The Reference Department at the Richards Memorial Library receives frequent requests for information on the history of the town and particular buildings in it. Questions such as who were the previous owners and what they did for a living can sometimes be found in our collection of local history books. Other patrons are interested in tracing family history or historical events of the area. Alas, not all questions are easy (or even possible) to answer, but we do have a number of sources that can be used with fairly good expectation of success. One good source of information is the Fall Fire Barn Museum. Also look at the North Attleboro Historical Commission website.
Two good, popular histories of the town are available at the library. The first, North Attleboro, An Affectionate History, by Richard Sherman, was written during the bicentennial year of 1976, and the second, North Attleboro "Then and Now", by Michael Kirby and Lawrence Kubilus, was written for the centennial of the town's incorporation in 1987. Both of these volumes cover the early settlement of the area, but deal more with the development of the immediate social, political and economic history of North Attleborough since its inception as a town in its own right in 1887. While the bound editions of these books are now out-of-print and do not circulate, the Library does have copies in three-ring binders which are available for patrons to check out. Neither is currently indexed. A more recent addition to the popular history is the Image of America series book on North Attleborough written in 1998.
For an earlier history of the area, patrons should ask for A Sketch of the History of Attleborough From Its Settlement to the Division, by John Daggett, published in 1894. This starts with the incorporation of Rehoboth (meaning "ample room" in Hebrew) and continues through the subsequent political parings that led to the familiar map of Bristol County today. This is now on-line as a scanned book. Google Books has access.
Information about the King Philip War is available in several books. One particular battle, Nine-Men Misery in Cumberland, RI, is described at the Bucklin Society site.
The Attleboro Vital Records book to 1849 is available in the library and as a scanned document at http://www.rays-place.com/town/ma/attleb/
The tercentenary of the state was commemorated in North Attleborough with the publication of North Attleborough, Massachusetts 1628 to 1930. This volume briefly covers the history of the jewelry and button industry that was for so long the bread-and-butter of the town, followed by a fairly comprehensive survey of the public buildings of the town as well as the houses of prominent citizens. Like the three previous titles, this volume is illustrated, often showing buildings that have subsequently been altered or are no longer extant.
The New England Magazine in 1984 had a good article with pictures of Rehoboth and Attleboro (including North Attleboro.)
A lively and detailed history of the Richards Memorial Library, A Centennial Celebration 1894-1994, was written by Elizabeth Mansfield, then a Library Trustee, in celebration of the Library's centennial anniversary in 1994. Copies of this informative work are available.
Self-Directed Walking Tour Guides and Online Slideshow
Ann Chapdelaine of the Historical Commission has written two works that are also in our collection. Designed as self-directed walking tour guides, Architectural Jewels #1 focuses on the houses of South Washington Street and Architectural Jewels #2 on the houses along High Street between Broadway and Broad Street. Again, copies are available for check out.
Oscar Wilde has become popular in recent times with several of his plays being made into movies. Did you know that North Attleboro was one of the stops on Oscar Wilde's America tour? Click here to read the articles about his visit from the 1882 Attleboro Chronicle.
NEW: We recently acquired the microfilm of several years of local City Directories: 1883-1895, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1903, 1905, 1907, 1991, 1921-28, 1937-1942, 1944 and 1946. These can be read on our microfilm reader and pages can be printed out. The library is also fortunate to have many of the printed City Directories for the Attleboro - North Attleborough-Plainville area from 1912 to the present. These directories are useful because they give a cross reference of people to their addresses and usually listed occupations. While there was not a directory produced for every year (during the recent economic downtown of 1990-1994 for example), any that were produced are available. There are also the Persons Listed volumes produced by the Board of Elections every year. Our collection of these runs back to 1941.
The First Congregational Church has a website detailing its history as the first Congregational church in the area.
Library of Congress has some pictures of historical houses in the area.
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at BPL: O.H. Bailey & Co. 1891
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at BPL: O.H. Bailey & Co. 1878
Also look at the AtoZ Maps Online database's Antique Maps section on our home page. (North Attleboro library card holders only.)
Birth, marriage and death records are just a short walk away in the Town Clerk's office (43 S. Washington St.), and land deeds and probate records are available at the Bristol County Courthouse on Court Street in Taunton (508-823-6588). Another good source of family information are the US Census records at the US Census Center in Waltham, Massachusetts.
The Pace Genealogical Collection, at the Boyden Public Library in Foxboro (508-543-1245), is a new resource available for researching the history of local families. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) maintain extensive genealogical records at their headquarters in Utah, but the church in Franklin -- 91 Jordan Street, (508-553-0977) -- has a Family History Center with a computer link the public is able to use. Please call ahead for information and hours. Programs available at the Center are open to the public and are often posted on the library bulletin board.
For involved genealogical searches, we recommend that people use two of the best resources in the country that are both within an hour of the library: The New England Historic Genealogical Society Research Library at 101 Newbury Street in Boston (617-536-5740) and The Rhode Island Historical Society Library at 121 Hope Street in Providence (401-331-8575) are well respected and have superlative collections of research materials for family history.
In Woonsocket, RI, the American French Genealogical Society (78 Earle St.; 401-765-6141) has copies of Canadian parish records not otherwise found in the United States.
The Massachusetts State Archives at Columbia Point in Dorchester has the accumulated past records of inmates in jails and asylums. It also has immigration records for East Coast ports north of Philadelphia from Colonial Times to the present.
Also try these websites:
We have recently been given the first ten Annual Reports for North Attleboro. There is fascinating information in these fragile volumes including lists of possible jury lists, school curriculum, marriages, births and deaths.
Genealogy researchers will want to know that the long out-of-print 9 volume "Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War" is now available at Richards Memorial Library on CD-Rom format for reference use.
The set of books ran to over 7,400 pages containing a listing of all participants from the Commonwealth including name, rank, residence, age, occupation, enlistment date, service record and discharge date. While the small computer disc take sup less space it does require a machine to use so the library encourages you to come in and take advantage of the resource. The books were compiled by the adjutant general of the state in l931.
In hard copy a similar series on the revolutionary war is available though some volumes were lost when the library last returned to Washington St. after the renovations a decade ago.