Boston Public Library

Social Sciences Department, 2nd Floor, McKim Building, Central Library, 617-859-2261

Genealogy @ the BPL

The Boston Public Library has extensive collections of genealogical materials. Most genealogical material is located in the Microtext and Social Sciences departments, although staff may refer patrons to the research collection stacks or circulating collections as well. All materials must be used within the library.

You need a library card from any Massachusetts library to use non-circulating genealogy research materials. If you do not have a card from a Massachusetts library, you can get a BPL card at the Delivery Desk or at any circulation desk.

The library presents author talks and other programs on local history and on researching your ancestors. Many of these are part of our Local and Family History Lecture Series. 


  • Computers: Computers are available for genealogical research and in-library use databases in the Social Sciences and Microtext departments.
  • Reference Questions: You can submit a genealogy reference question in person, by telephone, and by email. Note: We can only answer general reference questions; we cannot do genealogical or heraldic research, or check our holdings for specific sections of genealogies about a particular family.
  • Photocopies: Some of the library’s published genealogies may be photocopied, depending on the condition of the item. Photocopies are $0.15 per page. Photocopiers are located throughout the central library building and at the Social Sciences/Government Information Department reference desk.  A print card must be purchased from the print card dispenser located opposite the Delivery Desk on the second floor. You may also add value to the card at this location.
  • Microform printing: Printouts of microforms are available in the Microtext Department. Microform printing may be $0.25 or more, depending on the size of the original page.