Monday, September 17, 2012

Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases Now Online

The State Library recently completed the scanning of forty-five real estate atlases covering communities throughout Massachusetts. These atlases are now available online through the library’s institutional repository and its Flickr site. This is part of a grant-funded project to digitize the approximately 200 real estate atlases in the State Library’s collection. The items that are now available include a statewide atlas and municipal volumes that cover cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth, from Attleboro to Pittsfield.

The image on the top detailing the area where the Mystic River and Chelsea Creek flow into Boston Harbor is from the 1892 Atlas of Massachusetts published by Geo. H. Walker & Co.

These atlases are a useful tool for genealogists, architectural consultants, and those researching the history of their homes, as they provide information about property boundaries, plot size, ownership and building shapes and materials. The image below, taken from the City atlas of Lowell, Massachusetts (published by G. M. Hopkins in 1879) illustrates properties, including mills and other industry along the Concord River in Lowell.

Some of the atlases also include drawings of prominent homes, schools and other important buildings. An example of this is the residence of Wm. Whiting found in the 1884 Atlas of Holyoke City, Massachusetts published by Geo. H. Walker & Co.

The Massachusetts real estate atlas digitization project, to be completed by the summer of 2013, has been developed with federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.