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Welcome to Boston Public Library Archives & Special Collections


This site contains descriptions and inventories of the archival collections held by Boston Public Library and the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center.

What are archives?

An archival collection is a group of related materials that documents the activities of an individual, family, or organization. BPL archives include personal papers, records of local businesses and organizations, and subject-based collections, as well as the library’s institutional records. Archives at BPL are described in finding aids, which include essential information about the creation, content, arrangement, and context of these collections. Learn more about archives and finding aids on our Help page.

Finding other rare, historic, and special collections at the BPL

While archival collections are described on this site, you'll find descriptions for rare books, single manuscripts, maps, photographs, prints, drawings, music, and fine art in other databases. To explore other formats, visit the BPL Special Collections website and the Leventhal Map Center website.

Boston Public Library special collections are available for the study and enjoyment of all.

What is included?

We are in the process of adding collection descriptions to this catalog as only a portion of BPL archival collections are currently represented here. BPL's finding aids have evolved over time in a range of formats; we are actively working to create more complete, equitable, and accessible collection descriptions.

Requesting materials

Everyone is welcome to use our collections in our reading room at Central Library. In order to prepare our collections for your use, research appointments are required.

Plan your research visit and make an appointment on the BPL Special Collections research page.

Contact us

BPL Special Collections staff are always happy to connect. For questions about our collections, help navigating BPL finding aids, or to suggest changes to our descriptions, you can contact us directly.

Boston Public Library finding aid description, metadata, and descriptions of persons, families, and organizations are licensed under a Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication. Read more.