THE purpose of this work is to give in some detail an account of the institutional life of a Massachusetts town of the seventeenth century by means of a comparison of the institutions of five of the earliest of these towns,--Salem, Dorchester, Watertown, Roxbury and Cambridge.
To accomplish this, it was found necessary to omit many of the more picturesque features connected with the settlement and early years of these towns and to confine this investigation to the institutions and to their development during the century. This was the more easily done since the former phase of town history has been so well treated already that it seems impossible to improve upon the accounts we now have.
No attempt is made here to reproduce exactly the spelling, form of expression or punctuation of the records quoted. In many cases these are almost unintelligible, and in all instances they are so difficult to decipher that it does not seem wise to demand from the reader the effort necessary to read them.
I wish to thank Dr. Herbert L. Osgood, of Columbia University for his many kindnesses to me during the years I studied with him, and, also, for his valuable suggestions in regard to this work.
ANNE BUSH MACLEAR.
NEW YORK, March, 1908.