Suffolk County is one of the smallest in Massachusetts (only Nantucket is smaller) and it was founded in 1643 as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Modern Suffolk County public records are held by the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Dorchester, but they can be contacted by mail to order copies. They have current records and those going back to 1921. Any records for that time period can be requested with a form from the Office of Health and Human Services website. The associated search fees are outlined below.
After 1921 and until 1841, Suffolk County public records are managed by the State Archives collection in Boston. They don't do direct requests and you will have to use their public services to do your own research. On the positive side, there are no fees to get copies.
Beyond 1841, there are still hundreds of years worth of records out there. At this point though, you will need to contact the county directly since these registrations were taken before the state was collecting the information. The county clerk's office in Boston is the place to go for most records, though some very old ones may actually still be held with the town clerk where the event took place.
When you place a request with either the Vital Records office for the state, or at the local county clerk's office, they will make a 10 year search if you are unable to provide the exact date that the event took place. They will search for 10 years around your estimated date.
Suffolk County Birth Records
Anyone can order any Suffolk County birth record by filling out the form and paying the fee. Each copy is $28 if sent by mail, and $18 if you visit the office in person. The forms request the person's full name, their parent's names along with the date and location of the birth.
Suffolk County Death Records
The fees for these records are the same ($28 or $18), and also no restrictions apply. For a Suffolk County death record, you need to provide the decedent's name, the date and location of death. If you also know their Social Security number or parent's names, it can narrow down the search.
Suffolk County Marriage Records
Getting a Suffolk County marriage record will require the same fees and forms as the two types of records listed above. You only need to supply the full names of both parties, with the location and date where the marriage event took place.
Suffolk County Criminal Records
For Massachusetts, criminal background files are kept by the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) rather than by any county body. So when you are looking to get copies of Suffolk County criminal records, they are the ones you need to send your applications to. The fee for each record is $30, and they are publicly available if it is your own record you are seeking, or the record has been released to the public due to type of crime or sentencing. The DCJIS can provide further details on which records can be accessed.