“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Massachusetts Facts and Figures

Gleaned from the Historical Marker Database


on January 23, 2021

1876 artwork by Henry Mitchell, via Wikipedia Commons

 Massachusetts ranks 27th among states and provinces with markers in this database. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the United States of America located in the American Northeast. It is also in the New England region. Massachusetts is some 11 thousand square miles in size with a population of around 6.9 million people. The state is divided into 14 counties and all of them have entries in this database. In Massachusetts we have discovered historical markers in 244 cities and towns lying in 279 different ZIP Codes.

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There are at least 1,561 historical markers in Massachusetts, by our count. We have cataloged 1,519 historical markers and 350 war memorials—each individually presented on 1,831 illustrated, annotated, and searchable pages of the Historical Marker Database. Pages for historical markers from this state make up 1.1% of our total. In addition, we are reasonably certain of another 42 historical markers in Massachusetts that we don’t yet have, and instead show on our Want List. Our correspondents have been finding and adding hundreds of markers a month to the database from all over the world, so next time you visit this page you will probably find that the numbers here have changed.

The first Massachusetts marker in the database, Paterson / Egleston, was added September 15, 2006. It was photographed in Lenox in Berkshire County. The last one added was submitted on January 18, 2021, and titled Brewster World War II Memorial. It is in Brewster in Barnstable County. Keeping in mind that the erection date of many markers in the database is not known, the earliest historical marker we know of in Massachusetts was erected in 1799. It was this one: Battle of Lexington Monument, and one of our correspondents found it in Lexington in Middlesex County on April 15, 2009.

Massachusetts Historical Topics
484 • Colonial Era
291 • Settlements and Settlers
280 • Revolutionary War
240 • Industry and Commerce
179 • Waterways and Vessels
125 • World War II
112 • Churches and Religion
109 • Cemeteries and Burial Sites
98 • Civil War
88 • Notable Buildings
    ... and others ...

Massachusettsans don’t want to forget their Colonial Era history. How do we know? Because there are more historical markers in the database from Massachusetts about Colonial Era—484 of them—than about any other historical topic. It is followed by Settlements and Settlers with 291 markers.

The first marker added to the database with the Colonial Era topic was Old Ship Church, added October 9, 2007. It had been erected in 1930 in Hingham in Plymouth County. The last one submitted was submitted on December 13, 2020, and titled Jonas Rice Homesite. It had been erected in 1903 in Worcester in Worcester County. The earliest marker erected with the Colonial Era topic that we have listed was erected in 1827. It is Josiah and Abiah Franklin, found in Boston in Suffolk County on May 23, 2009.

What is the most interesting historical marker in Massachusetts? What we know is that Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal is the most viewed entry in the database from Massachusetts since it was added in 2007. It is located in Fall River in Bristol County. This year so far, the most viewed Massachusettsan entry is Jonas Rice Homesite.

Counties, Cities and Towns

The Massachusetts county with the most historical markers listed in this database is Middlesex County, with 272 of them. It is followed closely by Essex County with 247 markers. The Lowell area of Middlesex County has the highest number of markers within its limits, 57. In Essex County the area with the most markers, 49, is Salem.

Historical Markers in These
Massachusetts Counties
272 • Middlesex County
247 • Essex County
234 • Worcester County
221 • Suffolk County
211 • Barnstable County
143 • Bristol County
131 • Berkshire County
124 • Plymouth County
100 • Hampden County
80 • Norfolk County
    ... and others ...

Checking the database for the city or town in Massachusetts with the most markers we find Boston in Suffolk County at the top of the list with 198 markers in or near it. It is followed by Worcester in Worcester County with 58 markers. For the ZIP Code with the most markers it’s 02108 at the top of the list with 63 markers in its delivery area. (ZIP Code 02108 is assigned to Boston MA.) It is followed by ZIP Code 02129 with 51 markers. (02129 is assigned to Charlestown MA including the Boston delivery area.)

Historical Markers Near These
Massachusetts Cities and Towns
198 • Boston
58 • Worcester
57 • Lowell
49 • Springfield
49 • Salem
48 • Concord
46 • Plymouth
40 • New Bedford
34 • Chatham
33 • Gloucester
    ... and others ...

Getting back to Middlesex County, the first marker added to the database from there, Central Street, was added July 11, 2007. in Lowell. The last one submitted was uploaded on April 24, 2020, and is titled Billerica & Bedford Rail Road, in North Billerica. The earliest marker erected in Middlesex County that we have listed was erected in 1799. It was Battle of Lexington Monument, found in Lexington on April 15, 2009.

Latest entry from Massachusetts. Click to go there
By Brandon D Cross, October 9, 2020
Latest Entry from Massachusetts
“Brewster World War II Memorial”

And finally the first, last, and oldest markers from Boston. The first: Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, was added December 23, 2007. It had been erected in 1897. The last: D.L. Moody added on January 31, 2019. The earliest marker erected was erected in 1827: Josiah and Abiah Franklin, added on May 23, 2009.

Who Puts Up Historical Markers?

There is no organization in charge of erecting official historical markers state-wide in Massachusetts today but the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission was once responsible for erecting them. We have 165 of their markers in the database. Also, a number of counties have erected historical markers on their streets and roads and within their public areas, as have some cities and towns.

Latest entry from Massachusetts. Click to go there
By Brian Anderson, June 20, 2016
A Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission Historical Marker

Then there are federal government agencies that put up historical markers, especially in national parks and other areas under their jurisdiction. And finally, there are the numerous public and private organizations and individuals that erect markers. Some do this as a continual endeavor, and others once in a while, to mark something, someone, or someplace they find important or interesting. When one of our correspondents comes across one that satisfies our criteria, we add it to the database.

Off the Beaten Path

You’ll find that even the smallest, least populated, or most rural areas of Massachusetts have been marked with history. Check out Hampshire County, Dukes County and Nantucket County. We've only found, respectively, 19, 6, and 1 historical markers there. Visiting one or more of these parts of Massachusetts might make for a pleasant road trip, and maybe you’ll discover more historical markers while you’re there. If you do, perhaps you’ll take the time to photograph them and, when you get home, become an HMdb correspondent by adding them to the database. Happy Hunting!

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Jan. 23, 2021