Researching Houses & Buildings
“Historic Salem’s house histories provide current residents with a general look at previous owners of their house as well as an architectural synopsis of the building. The narrative identifies the house’s early residents and the events of their lives, and relates them to the larger events occurring in Salem and beyond. It is keyed to primary and secondary sources so that you may be assured of accuracy. Appended are copies of deeds, atlases, and (sometimes) inventories of furnishings.Historic Salem has conducted over 500 house histories and put up as many plaques. Use this database to search for house histories completed by Historic Salem, Inc.” – From the HSI website.
Mass Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS)
When researching Salem house history, the Massachusetts Historical Commission has a database which contains many house histories for houses in Salem’s historic districts. The site can be accessed from the Massachusetts Historical Commission page or the Mass Secretary of State page using the ‘Search MACRIS Databases’ option.
Essex County Registry of Deeds:
Deeds can be searched by date range, name, and address. It covers the years 1640-present.
By clicking on “Search Our Records,” you may also search “Plans/Engineering” in order to see reports and plans of specific streets and houses from 1741-present.
Registry of Deeds is located at:
45 Congress St. #4100
City of Salem Assessor’s Dept. Online Property Data
Look up your house’s current valuation. You may also look this up at the Assessor’s Office at City Hall.
This fully-digitized book by Mary H. Northend provides information on particular historic homes of Salem. Also available in print at the library (974.457/NORTHEND).
Print sources to be found @ your library
Architecture in Salem; an Illustrated Guide B. Tolles (720.97 T)
Pictures and histories of houses or buildings in all sections of Salem.
Salem City Directories, 1836-1999 (some gaps)
A yearly listing of Salem residents by address and last name. The city directories are the forerunner of modern telephone books.
Salem Annual Listings, 1935-present (some gaps) (324.2/SALEM)
From 2000 to present, they provide listings of Salem residents by address and last name.
Salem Historic District Reports (711.4)
A brief architectural sketch of many homes in the historic district.
Reference Dept Information
Address and Phone:
370 Essex St
Salem, MA 01970
Parking and Transportation:
Street parking along Essex St between Boston and Beckford Streets.
- Conference Rooms
- Museum Passes
- The Salem News from 1888 – Present
- Boston Globe & New York Times on microfilm
- Microfilm readers & printers
- Newspapers & magazines
- WiFi (100+ Mbps download)
- The Salem Room (local history)