Monday, February 27, 2012

Digitization project to make Massachusetts atlases available on the web

As part of a grant-funded project, the State Library has started to digitize the Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases in its collection. The library has approximately 200 atlases, which include about 6500 maps in 12 counties and more than 80 municipalities throughout Massachusetts. These atlases provide information about property boundaries, plot size, ownership, building shapes and materials and are heavily used by genealogists, architectural consultants, people researching the history of their homes and others.

The image on the left is from George Washington Bromley’s Atlas of the City of Boston, volume 1, published in 1883. It shows the State House before the back half of the building was added in the 1890’s and before the east and west wings were added in the early 20th century. It also shows the properties that were taken to make room for these additions.

The image on the right is from the Atlas of Hampden County, Massachusetts, published by F. W. Beers in 1870. It shows the center of South Wilbraham.

The first group of 45 atlases currently being digitized include a statewide Massachusetts atlas, atlases from Middlesex, Franklin and Worcester counties and municipal atlases that cover 45 cities and towns throughout the state from Pittsfield to New Bedford. These materials should be digitized and in our electronic repository by late spring. The entire project is expected to be completed by summer, 2013.

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