Local History Collection Policy

Local History resources are of lasting and cumulative value for developing local knowledge and understanding. Saving unique historical records, photographs, etc. that document the past is one of the important services of a public library.


The purpose of the Local History Collection is to serve the community through acquisition, classification, preservation and provision of access to a well-organized and balanced collection that documents Watertown’s history.


The aim of the Local History Collection is to provide a range of materials reflecting the history of the community. Emphasis will be on the acquisitions of those materials which will contribute to the knowledge of the social, civic, religious, economic and cultural life, both past and present, of Watertown, Massachusetts.  Materials to be collected include books, diaries, yearbooks, pamphlets, newsletters, bulletins, periodicals, reports, letters, speeches, manuscripts, documents, maps, atlases, clippings, photographs, slides, films, videotapes, sound recordings, electronic materials, paintings, art works, prints, posters, stereo views, genealogical records, minutes, memorabilia, ephemera such as commemorative programs and advertisements as well as future types of recorded records. The Collection may include a selection of materials about other towns and genealogical materials about Massachusetts and the United States that relate to Watertown.

Chronological Scope

Acquisitions from any time period may be considered

Geographical Scope

Collections will emphasize individuals, groups and organizations whose activities have principally been in Watertown.

Materials for Inclusion

The following list provides guidelines for the type of material that may be sought for inclusion in the local history collection:

Published works:

  • Published histories or other works (i.e. articles, dissertations, manuscripts, pamphlets or theses) relevant to Watertown concerning buildings, businesses, history, organizations, and residents.
  • Published works by Watertown residents.
  • Records of local businesses and associations, schools, churches, sporting bodies, welfare organizations etc.
  • Papers of prominent local families/individuals, genealogies and manuscripts.
  • Relevant family history research papers and publications.
  • Reference material such as bibliographies, directories and guides. This may include guides to holdings of relevant material in other manuscript or archival collections.
  • Watertown based publications such as newspapers, magazines, gazettes, newsletters, etc.
  • Periodicals about Watertown
  • Yearbooks from the public or private schools in Watertown.
  • Research papers and theses pertaining to Watertown
  • Studies undertaken by private or government bodies referring to, or having impact on Watertown.

Unpublished works:

  • Archives of local organizations (archives must contain historically important information)
  • Papers, correspondences, diaries, of Watertown residents (must contain historically important information)
  • Ephemera, including leaflets, flyers, pamphlets, original documents such as land deeds, certificates and military papers specifically concerning Watertown
  • Documents/research papers/photographs relating to buildings (private, commercial and public) and property.
  • Catalogues, flyers, pamphlets and other promotional items issued by Watertown businesses, organizations, political persons, schools, town departments, etc.  containing historically important information


  • Photographic works of local historical interest including prints, postcard, slides and negatives of individuals, groups, buildings, landscapes, and events.
  • Plans including Survey plans, Land subdivision plans, Architectural plans and Aerial photographs.
  • Current and historic maps of Watertown
  • Oral histories made about Watertown and its residents.

Approved by the Library Board of Trustees on January 7, 2013