Archives Guide ~ City Council (0100)

Historical note

The City Charter (Chapter 121 of the Acts of 1821) established the form of government as a Mayor; a Board of Aldermen, consisting of eight elected at large; and a Common Council, of forty-eight elected by wards; to be called when conjoined, "the City Council.” The Mayor and Aldermen were vested with the administration of the police, and executive power of the corporation generally, with specific enumerated powers. All other powers belonging to the corporation were vested in the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council exercised by concurrent vote.

Powers related to the administration of the Police were transferred to the Board of Police Commissioners by Chapter 244 of the Acts of 1878. Chapter 266 of the Acts of 1885, an act to amend the charter of the City of Boston, transferred to the Mayor the power to appoint, subject to the approval of the Board of Aldermen, all officers and boards elected by the City Council or Board of Aldermen, and all offices that may be established in the future. All executive powers vested in the Board of Aldermen were transferred to the Mayor to be exercised through the several officers and boards of the City in their respective departments, under the general supervision and control of the Mayor.

Chapter 486 of the Acts of 1909 abolished the City Council and both branches thereof. The act established a City Council consisting of nine members elected at large. The City Council retained the power to approve ordinances and loan orders presented by the Mayor and the budget. All heads of departments and municipal boards, excluding the school committee and those appointed by law by the governor, would be appointed by the mayor without confirmation by the City Council.

Chapter 479 of the Acts of 1924 provided for the election of 22 City Councilors, one from each ward beginning with the biennial election in 1925. Chapter 356 of the Acts of 1951 provided for the election of 9 City Councilors at large.

Chapter 190 of the Acts of 1982 (Tregor Bill) made major changes to the financial operations of the City and to the budgetary powers of the Mayor and City Council. Chapter 605 of the Acts of 1982 provided for a City Council of thirteen members, one each from nine districts and three at large, effective with the preliminary election in September of 1983.



0100.001 Proceedings 1822-2002 478 volumes, 908 document cases and 283 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Proceedings of the Boston City Council from 1822-2002. Includes Board of Aldermen minutes and docket documents, 1822-1909; Common Council minutes and docket documents, 1822-1909; City Council minutes, 1910-1970; City Council published minutes, 1868-2002; and City Council docket documents, 1910-2001. Docket documents consist of all orders, petitions, reports, filings, etc. acted upon by the City Council.

Finding aid


0100.002 City Council meeting and hearing transcripts 1886-2009 150 record cartons, 77 videotape boxes and 1 document case

Scope and Contents note
Includes transcripts of select City Council Committee hearings, 1886-1937; transcripts of City Council debate and Committee hearings, 1947-1985; audio recordings of City Council hearings, 1972-1996; and video and DVD recordings of City Council meetings and hearings, 1996 September-2009 December.

Finding aid (A)
Finding aid (B)

0100.003 Boston City Documents 1784-1970 342 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Published series of documents ordered to be printed by the City Council. Includes departmental annual reports, committee reports, orders, ordinances, annual addresses, and other reports.


0100.004 Boston Municipal Registers 1834-1991 with gaps 133 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Initially published as a register of the City Council and list of officers. Over time, the Municipal Register has included charter and ordinances, joint rules of the City Council, list of schools, city departments, ward officers, list of members of preceding City Councils, annual orators, maps of the city, statistics of registration and voting, and portraits of the mayor and city council members. Includes volumes under the name "Rules and Orders of the Common Council" for 1834-1836 and 1839 and volumes under the name "Municipal Register" for 1844, 1846-1965, 1967-1981, and 1990-1991.


0100.005 Organization of the City Government of Boston 1880-2002 with gaps 80 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Pocket guides including the members of city government, department heads and rules and orders of the City Council. Includes guides for 1880-1882, 1888-1889, 1905, 1920, 1923-1927, 1929, 1931-1935, 1938, 1940-1948, 1950-1982, 1985-1993, 1996-1997, and 2000-2002.



0100.006 Memorials 1854-1909 44 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Memorial volumes ordered to be printed by the City Council. Includes memorials of prominent men, anniversary celebrations and dedications of buildings and monuments.



0100.007 Fourth of July Orations 1811-1950 with gaps 1 record carton and 3.5 pamphlet boxes

Scope and Contents note
Printed copies of Fourth of July Orations delivered at Faneuil Hall for the years 1811, 1821-1825, 1827, 1829, 1831, 1835, 1838-1842, 1844, 1846-1861, 1863, 1865, 1867-1886, 1888-1890, 1892-1905, 1941, and 1950. Also includes a resolution of thanks presented to Albert E. Pillsbury by the Boston City Council for the oration delivered on July 4, 1890.


0100.008 Research Office files 1975-1985 2 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Files relating to the issue of the conditions and relocation of the Charles Street Jail. This collection is unprocessed.


0100.009 Surveyor of Highways memorandum book 1822 May 18-1823 June 17 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
On 18 May 1822, Ephraim Marsh and Abram Babcock were appointed Surveyors Of Highways. The Surveyors of Highways were responsible for all requests concerning highways including paving, removal of trees, repairs of sidewalks etc. On 10 June 1823, the Massachusetts Legislature approved an act giving the City Council the power and authority of electing, if they see fit, the Mayor and Aldermen as Surveyors of Highways. On 18 June 1823, the City Council approved an order appointing the Mayor and Aldermen as Surveyors of Highways. Includes memorandum book documenting all matters acted upon by the Surveyors of Highways from 18 May 1822-17 June 1823.



0100.010 Board of Land Commissioners proceedings 1860, 1863-1864 2 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Ordinance passed December 26, 1856, amended December 28, 1857 and May 8, 1861, established a Board of Land Commissioners which was responsible for the care and management of public lands belonging to the City of Boston so far as it related to improvements, sales and disposal of the same. The Joint Committee of the City Council along with one alderman and one common councilor chosen in November and December to serve for the following two years constituted the Board of Land Commissioners. The Board of Land Commissioners was abolished by ordinance passed May 3, 1864. Care and management reverted back to the Joint Committee on Public Lands of the City Council. Includes minutes of the Board of Land Commissioners, April 6-December 23, 1860 and January 21, 1863-May 4, 1864. The first few pages of the 1860 volume are missing.



0100.011 Common Council badge 1884 1 item

Scope and Contents note
Badges were issued to members of the Common Council. Includes badge of Lyman H. Bigelow who served on the Common Council in 1884.


0100.012 United States Census 1830 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
United States Census of Boston presented to the City Council to be kept for public inspection in the City Council room.



0100.013 Photographs 1896, 1925 1 album and 1 framed portrait

Scope and Contents note
Photograph album documenting city boundary perambulation of 1896 by the City Council and framed portrait of members of the City Council of 1925.

Finding aid



0100.014 Franklin Fund records 1791-1902 8 volumes and 1 document case

Scope and Contents note
Includes proceedings of the Trustees of the Franklin Fund, 1791-1866, 1893-1895, and 1898-1902; financial records, 1791-1898; and publications relating to the fund.

Finding aid


0120.001 City Councilor Lawrence S. DiCara records 1972-1981 41 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Lawrence S. DiCara served as a City Councilor from 1972-1981. He served as President of the Council in 1978. Includes subject files, reports, correspondence, etc. This collection is unprocessed.


0120.002 City Councilor Brian J. McLaughlin records 1984-1995 12 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Brian J. McLaughlin served as City Councilor for District 9: Allston-Brighton from 1984-1995. Includes subject files, reports, correspondence, etc. This collection is unprocessed.



0140.001 City Council Committee records circa 1828-1912 (Bulk, 1860-1895) 250 volumes, 24 record cartons, 5 oversized boxes and 1 document case

Scope and Contents note
Includes summary minutes of committee meetings and hearings recorded by the Clerk of Committees, committee dockets and committee docket documents. Committees represented include Committee on Streets, Committee on Claims, Committee on Celebrations, Committee on Public Instruction, Committee on Back Bay Lands, Committee on Police, Committee on Finance, Committee on the Harbor, Committee on Ordinances, Committee on Bathing, etc.

Finding aid



0140.010 Committee on the Extension of Faneuil Hall Market records 1823-1828 (Bulk, 1824-1826) 2 document cases

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Committee on the Extension of Faneuil Hall Market. Includes proceedings, account book, correspondence, reports, certificates of stock, proposals, agreements, notes and applications relating to the purchase of estates and construction of the market. Also
included are applications for rental of the new stalls.

Finding aid


0140.011 Committee on Alien Passengers records 1847-1848 3 document cases

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Joint Committee on Alien Passengers, 1847-1848. Includes minutes, petitions and memorials, Inspector of Alien Passengers correspondence and reports, and Deer Island Hospital administrative records.

Finding aid


0140.012 Committees on the Army and Navy Monument records 1866, 1870-1871, 1877 2 document cases, 1 card file box and 1 flat box

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Committees on the Army and Navy Monument from 1866, 1870-1871 and 1877. In 1866, a committee was formed to procure designs and select a site for the monument. In 1870, a second committee was created to obtain designs for the monument. In 1871, a committee was created to organize the celebration of the laying of the cornerstone of the monument. In 1877, a committee was created to organize the celebration of the dedication of the monument. Includes committee papers, correspondence, invitations, tickets, plans and badges.

Finding aid


0140.013 Committees on Public Celebrations records 1859-1896 2 record cartons, 12 document cases and 1 card file box

Scope and Contents note

Records of committees appointed to oversee public celebrations for primarily the Fourth of July but also including Bunker Hill Day, Patriots' Day, Labor Day, Eulogies, etc. Includes correspondence, applications, programs, tickets, entertainment applications, etc.



0140.014 Committee on the Fire Department records 1820-1841 19 document cases

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Board of Fire Wards and the City Council Committee on the Fire Department. Includes returns of members of fire companies, correspondence, reports and sundry papers relating to fire companies, houses, etc.

Finding aid



0140.020 Correspondence relating to the Sale of Eastern Township Land owned by City of Boston in Maine 1829-1833 2 folders

Scope and Contents note
Primarily composed of correspondence from Hill & Starrett to Mayor Harrison Gray Otis and Francis Jackson, Land Commissioner. Also includes offers or inquiries from various persons interested in purchasing the property.



0140.021 Committee on the House of Industry records 1822-1826 4 folders

Scope and Contents note
Includes reports from the Directors of the House of Industry to the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council covering such items as property inventories, statements of receipts and expenditures, and tallies of inmates accepted and discharged and reports from the Joint Committee of the City Council on the House of Industry. A copy of the legislation granting authority to the Directors of the House of Industry is also included.


0140.022 Committee on Establishing a City Hospital records 1849-1850 6 folders

Scope and Contents note
Records of the Joint Committee on Establishing a City Hospital created in 1849. The Committee voted in early October of 1849 to address an inquiry on the topic to specific physicians and in 1850 to address the Massachusetts Medical Society. Includes notes, minutes, reports and orders of the Committee and responses to the Committee's inquiry.



0140.023 Quarantine Committee reports from keeper of Rainsford Island 1822 January-November 2 folders

Scope and Contents note
Includes reports regarding maintenance concerns such as painting and repairs and reports of the arrival of sailing ships (mostly brigs, but also schooners and sloops). The name and captain of each is recorded along with the port of embarkation, number of days in passage, list of cargo and to whom it is consigned. Any sicknesses or deaths are noted, and passengers are listed.



0140.024 Committees on the Washington Statue records 1859-1870 6 folders

Scope and Contents note
Washington Statue Committee records include contracts, insurance certificates, bills and receipts, correspondence, and proposals concerning the fabrication, erection and dedication of the statue. Washington Statue Fair records include bills, statements, insurance policy, and counterfeit or broken bank notes from the fundraising event held in November 1859.



0140.025 Report of the Superintendent of the Boston Lunatic Hospital and Physician of the Public Institutions at South Boston 1841 July 1 1 folder

Scope and Contents note
Report of the Physician of the Boston Lunatic Hospital covering the period from 1 July 1840 to 30 June 1841. The report includes admissions and discharges, the patients' ages occupations and marital status, and the duration and causes of their insanity. Separate tables provide admission and discharge statistics for diseases suffered by patients of the House of Industry hospital and the House of Corrections hospital.


0140.026 City Council Committee on Water records relating to Spot Pond 1845 2 folders

Scope and Contents note
Includes records of the Water Committee during its consideration in 1845 of Spot Pond as a source of pure water for the City of Boston. In addition to motions and minutes, it contains correspondence about measuring the water at Spot Pond, citizen resolutions in favor of the introduction of pure water, and petitions in support of the Spot Pond Aqueduct Project.



0140.027 South Boston Memorial 1847 1 folder

Scope and Contents note
In 1847, a public meeting was held by the inhabitants of ward 12 to discuss the needs of the district and the neglect of the city government to properly attend to the needs. At the meeting it was decided to memorialize the city government. A committee of representative and influential citizens was appointed to draw up the memorial and was instructed to emphasize the many needs of the district and the importance of that section to the city of Boston. Includes the memorial presented to the City Council by Isaac Adams et al.



0140.028 Committee on Building a New Courthouse records 1834-1835 2 folders

Scope and Contents note
Committee correspondence, reports and papers concerning the construction of a new Courthouse. Includes correspondence from Architect Alexander Parris.



0140.030 Committee on Urban Renewal records 1950-1986 13 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Urban renewal plans and applications referred to the City Council on Urban Renewal. Includes Government Center, West End, Charlestown, Campus High, Downtown-Waterfront-Faneuil Hall, Central Business District and others.



0140.031 City Council Committee records (2) 1986-2008 24 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
Includes files of the following committees: Government Operations; Education; Public Safety; Information Technology; Environment and Historic Preservation; Hunger and Homelessness; Whole; Residency; Youth Violent Crime Prevention; University and Community Relations; New Bostonians; Human Rights; Housing; Economic Development and Planning; and other miscellaneous committees.