Our collection of local history material on Wakefield and the surrounding area is comprised of more than 1,600 volumes. We also have many genealogical sources about local families. Please note that materials from this collection are to be used only in the Library and are not available for Interlibrary Loan. You are welcome to photocopy information you need, however, and we are happy to send photocopies to individuals who cannot come to the Library in person. Most local history materials are shelved in the Quiet Reading Room on the main floor. A few others are kept in our climate controlled archives room. A librarian will be happy to retrieve them for you. In addition, some of the materials below are available on microfilm.
- The library has a subscription to Ancestry.com, an online genealogy resource with a wide variety of records such as passenger lists, Social Security records, vital records, and immigration records. Please note that this is only available from within the library building.
- We have access to many of the online databases of the New England Historic & Genealogical Society because we subscribe to their print magazine. Please note that this is also only available from within the library building.
- Local histories of Wakefield and many Massachusetts cities and towns.
- Microfilm of the Wakefield Daily Item from 1891 to the present, the Reading Chronicle (Wakefield Edition) from December 1996 to the present, the Wakefield Observer from January 1998 to the present, and the Wakefield Citizen & Banner from 1872 to 1911. Please note that there are no indexes to any of these newspapers.
- Wakefield High School yearbooks from 1919 to the present, with some gaps.
- Wakefield street lists from 1916 to the present. Street lists list all residents age 17 and over alphabetically, as well as by street.
- Official Town Reports of Wakefield from 1859 to the present, with some gaps.
- Vital records for most cities and towns in Massachusetts, covering births, marriages, and deaths up to 1850. To search for deaths in Wakefield, see the tabs below.
- Selected city directories that include Wakefield from 1869 to 1922.
- The Cultural Resources of Wakefield, a listing of nominees to the National Register of Historic Places, which was compiled in 1985 by the Wakefield Historical Commission. It includes two-page profiles of almost 400 historic public and private buildings in Wakefield.
- Historic maps of Wakefield at various points in its history.
- A pamphlet and clipping file covering many topics in Wakefield history such as the Pleasure Island Amusement Park, the Beebe Family, and Lake Quannapowitt. Here is an alphabetical list of subjects showing what topics are available.
For further information on the Internet you may want to check out the web sites for the Wakefield Historical Society and the Wakefield Historical Commission. For genealogical information a good local resource is the Essex Society of Genealogists. For historical information about the Pleasure Island Amusement Park try the Pleasure Island page of Wakefield’s website. For information about the wicker furniture industry in Wakefield try the Wakefield Wicker website.
This online database includes basic death record information for people whose deaths were registered in Wakefield. Data is taken from published town annual reports. The database currently includes almost 31,000 deaths from January 1850 through December 2014. Death records for Wakefield up to the year 1850 can be found in Vital records of Wakefield, Massachusetts, to the year 1850, compiled by Thomas W. Baldwin, which is available online in full text, keyword searchable, at the Internet Archive via the above link.
Information in published death records varies depending on the era. Nineteenth century records tended to include more information, including the cause of death, parents’ names and birthplace, marital status, and occupation. More recent listings tend to include only name, age, and date of death. For explanations of unusual 19th century terms for causes of death, check out the online dictionary from West Chester University.
For more information on vital records in Massachusetts and how to obtain them, visit the
Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records and Statistics or Mass-Doc.Com.
Please report errors to firstname.lastname@example.org
Search by Name and/or Date of Death
Searching the name SMI will find “Smith”, “Smithson”, “Smiley”, etc.
Searching the name REY will find “Reynolds”, “Carey”, “Jeffreys”, etc.
Searching the date 1998 will find all deaths for that year
Searching the date 2002-09 will find all deaths in September 2002.
Searching the date 199 will find all deaths in the 1990s.
Searching the name JONES with the date 199 will find all Jones deaths during the 1990s.