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

Waltham Room
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, 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.

House Histories
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.

Wellington House
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.

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.

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 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.