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flag  History of Massachusetts, USA

Journey back in time to Massachusetts, USA

Visit Massachusetts, USA. Discover its history. Learn about the people who lived there through stories, old newspaper articles, pictures, postcards and ancestry.

Do You Have Massachusetts Roots? Share MY Ancestral Story!

 Massachusetts, USA - Center Street from the Bridge. Adams, Mass.

In 1659, the Massachusetts General Court declared the celebration of Christmas to be a criminal offense. The Puritans were attempting to suppress the excesses of the season which included rowdy public displays of eating and drinking, mockery of established authority, aggressive begging, and boisterous invasions.

First cultivated in 1816 on Cape Cod and widely grown in Southeastern Massachusetts, cranberries are also produced in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington. Since 1994, the cranberry has been the official berry of Massachusetts.

Sixteen of the top 25 windiest U.S. cities are located in Massachusetts.

"The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Bay Colony that preceded it were named after the area's indigenous people, the Massachusett. The tribe's name translates to "near the great hill," referring to the Blue Hills southwest of Boston. An alternate form of the tribe's name, the Moswetuset ("hill shaped like an arrowhead"), refers to the Moswetuset Hummock, an arrow-shaped mound in Quincy, MA."

There is MUCH more to discover about Massachusetts, USA. Read on!

Massachusetts Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

Center Street from the Bridge. Adams, Mass.
Massachusetts, USA

Center Street from the Bridge. Adams, Mass.
Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass.
Massachusetts, USA

Faneuil Hall, Boston, Mass.
Gloucester, Massachusetts
Massachusetts, USA

Gloucester, Massachusetts
Main Street Arch, Springfield, Mass.
Massachusetts, USA

Main Street Arch, Springfield, Mass.

Massachusetts, USA

(IL) - Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Illinois
THE HERCULES CLUB CO., Room 12, 16 South St., Boston, Mass.
1901 ad
Massachusetts, USA

THE HERCULES CLUB CO., Room 12, 16 South St., Boston, Mass.
1901 ad
The Square, Wrentham, Massachusetts (1906)
Massachusetts, USA

The Square, Wrentham, Massachusetts (1906)
Main Street looking West, Worthington, Mass.
Massachusetts, USA

Main Street looking West, Worthington, Mass.
Visit Cape Cod
Massachusetts, USA

Visit Cape Cod
Flag of Massachusetts
Adopted July 3, 1971
Massachusetts, USA
Flag of Massachusetts
Adopted July 3, 1971

Discover Massachusetts: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
1497 - John Cabot reaches present day Massachusetts

The World Almanac of the U.S.A, by Allan Carpenter and Carl Provorse, 1996
1614 - John Smith sailed along the coast of Massachusetts. He wrote a book, A Description of New England, which guided settlers to the Massachusetts region.
1620 - The Pilgrims left England on the Mayflower and landed in the New World at Plymouth. Before leaving the ship, they drew up the Mayflower Compact
1638 - Massachusetts set up the first library in the colonies.
1641 - The Body of Liberties, the first code of laws of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was established.
1647 - The Massachusetts Bay Colony ordered that elementary schools be established in all towns where there were more than 50 families.
1652 - Massachusetts declared itself an independent commonwealth. The General Court recognized that the Indians have a just right to land possession and a true right to be there based on Genesis 1 and 28, Chapter 9, 1, and Psalms 115:16.
In 1659, the Massachusetts General Court declared the celebration of Christmas to be a criminal offense.
The Puritans were attempting to suppress the excesses of the season which included rowdy public displays of eating and drinking, mockery of established authority, aggressive begging, and boisterous invasions.
1684 - King Charles II cancelled the colonial charter of Massachusetts.
1686 - King James established a government in Massachusetts. He made Sir Edmond Andros the governor of the colony.
1690 - The battle of Quebec was fought between the colonies of New France (ruled by France) and Massachusetts Bay (ruled by England). It lasted from October 16 through October 24 and resulted in a French victory.

1722 - July 25 - The Three Years War begins along the Maine and Massachusetts border.
July 25, 1722
1727 - October 29 - Severe earthquake in New England
October 29, 1727
1749 - June 25 - A general fast was called on account of drought in Massachusetts. It was the year of the famous dry spring in which fields and villages burned.
June 25, 1749
1775 - First battle of American Revolution fought at Lexington and Concord; Paul Revere made famous ride; first ship of U.S. Navy commissioned webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1780 - May 19 - The infamous "dark day" in New England tradition. At noon it was nearly as dark as night. Chickens went to roost, and many persons were fearful of divine wrath. The phenomena was caused by forest fires to the west of New England.
May 19, 1780
1787 - The first cotton mill in the United States is built in Massachusetts.
1788 - Massachusetts became sixth U S. state webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1803 - May 8 - A freak spring storm produced heavy snow from southern Indiana to New England. The storm made sleighing possible in Massachusetts, but also ruined shade trees in Philadelphia.
May 8, 1803
1815 - September 23 - One of the greatest hurricanes to strike New England made landfall at Long Island and crossed Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
It was the worst tempest in nearly two hundred years.
September 23, 1815
1816 - September 27 - A black frost over most of New England kills unripened corn in the north resulting in a year of famine.
September 27, 1816
1820 - Massachusetts and Maine separated webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1833 - Constitutional amendment separated church and state, Puritanism in government ended webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1839 - Massachusetts
This ancient commonwealth, the mother of New England colonies, of free states, and of American liberty, was first permanently settled by Europeans, at Plymouth, on the 22d of December, 1620.

The history of this state is deeply interesting: it is interwoven with every political and moral event of important occurrence in the settlement and progress of the whole of North America, which preceded or was connected with the revolution of 1775.

The name of this state probably arose from the name of a tribe of Indians formerly at Barnstable; or from two Indian words—Mos and Wetuset; the former signifying an Indian arrow's head, the latter, Hill. It is stated that the Sachem who governed this region about the time of the landing of our forefathers, lived on a hill in the form of an Indian arrow's head, a few miles south of Boston, and was called by the Indians—Moswetuset.

Massachusetts is bounded east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic ocean. It has, exclusive of the... Read MORE...

1847 - NECCO (New England Confectionery Company) wafers were first produced in 1847 in Massachusetts

1852 - Massachusetts became the first state to require that all children must attend school.
1860's - Massachusetts sent over 160,000 troops to battle in Civil War webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1868 - The Legislature of Massachusetts, during its late session, incorporated twenty-five manufacturing companies, with an aggregate capital of $4,375,000.

St Joseph Herald
Saint Joseph, Michigan
April 11, 1868
The Great Blizzard of 1888
This storm was one of the most severe recorded blizzards in the history of the United States of America. 20-60 inches all along New England, with Massachusetts sustaining particularly heavy damage. Winds of more than 45 miles per hour produced snowdrifts taller than 50 feet. Some people were stuck in their houses for more than a week, unable to exit through their snow-clogged doorways. Around 400 people in the Northeast died during the course of the blizzard and its aftermath, and more than 100 people died at sea after 200 ships sank off the East Coast.
1895 - Massachusetts
Massachusetts, one of the Eastern or New England states, and one of the original thirteen states of the American Union, is bounded on the N. by Vermont and New Hampshire, E. by the Atlantic Ocean, S. by the Atlantic Ocean and by Rhode Island and Connecticut, and W. by Rhode Island and New York. There are several islands within the state limits (Nantucket, Martha's Vine yard, Elizabeth Islands, &c.); and in the S.E. the peninsula of Cape Cod extends into the sea, forming Cape Cod Bay, and, from its shape, is sometimes called the "right arm of the commonwealth." Area, 8315 square miles, of which the land area is 8040 square miles, or 5,145,600 acres, and the water surface 275 square miles...

The state of Massachusetts was almost entirely of English descent, the only prominent exceptions being a small colony of Huguenots which settled in and near Oxford, one or more of Germans in the northeastern part of Worcester co., and the later Scotch-Irish Presbyterian settlement at Coleraine.... Read MORE...

1903 - Marconi sends and receives the first wireless transatlantic communication
One hundred years ago on Saturday, a young Italian inventor named Guglielmo Marconi stood on a sandy bluff on Cape Cod and sent a 54-word greeting from President Theodore Roosevelt across the ocean to England's King Edward VII.

A few hours later, the king responded, completing a dialogue that at the time seemed like pure magic.

Marconi had launched the era of global wireless communications...
Brian Carovillano on January 18, 2003 (
1903 - You didn’t need a license or plates to drive in Massachusetts until 1903.
Before that, all you needed was a set of wheels.
1907 - First motorized fire wagon developed by Knox Manufacturing Company webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
1914 - July 29 – In Massachusetts, the new Cape Cod Canal opens; it shortens the trip between New York and Boston by 66 miles, but also turns Cape Cod into an island
July 29, 1914
It is prohibited to dance to the “Star Spangled Banner” in Massachusetts, thanks to an excessively patriotic 1917 law.
1922 - April 13 – The State of Massachusetts opens all public offices to women.
April 13, 1922
1938 - April 28 – The towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott in Massachusetts are disincorporated to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir.
April 28, 1938
1938 - Sept. 21 - The Great Hurricane brought terror to large parts of New England.
A great hurricane smashed into Long Island and bisected New England causing a massive forest blow down and widespread flooding. Winds gusted to 186 mph at Blue Hill MA, and a storm surge of nearly thirty feet caused extensive flooding along the coast of Rhode Island. The hurricane killed 600 persons and caused 500 million dollars damage. The hurricane, which lasted twelve days, destroyed 275 million trees. Hardest hit were Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Long Island NY. The "Long Island Express" produced gargantuan waves with its 150 mph winds, waves which smashed against the New England shore with such force that earthquake-recording machines on the Pacific coast clearly showed the shock of each wave.
September 21, 1938

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1944 - Black-out Will Be March 26
The next black out will not be next Sunday as stated yesterday but March 26. The state committee gave two weeks advance notice instead of one - with commendable foresight inasmuch as the event will affect every man woman and child in the commonwealth.
The Berkshire Evening Eagle
Pittsfield, Massachusetts
March 14, 1944
1944 - September 9 - The "Great Atlantic Hurricane" ravaged the east coast.
The storm killed 22 persons and caused 63 million dollars damage in the Chesapeake Bay area, then besieged New England killing 390 persons and causing another 100 million dollars damage.
The Weather Channel
September 9, 1944
1946 - November 13 - General Electric scientists produced snow in the Massachusetts Berkshires in the first modern day cloud seeding experiment.

The Weather Channel
November 13, 1946
1954 - August 31 - Hurricane Carol swept across eastern New England killing sixty persons and causing 450 million dollars damage. It was the first of three hurricanes to affect New England that year.
August 31, 1954
1955 - August 19-20 - Rivers throughout Central Massachusetts and Northeastern Connecticut overflow, causing millions of dollars damage.
August 19, 1955
1957 - Massachusetts Turnpike opened webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ matimeln.htm
The Blizzard of 1978
Almost 100 years after the blizzard of 1888, Massachusetts survived the blizzard of 1978. The storm itself lasted from February 5 to February 7, and it was one of the most catastrophic nor'easters ever to occur in the state. The storm killed about 100 people in the Northeast and injured a whopping 4,500. Adjusted for inflation, the damages caused by the blizzard would amount to $1.89 billion today. While a typical nor'easter only lasts in full force for about 6 to 12 hours, this storm raged for a full 33 hours.
2023 - Massachusetts has something for everyone. Here's a list of places to go and things to do in the Bay State:
1. Freedom Trail (Boston): Start your journey in the heart of Massachusetts by exploring Boston's Freedom Trail. This 2.5-mile-long path takes you through 16 significant historical sites, including the Massachusetts State House, Paul Revere's House, and the Old North Church.

2. Fenway Park (Boston): If you're a baseball fan, catch a game at Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. The park is famous for its unique character and history, and even if there's no game, you can take a guided tour.

3. Salem: Dive into the spooky history of Salem, famous for the Salem Witch Trials. Visit the Salem Witch Museum, Witch Dungeon Museum, and explore the historic streets.

4. Cape Cod: This picturesque peninsula offers beautiful beaches, charming villages, and outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and whale watching. Don't forget to try the delicious seafood.

5. Martha's Vineyard: Take a ferry to this idyllic island known for its stunning beaches, quaint towns, and pristine... Read MORE...

Discover MY Roots: Massachusetts Ancestry

Genealogy Resources for Massachusetts

Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850 (Online Database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2007).

Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910

"Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Berkshire County, Massachusetts". New York: Lewis Pub. Co., 1906

List of Persons Whose Names Have Been Changed in Massachusetts 1780 - 1883 By Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of State, Massachusetts Dept. of the State Secretary, Henry Bailey Peirce, Massachusetts General Court, Published 1885, Wright and Potter Printing Company, state printers

Author: Cole, Ernest Byron
Description: The descendants of James Cole of Plymouth 1633 : also a record of the families of Lieutenant Thomas Burnham of Ipswich, 1635, Lieutenant Edward Winship of Cambridge, 1635, and Simon Huntington of Norwich, England, 1635 : with a complete record of the Cole, Coole, and Cowle families of America in the Revolution. The Burnham, Huntington and Winship Families Family records Index Revolutionary records Other Cole Families in America First Generation Historical Contents Front matter Title page. New York: Grafton Press, 1908.

Index to the Probate Records of Middlesex County, Massachusetts

Worcester County MA Archives - Army Enlistees - WWII Enlistment

Cape Cod history and literature -

Ancestry® Abstracts of Bristol County, Massachusetts Probate Records, 1687-1745
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Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911–1915 (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives. Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2008.)

1865 Massachusetts Census

1855 Massachusetts Census

An Elementary Geography for Massachusetts Children by William Bentley Fowle and Asa Fitz, 1845

A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts, with Numerous Illustrations Rev. Elias Nason, M.A.; revised and enlarged by George J. Varney. Boston: B.B. Russell. 1890, 724 pages

Massachusetts City and Town Incorporation and Settlement Dates

Massachusetts Newspapers

Our Massachusetts Gift Ideas

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Updated: 9/18/2023 7:46:16 PM