The Library will be closed on Monday in observance of Patriots' Day. We will reopen Tuesday morning at 9:30am.

Gale Free Library

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Gale Free Library

  Catalog     Website  

Local History

For local history or genealogy questions, you can email our local history librarian Nancy Richards directly.  Be sure to put the phrase "local history" in the subject line so that Nancy can address your inquiry accordingly. We are happy to answer questions related, but not limited to: genealogy, burials, old-house records, newspapers, photographs, early Holden history, Gale Free Library history, and much more!

Local History Room hours*

Tuesday:  3:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.

Friday:  9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Saturday:  9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

*These hours are dependent on the availability of the Local History librarian.  

Please call the library @ (508) 210-5569 before you come.  

Starting to research your own family history?  

Here are a few great links and resources to get you started!

We subscribe to the following databases for Holden patron use:


Ancestry Library Edition
- Ancestry Library Edition brings the world’s most popular consumer online genealogy resource to your library. It’s an unprecedented online collection of individuals from North America. U.S. collections deliver hundreds of millions of names from sources such as federal and U.S. censuses; birth, death, and marriage records including the Social Security Death Index; and U.S. border crossing and trans-ocean ship records.  Looking to jumpstart your research? Try some of these Ancestry tips & tricks to get you started. This database can only be accessed from library terminals or via the library's WIFI.
Heritage Quest
- Essential collection of genealogical & historical sources, including U.S. Federal Censuses, books, bank records, and more. Find unique primary sources, as well as local & family histories. This database can be accessed from library terminals, via the library's WIFI, or remotely at home with your library card barcode.
American Ancestors
- Brought to you by the New England HIstoric Genealogy Society (NEHGS) This site can only be accessed from library terminals & WIFI. Here is a great article on getting started with genalogy research.

-Brought to you by NewsBank. Explore your family history with the premier collection of U.S. obituaries and death notices for in-depth genealogical research from 1704 – today. HeritageHub helps you easily identify relatives, uncover new information and potentially unknown family members. Includes deep coverage from all 50 states, hard-to-find content from the mid 1900’s, and original obituary images. Access is available 24/7.

Free databases to start your genealogy search:
U.S. National Archives
- This is a great place to start! The national archives gives a brief overview of the types of records you'll come across during your search and has great tips for getting started.
U.S. GenWeb Project
- This site is maintained by volunteers working together to provide free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and state of the United States. This Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free genealogy access for everyone.
Genealogy Today
- The equivalent of Google for ancestry research.

Sepia image of the Damon memorial building circa 1888


The Damon Memorial building, which is the home of the Gale Free Library, was the gift of Samuel C. Gale and his wife, Susan Damon Gale. Mr. Gale had been a teacher at the Holden Center School. The building was named in honor of Mrs. Gale's family, the Damons, who had been active members of the Holden community for many years. The Gale Free Library was named in memory of Mr. Gale's family. The Damon Memorial building was dedicated on August 29, 1888, and the Trustees still function under the original deed of gift.

Stephen C. Earle of Worcester, the architect, was well-known throughout New England. His work was influenced by Henry Hobson Richardson, who introduced the Romanesque Revival period of architecture. Thus, the Damon Memorial may be identified as Richardsonian Romanesque in design. The building was planned to meet the Gales' requirement that it be both the Town's high school and public library.

The original building is constructed of locally quarried granite, with brown sandstone from Longmeadow, Massachusetts added for the sills, lintels, and arches. Black slate from Maine was used on the roof and red slate on the tower roof.

In 1926 the high school moved into its own facility, and as the town grew the library services spread into all areas of the original building. In addressing the need for additional space, the Trustees planned a renovation/addition project and in 1988 at the Annual Town Meeting, voters approved the 2.2 million dollar project. The Town was awarded a state grant of $200,000 in support of this project.

Jacques Fauteux, a former Holden resident, was the architect for the renovation/addition. The outer wall of the addition is of morning rose granite from the Rock of Ages Corporation quarries in Barre, Vermont. The roof is of copper-colored metal.

Today the building lies within the Holden Center Historic District and is listed also in the National Register of Historic Places.

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