Local History Resources

Please note: Our newspaper microfilm collection is currently unavailable. This collection is being digitized for online access. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Robbins Library Digitized Historical Materials

The Library offers online access to some historic materials relating to Arlington via the Internet Archive and Digital Commonwealth.

Arlington’s COVID-19 Community Archive

The archive creates a snapshot of life in Arlington during the pandemic and includes a wide array of images, videos, and documents. Through this archive, future researchers, students, and residents will be able to access our collective memory through images, words, and other digital formats.  Create an account or select Robbins Library from the drop-down to access the archive.  Community members are invited to submit contributions to the archive.  

Digital Commonwealth

Includes 1,235 historical photographs, 268 historical postcards, some maps, and 2 painted miniature studies for stained glass windows by Arthur Murray Dallin, son of Cyrus E. Dallin, well-known Arlington artist.

Internet Archive

Digitized books include:

  • Arlington High School Yearbooks 1927 – present. Some years missing.
  • Arlington High School Literary magazine, The Clarion, 1897 – 1931.
  • Town Street Directories, 1869 – 1940. Search for Arlington directory.
  • Town Annual Reports, 1842 – present. Search for Arlington report.
  • True List of Persons, 1921 – present. Search for Arlington true list.

Local History Room

The Robbins Library Local History Room is located on the 4th floor and is accessible with a key during library hours (see “Access to Materials” below). The Local History Room contains books, scrapbooks, annual reports, directories, atlases, photographs, postcards, slides, vertical files and other materials documenting the history of Arlington. Although the focus of the collection is the historical, social and cultural development of Arlington, relevant materials concerning Middlesex County, Massachusetts and its towns, and New England are also included. Special collections include the Cyrus E. Dallin Papers, Robbins Library History and the Arlington Woman’s Club Archive.


Please contact us with obituary, local history, and other requests.

Access to Materials

You will need to provide photo ID and fill out a short application at the Reference Desk to access the room. Some of our local history materials are extremely fragile and may be damaged through frequent use. Fortunately, many of these materials are either digitized or accessible on microfilm in the Reference Room. The microfilm collection includes the Cyrus E. Dallin Papers, Arlington High School Yearbooks and Literary Magazine, town directories, newspapers, and several historical atlases. The physical collection of historical photographs, slides, and postcards are available by appointment.

Materials can be brought from the Local History Room to the Reference Room for in-library use by leaving some form of identification with the Reference Staff.

Care Of Materials

Care must be taken when handling fragile books, atlases and pamphlets. Patrons should use pencils when taking notes. Patrons are asked to leave any materials for re-shelving on the work table in the Local History Room.


Patrons should consult a reference librarian before photocopying or scanning any material from the Local History Room. Materials may be too fragile to photocopy/scan. Photocopy machines and a flatbed scanner are available in the Reference Room. Copies of photographs, slides and postcards must be arranged through staff.