Local History & Genealogy

Getting Started

Our History room includes resources on Massachusetts history, as well as those that are specific to the Town of Reading.  Stop by or contact us to get started in your search for information about your family genealogy, house, or town history.



Reading Chronicle Microfilm

On September 16, 2022, the Reading Public Library will begin the process of digitizing the Reading Chronicle newspaper microfilm. The microfilm room will be closed while this process is proceeding. Check our Facebook page for updates on the project!

Ancestry Library Edition

With over 1.2 billion records in over 3,000 databases, Ancestry Library Edition is the most comprehensive online source of information for conducting genealogical and local history.
In library access only.


MyHeritage Library Edition

One of the largest, internationally diverse genealogy databases of its kind. It includes historical documents from over 48 countries, historical photos, and other resources that span the past five centuries.  Remote access only for Reading residents.



Historical issues of  The Reading Daily Times Chronicle and Reading Advocate are available on microfilm for public use. In addition, library staff have access to an obituary database from these two publications dating back to 1974.  Please contact the library for more information.

Other obituaries and death listings may be found at Legacy.com, and in the Boston Globe archives.

Additional Resources

Local Genealogy Resources : Annotated list of local repositories

Research Your Home: Quick guide on getting started.

Maps of Reading and Wakefield, MA: Historic maps courtesy of the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library.


Check out our digitized collections! These local collections are part of NOBLE Digital Heritage and Digital Commonwealth. The digitization of some of these collections was made possible by grants from the Reading Celebration Trust.


Don’t miss this old footage of Reading when the town went “Hollywood” for a 1935 Rotary Club fundraiser:


Through the services of the Boston Public Library’s Digitization Center, the Library now has a digital and cataloged collection of many Reading Town Reports and Reading Memorial High School yearbooks. Part of the Internet Archive, these items are easy to access and search.


Digitized from 1871-1890 and 1898-2008. Year 2009 to present are available on the Town of Reading Website.


The Pioneer is digitized from 1892 to the present (with some gaps).
Early 20th century Reading HS Senior Photos

"Our Town, Your Story"

Who is the Town of Reading? We are all ages, backgrounds, histories, and perspectives – we all have our own story. All of Reading was invited to bring in up to three of your physical or digital photos to be scanned or downloaded to the collection. Participants  also had the option to “tell the story” behind the photos on video, as well as receive advice on caring for family photos.

Our Town, Your Story,”  is a legacy that will preserve the culture and face of Reading today for those looking back from the future.

Highland School Celebration (2013)

In March 2013 teachers and students from the old Highland School returned to the library to share their experiences with us. Check out our 2013 Highland School Celebration playlist on YouTube to see what they had to say! Many of the visitors from this special day brought photographs and other memorabilia from their time at the Highland School. These unique images were scanned and added to the Highland School Celebration photo collection for all to see.

Mass Memories Roadshow (2009)

In October 2009 Reading Public Library was the first participant on the North Shore to have a Mass. Memories Roadshow: a state-wide project to document people, places, and events in Massachusetts through family photographs and stories. In 2009 it was an initiative of the Massachusetts Studies Project at UMass Boston, a joint project of the Joseph P. Healey Library and the Graduate College of Education at UMass Boston, and is cosponsored by Mass Humanities. We partnered with the Reading Historical Commission, the Reading Antiquarian Society, RCTV, and English-at-Large, and received a grant from Reading Celebration Trust’s Historical Preservation Fund.