Locked away in town vaults and basements for years, the historical records date to 1620 and include the scribblings of town clerks from days of yore and the names of Clara Barton, Paul Revere, John Hancock, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin.
The old public records are slated to go online Tuesday, and for the first time ever, people will be able to browse through millions of them and search for their ancestors by name and location – for a price.
Most of the records are, of course, already public and free, a point that Secretary of State William F. Galvin emphasized when told of the Ancestry.com sale. His spokesman said that vital records and other documents can be made available to anyone who asks for them at their local city hall or town hall. Vital records from 1841 through 1920 are also available at the Massachusetts Archives.