Topsfield History Online

Our Digital Archives and Exhibits


The Topsfield Historical Society presents curated on-line exhibits based on materials from its own archives. Current exhibits include Farms, the Proctor Estate and Trees in Topsfield.

Historical Collections

From 1895 to 1928, the Topsfield Historical Society published an annual volume of historical research and stories about Topsfield. Six additional volumes were published sporadically after that, the last one produced in 2009. Most volumes contain data about Topsfield's population and buildings, news and court reports about Topsfield and essays on Topsfield's involvement in state and national history.

History of Topsfield by George Francis Dow

Forty years of research by Topsfield's pre-eminent historian, George Francis Dow, went into this extensive history, The work was completed after his death by his wife and a dedicated set of WPA researchers. It covers Topsfield's history from the early European settlement to the end of World War I. Among the topics included are the Witchcraft Hysteria, the Revolutionary War, the coming of the railroad, the Civil War and World War I.

Houses and Buildings of Topsfield, Massachusetts by C. Lawrence Bond

In 1902, the Topsfield Historical Society published "The Houses and Buildings of Topsfield", by John H. Town. In 1989 C. Lawrence Bond and the Society published an update, including all structures built up to 1950. The report is organized by street name and house number making it an easy reference book.

Historic Structure Report of the Parson Capen House by Finch & Rose (2002)

An in-depth report on the original construction of the Parson Capen House and the work done in 1913 to restore it to what was thought to be its original condition. Commissioned by the Topsfield Historical Society, this report explains not only how the House was originally constructed but the numerous alterations that were made over the centuries, the decisions that George Francis Dow made and the remnants of all the alterations that are still visible in the House today. Many detailed pictures of the House from the past and in 2002.

Domestic Life in New England in the Seventeenth Century by George Francis Dow

A Discourse delivered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, it being one of a series to mark the Opening of the American Wing. Published 1926.

Topsfield Historical Society Pamphlets

The Topsfield Historical Society has produced small pamphlets over the years to clearly answer some of our visitors' most common questions. Two of these are presented here on the Parson Capen House and Topsfield's involvement in the Witchcraft Hysteria.

Local Lore Past Issues 2002-2016

The Local Lore is the Society's history-rich monthly newsletter.

Diary of Dr. Joseph Allen, 1826-1908

The diary entries of Dr. Joseph Allen describe not only a busy medical practice of the late 19th century, but also the thoughts and observations of an educated man with very broad interests. He describes the transit of Venus and a new comet, news of the assassination of President Garfield, the ceremonies opening the Harvard Medical School buildings in Boston, a visit with other doctors to the Danvers State Mental Hospital, the organization of the Topsfield Historical Society in 1894, and births and deaths in Topsfield. He describes the Prohibition Political Party of his time, and a successful effort to rally political support to prevent the Topsfield Town Meeting from approving any form of sales of alcohol in Topsfield.