Historical Resources

Pelham Library History Room

The Pelham Library has an archival collection which includes many books, photos, and audio materials. Materials are located in the History Room and the adjacent Library Archive Room. Access is by appointment only. You may contact the library at pelham.library@gmail.org or 413-253-0657. Information about reserving the History Room is on the Meeting Rooms page.

Pelham Historical Commission

The Historical Commission is a Town government entity, mandated by Massachusetts state law. Its mission is to protect the historic assets of the Town. Its archives are located in the Library History Room and Library Archive room at 2 South Valley Road and in the Town offices at 351 Amherst Road. Access to these materials needs to be arranged in advance via email with the Commission Chairman, Karl Martini, kmartini@wne.edu. The Commission is also responsible for the care of the Pelham Historical Complex that includes the Pelham Town Hall/Meetinghouse and adjacent historic Pelham Hill Church/Museum building.

Pelham Historical Society

The Historical Society is a private corporation which uses the Pelham Hill Church as its museum. Some materials are stored in the Town vault; access requires an appointment with the Town Clerk. The Historical Society web site is at http://pelhamhs.org/ and the collection’s database is hosted at http://pelhamhs.org/pa2.

Massachusetts Historical Commission

The Commission is in the process of documenting the historic buildings in Pelham and placing them on the Massachusetts Historical Commission’s “Inventory of the Historical and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” Most of Pelham’s historic buildings (50 + years old) are private homes, but there are also public buildings, our Pelham Hill National Historic District, churches, and others.

Typically, the file for each home shows the date it was built and major modifications, the builder, every family that lived in the house, their occupations, their relationship to other families in Pelham and the history of the house or the plot of land on which it stands. In addition there will be a photograph of the building and a professional description of its architecture. The inventory project is organized in three phases and when completed will number about 135 buildings. Phases 1-3 have been submitted.

The extraordinary completeness of these submissions is to the credit of our late Town Archivist, Robert Lord Keyes. They are particularly useful for genealogical researchers because of Rob’s interest in Pelham genealogy. The completed files are all public documents and can be copied or downloaded from the state Commission’s web site. Go to  MACRIS Towns, select “Pelham” and click on “Add to List” and then “Next.” Select “Building,” click on “Add to List” and click “Next” again. The entire collection can be displayed, or if you know the street where the building is located, you can narrow your search to it. There are other terms offered for searching as well.

Digital Commonwealth

Explore historical collections from libraries, museums, and archives across Massachusetts, using the Digital Commonwealth database and Special Collections.

Pelham Cemeteries

You may search for graves by location (U.S., Massachusetts, Hampshire County) using FindAGrave.com.  Scroll through the Hampshire County list for Pelham cemeteries. Town of Pelham cemeteries include:

  • Arnold Cemetery, deep in the woods on the north side of Amherst Road, opposite the Hawley Reservoir. Park off the road at the base of a trail that leads, in a ravine, uphill. Close to the Quaker Burying Ground, the Arnold Cemetery is deeper into the woods.
  • Cook-Johnson Cemetery, on Cemetery Lane off the north end of North Valley Road. Since North Valley is closed at the Amethyst Brook crossing, the approach has to be made from the east end of North Valley Road. Proceed on this dirt road past the last house and turn left onto Cemetery Lane (dirt and grass). Cemetery is about 200 feet from North Valley Road.
  • Harkness Cemetery (West Burial Ground), corner of Jones Road and Amherst Road.
  • Knights Corner Burial Ground, on the south side of Packardville Road, about 1/4 mile west from the junction of Packardville Rd. and Daniel Shays Highway (U.S. Route 202).
  • Pelham Hill Cemetery, corner of Amherst Road and Daniel Shays Highway (U.S. Route 202).
  • Quaker Burying Ground, deep in the woods on the north side of Amherst Road, opposite the Hawley Reservoir. Park off the road at the base of a trail that leads, in a ravine, uphill. The Quaker Cemetery is difficult to find. It is on the right hand side of the trail some yards after you reach the top of the hill. It is in a small clearing and the graves are marked only with field stones – no man-made monuments.
  • Ruben Allen Cemetery, located on the east side of Cemetery Lane, off Tower Road on the UMass Cadwell Memorial Forest. People will have to park near the junction of Tower Road and Packardville Road and walk in about a mile.
  • Stevens (or Keyes-Stevens) Cemetery, on a grass and dirt roadway leading off the south side of Packardville Road opposite the UMass Cadwell Memorial Forest. The roadway is a little difficult to see but it leaves Packardville Road on the east side of the only pasture on Packardville Road. Park off Packardville, on the dirt roadway, and walk in a short distance.
  • Valley Cemetery, a.k.a. North Valley Cemetery; heading north on North Valley Road, from Amherst Road, it is on the right past Meeting House Road.
  • West Burial Ground, see Harkness Cemetery

Quaker Burying Ground

For additional information on the Quaker Burying Ground, reference Bigelow, Paul J. Disowned – Disrupted – Dissolved, the Life and Times of The Members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Pelham, Massachusetts 1806 – 1870. Privately printed (1985), 115 pages. In the holdings of the Pelham Free Public Library.