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Massachusetts Public Records

Like the FOIA and other states' sunshine laws, the Massachusetts Public Records Law (MPRL) was enacted to provide for public access to records created and or held by the state and local governments in the spirit of operational transparency. In the statute public record is defined as "all books, papers, maps, photographs, recorded tapes, financial statements, statistical tabulations, or other documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received by any officer or employee of any agency, executive office, department, board, commission, bureau, division or authority of the commonwealth, or of any political subdivision thereof, or of any authority established by the general court to serve a public purpose" provided that the information within the record is not protected by exemption.

Exemptions to accessible records include any information that would constitute a violation of personal privacy or otherwise hinder the safety, performance and/or operations of any agency office or open investigation.

Making a records request:
The office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth has a public records division that supervises the public records practices of the state, but you will want to make your records requests with the individual agency responsible for those records you seek. It is recommended that a request be made in writing to ensure there is no confusion in fulfillment. This will also serve the requester if an appeal is necessary. To make a written request, include all the relevant information about the record you seek so that the custodian can work efficiently. Sample Request Letter

Secretary of the Commonwealth
Citizen Information Service
One Ashburton Place, Room 1611, Boston, MA 02108-1512
(617) 727-7030 | Toll Free: 1-800-392-6090
TTY: (617) 878-3889 | Fax: (617) 742-4528

Public Records Division: (617) 727-2832

Massachusetts Government Info

The Governing body of Massachusetts is modeled after the 3 branch bicameral example that the US Federal Government provides.   The main differences are in nomenclature in that the state is called a 'Commonwealth', the legislature is officially referred to as the "General Court", and the "Supreme Judicial Court" is the governing body of the state's court system. The more widely accepted names for these bodies can also be used.

At the local level, Cities and Towns have their own governing bodies that act through authority granted to them by the Commonwealth (zoning, ordinances, services, etc), either through stature or by the Home Rule amendment.  Most county governments were removed and the land divided amongst the cities and put to their care. Cities and Towns have different types of government and today there are 14 Counties, with 50 cities and 301 towns.  There are 11 communities that have the 'city' form of government but  the name "town of."  These are Agawam, Amesbury, Barnstable, Easthampton, Franklin, Greenfield, Methuen, Southbridge, Watertown, West Springfield and Weymouth.

The main difference is that a town is governed under the selectmen and Town Meeting or Representative Town Meeting form of government and city has a council or board of aldermen and may or may not include a mayor, city manager or both.

Massachusetts Archives
220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125
(617) 727-2816 | Fax: (617) 288-8429

Online Searches:

State Records Center
220 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125
(617) 727-2470 | Fax: (617) 288-4505

Massachusetts State Library
24 Beacon Street, State House, Room 341, Boston, MA 02133
617-727-2590 | Fax: 617-727-9730
Special Collections: 617-727-2595

Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
150 Mount Vernon St., 1st Fl., Dorchester, MA 02125-3105
(617) 740-2600

Massachusetts Corporate Database
One Ashburton Place, 17th floor, Boston, MA 02108-1512
(617) 727-9640

Massachusetts Historical Commission
220 Morrissey Boulevard, Boston, MA 02125-3314
617-727-8470 | Fax: 617-727-5128

The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) is a searchable database that houses information on historic properties and areas in the Commonwealth. Users should note that MACRIS DB might not house every last detail on any given property, although new information is being added regularly.

Registry of Deeds information and index of links for districts deed registry contact info

Massachusetts Land Records 

State Agencies

Local Officials Directory

Offices of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor

Massachusetts State House
Office of the Governor / Lt. Governor
Room 280, Boston, MA 02133
617.725.4005 | Fax: 617.727.9725
TTY: 617.727.3666

Springfield, MA
Western Massachusetts Office of the Governor
State Office Building
436 Dwight Street, Suite 300, Springfield, MA 01103

Washington, DC
Office of the Governor of Massachusetts
444 N. Capitol Street, Suite 208, Washington, D.C. 20001
202.624.7713 | Fax: 202.624.7714

Secretary of the Commonwealth

Citizen Information Service
One Ashburton Place, Room 1611, Boston, MA 02108-1512
Tel: (617) 727-7030 | Toll Free: 1-800-392-6090
TTY: (617) 878-3889 | Fax: (617) 742-4528

Attorney General

One Ashburton Place, Boston, MA 02108
(617) 727-2200 | TTY: (617) 727-4765

100 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114
(617) 727-2200

1350 Main Street, Fourth Floor, Springfield, MA 01103
(413) 784-1240 | Fax: (413) 784-1244

New Bedford
105 William Street, First Floor, New Bedford, MA 02740
(508) 990-9700 | Fax: (508) 990-8686

One Exchange Place, Worcester, MA 01608
(508) 792-7600 | Fax: (508) 795-1991

Massachusetts Senate Directory

Massachusetts Directory of the House of Representatives