The library and archives at the Museum of Old Newbury are a wealth of information about all things local. Our collections include both primary and secondary source materials that address family genealogies, Newburyport’s maritime heritage, local businesses and industries, landmarks, buildings, cemeteries, and more. Resources available for research use include local history books, ship logs, maps, photographs, genealogy books, diaries, ledgers, and ephemera.
Our resources are available to researchers year-round by appointment, Tuesdays-Fridays from 10am-4pm. Research appointments are free for museum members and incur a $30 fee for non-members. Download a research form, and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-462-2681 to make an appointment.
Remote research services are also available for those who cannot come to the museum in person. Visit our research services page to learn more.
The museum holds archival materials pertinent to the history of “Old Newbury,” which today encompasses the communities of Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Byfield, and Plum Island.
Primary source materials in our collection date from the 17th-21st centuries, with a particular emphasis in the 18th and 19th centuries. Materials include ship logs, diaries, letters, business papers, photographs, and ledgers.
Newbury’s “first settlers” from England arrived in 1635. Today, their descendants live locally and around the country, and our archival resources can help to document family genealogy. Learn more on our Genealogy page.
Do you want to learn more about your historic house? Check out our historic photographs, city directories, maps, and files on local families. We recommend beginning your house research by establishing a chain of title with the resources available online through the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds.
Our photograph collection is extensive and includes imagery from the dawn of photography to the present day. Subjects include people, houses, streetscapes, landmarks, ships, businesses, schools, churches, landscapes, and more.
A portion of our photograph collection has been digitized and is available online through Digital Commonwealth. Much of the collection has not yet been digitized and is available at the museum during research appointments.
Other Local Resources
Newburyport’s Historic Newspapers: Local newspapers dating from 1773-1955, digitized by the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center
Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds: Begin researching your historic home by establishing a chain of title using the resources available from the Registry of Deeds.
Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS): Database of information on historic buildings compiled by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
Several local history books are available in full text online through Internet Archive or other services. Try searching for the following titles:
History of Newburyport, Mass. 1764-1906, by John J. Currier
Ould Newbury Historical and Biographical Sketches, by John J. Currier
History of Newbury, Mass. 1635-1902, by John J. Currier
A Sketch of the History of Newbury, Newburyport, and West Newbury from 1635-1845, by Joshua Coffin
History of the Marine Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts, by William H. Bayley and Oliver O. Jones