Library: Library Collections
The Thwing Index is an electronic database containing information on more than 60,000 individuals and 30 organizations (churches and charities) in Boston between 1630 and 1799. The electronic records are based on the work of Annie Haven Thwing (1851-1940), who created a card index of the city's early inhabitants while researching her topographical study of 17th- and 18th-century Boston, The Crooked and Narrow Streets of Boston. While the Thwing card catalog was only an alphabetical name index, the computer database allows researchers to search by date, occupation, address, and other information contained in the brief records. The database is available to researchers who visit the MHS and for purchase on CD-ROM. To purchase a copy, contact the New England Historic Genealogical Society at and ask for Inhabitants and Estates of the Town of Boston, 1630-1800.
Boston African-American Database
The Boston African-American Database (BAAD), a subset of the Thwing Index, makes available 4,854 descriptions of African American or mixed race individuals in a separate index. Records drawn from the original Thwing Index have been supplemented with data from almshouse and church records and from newspaper accounts, such as runaway slave advertisements. Like its parent database, BAAD covers the years from 1630 to 1799.
The Diary Database
Printouts from a Diary Database are available in the MHS reading room. You may read more about this database at How to Search the Manuscript Holdings.
For Further Information
Researchers who have questions about research strategies or specific manuscript holdings should send their questions through the Ask a Reference Question page or contact the reference librarian.