Public Records Requests
Submit a Public Records Request
Under Massachusetts law, every person has a right to access public government records. Not all records are public, and you may need to pay a fee to get them.
The Cambridge Public Health Department (CPHD) maintains records of the department’s activities and certain data related to public health, including records related to reportable communicable diseases. Learn more about reportable diseases in Massachusetts.
With a few exceptions, CPHD does not keep environmental due diligence records. Most public records concerning code violations and other specific environmental hazards are kept by other city departments or state agencies. For guidance on how to access environmental due diligence records, see CPHD’s Frequently Requested Public Records Held by Cambridge City Departments or the State. You can also make a public records request to the City of Cambridge and/or Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
In most cases, the department will provide the first four hours of labor required to respond to your request at no charge. Fees may be assessed for additional labor or for providing hard copies of records.
How to Start
- You may request a public record in person or in writing. While written requests are not required, they are encouraged so that staff may respond completely and more promptly.
- You may submit written public records requests by email, fax, or mail using the contact information below:
Chief Public Health Officer/ Records Access Officer
Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02139
Email: [email protected]
- Be as specific as possible when describing the records being requested. If applicable, please include relevant date ranges and any other information that may help the health department identify the records you are seeking.
Sample Request Letter
SAMPLE-Download a sample public records request letter.
- We can only respond to requests seeking Cambridge Public Health Department records. To access records held by other city departments or the state, see the City of Cambridge and Commonwealth of Massachusetts public records websites.
- If you are seeking environmental due diligence records, see CPHD’s Frequently Requested Public Records Held by Cambridge City Departments or the State.
- Not all CPHD records are disclosable as “public records.” The Public Records Law excludes certain categories of documents from disclosure. In addition, whether a CPHD record is a “public record” depends on a variety of circumstances, some of which may vary by context.
- Asking a question does not qualify as a public records request. A public records request seeks “records” that already exist, usually in writing, and/or in one of the formats defined in M.G.L. Ch. 4, § 7, cl. 26. CPHD is not required to create a record in response to a public records request.
- Most public records concerning code compliance and other specific environmental hazards are kept by other city departments or the state. A separate page has been created with descriptions of frequently requested public records and how to get them.
For more information about the state’s public records law, see A Guide to the Massachusetts Public Records Law.
Updated: April 14, 2023