Local History & Genealogy
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.
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.
Our collection includes:
- 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, try our Wakefield death records page.
- 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.