Fall River Public Library

Reference and Special Collections

Reference Services

Computer, Fax and Wireless Access

Public internet computers are available for research in the Reference Room. You will need a library card to sign on.

The Reference Room also offers Microsoft Office, resume software, fax service, a scanner and a microfilm reader/ computer for genealogy research. Ask at the Reference Desk.

Computers are also available on the main floor and in the Children's Room.

Free wireless access is available throughout the library. The Reference Room has laptop-friendly desks with built-in outlets to charge your computer.

Newspapers and Magazines

The Reference Room has copies of the Herald News, Providence Journal and Boston Globe, among others. There is also a large magazine collection, including back issues of major news magazines. Ask at the reference desk.

Genealogy Resources

The Library holds a wealth of genealogical materials, such as Fall River vital records from 1803 to 1889, the Federal Census for Fall River, church records, local newspapers from the mid-19th century to the present and Fall River city directories from 1853 to the present. Microfilm readers with printers are available for public use.

For more genealogical resources, visit this page.

Obituaries and E-mail Requests

Copies of local newspaper obituaries may be requested by mail or email. Requests must include full name and date of death. A limited index is available for some years.

There is a charge of $2 per printed page to cover the cost of research, printing and mailing. Payment is required before obituaries can be mailed. Please limit requests to no more than three obituaries at one time.

Requests for obituaries, as well as other reference requests, can be emailed to the library. Written requests can also be mailed to the Reference Dept., Fall River Public Library, 104 North Main Street, Fall River, MA 02720. We cannot accept obituary requests by phone.


Fax: $1 for the first page, $.50 for all additional pages. Outgoing only.
Scanner: $2 per scan (multiple pages allowed)
Printing: $.25 per page
Copy machine: $.25 per page
Microfilm printer: $.25 per page

Flash drives: 4 GB, $5; 8 GB, $10

Lizzie Borden

Lizzie Borden Collection

The Lizzie Borden Collection consists of biographies, nonfiction accounts of the murders and trial, fictionalized retellings of the story, plays, bibliographies and news articles dealing with Lizzie Borden, her trial, and the Borden murders. The Fall River Historical Society has photographs and artifacts relating to the murders. Images and information can also be found at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast and the Lizzie Andrew Borden Virtual Museum and Library.

The materials in this collection range from the rare 1893 account of the murders, The Fall River Tragedy by Edwin Porter, to a graphic novel version by cartoonist Rick Geary. All special collections items must be used in the library. A photocopier and scanner are available.

Fall River Collection Fall River Mill Workers

The Fall River Collection has materials relating to the people and history of Fall River. The collection includes vintage postcards, maps, city documents, church records and books. Here you will find information on immigrant groups, businesses, mills, the Fall River Line, schools, churches, historic buildings and the history of Fall River.

Historic Newspapers and Records
Microfilm copies of the Herald News, as well as a number of earlier Fall River newspapers, some dating back as far as 1842, are available for reading and printing. Early census records, vital records before 1889 and Fall River City Directories from 1853-1967 are available in microform. Later city directories are available in print.

Certified copies of Fall River birth and death certificates are available at the City Clerk's Office. Many local cemeteries also have burial records.

Estes Collection

Reference Area BalconyThe Estes Collection honors local authors, those who were either born in Fall River or spent part of their lives in the city or nearby communities. It consists of fiction, poetry and non-fiction books by writers with local connections, ranging from Victoria Lincoln (a contemporary of Lizzie Borden's) to TV chef Emeril Lagasse.  

Many of these books are currently out of print and available only at the library. Titles in this special collection do not circulate, but they can be accessed in the library’s reference department. New titles are constantly being added.
A book list is available online or at the reference desk.

Exam Proctoring

Students taking online courses or certification programs may take exams in the Reference Room at the library. Have your school or university contact the library.

Tax Forms

Both federal and Massachusetts state tax forms are available in the library. Forms are usually on display from late January through early May. Some specialized forms, instruction books, and all Rhode Island tax forms may only be available online. Librarians can print these for you; regular printing charges apply.

Our reference librarians can help you find and print forms, but we cannot  provide tax advice. The MA Department of Revenue (DOR) has a toll-free help line for Massachusetts residents: 800-392-6089. Call center hours for tax help are 10 am - 1 pm and 1:30 pm - 4 pm, Monday through Friday. There is also a state tax office at 218 S. Main Street in Fall River, and some local agencies also provide free tax help.

Online Resources

The library has trusted, peer-reviewed online resources available for use by Fall River library patrons. Many can also be accessed from home.

  • CAREER HELP - Optimal Resume is available online at the library or from home. Create resumes, cover letters, and online portfolios in just minutes with easy to customize templates.
  • CAR REPAIR - Chilton Library has repair and maintenance info for all makes and models
  • CONSUMER RESEARCH - Consumer Reports is available in print and online. For off-site access, use your Fall River library card.
  • COUNTRIES & CULTURES - Research the world with e-books from Salem Press.
  • GENEALOGY - Free access to Ancestry.com is offered within the library only.
  • GENERAL RESEARCH - Other online resources include full-text encyclopedia, magazine and newspaper articles, RB Digital for popular magazines, NewsBank, and the Fall River Herald News archives from 2000 to present.
  • HEALTH/MEDICINE - For health research, try the health, nursing, and psychology collections in our Online Databases. Salem Press Health is another reference guide to psychology and mental health topics. You will need a Fall River Public Library card to use these services.
  • HISTORY /BIOGRAPHY - Salem History has two research databases: Decades, covering history and culture of the 20th century, and Notorious Lives, covering history's most infamous characters, from Vlad the Impaler to Fall River's own Lizzie Borden.
  • LOCAL HISTORY - Durfee High School Collection
    Full-text access to B.M.C. Durfee High School yearbooks, local history slides, and books on Fall River history.
  • LOCAL HISTORY - Fall River Library Digital Collection
    Search Fall River Catholic high school and college yearbooks and local postcards.
  • MUSIC - Millions of songs are available to stream OR download free with Freegal. Just use your library card to access every genre of music you can imagine for your phone, MP3 player, computer, or other device. Downloaded songs are yours to keep!

    Need More Help?

    For specialized or in-depth research resources, call or email the Reference Department, or visit our Resources for Research page.