Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society

latest additions: March 2005

CapeCodHistory home page, 1890 Massachusetts Gazetteer

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The Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society are quite a mix of stuff. Some is really interesting, some really dull, some useful, some trivial. I'm not scanning and posting the whole volumes, because it's a lot of work, and I have plenty of other projects, but each volume posted contains its complete table of contents. What's posted here are mostly town descriptions and histories, and descriptions of the Indians. There is also much material on Maine, since that was still part of Massachusetts at the time these were written, a few things on Rhode Island and Connecticut, and some other things just because. There's lots more to go into this set, as I get to it.

    These are big files, up to 500 KB. The are buttons to chapters within the files.

1792. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume I (first series). Boston



Pages 1-138 are in part 1


CONSTITUTION of the Historical Society

Introductory Address from the Historical Society 

A Topographical Description of Surrinam

A Letter from the Town Clerk of Dorchester

Extracts from the Records of the Province of Maine [1640-1647]

Historical Scraps

Dr. Cotton Mather's Letter to Lord Harrington [1718]

A General Description of the County of Middlesex

Letter of an Old English Merchant to the Earl of Sandwich upon the Expedition to Louisbourg

An Account of General Montgomery's Burial  [in Quebec]

A Topographical Description of the Town of Worcester

A Bill of Mortality for the Town of Dorchester

New England's Plantation, a Description of New England in the year 1629

Morell's Poem on New England, Latin and English [1625]


pages 139-231 are in separate file: part 2


Fabulous Traditions and Customs of the Indians of Martha's Vineyard

Inscription copied from a Grave-stone at Gay Head

Historical Collections of the Indians in New England [circa 1677]

Account of Daniel Gookin

Indian places within, or near the County of Barnstable


page 232-284 are in separate file: part 3


Amount of Warlike Stores in Massachusetts, April 14th, 1775

Account of the Coast of Labrador

A Topographical Description of Concord [1761]

A Topographical Description of Georgetown [Maine]

Indian places in Truro

Historical Account of the Settlement of Brookfield

A Topographical Description of Brookfield

Births and Deaths in the third precinct of Brookfield

A Letter from Roger Williams to Major Mason [1670]

Morell's poem seems to be the first real poem about New England. It is many pages of Latin, with his own English translation. Gookin's Historical Collections of the Indians in New England is an important classic.

1793. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume II (first series). Boston


table of contents

A Topographical Description of Duxborough

A Letter from Rev. John Eliot to Major Atherton [regarding the Ponkipog tribe, 1657]
Epitaphs, in the Dorchester Burying Ground

Dr. Cotton Mather's Account of a great Storm, 1723

Gov. John Winthrop's Account of the Winter of 1717

Mr. Prince's Account of the Northern lights in England, 1716

Account of the Northern Lights in New England, 1719

Account of the Discovery of Seven Islands in the South Pacifick Ocean, by Capt. Joseph Ingraham [1791]

Letter from Nathaniel Tracy, Esq. respecting the Posterity of Daniel Gookin

Rev. John Hubbard's Description of Northfield

Account of the Hearing before the Lords of the Privy Council, on the Complaint of Gov. Shute, against the House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay [1724]

Account of the Death of King Charles I.

Letter from King Philip to Governour Prince [circa 1660-1670]
Prince's lyrical account of the Aurora is great - it must have been terrifying to many. Ingraham was a NW fur trader, sponsored by the Perkins family. Gookin was an early historian. The hearing of Gov. Shute is obscure and boring.  The account of King Charles' trial is defensive.

1794. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume III (first series). Boston
table of contents
Description of Middleborough
Bill of Mortality in Hartford, with Remarks Geographical and Historical
A Topographical Description of York
Appendix, relative to Agamenticus
A Topographical Description of Barnstable
A Topographical Description of Wellfleet
A Topographical Description of Wells
A Topographical Description of Topsham
A Topographical Description of Machias
An Historical Account of Middleborough
A Topographical Description of Nantucket
Account of the Settlement of Nantucket, &c.
Births, Marriages, and Deaths, in Nantucket
Progress of the Whale Fishery at Nantucket
A Topographical Description of Raynham
Genealogical Sketch of the Family of Leonard (of Raynham)
A Letter from Rev. Isaac Backus, on the subject of Iron Ore
Biographical and Topographical Anecdotes, respecting Sandwich and Marshpee
A List of the Commanders in Chief of Massachusetts, whether Governours, Lieutenant Governours, or the Council
A Topographical Description of Truro
Roger Williams's Key into the Language of the Indians of New England, 1643
A Topographical Description of the Plantations W. N. and N. E. of Sebago Pond

1798. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume V (first series). Boston
  Table of Contents.
  General Lincoln's Observations on the Indians of North-America, in Answer to some Remarks of Dr. Ramsay's.
  Report of a Committee, who visited the Oneida and Mohekunuh Indians in 1796.
  Rev. Mr. Badger's Letter, containing historical and characteristic Traits of the Indians.
  Law Cases.
  Account of the great Fire in Boston, in 1711, prefixed to a Sermon preached by Dr. Cotton Mather ; with some Extracts from the Sermon.
  Mr. Alden's Memorabilia of Yarmouth.
  Law Case. [Jedidiah Morse vs. John Reid.]
  Settlement and Antiquities of the Town of Windsor, in Connecticut.
  [Note on Sir Henry Vane.]
An Abstract of the Laws of New-England, as they were established in the last Century.
  An Address to the Reader, by the Publisher of the foregoing Abstract of Laws.
  A Letter from his Majesty's Commissioners to Gov. Prince, written at Rhode-Island, in 1664.
  Articles of Agreement between the Court of New-Plymouth and Awasuncks, 1671.
  Dartmouth Indian's Engagement, 1671.
  A Letter from Awasuncks to Governour Prince, 1671.
  An original Letter of Gov Prince, 1671.
  A Letter from Gov. Prince to Awasuncks, 1671.
  Extract of a Letter from Dr. Watts to Dr. Mather, concerning Neal's History of N. England, 1719.
  Judge Auchmuty's Proposals to the Ministry, 1744. [concerning Cape Breton]
  Historical Scraps.
  Narrative of Newspapers printed in N. England.
  A brief Account of the several Settlements and Governments in Narraganset-Bay, in N. England.
  Rev. Mr. Homer's Description and History of Newton.
1800. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume VII (first series).

Description of Wiscasset, and of the river Sheepscot, by Rev. Alden Bradford, Minister at Wiscasset, S. H. S.

An Account of the trade and shipping of Newfoundland in 1799,
Number of British subjects in the colonies of North-America, in the year 1755,

A Bill for better regulating of charter and proprietary governments in America, [date unspecified]

Some account of the severe drought in 1749,

Grand Jury's Bill against Mary Osgood, [Salem 1692]

Biographical Notice of the Rev. James Noyes, first minister of Newbury,

Description and historical account of the Isles of Shoals,

1802. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume VIII (first series).  James Freeman, editor. Boston
info and intro
coastA Description of the Eastern Coast of the County of Barnstable from Cape Cod, of Race Point, in latitude 42º, 5'. to Cape Malebarre, or Sandy Point of Chatham, in latitude 41º, 33'. Pointing out the spots, on which the Trustees of the Humane Society have erected huts, and other places where shipwrecked seamen may look for shelter. October, l802.
Image17 Description of Sandwich. 1802.
Image17 Note on Falmouth. September, 1802.
Image17 Description of Dennis. September, 1802.
Image17 Note on the South Parts of Yarmouth and Barnstable. September, 1802.
Image17 Note on the South Precinct of Harwich.   September, 1802.
Image17 Description of Chatham. September, 1802.       
Image17 Description and History of Eastham. September, 1802.     
OrleansDescription of Orleans. September, 1802.
Wellfleet Note on Wellfleet. October, 1802.
ProvincetownDescription of Provincetown. September, 1802.
fisheries A Calculation of the State of the Cod and Whale Fisheries, belonging to Massachusetts in 1763.

The town descriptions are a variable mix of economics, geography and history. Even in 1802, the fisheries data were ancient news. Rev. James Freeman wrote most of the Cape Cod sections.

1809. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume X (first series). Boston
table of contents
Topographical description of Brewster. January, 1806.
Account of Harvard. February, 1767.
Number of the Potenummecut indians. June, 1762.
Mashpee, Monomoyk, Saconet, and eastern indians. [mid-1700s.]
Account of Rawson and Danforth's indian visitation, A. D. 1698.
List of indians in Natick, 1749.

The Brewster information was up to date, while the rest was historical by 1809.
Index to series I: offsite

 collected by David Kew, 2002-2005, for CapeCodHistory.us