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Local History & Genealogy
Waltham Room | Genealogy Resources | Archives & Special Collections | email the Archivist

Waltham Room
Mission
The Waltham Room in the Waltham Public Library houses special collections, archives and genealogy material relating to Waltham History. The purpose of the Archives is to collect, preserve and make accessible for research primary and secondary materials related to the city.

Description of Collections
The Waltham Room in the Waltham Public Library serves mainly as a Special Collections department and a non-circulating genealogy reading room. The room is also home to an institutional collection documenting the history of the Waltham Public Library.

The Special Collections includes materials by and about the people of Waltham. This collection attempts to include all aspects of Waltham history from the people themselves, to the jobs they hold, to their recreational activities and the physical aspects of their city. Included in the collections are records of a personal nature and also public documents including items pertaining to Waltham businesses and city records. See Finding Aid for more information.

Access to Collections
Materials may be viewed by appointment with the archivist. Before using materials, please be sure to review our rules and policies. Users of Special Collection materials will be asked to present identification and complete a request form.

City Directories and Waltham High School Yearbooks
Our city directories and public high school yearbooks are now available online through our participation in Digital Commonwealth and Internet Archive. They are being added gradually but ultimately will cover 1872 through 1990, excluding 1903. Each directory is easily searchable.

The library maintains an incomplete print collection of city directories for Waltham, Watertown, and Boston. There are Waltham directories from 1871-1990; Watertown directories from 1871-1924; and Boston directories from 1789, 1845, 1855, 1860, 1865, 1870, 1875, 1880, 1885, 1889, and 1926. The Watertown Public Library has made Watertown/Waltham directories from 1869-1924 available online. Questions about directories for particular years should be directed to the archivist.

Digitized Books on Waltham History
The Waltham Public Library owns many books about Waltham's history which are located on the shelves of the Waltham Room. Thanks to the efforts of the Internet Archive, a non-profit engaged in making books and other media available free online, some of our books have been scanned and are now accessible digitally. These works, mostly published before the 1920s or by governmental bodies, are now either out of copyright or in the public domain and can be used with no restrictions. You can access these digitized books on Waltham history here.

City Assesssor's Maps (two types)
Black and white maps (17X22) of all real estate parcels in Waltham, including parcel lines, ID numbers and address numbers. An index map is included. The information is current as of FY 2006, and updates will be available.
Color aerial maps (27X31) of all real estate parcels in Waltham, including parcel boundaries, easement lines, parcel ID numbers and address numbers. An index map is included. The digital planimetric base map data is based on spring 2001 1”=40’ scale color orthophotographs. The parcel data is current as of May 2005.

Local History Materials 
Click here for a copy of our New Local History Materials list. These materials are available for use in the library only. This list is updated annually.

Donations
The archivist actively pursues donations relating to Waltham to add to the collection and welcomes gifts fitting within the collection development policy and plan. For more information contact the archivist.

Research Fees
The archivist handles inquiries on historical and genealogical topics in the order in which they are received. Obituaries, the most common of these requests, are searched in the various Waltham and Boston newspapers which we own on microfilm and to which we currently subscribe. For out-of-city residents the fee covering research, photocopying and mailing is $.25 per page, with a minimum of $5.00.

Waltham Watch Factory
The library maintains a small collection of materials relating to the Waltham Watch Factory and other watch companies. A list of items in the collection can be gotten by contacting the archivist. The Baker Library at the Harvard Business School also maintains company records in their Business Manuscripts Collection. To access these materials, call (617) 495-6411. A Frequently Asked Questions for the Waltham Watch Company has been created by the City of Waltham, Massachusetts Community Home Page.

Frequently Asked Questions
* When did Metropolitan State Hospital close?
The Metropolitan State Hospital, one of several similar publicly funded mental hospitals located across the Commonwealth, was closed in January 1992 as part of the state’s privatization policy regarding the mental health system.

* What is the recent history of Middlesex County Hospital?
Situated amidst an originally 110-acre site on Trapelo Hill, the highest point on Trapelo Road, the hospital was constructed by the county as a tuberculosis sanatorium. Land was acquired, partly through purchase and partly through eminent domain, in 1929. One of those properties acquired was the old Wellington estate, which mansion, the William Wellington house at 735 Trapelo Road, is on the state and National Registers of Historic Places.

The hospital was sold to Olympus Health Care Group in 1996 as a countywide cost-cutting move, but it closed last year (2001.) The land is currently owned by a real estate trust, JPI of Irving, Texas, which is seeking to develop the land into luxury apartments and townhouses.

Publications for Sale
Waltham Community Directory - $5.00
Waltham Rediscovered Video - $5:00
Waltham Rediscovered - $35.00
Images of America: Waltham - $19.00
Tercentennial History of the First Parish in Waltham, MA, 1696-1996 - $16.96