The purpose of the local historical commission, as defined by the Massachusetts Historical Commission, is as follows:
Local historical commissions are agents of loca government. Their most important goal is the preservation of the community's historic places. The purpose of a local historical commission is to work toward this goal by planning for and implementing programs for the identification, evaluation, and protection of its community's historical resources. Planning is the essential first step in developing an effective local preservation program.
A municipal agency itself, the local historical commission works in cooperation with other municipal agencies to insure that the goals of historic preservation are considered in planning for future development of the community. The be effective, local historical commissions must be active participants in local planning efforts. The agencies local commissions work with most frequently are boards of selectmen, planning boards, historic district commissions, community development offices, and conservation commissions.
The local historical commission should also coordinate with other groups whose interests involve history or historic preservation. Local historical societies, arts councils, libraries, and schools often have interests similar to those of local historical commissions in fostering pride in community identity. The local commission should serve as the liaison between these groups on matters pertaining to historic preservation programs. Finally, it is the local commission's mandate to be the local municipal "watchdog" for state and federal preservation agencies, alerting them to local preservation issues.