Special Collections

Welcome to the Haverhill Public Library Special Collections!

What is Special Collections?

Special Collections is an area of the library located on the 3rd floor, dedicated to local history and genealogy.

Quick Links

Special Collections Online Catalog (Coming Soon!) Online Resources

Haverhill Public Library Exhibition Hall c. 1911

Interior of Haverhill Public Library, Bradford Branch c.1938

Haverhill Public Library Circulation Room c. 1911


Wednesdays and Thursdays
10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm
Please note the Whittier Collection is made available by appointment only.

Contact Information

978-373-1586 ext. 642

What is in Special Collections? [top]

Special Collections is primarily composed of three collections: the Haverhill Collection, the Pecker Collection, and the Whittier Collection.

Haverhill Collection

The Haverhill Collection contains photographs, newspaper clippings, city directories, cemetery records, yearbooks, pamphlets, manuscripts, and other materials regarding the history of Haverhill.

Pecker Collection

The Pecker Collection contains volumes related to the genealogy of New England families and the histories of New England towns and cities.

Whittier Collection

The Whittier Collection contains books, manuscripts, and photographs of the Quaker poet, with biographies about Whittier as well as works of literary criticism. In addition, there are books on Quaker history and Quaker authors, as well as biographies of contemporary 19th-century writers and anti-slavery crusaders.

Finding Aids

Special Collections has processed multiple archival collections from the Haverhill Collection and developed finding aids in order to help researchers better determine if a collection is relevant to their research. Below you will find PDF finding aids containing information about the specified collections as well as detailed information about the material in the collection.

Coming Soon!


Researching in Special Collections [top]

The Haverhill Public Library Special Collections is available to all researchers. Special Collections has established policies to protect the library and to ensure the preservation and longevity of the materials, and such policies apply equally to all persons. Researchers may access all materials which are not restricted by law or donor agreement. Unprocessed materials, and materials which are so fragile that they may be damaged by further use, may also be restricted. Duplicate copies, such as photocopies or microfilm, may be substituted for originals if the original material is deemed too fragile for use.

Special Collections materials are provided for use by researchers for private study and research only.  Permission to publish, reproduce, distribute, sell, or display materials should be requested by filling out a Permission to Use Materials form. Permission of the copyright owner should also be obtained, if not owned by Haverhill Public Library. Researchers may begin their research immediately but must wait for approval before making copies of the materials.

All researchers must check in with the librarian in Special Collections when they arrive before they can begin their research. Researchers are required to fill out a researcher registration form and to sign a copy of the researcher usage polices. Please find a copy of the researcher usage polices below for your referral. To protect the historic materials, which are fragile, unique, and irreplaceable, Special Collection materials may only be used in the Special Collections Reading Room under the supervision of staff during Special Collection hours.

Researcher Usage Policies

If you have any questions about these polices or any other procedures please contact Special Collections.


Services in Special Collections [top]

Obituary Searches

Library staff can perform an obituary search in the local newspaper if provided a name and an exact date of death. Special Collections has a standard charge of $10 for obituary searches. This charge includes up to 10 pages of copies. If the number of copies exceeds 10 pages additional charges will apply. Please contact the librarian either by phone or e-mail to submit a request for an obituary.

Research Requests

Library staff can perform basic research and attempt to answer simple reference questions. Due to limited hours and staff, we are unable to provide any in-depth research. The library defines in-depth research as research that would take longer than 30 minutes to complete. Special Collections has a standard charge of $10 for research requests. This charge includes up to 10 pages of copies. If the number of copies exceeds 10 pages additional charges will apply. Please contact the librarian either by phone or by e-mail to submit a research question.


Online Resources [top]

Library Resources

Ancestry: Library Edition [ from library only ]
HeritageQuest Online [ from home ]
Massachusetts History Online [ from library only]
New England Historic Genealogical Society (American Ancestors) [ from library only ]
New England Quarterly [ from library only ]

Free Resources

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database
Cyndi’s List
Family Search
Find a Grave
History of Massachusetts
Internet Archive
Library of Congress: Chronicling America (Does not include digitized Haverhill newspapers at this time)
Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections Directory
Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System

Locations of Genealogical Sources

Massachusetts Registry of Vital Records & Statistics
Massachusetts State Archives
National Archives at Boston, MA
Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds

Please note that the resources designated [from library only] are available whenever the library is open from any of the public internet computers located on the 1st floor.


Digitized Collections [top]

Haverhill High School Yearbooks

Special Collections Photo of the Week Facebook Album

Special Collections Photo of the Week Flickr Album


Donations to Special Collections [top]

The Board of Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library would like to thank you for your interest in the Haverhill Public Library Special Collections. Special Collections is currently undergoing a restructuring and reorganization process to bring our policies and practices up to current archival standards in order to better serve researchers and to insure the longevity of our collection. Special Collections has remained open to the public during this process in order to make sure that the materials are accessible to researchers. During this restructuring process certain functions of Special Collections have been temporarily suspended while the library works to gain intellectual control over the collection. The acceptance of donations is one such function that has been put on hold. We would like to thank you for thinking of the Haverhill Public Library Special Collections but we are not able to accept donations at this time. Once the library is in the position to accept donations again, donation guidelines will replace this message.

Thank you for your continued support of Special Collections during this time of growth and development.


History of Special Collections [top]

Since its inception in 1875, the Haverhill Public Library has always had a collection of books relating to local history, genealogy, and native poet John Greenleaf Whittier. Shortly after the library’s inception, the local Whittier Club began an official Whittier Collection at the Library around 1887. In 1916, the Pecker Collection, dedicated to New England, state, and town histories, was started and was later expanded in 1932 to include family histories and genealogical material. In 1923, the Haverhill Collection was formally established to preserve existing library material and to collect additional material for future generations. In 1963, with the construction of a new library building, plans called for two rooms to house the then 20,700 volumes that made up the Whittier, Local History, and Genealogy collections. In 1997, with the renovation of the library, Special Collections was moved to the 3rd floor where it presently resides.