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Cape Ann History

Cape Ann History

Gloucester Daily Times

The library's collection of the Gloucester Daily Times is now available digitally from June 1888 through August 1981 here. You can also see more current digital versions of the Gloucester Daily Times from 2009 through the current edition here.


Gloucester Timeline: An Interactive History

The Gloucester Timeline is a digital and interactive research tool that explores Gloucester's 400+ years of history. 

The Timeline provides: 

  • A compilation of key Gloucester events and notable personalities searchable through sixty-seven categories
  • A landing page linking people to historical assets held by different organizations throughout the community, including photos, videos, newspaper clippings, and primary source documents
  • A web-based platform that makes Gloucester's history accessible to a broad audience both locally and globally
  • A scaffold for future research to deepen and broaden our collective knowledge


Gloucester History Research Guides

These guides are intended to facilitate the study of various subjects relating to Gloucester History.

Local Literary Connections explores the many literary achievements associated with Cape Ann.


NOBLE Digital Heritage

NOBLE Digital Heritage, a project of the North of Boston Library Exchange, Inc. (NOBLE) and its member libraries, is a collection of resources documenting the rich social and cultural history of local communities. Digital Heritage allows patrons to search across the digital special collections of sixteen member libraries. The Sawyer Free Library has contributed the following collections to the digital initiative:

List of Vessels Belonging to the District of Gloucester, 1869-1908

Gloucester City Directories 1860-1993

Gloucester High School Yearbooks, 1923-2013

Gloucester Oral History Collection

Gloucester Postcard Collection

Gloucester Map Collection


Sawyer Free Library Portuguese American Collection at the UMass Lowell Portuguese American Digital Archive

Established in 2020, with a grant from the William M. Wood Foundation, UMass Lowell’s Portuguese American Digital Archive (PADA) collects and preserves a rich array of documents, photographs, motion pictures, sound recordings, oral histories, and many other resources associated with Portuguese immigrants and their descendants primarily in the Greater Boston Area.

Find the library's collection of Portuguese American digital materials here.


Genealogy Research

There are both in the library and online resources available. Find out more on our Genealogy Resources page.


Books Related to Cape Ann and Gloucester History

General History and Guide Books




Gloucester Fishermen and Fishing Industry


Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library


Poetry and Poets



Local History Collection
Our Local History Collection contains both materials about Gloucester and Cape Ann and written by and about Gloucester and Cape Ann authors. Subjects include local history, genealogy, biography, and some fiction. Materials are in the form of books, hand-printed items, maps, city documents and more. The collection is located in the Local History, and you are free to browse the materials and use them inside of the library. In some cases, duplicate materials are located on the Gloucester shelf and available for check out.

Of special note in the Local History Collection are the Charles Olson Collection, which contains materials by and about Charles Olson, a local poet, and the Sawyer Free Library Collection, which includes the library's historical records.


The Cape Ann Vertical Files
This collection, located in the Local History area, is a collection of file folders containing information about Gloucester and Cape Ann. It’s arranged by subject. The file is mostly made up of newspaper clippings from the Gloucester Daily Times, but there are also other sources of information. If you’re searching for Gloucester or Cape Ann subjects that don’t appear in books, the Cape Ann Vertical File is a good place to look. The files must be used in the library and articles may be photocopied.

Print a list of subjects available in the Vertical Files or ask the Local History Librarian.


Microfilm Collections
Our state-of-the-art microfilm scanner is located in the Local History area, and rolls of microfilm are stored in cabinets. Request specific rolls from the Local History Librarian, who can help you set up the machine.

Judith Sargent Murray Papers
This is a microfilm collection of indexed correspondence, essays and poems relating to Judith Sargent Murray, an 18th century Gloucester writer and advocate for women’s rights. 


Local Newspapers

Cape Ann Advertiser (weekly) (1857-1900)

Cape Ann Bulletin (weekly) (1/1833-12/1855, 9/1877-12/1882, 2/1886- 4/1887)

Cape Ann Evening Breeze (weekly) (8/29/1884-11/1901, missing May-August 1897)

Cape Ann Light & Gloucester Telegraph (weekly) (1/07/1843-12/31/1873, missing 1/5/1847-1/15/1856)

Cape Ann News (daily) (12/02/1901-12/31/1902)

Cape Ann Revolver (February & April 1867)

Christian Neighbor (11/07/1827)

Essex Register (1807-1820)

Gloucester Daily News (10/11/1848-11/1901)

Gloucester Daily Times (1888-present)

Gloucester Democrat (bi-weekly) (8/19/1834-2/17/1838)

The Gloucester News and Semi-Weekly Messenger (10/11/1848-8/30/1851)

Gloucester Telegraph (weekly) (12/29/1827-9/27/1876)

Impartial Register (1800-1801)

Ipswich Bulletin (10/12/1866-12/21/1866)

Jeffersonian Republic (10/15/1838-11/23/1838)

Salem Register (1802-1807)

Temperance Gleaner (6/1/1864)

Trumps (10/23/1867)

City of Gloucester Research Guides and Finding Aids

Compiled by the Gloucester Archive Committee and Archive Volunteers the Research Guides are intended to facilitate the study of various subjects relating to Gloucester History. Finding Aids are documents containing detailed information and narrative description of the contents of a specific collection of papers or records within an archive.

Research Guides at the Gloucester City Archives

Finding Aids at the Gloucester City Archives


Gloucester Historical Commission:

The mission of the Gloucester Historical Commission is to preserve and protect Gloucester's historical assets and develop public awareness and appreciation of Gloucester's historic resources.

Interested in a historic house plaque for your home or building? Hand-painted plaques, based on verified historical research, are now available through the Gloucester Historical Commission. Download a Historic House Plaque Application here, which provides information and instructions on how to obtain a plaque. for more information on researching the history of your home, set up an appointment with the local history librarian, Julie Travers, by emailing


Archival Collections at the Cape Ann Museum

Cape Ann Museum Archives houses both a library and a document/photographic archive that provides resources for the study of the industrial, social, maritime and art history of Cape Ann. An historical photographic collection is also available for purchase or research.

Finding Aids at the Cape Ann Museum.


Related Online Resources

American Antiquarian Society

The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) is a national research library of American history and culture through 1876.

Boston Public Library. Archival and Special Collections

BPL archives include personal papers, records of local businesses and organizations, and subject-based collections, as well as the library’s institutional records.

Boston Public Library. Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center

The Leventhal Map & Education Center cares for more than a quarter million cartographic and geographic objects, including maps, atlases, charts, globes, gazetteers, ephemera, research texts, and data sets.

Cape Ann Slavery & Abolition

The Cape Ann Slavery website is maintained by the Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust, a collaboration between the Gloucester Unitarian Universalist Church and the Unitarian Universalist Society of Rockport, and it aims to reveal the impacts of the history of slavery on the culture and economy of Cape Ann.

Digital Commonwealth 

Digital Commonwealth is a non-profit collaborative organization, founded in 2006, that provides resources and services to support the creation, management, and dissemination of cultural heritage materials held by Massachusetts libraries, museums, historical societies, and archives.

Digital Public Library of America 

DPLA make millions of materials from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions across the country available to all in a one-stop discovery experience.

Dogtown is a wooded area in Gloucester of about five square miles, or 3600 acres. From 1642 to fifty years after the Revolutionary War, the Commons Settlement flourished then disappeared, leaving behind the cellar holes of the houses as well boulders engraved with interesting messages. Artists, poets and many other visitors have found inspiration and enjoyment in the beauty and history of this unique place.

The Historical Marker Database
The Historical Marker Database (THMD) is a national database of signs and markers that designate historical sites across the United States. The database welcomes information and photos from the general public in order to update its collection.

Library of Congress: Digital Collections

Library of Congress has thousands of digital items availlable, all in the public domain.

Magnolia Historical Society
Magnolia Historical Society retains a collection of memorabilia from Magnolia’s rich past as a summer retreat for the wealthy and famous.

Maritime Gloucester
Maritime Gloucester is a working waterfront museum offering students and visitors hands-on educational experiences concerning marine science, maritime history and heritage, and environmental stewardship.

Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System
The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS) allows you to search the Massachusetts Historical Commission database for information on historic properties and areas in the Commonwealth.

Massachusetts Historical Society

Explore sets of digitized items organized around a common topic or a specific collection.

National Archives

Explore our nation's history through documents, photographs and records, including Military records and Veterans' service records.

Peabody Essex Museum Phillips Library

The Phillips Library Online Collections provide full access to a growing number of digitized items created from the Phillips Library Collection. These materials date from the 17th to the 20th century and include manuscripts, maritime journals, museum publications, ephemera, and photographs.

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