For geographic and demographic information on the village of Middleborough Center, please see the article Middleborough Center, Massachusetts.
Middleborough is frequently written as Middleboro.
The town was first settled by Europeans in 1661 as Nemasket, later changed to Middlebury, and officially incorporated as Middleborough in 1669. The name Nemasket came from a Native American settlement along the small river that now bears the same name. Nemasket may have meant "place of fish", due to the large amount of herring that migrate up the river each spring. There are no contemporary records that indicate the name Middlebury was taken from a place in England, and changed to the more modern Middleborough. The names Middlebury and Middleborough were actually derived from the city of Middelburg, Zeeland, the westernmost province of the Netherlands. Middelburg was an international intellectual center and economic powerhouse. The English religious dissenters called the Brownists developed their governance institutions in Middelburg before emigrating on the Mayflower, and were the earliest settlers of Middleborough where their town and church governance ethics were continued.
During King Philip's War (1675–76), the town's entire populace took shelter within the confines of a fort constructed along the Nemasket River. The site is located behind the old junior high school (now a kindergarten), and is marked by a state historical commission marker along Route 105. Before long, the fort was abandoned and the population withdrew to the greater shelter of the Plymouth Colony; in their absence, the entire village was burned to the ground, and it would be several years before the town would be refounded. Western Middleborough broke away in 1853 and formed the town of Lakeville, taking with it the main access to the large freshwater lakes there, including Assawompset Pond.
Middleborough was once a large producer of shoes and is still home to the Alden Shoe Company, one of the last remaining shoe manufacturers in America. Middleborough has since become the cranberry capital of the world, hosting the corporate headquarters of Ocean Spray Cranberries. Notable sights include the 1870s Victorian-style town hall, the Beaux Art style town library (1903), and in the spring, the Nemasket River alewife and blueback herring run upstream to the Assawompset Ponds complex to spawn.
In recent history, Middleborough has made its mark through the prowess of its Little League Baseball program. In 1994 the Middleborough All Stars reached the Little League World Series by defeating Milburn-Short Hills, New Jersey to take the East Region title. The team would finish 3rd in the United States. They are one of only two Massachusetts Little League teams to win the East title (Andover Little League, 1988) before the splitting of the New England and Mid-Atlantic Regions in 2001. In 1999, the team again won the Massachusetts State title and fell in the East Region final to Toms River, New Jersey - the eventual U.S. runner-up.
Since 2000, the team has reached the State semi-finals five times, finishing third in the state in 2000 and 2003, and second in 2002 and 2008. In 2012, they finished fourth in the state. The 2012 team was coached by Skeeter Porter and Ron Holmgren. The 2002 team was only beaten by U.S. runner-up, Jesse Burkett Little League of Worcester.