Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen records, 1704-1924 (inclusive), 1760-1924 (bulk).
(Mixed Material)

Book Cover
Published
, 1704-1924.
Physical Desc
2.4 cubic feet ( 2 legal document boxes, 3 letter document boxes, 1 half legal document box)
Status

Copies

LocationCall NumberStatusLink
Watertown - SpecialTW011 Box 1 LOC CAB # 2ELibrary Use Only Some materials also available online
Watertown - SpecialTW011 Box 2 LOC CAB # 2ELibrary Use Only Some materials also available online
Watertown - SpecialTW011 Box 3 LOC CAB # 2CLibrary Use Only Some materials also available online
Watertown - SpecialTW011 Box 4 LOC CAB # 2CLibrary Use Only Some materials also available online
Watertown - SpecialTW011 Box 5 LOC CAB # 1CLibrary Use Only Some materials also available online
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More Details

Published
, 1704-1924.
Format
Mixed Material
Language
English

Notes

Organization & arrangement of materials
Series I. Town meeting minutes and warrants, 1704-1874 (inclusive) Series II. Notes and communications, 1737-1924 (inclusive) Series III. Militia records, 1764-1859 (inclusive).
Restrictions on Access
Collection is open for use in the Local History Room, Watertown Free Public Library. Please contact Reference Staff for access.
Description
This collection consists of minutes, warrants, reports, notices, petitions, certificates, and receipts documenting the business of the Board of Selectmen. Records are heavily mixed in type and topic, representing the broad and varied range of activities in which Selectmen were involved.
Description
Series I. Town meeting minutes and warrants, 1704-1874 (inclusive) consists of town meeting minutes, town warrants and petitions, and related documents. Record types are heavily mixed, though Box 1 contains more meeting minutes than warrants, and Box 2 contains more warrants than minutes. This series also contains correspondence relating to Watertown poor (including notices from other towns and decisions regarding guardian competency), records of a committee for building a hook and ladder house, a fire engineers salary list (1857), lists if innholders and retailers (1784, 1801), public work records (including burying ground regulations and rail and highway petitions), records of the committee on by-laws concerning truant children, documents relating to town boundaries (including Cambridge, Belmont, and Newton), town officer lists and department reports, and legal notices for John Daily (1857), Henry Price (1858), Willis Kinsman (1858), Henry Christina (1859), Amos Holbrook (1859), A.D. Drew (1859), William Webster (1860), Marcelus Wishart (1859), Morana Farrell (1865), and Benjamin Dara (1867).
Description
Series II. Notes and communications, 1737-1812, 1857-1858, 1919-1924 (inclusive) contains Selectmen correspondence and related documents. Eighteen-century records primarily consist of notices to selectmen from town residents (regarding non-residents they have received into their homes, or submitting petitions for warrants or meetings), from other towns (regarding Watertown residents, perambulations, or state or national issues), or from other town officials. There are also letters to the Selectmen attempting to trace a man named Moses Bigelow, who may have lived in town in the mid-1700s. All twentieth-century notes and correspondence has been filed alphabetically by correspondent. This includes letters to Selectmen and copies of letters from Selectmen. Letters include citizen petitions and complaints; public works proposals, reports, and maps; firearm, pool hall, and taxi license or permit applications with reviewer comments; notices from state offices, including state aid payrolls and returns; schedules of bills approved by the selectmen; requests for pensions, workers' compensation, or miscellaneous aid, and contractor notices.
Description
Series III. Militia records, 1764-1859 contains records relating to the raising and training of a militia, military supplies, and local travel. It includes "affidavits to exemption from militia of Stephen Minot, keeper of grist mill," certificates of men under the command of Joseph Pierce (1809), and lists of enrolled militia for the years 1856, 1857, 1858, and 1859. There are also several loose records of payment for supplies (e.g. cartridges, clothing, powder) or reimbursement "for attending a county meeting at Concord."
Preferred Citation of Described Materials
Please use the following when citing materials from this collection: Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen's records, TW011, Watertown Free Public Library, Watertown, Mass.
Biographical or Historical Data
The Board of Selectmen served as the executive governing body of the Town of Watertown. The Selectmen supervised matters affecting the general interest and welfare of the Town and its inhabitants. They had the power to make town appointments, oversee town funds and expenditures, and prepare and issue town meeting warrants. Watertown inhabitants chose their first Board of Selectmen in 1634, though the term did not see use locally for another decade. The Selectmen were elected annually to manage town affairs. In these early days, Selectmen handled nearly all aspects of local government, including everything from financial administration to commons management and livestock regulation. Even as the government grew to include a Treasurer, Field Drivers, Surveyors of Highways, Assessors, and other officials, Selectman maintained ultimate responsibility for local government. Two essential purposes of local government were to construct and maintain public thoroughfares and to care for local poor; Selectmen were deeply involved in both well into the nineteenth century. Through the years, they occasionally doubled as Surveyors of Highways or Overseers of the Poor. Selectmen also oversaw the administration of public education until the establishment of a local School Committee in 1766 and oversaw special committees. The first Board of Selectmen in 1634 consisted of three men. Then from 1636 to 1639, eleven Selectmen sat on the Board. This number rose to twelve, dropped to nine in 1642, then to seven until around 1700, then four or five. In the 1800s, the number dropped back down to three. Except for the variance in number of Selectmen, the Board's role changed very little over the decades and centuries. Through the population boom and parallel growth in local bureaucracy, the Board of Selectmen exercised "a general supervision" over town affairs. In 1919, Watertown replaced the open town meetings with limited town meetings, which were open to elected representatives (rather than the general public). But by the 1950s, even this form of town government was increasingly criticized as cumbersome and impractical. In 1979, a charter commission proposed adoption of a city form of government, which replaced the Selectmen and open town meeting with an elected town council and appointed town manager in 1981.
Cumulative Index/Finding Aids
Finding aid available on the Watertown Free Public Library website.

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Citations

APA Citation, 7th Edition (style guide)

Watertown (Mass.). Board of Selectmen. (17041924). Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen records .

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Watertown (Mass.). Board of Selectmen. 17041924. Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen Records. .

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities (Notes and Bibliography) Citation, 17th Edition (style guide)

Watertown (Mass.). Board of Selectmen. Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen Records , 17041924.

MLA Citation, 9th Edition (style guide)

Watertown (Mass.). Board of Selectmen. Town of Watertown Board of Selectmen Records 17041924.

Note! Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy. Citation formats are based on standards as of August 2021.

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