Northampton 1875
Map of Northampton, 1875. From the Hampshire Room for Local History.

Forbes Library maintains a sizable local history collection covering Northampton and Hampshire County, Massachusetts.

Physical collections | Virtual collections | Videos | Finding Aids

Please also refer to online resources for studying local history.

Collections in the Library

The Hampshire Room for Local History
The Hampshire Room houses extensive resources in local history and genealogy. Highlights include account books and town papers, maps, manuscripts, the Judd Manuscript, rare books, and Seth Pomeroy’s Journal.  The Hampshire Room is staffed by local history librarians knowledgeable about the history of Northampton and the surrounding area. It is open limited hours, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
Newspapers and other materials on microfilm
Our microfilm collection includes local church, town, and school records, the Judd Manuscript (Sylvester Judd’s invaluable compilation of documents of local interest), and local newspapers including the entire run of the Daily Hampshire Gazette on microfilm since its inception in 1786. The microfilm collection can be found in the reference room and is available whenever the library is open.
Local photographs, engravings, prints, and other visual materials
The Special Collections Room contains thousands of images documenting the history of Northampton, Florence and Leeds, including images of farms, factories, shops, schools, houses, and local residents both well known and anonymous. Subcollections include the Elbridge Kingsley, Robert Emrick and Walter Corbin Collections, and the negatives from Daily Hampshire Gazette photographers between 1954-2004.
The Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum
The CCPLM collects, preserves and makes available for research materials documenting the public and private life of Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States.

Digital and Online Collections

Online Special Collections Portal
Starting in 2022, we transitioned to the Argus Collection Management System. This portal allows you to search over 14,000 items from the library’s special collections which have been digitized, as well as born-digital materials documenting more recent events and places. It also includes images of the library’s Fine Arts collection, on display in the building.
Northampton Community Web Archive
The Forbes Library was one of a few public libraries chosen nationwide for the Community Webs cohort, a group organized by the Internet Archive and funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to expand web archiving in local history collections. Our community web archives online content produced by and about Northampton people and organizations, preserving today’s cultural heritage for the future. For a good introduction read: “Make It Weird”: Building a collaborative public library web archive in an arts and counterculture community
The Sylvester Judd Manuscript
The Judd Manuscript Collection consists of 70 bound volumes of handwritten accounts and transcriptions of documents, letters, court records, and diaries created by newspaper editor and local historian Sylvester Judd. Judd compiled tens of thousands of pages of information gathered from archival material and oral histories, documenting New England history from the 1650s – 1840s. 
Images from the Archives and Virtual Exhibits (pre-2022)
Images From the Archives contains a portion of the library’s digital special collection materials. It also includes virtual exhibits and selected items from the Northampton image collection, Robert Emrick and Walter Corbin Collections, Civil War collection, the Gregory Wilson Northampton Area Vintage Postcards/Trade Cards Collection, the Daily Hampshire Gazette negatives from 1954-2004, and many others. Most of the included images are now in the Online Special Collections Portal as well (2023).
Midnight to Midnight: Northampton’s self-portrait in 48 hours
Historic Northampton, in collaboration with the Northampton Camera Club and Forbes Library, invited the people of Northampton to photograph the city—its people, places and events—for two days in 2014: Friday, May 2nd and Saturday, May 3rd.

Selected videos made with Forbes Local History resources