Learn about Massachusetts's history and available records in this research guide that includes a map and bibliography.
Massachusetts is one of the earliest US settlements, but it was actually two separate colonies for most of the 17th century. Plymouth Colony was founded by Pilgrims in 1620, and it eventually expanded to include Plymouth, Barnstable and Bristol counties. Reverend John White and his New England Co. arrived at Cape Ann in 1628 and established the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which consisted of the towns north of the Merrimack River, plus New Hampshire and Suffolk Counties. In 1691, a charter united the two colonies and added parts of Maine and Nova Scotia. Those following religions different from the original settlers left voluntarily or were banished to other parts of New England.