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Government Center -- Boston.com's guide to public records, databases, and useful information
More and more public records and other free information -- corporate filings, campaign contributions, property value -- are "out there" on the Web to help make you a better informed citizen.

Here's a partial list of interesting and useful sites, organized by subject. You can search this page in most browsers by holding down the "Control" and "F" keys.

Do you have a suggested addition? Please e-mail us.   E-mail this page to a friend

Background checks

Attorneys

Search for an attorney's bar status and discipline record. (The Mass. Board of Bar Overseers)

Businesses

Information on companies including location, contact information, products and services, and performance records. (Better Business Bureau)

Charities

Find information on nonprofit organizations (requires free registration). (GuideStar)

Doctors

Find information about the education, training, and experience of licensed physicians. (Mass. Board of Registration in Medicine)

Licensed professionals

Information on people and companies that hold professional licenses -- barbers, real estate agents, etc. -- in the state. (Mass. Division of Professional Licensure)

Restaurants, Boston

Health code inspection records for restaurants in the city of Boston. (Mayor's Food Court)

Restaurants, Cambridge

Health code inspection records for restaurants in the city of Cambridge. (City of Cambridge)

Restaurants, nationwide

Search for inspection information by city, state, or zip code. (www.healthinspections.com)
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Community

Neighborhoods, Boston

Enter your address to find your...
--Trash pickup day
--Libraries and community centers
--City councilor
--Police and fire stations
--What ward and district you live in

Churches, Boston and Cambridge

Christian churches located in Boston and Cambridge. (Emmanuel Gospel Center)

Street sweeping

Boston.com's e-mail reminder service for street sweeping. (Boston.com)
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Courts and crime

Crime blog, Boston

News updates from the Boston Police Department. (bpdnews.com)

Crime blog, Brookline

News updates from the Brookline Police. (blog.brooklinepolice.com/)

Homicide map

An interactive map of homicides in Boston in 2007. (Boston.com)

Prisoner search

Use the search tool to check the custody status of an offender. (Vinelink.com)

Sex offenders (statewide)

Information on Level 2 and 3 sex offenders in Massachusetts. (Mass. Sex Offender Registry Board)

Sex offenders (nationwide)

A US Department of Justice site linking to state sex offender registries nationwide. (National Sex Offender Public Website)
Find court dockets and calendars, opinions, and rules for the state court system. You can also find court information at the website of the Office of Reporter of Decisions.

US District Court, District of Massachusetts

Homepage includes court calendar, opinions, and information for potential jurors.

US Supreme Court

Homepage includes info on the court, justice biographies, and court documents.
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Education

Boston Public Schools blog

News, events, and information from Boston Public Schools. (www.allaboutbps.blogspot.com/)

MCAS results

Search for results by district, school, or subject. (Boston.com)
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Politics

Campaign contributions, state

A database of campaign contributions for statewide and legislative offices. (Mass. Office of Campaign and Political Finance)

Campaign contributions, national

The Federal Election Commission's campaign finance reports. (Federal Election Commission)

City of Boston

Home page for the city of Boston. From this page, you can find...
Search for registered lobbyists in the state and the entities for whom they work. (Mass. Lobbyist Database)

Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center

The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s Budget Browser is an on-line database with detailed information on the state budget. (massbudget.org)

State legislature

Home page for the Mass. Senate and House of Representatives. From this page, you can...

Find a state lawmaker

A broad overview of contacts for state lawmakers. You can also use the following methods...

US Government Printing Office

Comprehensive list of official resources, from the Constitution to the 9/11 Commission Report.

US House of Representatives

Home page for the House. From here, you can find and track bills, check the House schedule, access voting records, and see committee information.
Enter your address to find who represents you

US Senate: Virtual Reference Desk

A clearinghouse of Senate information and resources. From this page, you can find...

Voting

Find where to vote, how to register to vote, and addresses for city and town halls. (Secretary of the Commonwealth, Elections Division)
Real Estate

Community profiles

An in-depth look at Massachusetts cities and towns, with an emphasis on real estate data. (Boston.com)

Property values, Boston

Search for assessed property values, attributes, and owners. (City of Boston)

Property values, Cambridge

Assessed property values for the City of Cambridge. (City of Cambridge)

Property values, region

Links to assessor databases for most communities in Massachusetts. Assessor sites include property values, attributes, and owners. You can also use their site to search other states. (BRB Publications)

Value estimates

Real estate information including homes for sale, comparable homes, historical sales, and home valuation tools. (Zillow.com)
Snapshots
Qualify of life can be hard to measure. But the accompanying charts, from the Globe's regional editions, show how area cities and towns measure up. Click on the links below to compare your community with the rest of the state. For comments or ideas, contact Matt Carroll at mcarroll@globe.com or leave a comment on the Mass Stats blog.
Miscellaneous

Abandoned property

Search for or file a claim on abandoned property or financial assets. (Mass. Treasury Department, Abandoned Property Division)

Birth, marriage, and death certificates

Certificates are not available online, but this link tells users how to find and obtain records. (Mass. Registry of Vital Records and Statistics)

Business regulations

The state's collection of business regulations, guidelines, and frequently asked questions. (Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation)

Corporate database

Filings and paperwork for corporations in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (Secretary of the Commonwealth, Corporations Division)

Library databases

The Boston Public Library's website offers databases on a variety of subjects, from biographical information to newspaper archives. Anyone with a BPL library card can access these databases. Suburbanites can use the Minuteman Library Network's site in the northern suburbs or the Old Colony Library Network's site in the southern suburbs.