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Local History and Genealogy

The Library’s Local History and Genealogy Collections offer access to Leominster history, including information about its establishment and growth, and about its people and how they lived, worked, and played.

This special collection includes such items as directories, yearbooks, church histories, annual reports, and anniversary publications.  The library also has "Vital Records to 1850" for most Massachusetts cities and towns as well as genealogical how-to books for a variety of records, including some Acadian records from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.  The collection includes histories of many cities, towns, and counties in Massachusetts and some New England states as well.

Compiled Massachusetts military records from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War may be found here as well. Also among the holdings are incomplete sets of yearbooks from Leominster High School, Notre Dame High School, and the now-defunct Leominster Hospital School of Nursing, Gallagher Junior High School, and Carter Junior High School. 

Directories held in book format include Leominster, 1900-1990; Fitchburg, 1876-1990; an assortment of suburban directories from the 1970s and 1980s; and most telephone directories from 1981-present.

The Local History Room is home to an extensive Local Authors Collection, focused on Leominster authors.

1915 Leominster Municipal Building Time Capsule Materials

In a public ceremony that took place on July 11, 2015, City officials removed a 100-year-old "time capsule" from behind the cornerstone of City Hall. The Leominster Public Library was given custody of the contents shortly thereafter.

Former Historical and Genealogical Collections Coordinator Jeannine Levesque completed an inventory of the items, and portions of the collection were put on display in the Library's first floor display case. Because of the size of the collection, the items on display were rotated every 4-6 weeks until the entire collection had been displayed.

These digital files and images are now archived in the Digital Commonwealth and are freely available for viewing and use by anyone with access to a computer with access to the internet.

Lucy Johnston Griffin Diary

This diary, kept by Leominster resident Lucy Johnston Griffin, covers the years 1916 through 1920. Lucy was married in 1900 to Stephen Griffin, a grocer with a store at 2 Cottage Street in Leominster. The Griffins lived with their two children, Oscar and Ruth, at a home on 42 Cottage Street.

The diary was acquired for the library through the efforts of former Historical & Genealogical Coordinator Jeannine Levesque, who was contacted in 2017 by Scott Forrester, a historian and rare book dealer in Oregon. Ms. Levesque began transcribing the diary but was unable to finish before she retired in May of 2019. Library volunteer Penny Himlan became intrigued by Lucy’s story in late fall of 2019 and immersed herself in the project, completing the transcription in April of 2021.

Local History and Genealogy Librarian Diane Sanabria, commenting on the significance of Lucy’s diary, said, "History is all around us, especially in Leominster, and learning about the people, places and objects important to our community's past can establish connections and change the way we think about our present. In Lucy's case, her diary is a glimpse of what life was like for her and her family just after the turn of the century. Though some events may seem unremarkable, there is a real beauty in the everyday experiences of ordinary people.”

Of particular interest is the section of the diary written during the Flu Epidemic in the fall of 1918. 

The transcription of the diary is available here and is freely available for viewing and use by anyone with access to a computer with access to the internet.

Obituaries and Research Assistance

The Local History and Genealogy Librarian is available to provide reference assistance, including obituary and other brief newspaper searches. Assistance may be requested in person, by telephone, by mail or by email using the Request for Research Assistance Form. You will be contacted within 48 hours by the Local History and Genealogy Librarian with a response to your query and a preliminary estimate as to when and if the research can be completed.

For obituaries the following information is required: name of person, date of death (month and year at a minimum, day if available), city or town of last residence, if known.

Clippings File

This collection comprises copies of newspaper articles on Leominster people, places, and activities.  It is located in two separate file cabinets: a Citizens file and a General Topics file.

Some thin brochures and publications are also included. Of particular interest is the “Citizens” component of the clippings file. Folders on families and individual citizens of Leominster or of interest to Leominster are filed alphabetically. The folders are not exhaustive, nor do they cover a set range of dates, though the latter 20th century predominates. Researchers should be aware that this is very much a work in progress.

The collection also includes selected papers on Leominster history from the Local History Conferences held at Fitchburg State College in the 1980s.

Maps

Historical atlases of Leominster, Worcester County, and Massachusetts, predominantly dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, are available for study in the special collections area. (Due to their age and fragility, the maps cannot be photocopied). Additional, individual maps of Leominster can be found in several locations in the library.

The Reference Department also holds off-site microfilm reels of multiple Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Leominster (Reel 22), Fitchburg (Reel 17), and other Massachusetts towns. Patrons interested in accessing this collection should check with the Reference Desk on the second floor.

Microform

The library’s collection of microforms is located adjacent to the Reference Desk on the second floor, separate from the Local History and Genealogy Collections. These include microfilm of the Leominster Enterprise (weekly 1873-1903, daily 1895-1973, merged with Fitchburg Sentinel September 3, 1973 – present); a complete run in microfilm of the weekly newspaper The Pioneer, published 1985-1989; and both microfilm and microfiche of pre-1900 Leominster directories.

The library offers access via our webpage to the digitized local newspaper, the Leominster Enterprise, from its inception in 1873 through 1960; we also offer access to several online genealogy resources.  For a complete list of available resources, please see the Online Resources webpage.

Other microfilm reels include proprietor (1701-1847) and town records (1740-1900) as well as records of the First Church in Leominster (formerly the Congregational Church and now the Unitarian-Universalist Church) from 1743 to 1960.

Microfiche of both Leominster and Worcester vital records to around 1900 are also available for research.

Please check with the Reference Desk on the second floor for assistance.

Reports

The Local History and Genealogy Collection maintains photocopies and typed transcriptions of proprietors’ records (1710/11-1834), town and city reports (1866/67-present), an assortment of other regional reports, school reports (1848/49-present), poll tax reports (1915-1931), valuations (1876-1923) and street lists (1958 to present).

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