Digital Oak Bluffs Archives

Are you looking for a birth or marriage certificate?

Contact the Oak Bluffs Town Clerk for all Oak Bluffs births, including births at the hospital. Other vital town records may also be requested. See their website for service details. Please call or email Colleen Morris :  or 508-693-3554, ext. 120.

Historical Guides: Downloadable guides include links to other resources and source summary information.

  • Library of Congress Digital Archives: List includes 19th century Sanborn Insurance Fire maps, images, and a book. Useful for zoning, remodeling, and historic architectural accuracy LOC archives
  • Martha’s Vineyard Commission: Maps and statistics – current and historical MV Commission resources
  • Martha’s Vineyard Museum: Oral histories, including some topical interviews on African American history and culture on the island MV Museum Oral Histories
  • Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Archives: Yearbooks, high school newspaper and senior presentations MVRHS Archives
  • Martha’s Vineyard Times: Then & Now Series, collated by Chris Baer. Includes articles and photographs about a variety of historical topics from visitors to tragedies to businesses. Don’t miss this ten page guide! MV Times-this was then
  • Photographs of Oak Bluffs from Historical Records of Dukes County. Please see the website link below for the full scope of the website. This guide offers specific links to Oak Bluffs photographs.
  • Vineyard Gazette’s Time Machine–Digitized articles from their archives, the articles outlined in this guide are specific to Oak Bluffs history and organized by topic. Access to Time Machine guide.

Websites that include Vineyard specific content.

  • The Wampanoag Tribe are the original people of the Island of Noepe, now known as Martha’s Vineyard. Read about the history of Noepe, the traditions and practices of the Wampanoag people, and their centuries of advocacy to be recognized and respected by local, state and national governments. Visit their official website. 
  • The Legend of Moshup Education Guide from MV Museum, read about the Wampanoag creation legend.
  • Historical Records of Duke’s County MA– a crowd sourced website with areas overseen by both the MV Museum and Chris Baer, local teacher and MV history researcher. Edits and public inquiries welcomed.
  • Our Portuguese Heritage Project of Martha’s Vineyard- This linked website is a locally organized crowd-sourced genealogy database. Not all information is up-to-date, but it does include a number of good resources and uploaded documents, as well as references to books available at the library.
  • Dukes County Registry of Deeds. Please call the office to schedule an appointment. Few local documents are digitized. Information about the office and any digitized content can be found here:
  • Dukes County Probate and Family Court. Please call the office to schedule an appointment. Many local documents aren’t digitized, or require onsite access. Information about the courthouse and contact details can be found here:
  • Martha’s Vineyard Museum Quarterly (MVMQ August 2021 issue). Featuring two Oak Bluffs stories of significance; The First Cottagers of Color in Oak Bluffs and the Beginnings of Illumination Night.

National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC)

An introduction to the historical significance of African Americans in Oak Bluffs. Curator Kevin Strait of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture shares a special behind-the-scenes view into The Power of Place exhibit: Oak Bluffs and the Shearer Theater. Covered in the video are the histories of the African American community and architecture, the vacation destination, as well as the Shearer Summer Theater.

African American Heritage Trail Resources and Projects

African Heritage Trail Website

Read about the people honored at each site on the Trail and access up-to-date information on plaque dedications, tour availability, and contact details.

African American histories of Martha’s Vineyard

Explore this resource from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Library that links to articles, primary sources, student projects, and contemporary tours of African American Heritage on Martha’s Vineyard.

Looking for information about a historical property in Massachusetts or directories?

MACRIS (Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System) A free database offered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Please read instructions carefully for searching guidelines.

From the Massachusetts’ document retrieval website, A Guide to Massachusetts Streets and Residential city directories :

Digital Public Library of America and Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth

General research sites comprised of various digitization initiatives from the nation and commonwealth. All resources are free and open to the public, browse or search collections.

Digital Pubic Library

Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth

Digital access to more resources through Boston Public Library e-card

Can’t find what you are looking for? Massachusetts residents can sign up for an e-card at BPL. They offer expanded digital resources for state residents. *Not all items are available remotely.

Historical Newspaper Guide at Boston Public Library

2020 Special : Covid-19 Chronicles of Vineyard workers.

  • Read this ongoing series of feature articles by the Vineyard Gazette featuring those still working to keep the community going. One of the projects the library was able to do during the Covid-19 lockdown was to enhance this page. (Oak Bluffs Library’s Reference Librarian, Nina Ferry is featured in the April 15th, 2020 newspaper.) Community Heroes Keep Society Functioning.
  • Reference Librarian, Nina Ferry, reading to her son Oliver, while working from home during Covid-19

For more information about the island’s history and library resources 

If you would like more information on a specific topic or help with any of these resources, please contact us. Due to Covid-19, the library is offering limited in-person research appointments, but we are happy to help remotely if we can. You can also come into the library and conduct independent research or checkout circulating books any day we are open, Tues- Sat.

Library Staff

Reference Librarian- Nina E. Ferry Montanile