A Guide to Local History Research
A checklist of resources for local history research
The website of the Westport Historical Society www.wpthistory.org
The Society has also put online a searchable database of its entire collection of photographs, postcards and archives.
Or please make an appointment to research our collection in person.
Town Historical Documents
Digitized copies of town meetings, private papers of the Paul Cuffe collection, the two volumes of the Early Dartmouth Proprietors, maps of accepted roads in Westport, the collection of annual reports up to 2003, Almshouse records from 1865 – 1875, and vital records can be found on this website. The project is ongoing so more documents will be found on this website in the future.
The Westport Town Clerk’s office, has various types of information, including vital records, maps, and many other historical documents. Requests may be made for copied documents.
Westport Assessors’ Office, which has information for the period after the 1930s.
The Cemetery Identification Group (CIG), working under the guidance of the Westport (Massachusetts) Historical Commission is a community based volunteer group formed in September 2005. CIG’s purpose is to identify, record, and protect Westport’s historic private cemeteries through registration with the State and the town, and to incorporate the cemetery location and layout into the Town of Westport’s Geographic Information System (GIS) and assessors’ records. The database also includes Linden Grove, Maple Grove and Beech Grove Cemeteries.
The history room contains files developed by Norma Judson on many topics. In addition, there are binders which include hard copies of the properties on the Westport Historic Inventory, Eleanor Tripp’s writings, maps, and other historical documents. It is a comfortable room to work in and well worth the trip.
The MHC has posted inventories of the various towns in the Commonwealth on its website.
The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) allows you to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for information on historic properties and areas in the Commonwealth. A very useful resource if you are researching the history of an old house in Westport.
At the bottom of the page is a list of the buildings that have been registered with the MHC. It is called the Westport Historical Inventory.
The GIS online map and parcel viewer is available at this site.
Deeds for properties in Westport (and other towns) going back to the 1600s. Deeds after 1978 and all plans registered there are available online. The older books are in a specially dedicated room on the second floor. In addition the deeds of the original proprietors of Old Dartmouth are available for use. Ask the clerks working there for help. You can photograph or photocopy pages. If you go, take quarters for parking.
Many whalers lived in the Point district. More information about them, their ships and their travels can be found in the Whaling Museum’s library.
Special Collections and Archival Collection include items relating to the local history of the New Bedford area, genealogy, whaling, and the Society of Friends.
The probate court building includes a section on the second floor where probate records may be accessed. The older records are on shelves in the room and can be used. The newer records must be applied for on a research request form. It is best to take a trip to Taunton to check it out and learn how to best utilize this research. There is a screening at the entrance and photography is not allowed without previous approval.
Westport Matters began as a local history project hosted by Claude Ledoux to record what life was like at the turn of the millennium. To date, there have been over 450 different shows. Many videos can be viewed on the website of the Westport Historical Society.
This includes photos, postcards of Westport, bicentennial interviews, and newspaper articles.
This is an excellent source both online and in Boston. There is a fee for research, but their resources are well worth it.
This is an online source of census, vital records, military records and many other databases. There is a fee for the use of the software. Some family trees may have errors, and should not be accepted without checking other resources.