Following the Paper Trail: Northern New England

Ann Cestor at the New Hampshire Historical Society.

We are heading into a beautiful season for visiting the three northern New England states. Should your research take you to New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine, you may really enjoy stopping by their state historical societies. Continuing our series, begun with southern New England, we now explore the ins and outs of researching at three institutions further north.

New Hampshire Historical Society

30 Park Street, Concord, N.H.

Open Tues.–Sat., 9:30 a.m. –5 p.m.

Free for members; $7 non-members.
Prep Tips:
  • Search the online catalog.
  • Browse online finding aids.
  • Many digitized items are available for members (with a login) to view via the catalog. Non-members can view, print, download, and email those images using the library’s computers.
  • Email Sarah Galligan, Library Director, at, for queries about the collection. (She responded to my query the next business day.)
Registration Process:
  • At the security gate just inside the main entrance, pay the day fee or inform of member status.
  • Go down hallway to left to reach the library. Complete the registration form at the desk located just inside the door to the library.
  • Lockers, located in the small room at the beginning of the left hallway (on route to the library), may require a quarter which will be returned. No bags or outerwear allowed.
Requesting Items:
  • Fill out call slips onsite to request manuscripts.
  • If you email a list ahead of time (with the date you plan to visit), they will pull the items in advance and have a cart waiting.
  • Photos require a signed agreement and librarian approval.
  • The New Hampshire Historical Society has great exhibitions included with the day fee. Because of this (and the location near the State House), many school groups come through. The sound echoes through the library, though less so when the door is shut.

Maine Historical Society

489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine

Open Tues.–Sat., 10.a.m.–4 p.m. (Closed Tues. from Nov.–April)

Free to members; $10 non-members.
Prep Tips:
  • Search the catalog or the statewide catalog Minerva.

    Ann Cestor at the Maine Historical Society.
  • Check inventories for manuscript collections at the library. The file cabinet(organized by call number) is in the left corner (the opposite of the reference desk) upon entering the library.
  • Search the Maine Memory Network for digitized resources.
  • Email with queries. (They responded to my query the next business day.)
Registration Process:
  • Print and complete the Researcher Registration Form in advance at
  • At Reading Room desk, sign the Research Library Day Book and show photo ID for them to photocopy.
  • Enter through garden, and lockers are just inside the doors to the Brown Research Library. No coats or bags allowed.
Requesting Items:
  • Fill out call slips onsite to request manuscripts. Limited number of boxes/folders at a time. They will bring all items to the table.
  • Offsite materials require 48-hour notice.
  • They do not pull items in advance but generally retrieve items quickly.
  • Non-members cannot take photos or scans.
  • Wi-Fi available.
  • The Wadsworth-Longfellow House and the MHS Museum & Store are onsite and can be toured for additional admission fees.

Vermont Historical Society

60 Washington Street, Barre, Vt.

Open Tues.–Fri., 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Wed. night to 8 pm.; 2nd Sat. of the month, 9 a.m.–4 p.m.

Free to members; $7 for non-members.
Prep Tips:
  • Try the library catalog. However, not everything is cataloged, so once there, check
    Ann Cestor at the Vermont Historical Society.

    the old card catalog (labeled green for manuscripts) alphabetized by subject/surname that have call number codes. Use the codes to find the correct binder and finding aid, located around the corner.

  • See the Reference Room for filing cabinets filled with finding aids and lists compiled by archivists over the years. These include Uncatalogued Pamphlets, Classified Pamphlets, and Genealogical Vertical Files (which are the closest they have to family files). The room can be browsed, but the staff recommends asking for assistance when first using the file cabinets.
  • Staff have also compiled lists of photographs and articles from journals/magazines.
  • Email with queries. (They responded to my query the next business day.)
  • Staff is super helpful and friendly. It is definitely worth asking them for guidance, especially as indexing and cataloguing the collection is a continuous work in progress.
Registration Process:
  • Head upstairs to reference desk to sign guest book and pay fee.
  • Lockers at the top of the stairs (to the right) may require a quarter that will be returned. No bags are allowed in the reading room.
  • A sink by the lockers is provided for washing hands before handling manuscripts.
Requesting Items:
  • Fill out call slips onsite to request manuscripts. Try not to exceed four at a time. There is no limit on the number of call slips or pull times. Can put in more call slips while working on items already at table.
  • Will receive all requested items at once which will then be retrieved all at once when finished/ready for more.
  • Photos allowed.
  • Wi-Fi is open.
  • Some exhibits are onsite in Barre, while others are in Montpelier.

About Kyle Hurst

Kyle, Genealogist of the Newbury Street Press, holds a B.A. in both history and anthropology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and has a master’s certificate in Museum Studies from Tufts University. With experience at the National Archives and Record Administration in Waltham, Kyle has worked on a wide variety of research projects as part of the Research Services team at NEHGS and, with Newbury Street Press, has contributed to a number of family histories. She has been credited for her contributions to The Root,, and she has also written for American Ancestors magazine.

3 thoughts on “Following the Paper Trail: Northern New England

  1. From my experience using facilities in Westport, Wilton and Norwalk CT (and formerly managing the latter), I should add that many local or regional historical societies and libraries have useful collections of often unique materials. Most have websites indicating their resources. and visiting policies.

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