Our wonderful volunteers are happy to help you do some family research. While we wish we could assist all out-of-town genealogy researchers free of charge, we are a small organization with limited resources and must rely upon volunteers for most of our genealogy searches. In an attempt to meet the needs of as many people as possible without overwhelming ourselves, we have instituted the following policy. Please read this policy, then download the pdf below, and send it to us (with your membership contribution, if you are not already a member), and you will be contacted.
In Our Own Archive
We will research material, photocopy, and mail it to you or email if more appropriate.
This service is free for WHM members. We will charge you only the amount needed to cover our costs: ten cents per page for photocopying, plus whatever the postage is for mailing what we find. For non-members in addition to copying and postage fees, the charge for research service is $10 per hour.
In Other Local Archives
Sometimes information is not in our files, but we feel we could find it in other local archives – for instance on microfilm at the Williams College or North Adams Libraries, at the Registry of Deeds in Adams, or at Probate Court or the Local History Collection of the Berkshire Athenaeum in Pittsfield. Traveling to other archives takes a good deal of volunteer time as well as incurring costs for gas and car wear and tear. In order for this to be feasible for us, we must charge $15 per hour to members and non-members alike who wish us to travel beyond our archive to research. Photocopies of materials found in these archives will be charged at the copy rate of the archive in question.
Since these requests are handled by volunteers, the length of time to complete the research will depend on volunteer availability, and there may be times when we are unable to provide this serviced at all.
Our experienced volunteers will be able to estimate for you the likelihood of finding information in any other archive they might visit, but there are no guarantees. The fee for research time/mileage will be charged whether or not any information is found, although clearly if there is no information there would be no copying or mailing fee.
If we find that requests are exceeding our capacity to fill them, we may need to put a limit on the amount of time we can spend on any particular request.
Alternatively, we can offer you the names and contact information for local genealogists.
Above and Beyond
While the fees attempt to cover basic costs, they are intentionally kept low so that no one who needs assistance fails to receive it for financial reasons. Research is not a money-making service for us at these rates. If you are able we would appreciate an additional donation of whatever amount you feel you can afford to help support our small organization and the services we provide.
We look forward to working with you!
Here are the kinds of resources we have at our disposal. We would also welcome a visit from anyone who would like to do their research in person. Please contact the office to make sure the museum is open at the time you would like to come.
- Names Index: An index to names found in the manuscript collection. Under each name is a list of relevant documents in which the name can be found, as well as the location of each document. Any letters or diaries are indexed here under the name of the writer.
- Cemetery Cards: contain the names of anyone buried in Eastlawn, Westlawn, College, Hopper, Comstock, Sweet, South Williamstown, and Blackinton cemeteries. Under each name is the date of death and place of burial.
- Cemetery Database: The cemetery database, when complete, will contain information gathered from each of the Williamstown cemeteries that can be searched by category for genealogical information.
- Books: The HLH book collection includes a number of volumes that are particularly
These publications are helpful in finding genealogical information:
- Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War
- Civil War Regimental Histories
- Williamstown Civil War Soldiers List
- Vital Records to 1850 (lists births, marriages, deaths, and intentions)
- Early Williamstown Families
- Origins in Williamstown (a narrative history of the town from 1894 with an expanded names index)
- Williamstown and Williams College (another narrative history with a names index from 1899)
- Boyhood Reminiscences (an 1895 memoir with a names index)
- Over Pathways of the Past (memoir with names index)
- Williamstown: The First Two Hundred Years (a 1953 illustrated narrative history updated in 1973 and 2005)
- Gazetteer of Berkshire County, 1725-1885 (short Williamstown history and directory of town residents in 1885)
- Green River Anthology
- First Proprietors’ Meetings Book (a transcription of the minutes, which name many of the earliest settlers).
- News Clipping File: The “people” section contains newspaper articles about local residents, in alphabetical order. Most obituaries can be found in this file.
- Directories: These list people and businesses in Williamstown including their street address and sometimes occupation. Recent directories include phone numbers as well. The collection includes most years from 1874-2003.
- Census: The collection includes censuses from 1790 to 1880.
- Williamstown High School Yearbooks: The collection includes yearbooks from 1925 to the present.
- Tax Records: Tax records for the years 1805, 1832, 1893-1896, 1912, 1917, and 1930.
- Old Deeds: Deeds from the 1800s with a list of names they contain. This is not a complete collection, only certain deeds we have been given. The best place to research Williamstown deeds is the Registry of deeds in Adams (65 Park Street, Adams 01220 (413 743-0035) http://www.sec.state.ma.us/rod/rodbrknth/brknthidx.htm
- Microfilm and Microfiche: The microfilm collection includes vital statistics (births, marriages, deaths) from 1860-1900 and federal census records from 1790-1900.The Elmer Shepard Collection, an extensive genealogical survey of the Berkshire region, is on microfilm as well. The microfiche collection includes proprietors’ records from the late 1700s and vital records from 1757-1987.
- Photographs: The index for photographs of people is alphabetical by last name. Photographs of people can also be found under the topics with which they are associated (e.g. “Mount Hope,” “Williamstown High School,” and “Businesses/Stores”).