Local History

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.

Popular Histories

Two good, popular histories of the town are available at the library. The first, North Attleboro, An Affectionate History, by Richard Shermanwas written during the bicentennial year of 1976, and the second, North Attleboro "Then and Now", by Michael Kirby and Lawrence Kubiluswas 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.

Early History

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 Daggettpublished 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

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 Mansfieldthen a Library Trustee, in celebration of the Library's centennial anniversary in 1994. See below.

We have turned the Attleboro and North Attleboro sections of History of Massachusetts Industries: Their Inception, Growth and Success by Orra L. Stone (1930) into pdf format. See the bottom of the page.

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.

Newspapers

For patrons interested in doing original research, the library has  a nearly complete run of theChronicle, Sun, and Sun Chronicle back to the turn of the century. There is also a partial run of The Free Press on microfilm.

City Records

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.

Burial Grounds of the area are listed at this website.

Historical Maps