Historic Newton's archival collections pertain to Newton's social, cultural, economic, and physical development.
The collection contains manuscripts, including letters, diaries, journals, account books and other paper ephemera; photographs, slides and graphic materials; maps, plans and atlases; oral history and video tapes; bound Town and City Reports; and a small local history reference collection:
- Family Papers and Organization Records -- Representative manuscript collections include papers from the Jackson, Hammond, Bacon, Fuller, Ward, and Fewkes families. Records of clubs and organizations include several improvement societies, women's clubs, and churches. Papers donated by the Second Church in Newton (1701-1980) are a recent addition. Although the collection strengths are from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, there are also some later twentieth century papers such as those of the Newton Conservators (1961-1990).
- Photographs -- Visual materials include several hundred daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes; more than 10,000 nineteenth and twentieth century photographs; 800 lantern slides and more than 10,000 35mm slides. Subjects range from individual, family, school, and community images to the built environment. An extensive series of photographs from the City's glass plate negative collection is a strength.
- The Newton Historical Properties Survey is a major resource. It provides information on more than 5,000 buildings, 21 structures, 120 areas, two local historic districts, and four burial grounds.
- The map collection includes manuscript and printed maps and plans of Newton, bound City Atlases (1874, 1886, 1895, 1907, 1917, 1929) and Sanborn maps (1892, 1903, 1931-49). Birds-eye views of the villages and aerial photographs complement this collection.
- The book collection includes bound Town and City Reports (1849-1930s), City Directories (1868-1985) and local histories. There is also a small reference collection of books on some adjacent communities, suburban development, architecture, gravestone studies, and museum management.
- Audio and video tapes include 150 oral history tapes made as part of an oral history project begun in the 1980s and a growing collection of video tapes made in conjunction with the Historic Newton's on-going decade-long Time Capsule project.
Collection materials do not circulate.