The galaxies of the Local Group that are currently forming stars can serve as our laboratories for understanding star formation and the evolution of massive stars. In this talk I will summarize what I think we've learned about these topics over the past few decades of research, and briefly mention what I think needs to happen next.
My talk today will be restricted to giving a brief introduction to the study of massive stars in the Local Group; I'll begin by discussing why I think the subject is important, and giving you a few of the complications and caveats. I'll spend most of my time then talking about what I think we've learned, first about star formation (stories of star formation, the initial mass function, and the upper mass cut-off), and second about the evolution of massive stars (including Luminous Blue Variables, Wolf-Rayet stars, and red supergiants). Finally I'll conclude with a brief discussion of what I think we need to do next. This talk is based in large part on an Annual Reviews of Astronomy & Astrophysics paper that I have coming out in October (Massey 2003), and the reader is referred there for a more in-depth analysis. I have used this opportunity to update some of the figures and thoughts from that, so hopefully the two will be somewhat complementary.