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
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.
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
City Directories, Annual Listings (Voting Lists), and Waltham High School Yearbooks
Our city directories, annual listings, and high school yearbooks are now available online
through our participation in the Digital Commonwealth and Internet Archive. The directories are available through 1990 excluding 1903 and the yearbooks are also available through 1990. The annual listings begin with 1867 and will run with a few gaps through 1973. Each item is easily selected and 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.
Many local houses, buildings and districts have been studied for historical significance. The Massachusetts Historical Commission maintains records of historical data on these properties and they can be accessed by the public. The Commission has a new digitized format open to you as MACRIS (Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System). Explore it yourself for possible information on your house! The link is http://mhc-macris.net
A partnership between the Waltham Public Library and the Waltham Historical Commission has produced its first effort. A website is now up regarding the historic Wellington House. It includes historic and informational documents and photos. You can find the site here
and the documents can be found here
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
Digitized Historical Waltham Maps
The Waltham Public Library is officially a part of Digital Commonwealth!
This is a non-profit group that provides digitized versions of historical resources in Massachusetts. Over 130 institutions are members of the Digital Commonwealth. The first phase of Waltham's involvement is Historical Maps. We have provided 14 maps covering 1831-1923. They can be sorted by title or date and can be easily enlarged. You can access the maps here
City Assesssor's Maps (two types)
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
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.
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.
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 collection of materials relating to the Waltham Watch Factory and other watch companies. A list of items in the collection can be obtained 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.
Some highlights of our Waltham Watch collection have been contributed to Digital Commonwealth, a non-profit group that provides digitized versions of historical resources in Massachusetts. We have provided a cross section of our most popular items, mostly catalogs and advertisements, ranging from single sheets to booklets. We've also included about sixty photographs, postcards and stereoscope cards showing views of company buildings and specialized rooms, and the employees who worked there. You can find these items here
Other items have been contributed to Internet Archive, a similar digitizing project of substantial print materials. Our watch materials include handbooks, newsletters, advertising and important catalogs and company histories. You can find these items here
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
* 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.