphabetically or chronologically within surname. Images of the pages from which the transcriptions were done, and the title pages, are available for most towns. A list of abbreviations used is available.

Alphabetic - This is the most common way that the published vital records were presented. All of the same given names were arranged chronologically with names that had middle initials or middle names followed the others. Nicknames would appear alphabeticall according to the spelling, i.e. Nabby, the nickname for Abigail, would be with the names beginning with the letter "N."

In this version, the names are sorted based on the most common spelling. Abbie, Abby, Abigail, Knabby, Nabby, etc., will all appear together and will be chronological. Middle initials and middle names have no influence on the order.

Note: There are going to be errors in the indexing of the names. A woman named Abiel may have been recorded as Abby. The indexing will have her with the Abigails. Please notify me with the Contact page about errors and they will be fixed within a couple days.

Chronologic - The chronologic sort will be most helpful with surnames having lots of entries, especially births. Records that had a missing date, or part, have had the missing portions replaced with zeros and will appear ahead of the others.

Page images - The icon at the left of each record is a link to the image of the page from which the transcription was done. The transcriptions are a tool. The image is the source. It is your responsibility to copy the image for your documentation. Also, the title page should be copied. There is a link to the title page in the navigation bar on transcription pages and image display pages.

Abbreviations - Each town had its own abbreviations used in the published records. Most of these are the same. The abbreviations for the headstones (GR), private records (PR), churches (CR), etc. are all different. There is a link to a list of all abbreviations used for the town in the navigation bar of the transcription pages.

Errors - There are two types of errors.

  • Errors in the published records - It is known that errors are in the published records. Not many, to be sure, but they are there. Where I have found them, or have been informed and provided sufficient documentation, the records have been annotated. This appears in red at the end of the line.]
  • Transcription errors - Even with the best of proofing, errors occur. If you find one, use the Contact link at the top of the page and tell me about the error. I need to have the town name, type of record, page number, what the error is and what it should be. It facilitates matters if you copy and paste the record in error into the e-mail.

Miscellaneous - As the opportunity has provided, I have tried to research names that had only initials or an initial and a surname to find the full names. Where I've been successful I've added the name in red, i.e. J.R. appears as J[ohn] R. or J[ohn] R[ussel].

The alphabetic and chronologic sort orders and many planned improvements require that towns be transcribed. If you can spare two, or more, hours per week to help with the transcribing, write me.

With the exception of the few people helping with transcribing and indexing, I am the only person working on this project. I do all of the technical work. I correct errors. I put transcriptions into final format. I design the pages. This takes a tremendous amount of time and money. If you find this site useful, please donate what you think it is worth to you by going to the donations page.